Do you have a love/hate relationship with cruises? The choices are dizzying – small ship or large ship? Sea cruise or ocean cruise or river boat cruise? Use a travel agency or book directly with the cruise line? There is a wide variety from which to choose.
As “Accent on Travel” founder Annette Stellhorn tells clients: “It’s as personal as buying a car with all the options to choose from. The cruise your neighbor, friend, or relative took may or may not be the cruise for you”.
“It’s not about ‘where you travel’ as much as ‘how you travel’,” she says. One of her two travel agency offices is in Rehoboth Beach.
Let’s start with the largest cruise line and the largest ship that will cater to families when it launches later this year.
Those who like to travel with family members, and willing to gravitate toward larger ships, may be thrilled to know about Royal Caribbean’s ‘Icon of the Seas”. Something called the Surfside Neighborhood features three story ‘Family Townhouses” loaded with a barrage of private amenities geared toward a family vacation. It will also feature the largest waterpark at sea, and more than 40 dining, bar and nightlife options, plus top-notch entertainment.
It will be the world’s largest cruise ship (1,998 feet long and 250,800 tons) with a total of 179 suites, 1815 balcony, 276 ocean view cabins and 535 interior cabins. Some are wheelchair accessible. The ship will accommodate 7,600 passengers.
Sure, all of this comes at a cost and The Points Guy explains in an article comparing a Caribbean vacation on Icon of the Seas with other Royal Caribbean ships. The cruise line operates 26 ships that offer 240 destinations across 61 countries.
At the other end of the “numbers” and one of the smaller lines, Windstar Cruises operates a six-ship fleet of masted sailing ships and all-suite motor ships. Europe, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, Asia, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada and New England, Tahiti and the South Pacific, Mexico and U.S. Coastal and Australia.
The Wind-class sailing ships come in two sizes: the 5,307-ton Wind Spirit and Wind Star and the 14,745-ton Wind Surf and average about 148 passengers. The non-sail motor yachts are identical at 12,995 tons. Windstar’s flagship, Wind Surf sails with 342 guests in 171 staterooms. Although Windstar ships originally were built and marketed as Club Med, the company has spent millions refurbishing and updating its line. The Points Guy gets into the details on Windstar’s options.
If this small sampling of choices isn’t enough to make you start scratching your head, consider this: There are 37 cruise lines in the world offering a total of 302 ships capable of handling 664,602 passengers.
Trying to decide what is best for you can be challenging! Cruise lines have their own web sites that can be alluring but daunting and take a considerable amount of time to navigate.
Their own reservation teams take inquires directly and the goal often is to fill ships that need extra help and some may be deeply discounted. “Be careful of deeply discounted sales where offerings are too good to be true”, says Stellhorn
They also have contracts with select travel professionals, like Accent on Travel, that allow agencies to offer clients additional benefits.
If the detail-oriented world of cruising seems a bit overwhelming, advice from a professional agency may be your best bet. IN the end, the choice is yours.
“We give everyone guidance and advice whether to enhance their chosen cruise or to guide them completely with our vast portfolio options that we stand behind, says Stellhorn.
Read additional pros and cons in Part 2:
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.