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Luxury Cruising Might Not Be For You

I’ll be perfectly honest- I love me some Royal Caribbean. I’m almost always traveling with my family or a group of friends and there’s something for everyone on their bigger-than-anyone-else ships. BUT, that’s not a great fit for every cruiser.

Cruise lines are generally divided into three categories:

Mass Market- Huge ships, lots of kids and families. Busy. Food is buffet-quality, service is good. Basics are included with lots of opportunities to pay to upgrade your experience.

Premium- Ships are midsize to small. Pricing may not vary significantly from the mass-market lines. Restaurant-quality food, prompt and efficient service. More inclusions than mass market, with opportunities to pay to upgrade dining and beverage choices.

Luxury- Smaller ships, few children, average guest age skews a bit older. Food is fine-dining quality, and in most cases beverages and specialty dining options are included in your cruise fare. Design and entertainment strive for elegance. Service is personalized and refined.

How do you know if you’re ready to step up to a luxury cruise experience? There are a few important differences to consider:


Luxury cruising is relaxing and refined. You’ll find fitness classes, lectures, language lessons, dance and art classes, golf clinics, a cinema, and afternoon tea. You will not find an ice rink, bowling alley, bumper cars, carousel, zip line or surf simulator.


Superb service and daily indulgences (think free Ben and Jerry’s), waiters who can truly anticipate your dessert order, and a sommelier who stops in the hall to chat with you.

Dress Code

You may be surprised to learn that luxury cruisers are generally easy going, casual and friendly folks. The the dining room dress code is pretty much the same as you’d find on a mass market ship. They do follow the “no shorts” rule on formal night, no exceptions.

During the day you may feel out of place in your ripped jeans and a t-shirt, though. While luxury cruising is relaxed, chino shorts, golf shirts and skirts are more commonly seen.


Huge bonus here- they are already included in your cruise fare.


Luxury cruises offer fine dining, usually in a handful of included venues. You’ll find more steak and specialty seafood selections, and if you would like something special all you have to do is request it the night before.

Wine, beer and spirits are included in your cruise fare.


The sleeping area size is similar to mass-market cabins, but they make up for that with amenities like walk-in closets, double bathroom vanities, pillow menus, plush towels, and high-end toiletries.


In another nod to refinement, the luxury version of “headliner” acts often includes a concert pianist and award-winning singers. Traditional song and dance revues are also popular. The theaters are smaller, so you get a closer view of the performances.


If you’ve already been to Cozumel six times, you’ve discovered one of the caveats of mega-ship cruising… there are a limited number of ports that can handle them. Not only are the ships too big, but some areas can’t support 5000+ tourists (per ship) descending upon them on any given day. If you want to cruise to more intimate, authentic destinations then the smaller ships in the luxury category are ideal.

Curious about where you can go? Check out a sample luxury cruise itinerary here (under "romantic retreat"). When you’re ready to explore your options, schedule a complimentary consult call with me.

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