For the most part, as boat parts Brisbane, average boat owners frequently forget to give their bilge pumps the proper care that they deserve. Oftentimes, bilge pumps end up unnoticed and neglected. But, emptying the boat’s bilge wells at regular intervals and proper maintenance of bilge pumps is of paramount importance as they are actually your boat’s first and line of defense against sinking.
Bilge Pumps – What are they really and how do they Work?
A Bilge pump primarily works as a cleaner of nuisance water as well as debris from the bilges and prevent flooding of the engine room. Likewise, it works as your boat’s last survival mechanism during emergency situations as it should also be able to buy you extra time allowing you to still identify where the source of the leak is and deal with it or worst so you can prepare your lifesaving devices if your boat is really succumbing to the water.
In other words, bilge pump boat is an important piece of safety equipment and often they live an unglamorous life as they are usually exposed to slimy, dirty and smelly conditions. These conditions can all but fairly contribute to your bilge pump’s potential to fail. Keeping your bilge pumps well-maintained, is therefore a must in order to keep your boat floating long enough.
There are different types of bilge pumps but the most common and popularly used types are centrifugal pumps and diaphragm electrical pumps.
A centrifugal pump is composed of an impeller fixed at the center and held in place by a shaft. It has vanes that are strategically located and the pump move water by kinetic energy, basically just like how a turbine is designed. Centrifugal pumps are mainly popular because they relatively cost cheaper, provide greater output rates (can move a lot of water) and require lesser time for the pumping process. But their main drawback is that they do not self-priming systems so they must sit in the water to pump.
Diaphragm electrical pumps suck out bilge water via an intake valve and they also have an output valve where water is pushed out through. Unlike centrifugal pumps though, they are self-priming so they can be run dry without issues and they are particularly more advantageous for use where water has to be pushed more than a few feet uphill. They, however, can’t move as much water nor tolerate as much debris making them prone to leaks and failures compared to centrifugal pumps.
How to Properly Maintain Your Boat’s Bilge Pump
Bilge pump has to be clean and free of debris and trashes so it can work efficiently. Excess water combined with oil residues and dirt can cause clogging in the pump and keeps it from operating properly.
Regular bilge cleaning is necessary, particularly for older boats. And, this is true even in the new ones. For centrifugal pumps, be sure to clear its strainers and waterproof all connectors. While diaphragm pumps can be cleaned by opening up its body and clearing its pump chambers from debris.
A cruise holiday provides a range of options to choose from including expedition style cruising, river cruising and ocean cruising along with various styles and sizes of ships from smaller more intimate ships right through to mega ships such as Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.
Ease ofcruise holidays
Cruise holidays make it easy for those travellers who prefer to have most of their holiday included in the one itinerary and price. Depending upon where you are cruising, sometimes it means you can even board the ship from your hometown, making it perfect for those who love to travel but prefer not to fly. When a cruise trip is booked, travellers can rest easy knowing no further calls have to be made, except to decide on where to dine and which shore excursions to book.
Value of cruise holidays
Cruises have proven to be one of the most economical ways to holiday. A lot of travellers love the idea of knowing up front just how much the majority of their holiday is going to cost as cruise holidays typically include meals, entertainment, accommodation and sometimes bonus on-board credit. The choice of cabin styles from 6 berth below deck to outside cabins with a balcony ensure that there is something for everyone.
Entertainment on cruise ships
You will never get bored on a cruise ship. It is commonly known and now expected that cruise ship entertainment is second to none. Cruise lines offer nightly entertainment including poolside bands, dinner theatre, piano bar acts, comedy and musical revues plus most of the bigger cruise ships have multiple dining options and an on-board casino. The variety and quality of on-board entertainment offered by cruise ships certainly contributes to the value offered by a cruise holiday and is also why so many people become avid cruisers.
Visit multiple destinations when cruising
The ability to visit not just one but multiple ports & countries during a cruise makes a cruise holiday ideal for many people. No other holiday offers a traveller this and the convenience of only unpacking once. The ship becomes your mode of transportation with no need to hire a car and navigate your way around foreign lands. Cruising is the perfect holiday solution for those wanting to just, well, cruise!
The rise in popularity of cruising for Australians has seen more ships in our waters. This combined with the rise in competition around the world amongst the cruise lines means Australians can secure someamazing cruise deals.
In an attempt to provide cruisers with the information they need before boarding we offer these suggestions of what a passenger should know about medical concerns before cruising
Cruise passengers may or may not come on board prepared for their cruise. Some have embarked with little or no forethought to the situations they may encounter in their travels. Even passengers with complicated medical conditions may book a cruise with the thought that there is a doctor and a hospital on board so they can take care of me if I need attention while at sea. These same people may board the ship with medications removed from their original containers and with little or no written medical history. Piecing together a complicated jig saw of medical needs with limited resources can strain the medical facilities of any vessel and cause great anxiety for the patient.
Know Before you Go Too often the lure of a beautiful brochure showing enticing exotic destinations with full color photographs is all that is seen by a cruise passenger. That section at the end of any cruise brochure that explains the details of the cruise is often flipped past with no regard. This section outlines the terms of the contract between the cruise line and the cruise passenger. In the brochure the language is simple and straightforward. Most passengers can readily understand even the more detailed cruise contract that is delivered with every set of cruise tickets. The problem lies in getting passengers to understand that they are in fact entering into a contract with the cruise line, with the exchange of money the cruise line as well as the passengers have distinct obligations.
In most cruise contracts you will find language that will spell out that the cruise line must be notified of any medical condition that can impact the health and safely of the passenger or make them unfit to travel. This includes pregnancies, which some passengers see as a non-medical condition and feel that a fitness to travel endorsement by their physician at home is adequate for cruise travel. In fact fitness to travel is such an important area within the cruise contract that it is one of the areas for which a passenger can be denied boarding at the embarkation port. It can also necessitate emergency disembarkation at ports along the route of the cruise.
Do Your Research Do a bit of research about the destination to determine if any special medical precautions are needed. Even better consult your physician or a travel medicine specialist 6 to 8 weeks before your trip. A physician familiar with travel medicine will address concerns that include not only your health but also any needed immunizations, health precautions, or medications that should be added to your first aid kit.
Plan for the weather and terrain; make sure that you pack appropriate clothing for any expected circumstance and sensible shoes for your destination.
Keep abreast of the political climate and any unrest in the area you will be visiting. Pay attention to any advisories that are placed in ships newsletter about the ports of call.
How to Choose the Right Ship The passenger with physical challenges or medical concerns should carefully select a travel consultant to assist them with their cruise plans. The tried and true methods of asking friends, family and member of support groups are still the best ways to find a qualified agent. It is much less important o find someone one who is a specialist in dealing with disabilities than to find someone who is excellent at their profession. An agent with good skills in meeting the needs of clients can certainly deal with your special needs just as effectively as they do the diverse travel arrangements that they make on a daily basis. First and foremost make sure that your agent is someone that you enjoy talking to and that you feel comfortable with and trust. Their skills and experience with their suppliers will allow them to meet your needs effectively.
Experience, qualified agents will often have the credentials of MCC or CTC after their name. The MCC designation signifies that the agent has met the requirements of CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) to be designated a Master Cruise Counselor. The trade industry has a broader training program for full service agents or cruise only agents, which earns them the title of Certified Travel Counselor. Either of these designations indicates that the agent has invested a great deal of time, effort and money in making sure that they can serve clients effectively.
With the help of your agent you can then begin the process of selecting the correct ship for you. It is wise to plan as far in advance as possible to ensure that you are able to get he ship and itinerary that is of greatest interest to you. If you will require a special accessible cabin you should plan on reserving about a year in advance. This is especially true if you want a suite or an inexpensive inside cabin, as these are the first to sell on modern ships. There are very few accessible suites in the market so make sure you discuss the type of cabin that you want early in your discussions with your agent.
A good rule of thumb to discuss with your agent is that the newer cruise ships are generally the most accessible. The cruise lines voluntarily strive for compliance of the guideline of the Americans with Disabilities Act and many of them offer some of the most barrier free accommodations in the travel industry. It is also a good idea to ask if the ship is marketed primarily to the North American market. These ships will have English speaking medical personnel and will meet the expectations of the North American passenger. Don’t forget to confirm that the cruise line is a member of ICCL.
Once you have narrowed down the field of possible ships, dates and the itineraries it is time to start looking at the ports of call. It is not a good idea to choose an itinerary with tender calls if you have mobility concerns. Tenders are much smaller boats that are used to shuttle passengers from the cruise ship to the shore. Most require the use of stairs or at the very least a transfer from the relatively stable cruise ship to a bobbing tender. Try to pick an itinerary where the ship docks at all or most of the ports.
Purchase Travel Insurance Many passengers feel that if they have an unusual or tragic event in their lives that prevent them from travel that the cruise line should offer them a full refund. Refunds when given for unforeseen covered expenses are paid by insurance companies and not by the cruise line. Therefore, passengers who must cancel a cruise due to circumstances such as illness or death of a family member will find themselves unreimbursed without travel insurance. The penalties accessed by each cruise line are clearly spelled out in cruise contract.
The purchase of travel insurance does so much more than protect the purchase price of a cruise. In addition comprehensive travel insurance policies offer such peace of mind items as medical evacuation, travel accident or illness coverage, return of mortal remains and travel assistance. Travel insurance can be purchased directly through the cruise line or through a travel agent.
Any policy that is purchased should cover pre-existing conditions as well as default of suppliers or carriers. Even when a major cruise line is involved with great stability, air carriers or others who are responsible for part of your vacation may be affected by such things as strikes and natural disasters making them unable to provide the contracted service.
Notify of Special Requests Most cruise lines have the ability to accommodate a large number of special requests, such as cribs in a stateroom, special diets and wheelchair accessible cabins.
Some lines have special equipment available for hearing and sight-impaired guests, but guests need to request this ahead of time due to limited supply. All of these things should be reported to the travel agent by the passenger who can then direct the special request to the correct department within the cruise line. This should be done at the time of the original booking.
Even clients who do not require a handicapped cabin but who will require wheelchair, walker or cane use full or part time should report this to the agent so that the cruise line can be notified. This assists in priority embarkation and disembarkation as well as convenient placement in the dining rooms. Physically challenged passengers should be placed as close to as elevator as possible and every effort should be made to place them near their dining room.
If there are any medical, physical or dietary conditions including but not limited to the following, report them at time of booking:
Mobility Impairment Vision or Hearing Impairment Pregnancy Allergies Diabetes Dialysis Oxygen Use Bleeding Disorders Injectable Medication Prescription Medications Dietary Requirements
Each passenger should have the name and phone numbers for his primary and specialist physicians. Also please carry with you in your carry on luggage a copy of your latest medical records with such information as recent EKG, medications list and allergies. A medical information sheet with next of kin, hospital and health and travel insurance information is also helpful. Also place in your carry on luggage your medications and spare eyeglasses or contacts and a small first aid kit.
If you have a medical condition and you do not have a Medic Alert neck tag or bracelet this would be a good time to purchase one and wear it. (Call Medic Alerts at 1-800-825-3785) It is also a good idea to have your travel agent’s non-800 number if you are going to be out of the United States and need to call them.
Special Needs at Sea (www.specialneedsatsea.com) does an excellent job in providing medical equipment for our clients. They provide oxygen, wheelchairs, scooters etc. but they should be contacted well ahead of time.
Traveling with Infants and Toddlers Not all cruise lines are equipped to accommodate infants and toddlers.
Many have age restrictions for infants below a certain age. The age of each child should be reported to the agent at time of booking. This will assure that the cruise line is able to accept the child and it will also allow the cruise line to properly prepare for each age group of children.
What to Leave Behind For your peace of mind make sure that you leave the following information behind for your friends and family. The name of the ship you will be on as well as your flight information, your cabin number and reservation number, your travel agent’s name and phone number and a photocopy of the first page of your passport.
In your cruise documents you should find information for ship to shore phone numbers and the fax number to the ship. Do keep in mind that many times ships can only receive faxes when they are at sea. In this case a copy of the ship’s itinerary would be very helpful.
What about the Medical Facility On Board the Ship Many modern cruise ships come under the umbrella of the industry organization of the CLIA. The CLIA with the assistance of the American College of Emergency Physician’s Section of Cruise Ship and Maritime Medicine developed a set of guidelines for the medical facilities on cruise ships. Their member lines have voluntarily agreed to support these guidelines on their ships. One of your questions as a passenger should be: Is the cruise line I am considering a member of CLIA? If not, you should investigate their medical capabilities before entrusting your well being to them.
Just as each ship has its own distinct style and personality that is dependent on design, age and intended itineraries the medical facility on each ship can vary as well. Some are compact and efficient while others are very spacious.
In the medical facility you will find one or more doctors along with highly skilled nurses. These dedicated professionals provide 24-hour coverage for health care needs. They have set office hours as well as a pager for instant notification of an emergency or urgent medical need. Please keep in mind that medical care is at the passenger’s expense and that insurance assignment is rarely accepted on or off the ship. U.S. Medicare does NOT reimburse subscribers for medical care rendered on board ships unless the vessel is registered and flagged in the United States.
Some facilities are state of the art and provide such things as telemedicine, digital X-rays and sophisticated laboratory diagnostics. But in all of them you will find basic life saving drugs and equipment for stabilization. When you are comparing a ship based medical facility with a land based facility it is important to remember that it is not a hospital.
It is much more kin to a free standing urgent care center that you would find on land. Although technology has allowed for a great deal of sophistication in both sea based and land based medical facilities the shipboard medical facility does not have the luxuries of on board specialists, large nursing staffs to offer 24 hour extended care, or highly specialized tests such as CAT scans.
For these reasons if a patient requires on going medical care it will be necessary for them to disembark at the first appropriate port of call for either care there or for emergency air evacuation to an appropriate medical facility. Since any air evacuation will require several thousand dollars it is imperative that passengers have insurance for this unexpected event.
Life Boat Drills Experienced cruisers as well as first time cruisers all too often endure lifeboat drills with only cursory attention. Saving your life in the rare event of a disaster will be up to you as well as the staff. Knowing what to do and where to go can make the difference of life and death or at the very least it can reduce the anxiety of not being prepared sufficiently. It is up to the passenger to know the ways to their life boat station and what items that should be carried to the boat with you. Don’t count on someone being at every turn to direct you, assume responsibility for your safety any time you set foot on a ship.
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or “categories,” and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it’s helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel:
Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside
Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview
Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck
Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks
It’s the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a cabin simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. — no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best cabin for your money.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by choice, we’ll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
Note: Cabins designed for physically challenged guests can fall into any of the above categories and will not be separated out.
Cabin Location on the Ship
The “real estate” that your cabin occupies, no matter the type, can make you seasick or keep you up all night with noise — or it can lull you like a baby and provide exquisite views of your surroundings. That’s why doing your homework is important. Here are some factors to consider when picking your cabin’s location on the ship.
If you tend to get seasick, cabin location is really important. It’s a question of engineering, really. The lower and more central you are in a ship, the less roll and sway you will feel. Even if you choose a balconied cabin, choose the lowest level and the most midship one you can find. The higher decks and cabins at the very front (forward) or back (aft) of the ship will rock and roll the most.
Some cruise travellers prefer their cabins to be near to (or far away from) specific areas of the ship. Sun-worshippers might prefer an upper-deck location close to the pools and sun decks, while partiers might want easy access to midship entertainment hubs. Travellers with mobility concerns may prefer a cabin close to a bank of elevators.
For some reason, most cruise lines assign their nicest and most expensive cabins to the highest decks, usually just below the pool deck (most likely because if you have a window or balcony, you have a more sweeping vista). Still, it’s the pool deck that often causes the most noise problems, so if you don’t want to hear scraping chairs at the crack of dawn or the sound of pool parties until the wee hours, go down a level. In fact, when it comes to noise, the best bet is to select a cabin that is both above and below other cabins. Other pitfalls include service areas adjacent to or above your cabin; show lounges or bars adjacent to, above or below your cabin; and self-service launderettes across from your cabin. Other cabins that can be problematic are those that are situated low and at the back (because of their proximity to engine noise, vibration and anchor) or low and forward (because of bow thrusters).
In this age of mega-ships, cabins now come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to the typical boxy inside and outside cabins, you can find expansive suites, duplexes and lofts. Balconies also range in size from small affairs barely able to squeeze in two chairs and a drinks table to huge wraparound decks with outdoor dining tables and hot tubs.
On many ships, basic inside and outside cabins are usually the same size, the difference being that one has a porthole or picture window to let in natural light. Balcony cabins can also be the same size as standard insides and outsides, with the addition of the outdoor space on the verandah; sometimes the interior space is larger. A basic cabin, regardless of category, is referred to as a “standard” unless there is something about it that makes it different (such as physical layout, being handicapped accessible or a designated family cabin). With minisuites on up, you get bigger and bigger indoor and outdoor spaces.
For many travellers, the decision on what size cabin to get is directly related to price. Who wouldn’t go for the huge suite if price were no obstacle? Yet it can be tricky to decide whether a balcony is worth the upgrade from a standard outside, or which suite to choose. Here are a few size-related considerations to take into account.
Do you need a balcony? Cruise travellers who spend all their time in the public areas — sun decks, lounges, restaurants — or on shore may be perfectly happy with standard-size cabins and no private outdoor space. Those who love to avoid the crowds and lounge quietly on their own verandahs or have private room-service meals outdoors will surely want balconies. Don’t forget to take your itinerary into account; on a chilly-weather cruise, you might not be spending too much time outside, so depending on how much space and light you need, a balcony might not be worth the splurge.
Pay attention to the unique cabin setups on your ship, as they’re not all created equal. Carnival is also known for having larger-than-average standard cabins, while Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn ships feature all-suite accommodations. Norwegian Epic cabins sport the “new wave” design, with curvy walls and separate rooms for showers and toilets; sinks are located in the main cabins. As mentioned earlier, cabins at the very front and back of a ship often have different layouts than the cookie-cutter cabins that run the length of the ship.
Since cruising has become a popular family holiday, more new ships have built “family accommodations” into the actual design. These are often suites, each with a separate room for the kids — sometimes a small alcove with bunk beds, sometimes an entire adjoining cabin. Families and groups can also take advantage of regular cabins with third or fourth berths found in pullout sofas or pull-down bunk beds (called Pullmans). If you’re going to squeeze your whole troupe into one cabin, make sure the space is big enough to accommodate the lot of you … and all your belongings.
Very few ships actually have cabins dedicated to solo travellers. These will have sleeping space for one and can be quite small. The studio cabins on select Norwegian ships are the most famous example of this: The 100-square-foot cabins each contain a full-size bed, nifty lighting effects and a large round window that looks out into the corridor. Royal Caribbean also has solo cabins on newer ships such as Ovation of the Seas. If you’re a solo traveller, you’ll want to price out the cost of a solo cabin (usually somewhat higher than the double-occupancy rate of a similarly sized cabin) compared to the cost of paying the single supplement (an extra fee tacked on if there aren’t two people in a cabin; the price can come out to as much as double the regular rate) for a standard cabin. And book early, as solo cabins sell out quickly.
When it comes to choosing suite accommodations, it’s best to figure out how much space you really need, what amenities are important to you and what you can afford to spend. Suites on most ships are often the first category to sell out, partly because there are fewer of them, and partly because they often offer extremely good value. For this reason, it’s important to decide early what kind of suite you’d like.
Suites come in all shapes and sizes. For example, among the most over-the-top are Norwegian Cruise Line’s 5,000-plus-square-foot, three-bedroom Garden Villa suites on its Jewel-class ships. These each feature a private terrace with a hot tub, spacious living and dining areas, and butler service, plus access to an exclusive-access deck area. Other suites may come with dining areas, wet bars, deluxe bathrooms, walk-in closets, multiple levels and even pianos. On the other end, a mini-suite (found on nearly all ships) is often just a bigger version of a standard balcony cabin, sometimes with more delineation between the living and sleeping areas.
All cabins come with basic amenities, such as the services of a cabin steward to clean your room and turn down the beds, soap and shampoo in the bathroom, individual climate control, etc. But certain categories of cabins come with added perks. Suites come with a variety of extras and privileges, everything from priority boarding to in-cabin bar setups. Spa cabins will offer spa-related perks, such as yoga mats in the cabin or a fancy showerhead; concierge-level cabins will give you access to a concierge and niceties like afternoon canapes; and even solo cabins might offer extras, such as the use of an exclusive lounge. How do you want to be pampered on your holiday? Here are some extras you may want to sign up (and pay a premium) for.
A concierge can take care of all those annoying practical matters you need to tend to on a cruise: making dinner and spa reservations, booking shore excursions, making requests of the front desk. Their services are included in the price of many suites, and on some ships the concierge has a desk in an exclusive concierge lounge where suite guests and high-level past passengers can snack, drink and relax in private. Concierge-level cabins may also come with in-cabins amenities including welcome drinks, fruit baskets or afternoon canapes.
Having a personal butler can be a wonderfully pampering experience, and some cruise lines include the butler service as part of your fare when you select a suite or “concierge level” cabin. Look carefully at the difference in the cruise fare, and decide if it’s really worth it. Beyond that, look at the services that are offered; some cruise line butlers really do provide extra value. For instance, some can bring you room service from hard-to-get-into alternative restaurants, refill your mini-bar to personal specifications, and serve in-cabin meals course-by-course. Butlers can also unpack and repack your bags, draw rose-petal baths and assist you in preparing in-suite cocktail parties.
The concept of spa cabins is simple: Spa aficionados pay more for cabins decked out in Asian-inspired Zen decor that come with extra amenities, ranging from fancy showerheads and specialty bath products to fluffy bathrobes, yoga mats and healthier room service menus. Spa cabin residents are granted free access to spa restaurants (such as Celebrity’s Blu), complimentary passes to spa pools and sauna/steam room areas, and may get free, discounted or priority spa treatments and fitness classes. And you don’t always have to book a huge suite; on Holland America, several inside cabins have been designated as spa cabins with all the associated perks.
Some lines offer gated-access suite complexes where some of the most expensive accommodations are arranged around exclusive deck areas, including private pools, whirlpools, fitness centers, sun decks, restaurants, and lounges; Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Haven is available in Australia. Norwegian’s studio cabins — although tiny inside affairs — also gain you access to a special lounge reserved just for solo travelers.
View From Your Cabin
If what you see from your cabin is important to you, you might want to think about how cabin location impacts your scenic vistas. Consider both the direction in which your room faces, as well as how the ship’s structure might get in the way of your view out to sea.
Forward- and Aft-Facing Balconies
Aft balconied cabins (the ones at very back of the ship) can be the most prized standard balconied cabins afloat. Why? Because they can make you feel as though you are at the end of the world, offering 180-degree views over the stern’s wake. (Read about the multitude of aft-lovers.) And the balconies are almost always at least 50 percent bigger than standard balconies located along the sides of the ship. They do have a downside, though; they are at the very back of the ship and far away from a lot of activities. Plus, they are almost always “stepped out,” allowing passengers in cabins above yours and those looking over the rail from the pool and other public decks to see down into your balcony.
Some standard rooms and many suites are located at the aft “corners” of a ship, with balconies that curve around the sides. Take one of those, and you can see where you’re going and where you’ve been at the same time! Front-facing balconied cabins are almost always suites.
Some older ships have cabins with windows looking out onto the open-air walking track (called the promenade) that encircles the ship. These promenade cabins offer the advantage of easy access to fresh air without paying for a balcony. Holland America’s Statendam-class ships, for example, have some outside cabins like this, but the line has transformed many of these originally outside cabins into “lanai” cabins with back doors that lead directly from the cabin onto the promenade. The two biggest drawbacks of promenade-deck cabins are that they tend to be dark because of the wide overhang above the deck, and anyone can see into them when the lights are on. Don’t forget to close those drapes!
Some supposedly “oceanview” cabins actually have obstructed, or blocked, views due to the ship’s structural design. These include balconied cabins under the pool deck overhang, which limits visibility; cabins above or adjacent to the lifeboats; and forward balconied cabins located close to the bridge wing. But there is an upside to a blocked vista — they can be a good deal. If the amount of view you get relative to the amount of money you spend is important to you, look for “secret porthole” insides or “obstructed view” outsides. The secret porthole cabins are those sold as inside cabins that actually have windows with blocked views and the partially or fully obstructed cabins are sold as outsides but often at the price of an inside.
Windowed and balconied cabins don’t always look out to sea. For example, some Royal Caribbean ships have inside-view cabins, with windows looking out onto interior public areas. Oasis-class Royal Caribbean ships, for instance, have inward-facing cabins with views of Central Park (the ship’s garden area with live greenery) and the Boardwalk (an amusement park-themed stretch of ship with a carousel and food stands). These are typically sold at a price that falls somewhere between the insides and outsides. Virtual views are the latest trend for inside cabins that wouldn’t otherwise have a window. Royal Caribbean have created “virtual balconies” by using ship-mounted cameras to play real-time images of the sea and port onto high-definition display screens, meant to simulate real cabin windows and add views and light to interior cabins.
If scenery is important to you, take a good look at your cruise itinerary before selecting your cabin, specifically if you are choosing an outside or balcony. On a roundtrip South Pacific cruise or a transatlantic crossing, for example, the side of the ship you are on doesn’t really matter. If, on the other hand, you are doing a one-way sailing (such as a a trip from Barcelona to Rome), you might want to consider choosing a cabin on the side of the ship that faces the land. Sometimes the views can be breathtaking, and you won’t get those views from the cabins that face out to the open sea.
Inside cabins with no views at all are typically the smallest, cheapest cabins onboard. They are great options for budget-minded travellers who don’t intend to spend a lot of time in their cabin, or who want to sleep all day in absolute pitch dark. They are less ideal for cruisers prone to seasickness, those who need natural light and groups who require a lot of in-cabin space. Not everyone will be happy in an inside cabin; it’s worth upgrading if the lack of light will put a damper on your holiday.
Only you know your holiday budget, but figuring out the best way to spend it can be tricky. Here’s our primer on the most important things to know about cruise pricing as related to choosing a cabin. For more tricks of the trade on getting that cruise steal, find out [how to save money on your next cruise](/.. /articles.cfm?ID=89).
Cruise fares fluctuate like airfares; they can change daily. Generally speaking, you’ll find the lowest fares by booking early (eight months or more prior to sailing) or booking late (two to six weeks before departure). Often, fares drop just after final payment is due (about two months before sailing). But waiting for a higher-category cabin to come down in price to fit into your travel budget is risky; if the cabin category is selling well, fares will just go up.
When trying to determine how much cabin you can afford, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the rest of your trip. If you have to spend a lot on airfare, pre-cruise hotels and activities in port, you might not be able to afford the fanciest suite; if you’re using frequent-flyer miles or don’t need to book a hotel, you’ll have more money for cruise fare; the money you save on airfare can be used to spring for a nice cabin. Or, look for value-added perks from cruise-line and travel-agent promotions. Offers for complimentary onboard cash, prepaid tips or included airfare can free up some money to pay for other holiday expenses.
While you can’t count on the “upgrade fairy” to pay you a visit after you’ve booked that low-tier cabin, you can look out for upgrade deals before you book. One common cruise-line promotion is to offer outside cabins for the price of insides, or balconies for the price of outsides. Just be wary of any offer promising a two-category upgrade (or similar); the fine print usually indicates that the line will give you a “better” (whatever that means according to the line) cabin within the same category (inside to better inside, etc.). You will then be stuck with whichever cabin they give you — whether you agree it’s better or not.
A “guarantee” cabin selection is one in which you pay a low rate for the cabin type (inside, outside, etc.) you are willing to take, but you allow the cruise line to select the actual cabin for you. If you luck out, you could get assigned to a higher-category cabin (e.g., book an outside guarantee and end up in a balcony cabin). On the flip side, you might get the worst cabin in the category you chose — the one that’s slightly smaller or has a blocked view or is in a noisy corner of the ship. Letting the cruise line choose your cabin is risky, so be sure you’ll be happy no matter which cabin you get assigned.
Travel Is The Only Thing You Buy That Makes You Richer
Man Cannot discover new ocean unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore
Cruises offer great value for your vacation dollar because the fares include nearly everything you’ll need for a fantastic trip: food, accommodations, daytime and evening entertainment and transportation between travel destinations. We regularly see cruise deals on mainstream cruise lines for under $100 per person, per night, which is astonishingly cheaper than you’d spend on land for a hotel, dinner and a show.
On some lines, kids even sail free or at discounted rates when sharing a cabin with two adults. Looking for luxury? Upscale lines are even more inclusive, with alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, gratuities, shore tours, onboard spending credits, and even flights often bundled into the base price.
#2: See Multiple Destinations, Unpack Only Once
On a cruise, you unpack once and your floating hotel takes you from city to city or from island to island and there’s no need to mess with train or ferry schedules, or lug your suitcase along cobblestone streets. Every morning, you’ll wake up in a new place. Can’t decide between St. Lucia and Barbados, or Italy or Spain? Why choose? Pick an itinerary that visits all the cities on your wish list.
#3: Cruise Ships are Family Friendly
From tots to teens, grandparents to grandkids, family cruises are fun for all ages. If you’re struggling to find a vacation that your 5-, 10- and 15-year-olds will all love — and that has adult activities, too — ships now have extensive kids’ facilities, split by age. Teens have their own cool hangouts, far away from the play areas for the little ones (and certainly a nice distance from parent-friendly pools and bars). How can you not love a trip that features video games and swimming pools, while offering time for families to be together at dinner or onshore excursions? And parents can even sneak in a romantic dinner alone, by taking advantage of late-night hours in the kids’ club.
#4: Cruise Ships Come in All Shapes and Sizes
The ideal cruise ship for one person may be a mega-ship outfitted with onboard rock-climbing walls and outdoor movie theaters, while another will prefer an intimate ship with an upscale ambience and someone else will want the seafaring experience of a masted tall sailing ship. Luckily, all those different types of cruise ships exist.
From French Country Waterways’ 12-person river barges to Royal Caribbean’s 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas. More options range from the luxurious Seabourn Odyssey to the minimalist sailing ships of Star Clippers and even to ice-strengthened expedition ships like Hurtigruten’s Fram. Read cruise reviews before you book to choose the best ship for you.
#5: Ships Offer a Variety of Onboard Activities
Today’s cruise ships are designed to keep everyone happy. Want to pamper yourself at the spa while your spouse hits the casino? Or lounge in the sun reading a book while your family plays basketball. You can go to an educational lecture, a wine tasting, a computer class or a dance workshop; paint pottery, play bridge, learn a language or do yoga; dine at a casual buffet, a fancy sit-down restaurant, a sushi bar, a diner or a steakhouse; watch a movie, a comedy routine, a song-and-dance show or live music performance. And if all you want to do is nothing while the ship sails from port to port you can do that, too.
#6: Cruise Vacations are Easy to Plan
Because cruise vacations package together transportation and accommodations, they’re very easy to plan. Pick your ship, itinerary and cabin, and away you go — no searching for hotels in your price range, no coordinating travel between cities. You can even get your travel agent to arrange your airfare for you — or choose a departure port within driving distance to eliminate that extra planning step.
Group cruises are a cinch to book. Cruise lines have plans in place for group travel, eliminating the hassle of coordinating your 20 family members and friends from around the country who want to vacation with you. Book enough cabins — and you’ll get extra perks, including a free fare!
#7: Ships Are Floating Cities
If you’re concerned about being stranded in the middle of the ocean, relax. Cruise ships are like floating cities with everything you could possibly want onboard. Today’s vessels are outfitted with Wi-Fi, cell service and satellite TV so you can stay in touch with the real world during your cruise (if you even want to). Onboard shops sell the toiletries you forgot to pack, medical centers can provide medicine or a doctor’s services if needed, and laundry facilities let you wash your clothes mid-cruise so you don’t need to over-pack. Of course, there’s also the fun stuff like gyms, multiple restaurants, movie screens, spas, swimming pools, theaters and discos. And in the rare emergency, there are always enough lifeboats for everyone onboard.
#8: Plan an Exotic Vacation
Always wanted to visit Asia but are nervous about the language barrier? Curious about the Middle East, but nervous about country customs? A cruise is one of the best ways to see the most exotic and foreign destinations in the world in an easy way.
Itineraries offer calls at major cities and picturesque villages, all of which will be regional highlights, so you don’t have to do the research on the best places to visit in an unfamiliar destination. If you’re uncomfortable with independent sightseeing in a new locale, simply take a ship’s tour with English-speaking guides. Or team up with more experienced travelers you meet online or onboard to share a cab or private guide.
#9: Cruising Is Romantic
Anyone who’s watched “The Love Boat” knows that there’s a romance to sea travel. The wind in your hair, the vistas of endless ocean, the stars twinkling above, all may be clichés but they’re real experiences onboard! If you want to rekindle the spark with your sweetie, a cruise vacation provides plenty of together time — sharing side-by-side lounge chairs by the pool, a table for two at dinner, dancing in the evening or sharing quality time onshore. Cruise lines also have special packages for honeymoons, vow renewals and weddings on board and onshore.
#10: Cruising is Social
If you love to meet people from around the country — and the world — cruising provides a wonderful opportunity to make new friends. Even before you embark, you can connect with cruisers on Cruise Critic’s Roll Call forums and create groups to go on independent excursions. Onboard, you’ll meet people at your dinner table, at the piano bar or by the pool. The person seated next to you might be from Paris, Texas, or Paris, France; London, Ontario, or London, England. Kids can find playmates their own age during youth activities, so they’re not always with adults or their older or younger siblings. Looking for Mr. or Ms. Right? We have proof that many long-term relationships begin during a vacation at sea.