We have been on vacations taking a cruises for about 20 years now. We took cruises with Azamara, Holland America and Star Clippers . Will travelled on his own on Crystal Symphony. We loved each cruise and have wonderful memories of them with the exception of the Cunard, Queen Mary II (Carnival owned) crossing of the Atlantic which is not what is advertized, never again.
Our most memorable was Star Clipper around the Greek Islands and the Anatolian Coast.
A sail ship is something completely apart from any other cruise ship, there is a certain magic when the wind blows into the sails and the ship glides over the water.
Azamara also is a favourite of ours, they offer quality, distinction and very good cruise packages.
Yesterday we looked on YouTube a promotional video about all the new ships coming into service in 2019 and 2020. They all claim to be super luxurious, starting at 4500 passengers to upwards of 6500 passengers.
When we book a cruise our rule of thumb is less than 2500 passengers per ship is best. Usually around 1300 passengers on board is very pleasant. We are going on a cruise in September to Norway starting in Amsterdam on a very new ship, the Holland America, Nieuw Statendam.
The new ship 2019-2020 video on YouTube was quite hilarious, companies like MSC who has had several accidents and mishaps in the last 10 years and Carnival are into gigantic ships with activities like rock face climbing, GoKart racing, a trampoline above the water on a moving ship, a glass walkway again above the water some 14 decks up in the air, daring water slide which gets you to slide yet again way up and over the ship’s side, it is all about thrills, chills and spills. On the new Carnival ship restaurant’s are franchises of known brands. Do you really need 17 restaurants on board? As one commentator wrote; imagine an accident on a ship with 6000 people on 14 decks, it would make the Titanic look like a row boat accident on a pond.
The new gimmick in 2019 is offering dining on your stateroom balcony for certain larger and more expensive stateroom. Other new ship offer duplex suites with large terrace/balcony like the new Enchanted Princess cruise ship with 1500 sq. feet of space to entertain your friends, this would mean that you boarded with a very large group of people, otherwise what to do with such a huge outdoor space. As for dining on your balcony, let me tell you that on a Ocean crossing voyage, it would be too cold and or windy to do so, also at night the waters are black it can be quite sinister. Even on an inland sea like the Mediterranean, the ship’s speed and movement makes it far too windy. But it is all about marketing and selling a dream. These promo films have a manic sense that there is so much to do on board that you will not have time to think. Words like luxurious, finest amenities, attention to detail comes back all the time, again trying desperately to tell you that you are getting the best, but are you? There are quite a few YouTube Channels doing a pretty good job of giving you the facts for each cruise ship, number of passengers and staff and what to look for and what to be aware of.
Often in the promos it is not about relaxing and enjoying the trip, it’s about being excited 24/7 which can be exhausting. One new cruise ship that looks appealing coming in 2020 is Virgin’s Red Lady with 850 passengers, selling the idea of a private yacht cruise, no kids, all adults and just quiet time.
All this to say that you have to do your research before you book a cruise and read various comments on what people liked and disliked. There are enough cruise companies to choose from and remember that the well priced cruises, those that offer a good drink/wine package, Free Internet, low service fees are the best ones. If a cruise is cheap look for the additional cost not mentioned, recently Norwegian which is now owned by a large Indonesian company offered reasonable cruise prices, however once paid in full usually within 30 days of booking it is non refundable, the daily service charge was several hundred dollars and the wine package price required that you drink at least 2 bottles of wine per person each day, this did not include any cocktails you might have during the day, something almost impossible to do if you want to remain sober.
For us so far in our cruises Azamara, Star Clipper, Holland America was the best choices overall.