Ask Trip Coach: Cruising

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We're aiming to tackle a biggie in the travel industry, so send us all the questions you have about cruising now.

For obvious reasons, the cruise industry portrays the big-ship experience as being wonderful for every kind of traveler under the sun -- families, couples, big groups, adventure-seekers, partiers, and so on. But let's be honest: Plenty of travelers have no interest whatsoever in cruising. Perhaps they're scared they'll feel trapped on a boat, or they are worried about being overwhelmed by crowds on ships that accommodate thousands. Or perhaps they're turned off by the types of travelers they assume they'd encounter on a cruise, embodied by the little rhyming ditty that says cruise passengers fall into one of three categories: newlywed, overfed, and nearly dead.

In our Trip Coach story, we want to set the record straight and answer all your concerns about cruising as honestly as possible. But first, we need to hear from you. So whether you're a diehard or novice cruiser, someone who is mildly interested or someone who never pictured him or herself on a big-ship cruise, send us your questions now. You might want to know:

So what kinds of travelers really go on cruises?

What are the big differences among cruise companies? How do I figure out which is right for my group?

When (and how) do I book to get the best deal?

How (and when) should I book excursions to get the best deal? And how do I figure out what excursions are right for me?

Do the glitzy enormous new cruise ships live up to the hype?

Which cabins are worth paying extra for?

Are the special on-board restaurants that cost extra worth the money?

What are the hottest, most interesting ports visited by cruise ships today?

Wow, we're going to have a lot of ground to cover in this story. So do us a favor and tell us which issues you find most pressing and most puzzling -- and if you want to chime in with your own answers and insights, by all means do so. We'd love to hear from you.

Now is the time if you've been wondering about any part of the cruise experience. We'll address as many cruise questions as we can in an upcoming issue of Budget Travel.

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