Sea Travel - Luxury on the High Seas

A Popular Way to Vacation

Cruising is a major segment of the tourism industry and a popular way to vacation.

Unlike other means of transportation, where the vehicle is simply a means to get to one's destination, on a cruise, the ship is the destination as one's entire vacation centers around the ship.

My wife and I recently took a cruise on a recent vacation. Like other cruise ships, our ship, the Royal Caribbean Lines vessel the Serenade of the Seas, was basically a floating resort.

On board was every amenity imaginable including eight dining rooms, pool, spa, climbing wall, miniature golf course, theater, lounges, casino, mini shopping mall, art gallery and more. It had more things to do and, with up to 2,490 passengers and 890 crew, a population larger, than can be found in many small towns.

The The Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship "Serenade of the Seas" docked in Vancouver, BC Canada
The The Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship "Serenade of the Seas" docked in Vancouver, BC Canada | Source
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship "Serenade of the Seas" anchored in harbor of Icy Point Strait,  Alaska
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship "Serenade of the Seas" anchored in harbor of Icy Point Strait, Alaska | Source

Cost Can be Very Reasonable & Fare is All Inclusive

While the total cost of a cruise varies depending upon the type of accommodations and extras one chooses, the range of prices varies from what an average income couple or family would reasonably expect to pay for a week's vacation to very expensive luxury travel.

As with other types of travel, taxes (including port fees in this case) figure significantly into the price and, depending upon the ports of call, the taxes can, and sometimes do, exceed the lowest cruise fare.

However, the cruise price is all inclusive in the sense that one can take a cruise and not incur any additional expenses from the time they board the ship until they leave the ship at the end of the cruise. In fact, the only additional costs of such a vacation besides the cost of the cruise and taxes which are paid at time of booking, would be transportation to and from the port of departure and return.

Once aboard, other than cabin size and location, there are no real distinctions between passengers as the crew goes all out to pamper and treat everyone as if they were all nineteenth century aristocratic tycoons.

Ballantyne Pier (built in 1923) in Port of Vancouver, BC
Ballantyne Pier (built in 1923) in Port of Vancouver, BC | Source
Loading Luggage on to a Cruise Ship
Loading Luggage on to a Cruise Ship | Source
View of Ballantyne Pier in Port of Vancouver, British Columbia from a Cruise Ship
View of Ballantyne Pier in Port of Vancouver, British Columbia from a Cruise Ship | Source

Passengeers are Welcome to Spend As Much Money as they Wish

Of course, the cruise line spares no effort in giving those who wish to spend additional money every opportunity to do so.

First of all, passengers are not only asked but also given a list of suggested amounts, to provide a gratuity (tip) at the end of the cruise for the staff who clean their cabin and the serving staff in the restaurants. Given the service received, it seems more than reasonable to show these people your appreciation for their outstanding efforts in this area.

While access to most dining areas is included in the cruise price, there are some specialty ones in which you pay extra and, of course, there is a charge for any wine and cocktails you have with your meal.

Then there is the mini shopping mall which is stocked with expensive cameras, liquors, jewelry and designer clothing among other things. Our cruise included an art gallery stacked with art supplied by a major art dealer, a representative from which was not only on the cruise selling the art but also giving free workshops on art collecting and conducting two or three auctions during the cruise.

A Lecture on Marc Chagall

I attended a workshop conducted by the representative of the art dealer on the artist Marc Chagall and his friendship with and collaboration with Walt Disney.  

The workshop was fascinating as was the auction that followed.  

Given that many of the bids were well in excess of the cost of our entire vacation of which the cruise was only one part, I did not raise my hand to bid.  

However, that was ok and I was still served free champagne and everyone else seemed to assume that I must have owned enough of what was being offered that day and was looking for something else.

Views of Our Cabin

My wife relaxing in cabin aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship "Serenade of the Seas"
My wife relaxing in cabin aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship "Serenade of the Seas" | Source
View of cabin aboard the cruise ship "Serenade of the Seas"
View of cabin aboard the cruise ship "Serenade of the Seas" | Source
Entrance to cabin on "Serenade of the Seas"  cruise ship
Entrance to cabin on "Serenade of the Seas" cruise ship | Source
Cabin on Royal Caribbean Lines "Serenade of the Seas" cruise ship
Cabin on Royal Caribbean Lines "Serenade of the Seas" cruise ship | Source

Spending Money in Ports of Call

Optional excursions and activities in the ports of call are another opportunity to spend money. These are sold by the cruise line and you can sign-up and pay for them when you purchase your cruise or sign-up and pay while on the boat.

We took one bus excursion in one of the ports we visited as that excursion provided an interesting tour of a large area well beyond where we could make it on our own in the time we were on shore.

In addition to commercial excursions on shore, there are numerous opportunities to spend money in the local economy on shore.

Many high end jewelry and similar stores provide coupons and free offers to the on board activities director to hand out and direct people to their establishments.

The activities director or cruise line usually receives a commission on purchases made by people from the ship from these establishments. Other retail establishments simply take advantage of the traffic coming off the cruise ships of which there is are usually more than one in port at a time.

View of Open Central Area above main floor lounge on Royal Caribbean "Serenade of the Seas"  cruise ship
View of Open Central Area above main floor lounge on Royal Caribbean "Serenade of the Seas" cruise ship | Source

Photos to Remember Your Trip

Finally, there are photographs. Beginning when you first step on board and continuing at various points throughout the cruise, there is one or more ship's photographers whose job it is to snap pictures of you.

Some are candid, some are posed, some can be avoided and others cannot be gracefully declined. A few hours after being taken, the photos are available to view and purchase.

Regardless of whether you wanted your photo taken or not, you are under no obligation to purchase it. But they are available for purchase usually starting at $10 to $20 for a single 5 x 7 to packages of varying sizes ranging up to a hundred dollars or more.

Part of the Ship's Mini-Mall

Mini-Mall aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship "Serenade of the Seas"
Mini-Mall aboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship "Serenade of the Seas" | Source
"Serenade of the Seas"  cruise ship has everything including a Mini Shopping Mall
"Serenade of the Seas" cruise ship has everything including a Mini Shopping Mall | Source

Spending Made Easy

The cruise line makes purchasing on board easy for buyer and seller.

As the passengers tend to be multi-national and ports of call usually in foreign nations, the ship obviously wants to avoid having to stock and deal in multiple currencies let alone get involved in having to exchange currencies.

To avoid this, part of the pre-boarding paperwork includes a form where you provide credit card number for use on the ship (I think that you can deposit cash in lieu of a credit card).

An account is then set up for each family and their ship ID cards are used to pay for all purchases (including the tips unless you want to give cash to your serving staff). The sum of your charges are applied to your credit card at the end of the voyage.


My point here is not to criticize this extra commercial activity but rather to explain the process. While there are plenty of opportunities and inducements to get passengers to spend money, I found less direct sales pressure than I encounter in a regular store at home. All of the staff went out of their way to be polite and put passenger comfort first so I never felt any pressure to buy anything.

An Equalitarian Environment Where Everyone is Treated as if They are Rich

In fact one can say that cruise lines do a much better job at income redistribution than do governments.

Obviously the opportunity to generate large amounts of revenue from the sale of expensive art, jewelry and other things along with high priced wines at dinner enables the line to be able to afford to provide every passenger with a level of comfort and luxury that only the very rich could afford in the past.

In this way big spending wealthy travelers subsidize lower income travelers while the crew makes no distinction between passengers and simply assumes everyone is rich.

And, as pointed out in the book, The Millionaire Next Door, it is difficult to know now days if the couple in the small inside cabin is there because that was all they could afford or because they are rich with frugal roots and would much rather spend their money on some expensive jewelry or art rather than on a place to sleep for a week.

Art Gallery area displaying artwork to be auctioned off
Art Gallery area displaying artwork to be auctioned off
Entrance to ship's theater with live entertainment every evening (a movie theater is next to it)
Entrance to ship's theater with live entertainment every evening (a movie theater is next to it)
A evening's entertainment in the theater
A evening's entertainment in the theater
Welcome Aboard food sculpture
Welcome Aboard food sculpture
One of the formal dining rooms
One of the formal dining rooms
Buffet style dining room with every type of food imaginable - a minefield of food for dieters
Buffet style dining room with every type of food imaginable - a minefield of food for dieters
Glass elevator in central area of ship.
Glass elevator in central area of ship.
Since it is easy to lose track of time in the relaxed environment, all of the elevators have a removable plate in the floor in which the current day of the week is displayed.
Since it is easy to lose track of time in the relaxed environment, all of the elevators have a removable plate in the floor in which the current day of the week is displayed.
Since she is registered in the the Bahamas, the Serenade of the Seas always flys the Bahamian flag (her national flag) in the stern when in port.  The host nation's flag is flown in the bow when in port)
Since she is registered in the the Bahamas, the Serenade of the Seas always flys the Bahamian flag (her national flag) in the stern when in port. The host nation's flag is flown in the bow when in port)
Pool and other water activities on the top deck
Pool and other water activities on the top deck
Other Cruise ships entering harbor in Juneau, Alaska
Other Cruise ships entering harbor in Juneau, Alaska
Another cruise ship entering Juneau harbor
Another cruise ship entering Juneau harbor
Lowering a lifeboat while docked in the bay of Icy Strait Point, Alaska.  When there are no docking facilities for large ships, the lifeboats are used to ferry passengers between ship and shore.
Lowering a lifeboat while docked in the bay of Icy Strait Point, Alaska. When there are no docking facilities for large ships, the lifeboats are used to ferry passengers between ship and shore.
A lifeboat in the water ferrying passengers
A lifeboat in the water ferrying passengers
Loading passengers on to lifeboat to ferry them to shore.
Loading passengers on to lifeboat to ferry them to shore.
Looking down upon elevator and main floor lounge.
Looking down upon elevator and main floor lounge.
Our ship back in Port in Vancouver.
Our ship back in Port in Vancouver.

More by this Author


Comments 23 comments

Taranwanderer profile image

Taranwanderer 22 months ago

This cabin ship cruise looks to be the perfect size - especially the stateroom above. Great work!

http://hubpages.com/travel/7-Amazing-Cruise-Ship-C...


CharterJetService profile image

CharterJetService 6 years ago

Fantastic hub! I love taking cruises, it is probably one of my favorite ways to vacation.


John 6 years ago

Wow! The images are very nice. And this article is very nice

http://smartraveluk.com/


surf olas altas 6 years ago

I noticed in the cabins that the TV's were not flat panel LCD screens - Iwould kind of expect that these days for anything 'luxury'.


camps bay villas 6 years ago

I have been on a sea cruise but nothing of this sort. The Serenade of the Seas is spectacular.

Being on a cruise has really shown me that traveling by air is not as relaxing nor comforting as a cruise could be. I had hesitated before due to seasickness but after spending time on an amazing cruise I felt easy and my experience was incredible. I would recommend a cruise for absolute style and quality of travel.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

travel agency - thanks for visiting and for your informative comments.

I agree with you about the potential for stress. However, on the two cruises I have taken I have avoided this by building layovers into our plans.

On our Alaskan cruise we sailed out of Vancouver. It was a 7 day cruise and I took eleven days of vacation from work which gave me 15 days total with weekends. We flew to Seattle and spent a week visiting our daughter and then joined my brother and his wife who had driven out from Wisconsin and took a leisurely drive to nearby Vancouver where we spent the night and then boarded the ship.

Following the cruise we drove back to Seattle, spent the night in a hotel by the airport and flew home the next day.

On our recent cruise to the Caribbean we flew to Miami the day before departure. Boarded the ship around noon for a 6 p.m. sailing. Upon our return we left the ship around ten in the morning, took a shuttle to the airport and spent five hours in the airport (where I finished reading a novel I had started on the ship and my wife began emailing pictures of our trip to friends using my netbook. We then flew home with minimal stress.


travel agency profile image

travel agency 6 years ago from Vancouver

It is true that luxury cruise can seem like an expensive item, a typical air tix, accommodation, food, transportation, and other minor expenses can easily match the cruise.

Another major point would be the stress that follows you after the trip. Airport chaos, travel planning and follow ups, local food reaction, physical stress....

I've had many cases of post-travel stresses where I felt worse than before the trip.... Luxury cruise can be a great way to feel good during and after the trip itself. By the way, great picture of the cruise and Vancouver port. http://www.personaltravel.ca


knowledgeispower profile image

knowledgeispower 6 years ago

great travel picture. This is a well-organized hub.

George,

http://hubpages.com/travel/Best-10-Tips-for-Findin...


Living In Paris profile image

Living In Paris 6 years ago

This was an interesting read on the financial aspects of cruising. Very cool photos, too.


Information Genie 6 years ago

I have offen wondered about what it was like aboard a cruise ship. The service the atmosphere, and what the cabins were like. Your pictures and input really shed light into what it was really like.


christinecook profile image

christinecook 7 years ago

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this hub. I have never gone on a cruise like that. Your pictures were lovely. The information very helpful.


sutrapu profile image

sutrapu 7 years ago from kuwait

beautiful article.


The Rising Glory profile image

The Rising Glory 7 years ago from California

I have never really considered doing a cruise, but you've got me thinking


southwesttc profile image

southwesttc 7 years ago from tucson

Love the pictures. If you have never been on a cruise before, pictures always help me personally understand a bit more. Good add on.


Carol the Writer profile image

Carol the Writer 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Beautiful cruise pictures. I've heard that, while 'cruising' isn't tax deductible, if you hold a business meeting in someplace like Alaska or Mexico, you can deduct around $500 a day as a 'transportation' expense. But even without tax benefits, cruising is a real bargain, and so relaxing. Thanks for posting. - Carol


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 7 years ago

Chuck, Very good informative hub on the benefits of cruising! Wonderful photographs as well! Thank you for sharing, Blessings!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 7 years ago from United States

Great hub,. I love cruises and have been on 3. I put several pictures up on my hubs also and just loved looking at yours. I haven't been on the Alaska cruise but I imagine it would be great. The pictures were really good.


Nan 7 years ago

Thanks for showing us how to travel,and what to expect. Your picture are beautiful.


bobmnu profile image

bobmnu 7 years ago from Cumberland

When you figure in the cost of a motel room, meals and driving costs, cruising is a reasonable way to travel. I received an offer for a 5 day Hawaiian Cruse(visiting Islands) four. The cost was around $500 plus $400 for taxes and docking fees. The average cost of a decent room is $150 per night(no free breakfast) and you would spend close to $50 per day for food and airfare between islands (average of $75 per flight and you would need a minimum of 4 flights). The best part is that you arrive at your destination after a pleasant nights sleep. When you look at Cruising you can find some very good deals if you look carefully.

Good hub


Dawn2 7 years ago

Another informative, nicely written hub. Gave me a lot of insight as to the Alaskan cruise I long to take.


febriedethan profile image

febriedethan 7 years ago from Indonesia

Thank you for sharing, those pictures are awesome and I love the food sculpture !


cashmere profile image

cashmere 7 years ago from India

This is so interesting! I think I need to start saving up for a cruise holiday now!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 7 years ago from Pakistan

Nice hub, very informative. But it is very expensive. I have traveled a lot on budget including Alaska Ferry. I presumed I was traveling in luxury and got an abdundance of consumer surplus.

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