Cruising has become my fun way to get away.
The food is fabulous, the service top notch, you don't have to plan hotels or
take taxi's, and there's always time to get to know people better, just laze
around, or attend a wide variety of functions on board or off ship when in port.
This will compare
Celebrity - Mercury - 77,713 tons,
866' long, 1,866 passengers - built 1997
Carnival - Pride - 88,500 tons,
963' long, 2,124 passengers - built 2001
Royal Caribbean - Serenade of the
Seas - 90,090 tons, 962', 2,501 passengers - built 2003
However, this is about cruises with DANCING so here goes!
Length - Cruises can be two or more days in length. Most people prefer
7-12 day cruises. Longer than that supposedly gets boring, shorter
than that is too short
Peak seasons - There are optimum seasons for different parts of the world.
For Alaskan cruises July & August have the highest prices, they also have the
best weather. If you take a last minute cruise in September, don't
expect great weather in US waters up north! Same for parts South.
Check with your agent about times of the year when there are hurricane seasons
or rough waters.
Last minute bargains - If you can pick up and leave at 3-4 weeks notice - that's
what you need to get your trip, passport and documentation finalized, then there
are bargains to be had. But keep in mind #2 above, if the weather is bad
when you take a bus to see a great Glacier, then you won't see much.
Poorer countries - Mexico is very pretty, but a lot of people will want your $US
money. Get used to be treated like a cash cow. Never pay full price
for anything as everyone from sellers to taxi drivers are willing to barter.
Ports - When in port watch your time, and get ashore to look for local bargains.
Remember that a lot of stuff you'll see for sale is probably made in China, so
if you're looking for authentic local items, keep your focus!
Cruise lines - Different lines cater to different clients. Carnival ships
are indeed fun ships, and are great for families, but during the summer time a
third of the ship may be kids. Guaranteed day 1 and 2 they'll be with
their parents, but day 3 on they'll of made new friends and do what kids do -
hang out on the stairs and come out of the woodwork at night. Many
adults hit their cabins after 9:00pm while the youth won't hit the hay till
1:00am or later. Most ships have programs to keep the kids busy, but
that's only if the kids use the programs. Teenagers will populate
the hot tubs for hours at a time.
lines like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cater to a more sophisticated crowd, so
you can expect better service and I found the food to better by a small margin
on the Celebrity. Carnival may have 24 hour ice cream and pizza, which the
DANCING - Ask if the cruise line has dance hosts - not that you may need to use
them, but if a cruise line is serious about the bands they hire and the dance
crowd, they'll have dance hosts. Carnival didn't and the quality of the
bands was third rate, while Celebrity Mercury had two dance hosts and had a
fabulous due on one level, a fabulous 5 piece band on the main dance floor, and
a great big band that played all over. Every day there was dancing,
while on Royal Caribbean we had a day with not much happening. Royal
Caribbean is a classier line and had a couple of great bands one Polish band was
Transatlantic cruises that travel from New York to Birmingham (GB) will have 6-8
dance hosts. Each dance host looks after one section of the dance rooms,
and of course, all the single ladies in that area.
Smoking - The cruise lines in general haven't caught up with smoking reality in
Canada. Celebrity would allow smoking in designated places - i.e.
right have of a lounge. Royal Caribbean had two places inside the
ship (one piano lounge and gambling area), and on Carnival you could smoke
anywhere even around the kids.
Shows - Celebrity Mercury and Carnival had the best shows - For me I'm
interested in dancing and great costumes, while Royal Caribbean had comics,
jugglers & such which I was so-so with.
Ship events - Celebrity had dance lessons every 2nd day as did Carnival - they
were just fun stuff - throw 20 moves at you and go for it. These
events are packed and on small floors
Dance floors - Celebrity Mercury won with a great downstairs floor and good
upstairs floor and every 45 minutes we moved from one floor to another as the
bands spelled each other off. Carnival had on lower decent floor, and
Royal Caribbean had one decent wood floor and a central marble floor. Each
ship had a separate Disco which had plastic/metal/marble flooring - not great
for structured dancing.
Bands - Celebrity Mercury won with an excellent duo, an extremely versatile 5
piece band from Santa Lucia, and a great Big band. Carnival
sometimes had a salsa/reggae band by the pool, and an awful band in the lower
deck that new one set of songs they repeated each night. Royal
Caribbean had one good band and one great band. All ships also had
classical guitarists & piano players in different lounges but none of that was
Formal - Celebrity and Carnival had one formal night, while Royal Caribbean had
Food - You can eat as much as you want on cruises. You can have two
entrees at each meal or four deserts. All ships have a main dining
room, and an upper very large smorgasbord style restaurant. My
favorite for food quality in all respects was Celebrity Mercury, followed by
Royal Caribbean, and then Carnival. Waiters in the main dining room on
Celebrity and Royal Caribbean were much more attentive and detail oriented.
We never saw the Head Waiter on the Carnival, but he wanted a tip at the end.
To get fabulous dining on Carnival you needed to spend $25.00 per person on a
meal at Davids restaurant. Royal Caribbean also had a "who-done-it" dinner
restaurant, and a Steakhouse restaurant - both of which you pay for.
Bar Service - Top notch on Celebrity and Royal Caribbean as the waiters were
very attentive. On the Royal Caribbean the tip of 15% is included in all
drinks. They also had daily specials which were delicious.
Gyms - Each ship had good workout gyms essential to keeping in top dance
Welcome aboard - Celebrity welcomed you aboard with your choice of a glass of
wine or orange juice - a very nice touch.
Tipping - Expect to pay your stateroom attendance about $75.00 and your main
waiter the same, with smaller amounts to the assistant waiter and a much smaller
amount to the Head Waiter.
Internet - Internet on the cruises is satellite, slow and expensive. Wait
till you hit port then use the really cheap and fast Internet cafe's.
Activities - Carnival had lots of fun stuff happening every day in addition to
all the other things you normally get. But on every ship there are
Art Auctions every day, singles meetups, "how to" seminars, talks from
interesting guests, low end dance lessons, Bingo, card & board games... in
addition to areas just for kids, and more
Sun tanning - Celebrity and Carnival had areas for adults only - i.e. topless
sun tanning, but which some of us used for a nice really quiet place (kid free)
Upgrades - Carnival often offers room upgrades, and last minute bargains often
will offer upgrade perks
Inside vs balcony - You pay more for balcony's, however if you're like me and
use your cabin for sleeping because you're so busy all over the ship, then a
balcony is a waste of time. However, some report that a balcony is a good
idea with cruises such as Panama