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A Cruise Ship Learning Center Helps You Get More Than Your Money’s Worth

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Cruise line ratings indicate how well a cruise line performs in the realm of customer service. Going on a cruise isn't a common occurrence for most people. While it often is a means of transport, taking a cruise is a vacation in of itself. Doing proper research is an excellent way of weeding out cruise lines that underperform or deliver unfavorable experiences. Consulting the various sources that exists for cruise ship ratings is a very prudent way to know that your upcoming vacation will be done in style, class and elegance.

Cruise ship resources can come from several sources. Professional cruise ship reviewers exist and often will rate how effective a cruise liner is at delivering the goods. These individuals often have discerning tastes and can be a great source to consult when planning your next trip. Often these professionals are commissioned by hospitality ranking magazines or services to provide examinations of particular cruise liners. Sometimes these may be independent agents or experts in travelling accommodations. Either way these knowledgeable authorities can offer insight on the ups and down of a particular cruise liner with a detailed cruise ship learning center.

However, the experts can sometimes be compromised by their level of notoriety. A famous travel expert or cruise liner reviewer may be known to be abroad a certain ship. Often special treatment may be given, knowingly or unknowingly, to this person. This can compromise the validity of the rating if there is special attention lavished on this individual. Personalized ratings from passengers are a second viable means of securing reviews on cruise liners. These can be more reliable because they are filed by actual passengers that lack the visibility of professionals. Also, their experiences and position within a certain section of a cruise ship may be helpful for determining which level of accommodation to opt for. A bad review from someone in a luxury suite may convince you to book something a bit more practical.

Again, these reviews may not be completely reliable. Ratings given by passengers may lack the sophistication and technical abilities a professional rating has. Objectivity is also important to consider in both review cases. Each cruise liner experience is different. One room may have a very satisfied occupant while the one next door may loathe the entire experience. The key is to synthesize the ratings available and determine your own verdict. Ratings are great for a cruise liner but the decision on to go or not are ultimately up to you. Take each rating as a reference point from which to form your own opinion.

Norwegian Epic Cruise Ship Review

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I was invited to attend the exclusive 2-night (July 2 - 3, 2010) pre-inaugural sailing for NCL's newest and largest ship, the Norwegian Epic. Departing from NY City, the sailing began with the ship's naming ceremony, which was hosted by comedian Jeff Garlin and featured the ship's godmother, Reba McEntire. Adding to the festivities was the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show which was broadcast live from the Epic on national television (WNBC). It included musical performances by Justin Bieber, Enrique Iglesias and LeeAnn Rimes. As I have experienced many times in the past, the folks at NCL really know how to throw a party! But let's focus on their new ship, the Epic.

The "Hardware"

When discussing the physical attributes of a cruise ship (i.e., it's layout and appearance), industry professionals often refer to the ship's "hardware". So, let's start there.

At 153,000 tons with a passenger capacity of 4,100 (based on double occupancy), the Norwegian Epic is, by far, the largest ship in the NCL fleet. In fact, with the exception of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas (which was launched in December 2009), NCL's Epic is among the largest cruise ships at sea. It is also one of the most uniquely designed cruise ships that I have ever been on (… and I've been on quite a few). In most cases, that "uniqueness" is a very positive attribute which reflects the thoughtfulness and attention that the Epic's designers must have paid to maximizing the use of space to achieve a much bigger, wide-open "feel" to all of the ship's public areas. And, the way that one area just seemed to "flow" into the next (without the "cookie-cutter" rigidity sometimes found on cruise ships) was truly remarkable. But, in a few areas, I did not perceive the unique design of the ship to be an advantage. For instance, the exterior shape of the ship seemed a bit "odd" to me. The bow is somewhat "stubby-looking" and the stern is "squared-off" so that the ship does not have a "sleek" appearance from the outside. Adding to the irregular look is a massive 3-deck appendage that was seemingly "plopped" on top of the front section as an afterthought (or, more likely, to further maximize the ship's interior space). Obviously, the ship's designers had to make some "trade-off's" to accomplish everything they did inside the ship and, after all, from a passenger's perspective, the interior design is far more important.

The decor of the Epic is modern and somewhat more "toned-down" than other NCL ships. Getting around was not quite as easy because of the ship's unique interior design. Rather than having its public areas running at a uniform width through the center of the ship, the Epic's interior gave the illusion of being designed that way but, in several different places, the interior width of the ship would seemingly vary and you would go to the right or to the left to enter another venue. So, just when I thought I had seen the entire ship, I would discover a new area. Having been on over 50 cruise ships, I found the layout of the Epic to be very interesting and "refreshing".

Celebrity Solstice Cruise Ship Review – Celebrity Cruises Review

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Celebrity Cruises Solstice is a 122,000 ton, 2850 passenger cruise ship that entered service in November 2008. She was the first in a series of 5 Solstice-class cruise ships, including the Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette, and Reflection. From the moment I stepped onto the Solstice, I knew this one was different. The Solstice had calming, soothe color palettes, with rich dark wood panels and earth tone walls. The spa, the lawn club, hot glass show, the service, and ship itself were amazing. The Solstice was elegant yet understated; it felt luxurious to me.

The cabins were very comfortable and Zen-like, and I felt like I was staying at a spa. I had the pleasure of staying in a balcony stateroom, with a supple white leather couch that doubled as a bed, and the bedding was beautiful and extremely comfortable. The shower had a shave-bar...a feature I found very useful when shaving my legs.

The pool area was like nothing I had ever seen. There were dancing waters..and comfortable lounge chairs. I especially loved the cabanas around the pool.

Dining onboard the Solstice was spectacular. The food was scrumptious. The dinner selections at the Grand Epernay Dining Room every evening were fantastic, and decadent. Casual buffet dining is offered at the Oceanview Cafe. There is also a fabulous selection of specialty restaurants, including Murano serving French cuisine, a steakhouse for meat lovers...Tuscan Grille, Silk Harvest serving Asian cuisine, and Blu Restaurant - serving healthy fare for all AquaClass guests. The specialty dining restaurants do carry a surcharge, but are well worth trying for something different, or for special occasions.

The Solstice is calming, relaxing, and classy but not stuffy. Celebrity has a luxury line of ships in the Solstice class....and have done an outstanding job. It exceeded my expectations of what a ship should be...I was wowed.

Clients looking for something more than a party ship atmosphere, food and wine lovers, or those looking to cruise in a luxurious ship without luxury pricing will enjoy the Celebrity Solstice.

Typical Night Life on a Cruise Ship Reviewed

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What can you expect on the cruise?

The nightlife of a cruise ship can be amazingly similar to what you get on the street downtown in any major city. The only difference is that most of the events are choreographed and there is a kind of discipline that you might not find on the streets. For example you should not expect drunken youths to stagger out of the club in the middle of the night. The worst that you can get is a tipsy gentleman that is unable to get out of the way or someone with a severe bout of sea sickness. However this does not mean that life is dull when the sun sets. I would say that that is when the cruise vessel will come alive. There are various forms of entertainment ranging from the nightclubs to the casinos. You have a choice of where to go. One of the most interesting things is that you get the cabaret singers.

There is something sad and yet compelling about the cabaret singers on the cruise ships. Some of them are starting their careers while others are finishing them. Others will hope to develop further when it is clear that they do not have the talent. The clients demand so much from the entertainers and it can be a very difficult job. They have to keep smiling even when they feel link strangling one of the clients that is ogling at them. The quality of the singing is not up to opera standards but it can certainly hold its own. These are the people that dedicate their time to making your stay a very enjoyable one. You should give them the courtesy of listening to their music with an open mind. They might have something useful to say and it is generally a good time. If that is not your kind of thing then you can join the ballroom dancing clubs. That is a favorite pastime for the older adults.

This is a skill that can keep you fit. At the same time you get the chance to meet new people that may help you to develop your social skills. The clubs are run by a professional and they act as some sort of instruction. However you can also take a turn if you wish to. The levels of proficiency are mixed but that is not the point. This is all about ensuring that the people that are on the cruise get a wonderful time and great memories to carry with them when they get back home. You can take it in the way that you feel that is most appropriate but at the end of the day this is all about having fun. It will keep you occupied and away from the cabin. When you meet people during the nightlife on the cruise, you might end up maintaining contact. In the event this is one of the activities that are on offer and it is up to you to select it if you like.

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What to Look for in Cruise Ship Reviews

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Individuals who would like to go on a cruise are always advised to look for cruise ship reviews that will help them to decide on which cruise is best. However, most of them are not aware of the specifics details to look for in these reviews. Cruises are different, and a person will have different reasons for wanting to go on a cruise. The reviews will help the person to choose a cruise that focuses on their particular needs during the entire trip.

The first thing to consider is the services offered by the cruise ship. Individuals who would like to have a cruise wedding are likely to look for a cruise ship that offers this service. Those who are on a honeymoon should consider cruise with honeymoon suites, while those on retirement can look for other services. The services offered in the packages will help the individual to determine whether the cruise is right for them.

The second thing to look for is the reputation that the cruise ship has. Most of the reviews are done by professionals in the industry who know all about ships and cruises. Cruise ships that are old and prone to damage should always be avoided. Also, ships where crime has happened should be avoided. An individual should only go on a cruise which they trust since they may be spending weeks or months out at sea on the ship.

The different stops that a cruise ship makes should also be considered. Cruises travel to different destinations throughout the world. There are individuals who would not be comfortable visiting certain ports. Others are looking for specific spots because of the beauty or uniqueness that they offer. They should always read through the reviews in order to know the exact spots before choosing the cruise that they prefer.

The age groups as well as the themes catered for should also be looked at closely. There are cruise ships that do not allow children on board. Therefore, individuals who would like to travel as a family will not be able to board such a ship. Furthermore, certain ships have themes that are directed towards particular interests. Cruises that have sports themes with mini golf and swimming areas will not be enjoyable for individuals who are not sports enthusiasts.

The environment in the cruise ship is also mentioned in a lot of cruise ship reviews. The individuals should always consider this in order to ensure that they are not bored during the trip. Some cruises have a very formal atmosphere, while others have a party or carnival mood. The type of mood that the traveler would like should therefore be considered or they will definitely not enjoy themselves.

It is a fact that cruises are very expensive and individuals who go on such trips always like to get their money's worth. An individual who reads cruise ship reviews will be able to get a clear picture of what a certain cruise is like. This will help them to decide on the particular cruise before they swipe their card or open their wallet.