Differentiating Luxury Cruises, Premium Cruises, Mass Market Cruises, River Cruises, Small Ship Cruises, Expedition Cruises, Private Yacht Rentals and Residential Cruises
Crew To Guest Ratio
One means of evaluating and differentiating the level of service and luxury a cruise line offers is by the crew to passenger ratio. Mass market cruises generally have one crew member for every 2.5 passengers or more. Luxury Lines generally have one crewmember for fewer than every 2 passengers. The lower the ratio of crew to passengers onboard, the more attentive and personal you can expect the service to be.
Luxury and comfort is also defined by space ratio. Onboard space ratio measures how many passengers can be accommodated on a ship relative to its size. Crystal Cruises for example, accommodates about 1,000 people on a ship that other cruise lines have 3,000 people on.
Cruise Ship Stateroom Size
On ocean going cruise ships; there are many different price points. Price is dictated by two factors: the stateroom type (or category) and its location. Basic stateroom types are interior staterooms with no window or balcony, ocean-view staterooms with a porthole or window, ocean-view staterooms with balcony, and various suite categories.
Most cabins on cruise ships within a type are the same size, but are priced differently based on their location. Mid-ship staterooms are priced slightly more than those forward or aft on the ship. Mid-ship staterooms are more stable and may help in rougher seas. Staterooms on higher decks are usually priced more than those on lower decks, have fewer guests, but may have more movement. Interior (“inside”) staterooms on the lowest decks are priced least.
On Luxury Cruises, staterooms are often larger than on mass market or premium cruise lines mainstream cruises, and may feature walk-in closets, more luxurious [marble] bathrooms, better amenities, and concierge or butler services in select categories. On river cruises, stateroom sizes are generally smaller and more compact, and there are fewer pricing categories.
Measuring The Cruise Dining Experience
We all appreciate the difference between a fast food hamburger and a gourmet burger made with quality ingredients and 100% premium ground beef (and no filler). Both can be satisfying, but there is a difference in the quality of ingredients and preparation, and how it is served. Princess Cruises makes it’s burgers fresh onboard, while some other mainstream lines bring aboard frozen patties. On upper-premium Oceania Cruises, you can find Kobe beef burgers poolside. While dining on any cruise is quite satisfying in meeting our gastronomic needs; on deluxe ships dining is, at its best, like dining at a fine restaurant each evening. Luxury cruise lines spend far more on ingredients and quality than mainstream lines, and offer a different level of culinary delight.
Most cruise lines offer alternative dining venues onboard, requiring advance reservations. These are usually finer dining restaurants, and have an additional charge from $20-$35. Some luxury lines offer incredible alternative dining venues, often without additional charge, and overseen by celebrity chefs.
Measuring Cruise Line Prices
Generally speaking, luxury cruises ($400 per person per day on up) will cost more than mass market mainstream-priced cruises ($100- $350 per person per day), with premium cruises falling somewhere in between. Overlap is based on the range of stateroom categories. (A suite on a mainstream ship may not be much higher than the least expensive stateroom on a luxury ship.)
Because luxury cruises often include far more amenities than mainstream cruise lines charge for, and the service level and cuisine is at a much higher level, the actual price difference can be far less than meets the eye. (If airfare is included in the price, the per-day rate may be higher.)
Having touched on just a few key factors in deciding on the right cruise for you: service, comfort, cuisine and price, you might now consider and better evaluate Luxury Cruises, Premium Cruises or Mainstream Cruises. Outside of these main categories, you might also consider River Cruises, and Small Ship Cruises or Expedition Cruises.
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