Cruise ships: bigger, better, best?

In both aircraft and cruise-ship manufacturing, there’s a debate: is bigger always better? In aviation, the largest commercial plane, the Airbus A380, is popular only with airlines, notably Emirates, that are staking the future on carrying a lot of people over long distances to and from big airports.

Project Leonardo (NCL)

With cruise ships, there has been greater investment by those who believe  bigger is better, although niche operators beg to differ.

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Symphony rules the seas

With the launch next year of a new contender for the title of world’s biggest cruise ship, the question arises: just how big can a passenger vessel be?

Symphony of the Seas (royalcaribbean.com)

Royal Caribbean, which already has more megaships than any other company, is gearing up to launch Symphony of the Seas, and its vital statistics are incredible.

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We want affordable wi-fi!

There is one area where the hospitality industry has struggled (or is unwilling) to keep up and be competitive: the provision of internet services.

It is ridiculous in this day and age that some hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer near-extortionate prices for internet access (which, according to the United Nations, is a basic human right, no less).

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Considering a cruising career?

I once wanted to work on a cruise ship; part of me still does. What’s not to like about working on board a ship; to get paid to see the world, with accommodation, food and drinks thrown in?

Vision of the Seas

Well, there are quite a few things to think about if you are considering taking the leap into the world of hospitality and entertainment on the high seas.

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Secrets of the sea

One of my favourite activities onboard a cruise ship is the question-and-answer session with the captain and senior officers. Not every cruise line does it, but Royal Caribbean does on at least some of its ships, and it’s called Captain’s Corner.

On my cruise aboard Vision of the Seas, I learned — or was reminded of — quite a few “fun facts” about that particular ship and cruising in general in a session hosted by Captain Marek Slaby.

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Breaking free at sea

I broke one of my own rules. I decided this time that I would not spend money while at sea when I’m cruising.

4Ever plus one

The idea was to pay for everything in advance — and get the applicable discouts — then pretend to be having a free holiday (Hey, it works for me. I certainly got a good deal on the internet, paying about $5 a day less than I would had I bought it on board).

But I found one thing I couldn’t resist. Well, two actually.

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It’s all in the wrist

Frequent cruise passengers will know the frustration of losing their plastic keycard, or leaving it in their cabin. Replacing it often involves a hassle, both for the customer and the crew member who has to sort out the problem.

(ncl.com)

So it’s no surprise that cruise companies are looking at different ways of giving customers access to their cabins, pay their bills and access their onboard offerings. Continue reading It’s all in the wrist

Everything is ship-shape

It’s 10 days until I board the Vision of the Seas in Dubai for my week-long Arabian Gulf adventure.

Vision of the Seas (RoyalCaribbean.com)

As I write, I have completed all the formalities I need to rock up to Port Rashid and board the vessel. As long as I remember a few things …

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My cruise update

My next holiday adventure is a cruise on the Vision of the Seas from Dubai, up and down the Arabian Gulf, and back to Dubai for a week beginning February 20.

Vision of the Seas (RoyalCaribbean.com)

I paid the “all-inclusive” price more than a month ago, but today I’ve bought some extras — a drinks package and internet access (which comes at a discount if you buy it before you sail).

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Fancy your own cruise ship?

I recently wrote about the list price of the Airbus fleet. So, it seems only fair that I also write about the cost of cruise ships, in case you are thinking of buying one.

Oasis of the Seas (http://www.royalcaribbean.com)

Now, buying a new ship is a bit different to buying a plane — they have to be custom built, you can’t get them off the rack, as it were. But you are still going to have to have fairly deep pockets.

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My next cruise is booked

I’ve just booked another cruise — a seven-day trip up and down the Arabian Gulf from Dubai in February — and it’s given me the opportunity to revisit the booking process and offer some, hopefully useful, tips.

Vision of the Seas (royalcaribbean.com)

As I’ve written before, it’s often more expensive for solo travellers to take cruises because a single supplement — let’s not call it a “no-friends tax” — often applies.

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The like boat

You’re bound to have heard a story about people who meet while on holiday, exchange addresses and phone numbers, and hope like hell that they never hear from each other again.

Then, there are those cliched holiday romances — none more romantic than those forged on a sea voyage — that always end in tears (although not always due to an iceberg).

The Love Boat
The Love Boat (ABC)

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Feeling ship-shape

Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

I was sorry to read that more than 180 passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas were struck down by what the Australian media called a “stomach bug” on a recent cruise into Sydney.

I sincerely hope the inconvenience of being ill doesn’t put these people off taking further cruises. I feel their pain, because it happened to me during a cruise down the Suez Canal, but I can assure them that Royal Caribbean will look after them, and work hard to prevent a repeat.

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