As the summer cruise season approaches, Adelman Vacations recommends that cruise customers take a closer look at not just cruise routes and destinations, but the cruise lines themselves.
“Most cruise customers are looking for not just a cruise, but an experience,” said Deana Crouch, director of vacation sales for Adelman Vacations. “Some customers are young and single, some are retired couples, and many are families with children. Many of the cruise ships are massive in size, but still, they can’t be all things to all people.”
Crouch said that pictures of large, sleek cruise ships tend to give the impression that all cruise ships are the same. “Not at all true. Ships come in all sizes, shapes and designs – sometimes to accommodate type of cruise, and sometimes to accommodate the waters they navigate,” she said. “For example, some river cruises may be limited to 100 or so passengers, where some Caribbean and trans-Atlantic cruise ships can carry over 5,000. There are even themed cruises.
The last 10-15 years has seen a large increase in family cruise vacations. “Some of the cruise lines focus on only family cruises,” said Crouch. “They’ve done a good job of developing fun experiences for moms and dads and children of all ages – and helping families to connect through their cruise experience.”
Crouch said although summertime is popular, there is no such thing as a single cruise season. “Cruises are global – they’re on every ocean and designed for all seasons and occasions. “For instance, if you’re looking for a scenic cruise in Alaska, go in the summertime. Many historic destinations are also only open in the spring and summer. But if you’re looking for a tropical paradise, you may enjoy it more if you go in January or February.”
Crouch encourages cruising customers to check out the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). “CLIA doesn’t represent any single cruise line – they represent the entire industry,” said Crouch. “They provide good, unbiased information – and they provide educational certification to travel agents on cruise vacations.”
“We also recommend that potential cruisers book their vacation through an experienced travel agent,” said Crouch. “We often have access to unadvertised specials, and can help customers get extras like shipboard credits, spa credits and upgrades. Also, if a customer has any kind of an issue, we become their advocates.” Crouch received her Master Cruise Counselor Certificate through CLIA, is a Destination Specialist, and has taken 67 cruises herself.
“We always say that an educated customer is the best customer,” said Crouch. “When customers’ experiences meet or exceed their expectations, they come back and cruise again.”