As in our previous article, we already see why the cruise industry is the largest growing sector in the tourism industry. What should you do if you want to have your first sail? What to do? First, which cruise line should you choose? At Your Voice Asia, we decided to differentiate the cruise lines into the below categories.
Budget Mass Market – these are your big cruise ships with a lower price point, and generally advertise to a younger clientele. You do get your standard cruise ship amenities, like the endless buffet line. Many also have features designed to attract younger cruisers and families, like Royal Caribbean’s artificial rock-climbing wall, clay Pidgeon shooting and golf. Staterooms are usually smaller, with a lower standard of amenities. Cruise lines in this category: Carnival, Costa, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean.
Upscale Mass Market – these ships are slightly smaller, though “small” means less than 3,000 passengers. Prices run a little higher than the budget lines, though the trade-off is a more luxurious ship and more personalized service. These cruises also target an older demographic. Cruise lines in this category: Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, MSC, Princess.
Luxury All-Inclusive – if you’ve cruised before, you might have received brochures from a “luxury” cruise line. At first blush, the prices might give you a little sticker shock. They are often several times the price of a mass-market ship. But the ships are substantially smaller, and typically are all-inclusive. In other words, no upcharges for things like speciality dining, or for alcoholic beverages. Cruise lines in this category: Azamara, Crystal, Hapag-Loyd, Oceania, Paul Gauguin, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silver`sea, Viking Ocean Cruises, and Windstar.
The biggest revelation in looking into cruising was the way the industry has provided sophisticated payment methods to make paying for your cruise easier than a traditional vacation. Cruise clubs help the vacationer budget plan a vacation.
Cruise Clubs – With 71% of first-time cruisers vowing to take a second cruise within eighteen months and 90% vow the same within three years, cruising has the largest percentage of repeat business than any other travel sector. While travel research has proved the all-inclusive nature of cruising to be the most cost-effective way to travel bar none, the cruise industry is not naïve to the fact that the initial ticket price may be the only hurdle to true world travel dominance. With this in mind, cruise clubs have served to provide a regular travel opportunity with sophisticated, easy to manage payment schemes to ensure those in the know make the best of their cruise time.
Two such clubs we recommend are:
ROL Cruise Miles Club was established more than 20 years ago. Its Cruise Miles club now has more than a 100,000 members. Independently owned, the company has won more than 50 cruise awards and it claims that its staff have a collective experience of more than 1,000 years in the travel industry. ROL Cruise sells cruises with all the big names, from Cunard to Holland America Line. Working as the “miles” on your credit card. You instantly earn 1,000 cruise miles when you sign up to Cruise Miles and every mile is worth a penny against your next booking. If you book a cruise with ROL, you’ll earn another mile for every pound you spend. Cruise Miles can be redeemed against everything from pre-cruise hotel stays and stateroom upgrades to cruises themselves.
Incruises. The Incruise membership stands out as the only CLIA (Cruise Liners International Association) affiliated saving scheme. With more than 300,000 savers contributing $100 US a month, Incruises pour’s 30,000,000 million US dollars into the industry every thirty days. Buying at trade prices for a global customer base means heavily discounted costs which enables Incruise to pass that saving onto the traveler in the form of a $200 USD credit for every $100 US saved getting twice as much for their money. As well as this, it seems the founder of Incruises (now in its fifth boom year) is Michael Hutchinson, undoubtedly one of America’s premier business entrepreneurs. Mr. Hutchinson allows his customers to recommend other potential cruise savers in return for rewards. So, not only does the club expand exponentially, securing more finance, more purchase power and therefore lower costs. But Incruises has three levels of savings where you can simply “Cruise for less”, “Cruise for free” or you can be, “Paid to cruise”. With no lock-in period and no contract, in our opinion, Incruises is not only the largest and most successful cruise club in the history of travel but provides the cruise industry’s premier service for the cruise vacationer.