Premium vs. Mass Market Cruise Lines

This week I found myself explaining the difference between premium cruise lines and mass market or contemporary cruise lines to a few people and thought I would do the same here. Mass market cruise lines are the ones you might see on television, such as Royal Caribbean or Carnival. Premium cruise lines such as Celebrity and Princess, offer their passengers a premium experience so they get more for their money. We’re talking better food, entertainment, cabin accommodations, and the list goes on. When people hear this, they naturally think they need to spend more money, but this isn’t always true. I’ve been pricing out cruises on the premium lines that are the same price as, if not less than, their mass market contemporaries. If you knew you could get a premium experience for a comparable price, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity? Why or how does this happen? Sometimes it is simply a coincidence, but regardless of how or why, you as the consumer benefit considerably.

I had the opportunity to go on board the Celebrity “Solstice” recently and was I ever impressed! This 2008 ship was like visiting a luxury resort at sea. Lunch was amazing in the pristine white and silver Grand Epernay dining room with a huge wine bar on one side, much like the kind you see with “wine angels” minus the angels since it would be a little too dangerous with the ship on open waters. Celebrity has the only iLounge at sea where you can not only take classes on Apple products, but you can buy anything Apple there as well. Among the many venues on board, there is an AquaSpa and Cellar Masters, which was inspired by the vineyards of Napa Valley and brings to life the experience of a global wine tour while you learn about and taste a large variety of wines from around the world.

Recently, I read a post from Jessica’s Travel Blog about the Celebrity “Eclipse” and her experiences on this 2010 ship. She not only provides detail about the ship and what it has to offer, but great pics as well. One of my favorite things with Celebrity is the Martini Bar, which has a frosted top that is like that all the time. Jessica mentions in her blog about the Molecular Bar “…with drinks cooled by nitrogen.” How often can you say that you have had a drink cooled by nitrogen? What’s especially exciting for those living in the Northeast, especially as we get hit by one snowstorm after another this winter season, is that the new Celebrity “Silhouette” comes out in July 2011 and sails from Bayonne, NJ. That’s great for those in the New York/New Jersey area, but not bad for anyone in New England either. We sailed last year out of Bayonne and took a special bus from Boston to Bayonne and didn’t have to worry about driving or parking at the port.

Whether you are a new cruiser or someone who is dedicated to one cruise line, take a chance with your next vacation and try a premium cruise line, especially if the price is right. It’ll give you the opportunity to try something new and who knows? You might actually enjoy the premium cruise line life.