Live Talk Transcript: Cruising
Cruise Critic editor Carolyn Spencer Brown answered your questions on cruising
Planning a vacation calls for tough decisions--where to go, what to do and see, how to please the kids and yourself at the same time.
But there's an easy solution.
On a cruise, there's fun for every family member: kids and teens have special events; adults have a huge range of activities, day and night. So the whole family has a fine time at each member's level of interest.
It's foreign travel without the worry--you take your hotel with you, the Captain does the driving and the ship's personnel becomes your personal staff, freeing you to experience new activities while you sample the culture of foreign destinations around the world.
The hardest part about taking a cruise is picking the right ship and itinerary for you--let me help guide you through the hundreds of ships out there and point you in right direction to find the best deals.
Carolyn Spencer Brown answered your questions Tuesday, July 20, at noon EST.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, one of America's leading cruise journalists, is editor of Cruise Critic (cruisecritic.com), the industry's most prominent outlet for consumer-oriented cruise travel news and information.
Brown formerly covered the cruise industry as a staff writer for the travel section of The Washington Post, where she also wrote about numerous other facets of traveling, as a contributor to "Coming and Going," the newspaper's weekly travel news column, and as author of other news, trend- and destination-oriented features. As a cruise journalist, Brown also has extensive freelance experience; her work has appeared in national magazines and major newspapers. Prior to accepting the editor's position at Cruise Critic, she had been a major contributor to the web site for the last four years. She was responsible for launching Cruise Critic's daily news column, now a web site staple, and has written everything from cruise reviews to feature stories.
Carolyn Spencer Brown: Hi, everybody, welcome to Budget Travel Online's weekly live chat. As you can see from the intro above, this week we're talking about cruise vacations and I'm happy to answer as many of your questions as I can.
Please feel free, though, to submit your own answers to other folks questions--advice, warnings, and we especially anecdotal stories. Don't be shy!
Okay, here we go.
Atlanta, GA: My husband and I are very interested in taking a cruise. My husband is afraid that I will book a cruise ship that is not suited to our personalities (We've heard boredom stories). How do I gather info re: the ships target age group, activities and social actives/environment without the help of a travel professional (or do you suggest that I hire one)?
Carolyn Spencer Brown: Hi, Atlanta. Well, a really good travel agent will "interview" you to get a sense of your likes and dislikes and then help you to make an informed decision. On the other hand, it's your vacation - and ultimately you're the one who really cares if you've picked the right ship. One trick I like to use is to ask people: what type of car do you drive and what type of hotel chain do you prefer? If you can write back and let me know - I'll offer a recommendation!
Beyond that&one good way is to research, as much as possible. Our site'' great for that, others are too. Read professional reviews, read reader-submitted reviews, and feel free to post questions on the message board. A good guidebook to check out - can'' remember the name of it - but it'' by Douglas Ward (and that'' all you need to know! He updates it every few years). Hope that helps.
Newark, DE: I will be cruising for the first time, leaving on Halloween night, for the Southern Caribbean! Is it best to plan and/or reserve my adventures before getting on the ship or should I wait and see what is offered?
Carolyn Spencer Brown: Newark, I'm a big fan of booking -- or at least planning -- for shore tours, whether it's through the ship or through independent operators -- in advance. It's a bummer when you get onboard and find out the one tour you wanted in Kona (okay this is my recent experience), a chocolate tour, is sold out and waitlisted...and there's no way.
Brooklyn, NY: We are living in an era of megaliners. The ships seem to be the destination. Are there smaller ships, say of 40,000 - 50,000 tons (or smaller) available to the "average income" cruiser? It seems the smaller ships cater to the high-end cruise market or to the European market.