Tourism is generally viewed as a powerful force related to human development and the wider public good. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in the last five decades, growth of the tourism sector has been exponential and this trend is not expected to change in the future; especially for the Cruise Industry. The growth and impact of Cruise tourism has provided travelers the option to have fun, meet new people and relax while cruising to some of the most beautiful destinations and ports around the globe.However, booking a first-class cruise experience with ease can be tough. Beth Godlin, President, Aon Affinity Travel Practice the consumer, association and group program business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), talked to “Cheese Traveller” about when you should book a cruise, what budget do you need and how to choose what ports to target.
Q. When should you book your cruise?
- A: To get the best selection of cabin types, itineraries and promotional rates, book early – 12 to 18 months in advance. If that’s too early, try to book 6 to 12 months in advance. Many cruise lines are giving their best deals early on. If you wait for last-minute deals, you might only be able to pick from a limited selection of ships, sailings and cabins; plus, you might not save any money.
- A: Generally, cruise brands offer options at every price point. Even within a certain cruise line, brands offer a broad range of options.
Here are four suggestions, thanks to Royal Caribbean:
For about $600, you can book a three-night trip to the Bahamas for two people. Take the Enchantment of the Seas from Port Canaveral to Nassau and CocoCay.
For about $2,000 for two, take the Oasis of the Seas from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to the Western Caribbean for seven nights. Ports of call include Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico.
For less than $3,000, two people can sail for 14 nights around Cape Horn, Chile, on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Go see the rugged terrain of the Tierra del Fuego! Stops include Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay.
If you have a bigger budget and can spend about $15,000, go experience the Mediterranean in style onboard the Jewel of the Seas. A nine-night Greek Isles cruise starts at about $13,000 for two guests for a Royal Suite complete with a living room, private balcony and more. Sail from Rome, and stop in Sicily, Athens, Mykonos, Ephesus and Santorini.
Q. Is price an indicator of luxury? How might price influence consumer expectations of excellent service and great comfort?
- A: The great thing about cruises is that they exist at many budget levels, especially taking into consideration the length of trip, destination and multiple ports! If you plan ahead, you can score cruises that get you to several destinations in a comfortable and fun setting at a lower price than a comparable trip ashore. That said, you should also make a wish list of experiences you’d like to have on board. Would you like to enjoy a lavish dinner every night, or do you prefer a buffet? Do you want to go see a live performance? Do you want to get a massage or even spend a whole day at the spa? Answering these questions will help you prioritize and stay within your budget while still getting a feeling of luxury.
Q. Tourism destination regions can be associated with famous persons, hallmark events, local products and specialties, and flagship buildings. Which ports should you be targeting on your cruise? What makes a port standout as a cruise destination?
- A: Start by looking at all your options to find ports you can reach easily and that are cost-effective for you. Check for cruise package pricing from certain ports. Consider your interests – do you want to explore historic sites? Go on a shopping spree? Relax on a beach? Also keep in mind your level of enthusiasm – are you looking to see as many sites as possible, or would you rather go on one educational shore excursion and relax the rest of the trip? All these factors will determine which ports make sense for you.
Q. What steps should a cruise traveler take in order to minimize the risks associated with travel and protect their investment and well-being?
- A: A cruise can be a sizable investment, so it’s smart to spend a few extra dollars to protect your trip against unforeseen events. Check out travel insurance policies offered through your cruise line to get coverage that’s tailored to your cruise. While every policy is different, most plans provided by cruise lines protect typical vacations from departure to return. Airfare, activities or excursions booked through and prepaid to the travel supplier would generally be protected as well. Foreseeable and likely events are generally not covered, but you might consider “cancel for any reason” products to address those types of concerns.
Q. Cruises provide goods and services that create specific levels of value for the customer so that the customers remain engaged positively with the cruise industry. What factors influence the trip satisfaction experienced by cruise travelers?
- A: Positive cruise experience is just like any other vacation experience – ultimately, a lot depends on what you make of it. Of course, travelers have come to expect certain things to consider a cruise a success – above all, having fun!
Q. Tourism offers products and services to consumers where one can experience eudemonic and hedonic well-being. How might a cruise enhance the traveler’s well-being?
- A: A cruise is not just a great way to get away from your everyday life and worries. It offers you the opportunity to travel to several destinations – all while making the trip to get there part of the holiday fun! It’s like a traveling resort, complete with delicious food and drinks, endless entertainment, and the opportunity to make new friends.
Selecting a cruise destination is the most important part of the planning process for both first-time cruisers and experienced cruisers. Cruising offers the unique opportunity to visit a number of destinations at once and thus it’s important to select the itinerary carefully so that you’re able to make the most of your time in every port. Planning and selecting the perfect cruise is part of the overall process but travel involves also a certain amount of risk. A cruise can be a good sized vacation investment so it always safe to spend a few extra dollars to get travel protection.