Continuing on with our fun New Year’s resolutions….
Are you ready to take the plunge and try sailing on a different cruise line? Have you heard horrid stories about all those other cruise lines? Are you certain that no other cruise line could compare to your favorite line? Why fix something if it isn’t broken.
As somebody who has sailed with several different cruise lines, I too, heard the horror stories of other cruiselines, in my case Carnival. “Friends don’t let friends cruise Carnival.” “If you sailed on other ships, you’ll hate Carnival.” “It’s a party ship.” I heard all the stories and frankly did not put Carnival at the top of my list.That changed when an organization that I belong to chose the Carnival Fantasy as the site for its annual conference. Here was my chance to sail Carnival without ruining my reputation. If I found it as horrid as I had been forewarned, I could always explain that the only reason that I went was because of the conference.
Not knowing what to expect and thinking myself a real risk-taker for signing on for the cruise, I arrived in New Orleans, ready for the worst cruise of a lifetime. I went with the lowest of expectations and advised Bugsy to do the same. This would be totally different than any other cruise we had been on. We could be subjected to all sorts of pain and suffering on this ship. What had we gotten ourselves into?
To make a long story short (we will review the Fantasy at a later date), our most disturbing experience on the ship involved catching a glimpse of an obese shirtless man sitting at the Majestic Bar. Majestic and shirtless have always been synonymous in our eyes. We simply commented on the gross scene and diverted our eyes.
We observed many people having a good time on this ship. It is a Fun Ship after all. A reputation is a hard thing to change and Carnival tries hard to change its image. The people who hold on to this old image have never cruised Carnival. None of the people who warned me about it had.
Take any advice about any cruise line with a grain of salt. Do you really care that the bedspread is blue and not green? Obviously there are differences in cruise lines and if you take the plunge and try another line, try not to compare things to your favorite cruise line. Certainly, you will take notes of the similarities and differences, but don’t automatically assume that the differences are bad; they are just different.
Remember that each ship sails with a different set of passengers. If you heard complaints about rowdy people or rude fellow passengers, keep in mind that those same passengers will not be on your ship, unless you have found yourself in some sort of Twilight Zone situation.
You might be tempted to try out a shorter cruise on another line. While great for checking out the ship itself, don’t forget that shorter cruises often attract a much different crowd from longer cruises.
On our recent NCL Star cruise, a woman nearly trampled us while running with her camera to get on deck. She said that there was a Carnival cruise ship in port and she needed to get a photo because she had sailed with them nine times, and moreover, this was her first and LAST NCL cruise. She was gone before we could ask why. We picked ourselves off the floor and brushed off our clothes, hoping to encounter this person again as we were very curious as to what could be so horrid on a ship that one would never return. Perhaps this allegiance to one cruise line is similar to being a Chevy person or a Ford person. If you try a new cruise knowing from the start that it won’t please you; it will never meet your expectations.
So what should you consider when choosing a different cruise line?
Luxury, premium, mainstream? Staying within the same level may make the transition easier. I admit to sailing on Seabourn and easyCruise, which are about as extreme as one can get. I enjoyed both because I knew that trying to compare them would be like comparing a Kia to a Maserati.
If you enjoy the exact same breakfast, on the same plate with your food in a specific place, trying out something new might not be for you. If you know how you like things, you know how you like things.
Getting a good price on a cruise might mean that you can afford to take another one sooner. If you can cruise from a nearby port, you save money on airfare and even a hotel. If you want to go to a specific destination and your preferred line doesn’t sail there, you have an excellent reason to try out another ship.
There are plenty of reasons for trying out a new cruise line and an equal amount of excuses for not doing so. 2008 could be the year for experiencing something new – or not. Only you can decide.