Unmute Presents Katie Talks Travel: “Episode 2: Navigating the Seas – A Comprehensive Guide to US Cruise Lines”

In this episode, we provide an overview of popular cruise lines in the US, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity. We discuss their unique features, pricing, accessibility efforts, and the importance of providing feedback. We also touch on technology in cruise line apps and tease upcoming episodes on accessible options at Disney World. Overall, now is a great time to go on a cruise and escape the winter cold.

Read transcript


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The following is for conversational purposes only and should not be interpreted as advice. Please consult a professional before making any decision based on this content. This content should not be considered as travel advice. Welcome to Katie Talks Travel, a podcast where we talk travel and accessibility with a little fun along the way. Let’s pack our bags and head out on an adventure. Hey, Lynn. How are you?

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Hey, Katie. I am so excited about today’s topic.

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Yeah. So this is episode number two of Katie Talks Travel, and we’re just going to do a little cruise line overview today and talking about some of the more popular cruise lines that you’ve probably heard of, have commercials about, or, you know, people who’ve sailed on them. So I’m not going to review all of the cruise lines that exist in the world because that would be a lot, but just some of the more popular ones here in the US. So, Lynn, I thought we would start off with something fun and we would do a trivia. So I’ve got some questions for you.

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I’m ready.

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So what is the largest cruise company in the world? What do you think it is?

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I want to say carnival.

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Yes. Very good.

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You know a little bit about my cruising.

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Yeah, you do. Yeah. So the Carnival Corporation has over 100 ships across nine different lines. So they are actually a parent corporation to nine different cruise lines, which is yeah. So they’re a big monster in the cruise industry, that’s for sure. All right, so I got another one for you, and this one is, like, pretty crazy to think about, but how many passengers do you think the largest cruise ship that is currently sailing? I do want to make that distinction. Currently sailing holds oh, just a wild guess.

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Maybe 2000.

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Wow. Okay. I’m about to knock your socks off. Okay, so the Wonder of the Seas is currently the largest sailing ship. It’s from Royal Caribbean. It holds 6988 passengers, 2300 crew.

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That is amazing.

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Huge. It is a literal floating city on the water. Wow. All right, last one for you.

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What is the busiest cruise port in the US. By passengers?

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Let’s see. I want to say maybe Los Angeles. No. Los Angeles. I’m not really say. I want to say Los Angeles, but that’s not exact they don’t have a cruise port. Right?

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They do have a cruise port, but it’s really small. Okay. Not La. Okay.

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Or Florida.

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Yeah. Port Canaveral, Florida. So that’s 45 minutes outside of Orlando.

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Okay. Yeah, I should have thought of that because that’s like, the Sunshine State.

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Yeah, they have a lot of sports in Florida, but the busiest one in the US. Is Port Canaveral. It has seven different terminals, and an annual average passenger load of just over 4 million people go through that terminal. Yeah, it’s pretty crazy.

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So I’ll stop torturing you with cruise trivia. Now we’ll go ahead and get into the topic of the episode. So we’re going to give that little cruise line overview. So there are so many different cruise lines that it can be really hard to find the right fit for your trip. In the end, it really all comes down to talking to your travel agent about what you’re hoping to get out of your trip and discussing kind of the pros and cons of each line and each ship because they are all so different. But I just want to give you an overview so you can kind of be thinking about this when you’re thinking about your travels and what kind of might be a good fit for you so you have a good base to go off of. So, Lynn, when I say Carnival Cruise Lines, what is the first thing that comes to mind? I want to say that it’s sort.

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Of maybe younger people more like kind of partying and more not necessarily the more relaxing cruises, but the more fun.

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Is that the wording? Fun? I guess, yeah.

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People are doing a lot, moving a lot. Yeah.

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Drinking a lot.

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Yes. Have a lot of younger passengers. They tend to have a younger passenger base, like you mentioned, and their mission is to be the fun ships. Like that’s what they want to be known as is the ships that have all kinds of fun. They are also really widely known for being a budget friendly option. And just because they tend to have a younger passenger base and a more party like atmosphere, it doesn’t mean that all of their sailings are full of 20 somethings having the time of their lives. They have Carnival journeys, which are these sailings that are nine plus days long, and those tend to have a lot of retirees on board. So those are some things to kind of think about when you’re thinking Carnival Cruise Line. The really cool thing about Carnival is that their accessibility is usually excellent. The key to any cruise line when you’re thinking accessibility is making sure that you’re informing them ahead of time. There are certain channels that you have to follow. There are forms that need to be filled out if you are traveling with any sort of disability, but if you let them know ahead of time. Cruise lines are excellent at accommodating most disabilities, and Carnival is one of the ones that is really great at it. They all are striving to be as inclusive as they possibly can, but Carnival is really excellent on that. If you don’t want a party cruise, though, I definitely always recommend that you steer away from a Carnival, like three and four night cruise. The pricing on those is excellent, but those tend to be the ones that are full, like, interesting stories. Put it that yeah, I know.

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I listen to a lot of the cruise channels on YouTube and boy oh boy, there’s some stories that come out of some carnival cruises, but it’s fun. People love that.

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They have a lot of really fun stuff. They’re actually the first cruise line to ever have a roller coaster at sea. Yeah, I have not been on the Carnival Mardi Gras, so that’s the ship that has its bolt is the name of the roller coaster. But on our April sailing, when my family went, we pulled into port right next to the Mardi Gras, and I was able to, like I was up on the deck, of course, because I’m a cruise ship weirdo. And I was like, I have this ship and everything on it, and it looks really cool. So I definitely recommend Carnival when you’re looking more for budget friendly, and if you can do those longer sailings, those are where you’re going to have the more relaxed atmosphere and still have it at a more affordable price point. Overall, I would say the Carnival is a really fun line with a lot of different innovations. They’ve got 24 ships, so they’ve kind of got something that will fit every need, and they’re a great budget friendly option. So what about Royal Caribbean? When I talk about that, kind of, what’s the first thing that comes to mind for you, lynn, are you familiar with that line at yes?

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Yeah. Let’s see. I want to say more like older folks, maybe. Am I thinking, like, more relaxed cruises maybe?

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Yeah. Royal Caribbean is actually known in the cruise industry for being the family cruise line. Okay. Yep. So there is a lot of families on Royal Caribbean ships. They are really known for their Caribbean itineraries and then their private island, perfect Day at yes. Yeah, it’s wonderful. That’s amazing.

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They have their own island. Wow.

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Yeah. There’s several different cruise lines that do have their own island, but the one that a lot of people think of when they think a private island is that perfect Day at CocoCay. And Royal Caribbean was really one of the first to kind of bring that kind of wow factor to the island. And it’s a great time. I’ve been a couple of times and highly recommend Perfect Day at CocoCay sailings. Royal Caribbean does sail all over the place, though. They do not only sail in the Caribbean. That just tends to be their strongest. Itineraries is in the Caribbean. The other thing that they’re known for is kind of driving innovation, and they really try to redefine cruising with every ship that they unveil. So a lot of times they will have things that no other cruise line has debuted before. And so then that kind of challenges the other cruise lines to come up with things like the bolt roller coaster to kind of be at the same level as Royal Caribbean. So they are very innovative.

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Innovative, right. Yeah. Cool.

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Royal Caribbean is also accessible, friendly. They really strive to be as inclusive as possible. They’ve got things like qualified readers on the ship. Those are people who have special training to be able to read off menus or things like that on the ship. And they offer vessel orientation tours. And some of their ships even have sensory friendly rooms for individuals with autism or other sensory disorders that might find a cruise to be really overwhelming. So that is a really neat feature that Royal Caribbean has. Like I said, Royal Caribbean is very much like a family cruise line. They run a lot of kids sale free. You know, if you’re not a big fan of kids, it’s probably not the.

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Line for right, right.

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Price wise, Royal Caribbean tends to be a little bit more expensive than Carnival, but it’s not a luxury line by any means. Overall, I would say it’s the best line for families and those with small kids. And the nice thing that they have as well is they’ve got 26 ships in the fleet and they’re a variety of different sizes, so they’ve got little ships, and then they’ve also got the largest cruise ship in the world, the Wonder of the Seas. Right. So there’s a lot of variety at Royal Caribbean, which is really cool. Have you ever sailed before?

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Lyn I have never. No, I’ve never taken a cruise. I guess the closest I’ve come, we went on a dinner cruise with some friends.

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I bet that was nice.

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Yeah, so that was pretty cool. I enjoyed that a lot. Just had a meal and we had a show. Just like a one day cruise sort of thing. It was fun. I enjoyed it.

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You should get on a cruise ship then. I think so. I think I would like it.

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Okay, so we’ll go ahead and we’ll talk about another kind of giant in the travel. You lynn, have you ever heard of the Disney Difference?

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I have heard of the Disney Cruise Lines. Yes.

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Yeah. So there is a thing in the travel world called the Disney Difference, and it basically just means that Disney goes above and beyond and they do things just differently than all of the other travel providers, whether it’s Disney World, whether it’s the Disney Resort in Hawaii, whether it’s they just they’re different. And there really is a Disney difference. So Disney Cruise Line is hands down the best line overall for overall guest satisfaction and is a more upscale experience.

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And you get to feel that Disney difference even at sea. For example, Disney Cruise Line is the first cruise line to do fireworks at sea. And that’s something that you’re not going to get on any other ship that you go to. But they do fireworks off of their ships almost every night. It’s very, very frequent. So it’s really cool to have that sort of thing. And then Disney a lot of times when people think of Disney Cruise Line, they think that it’s only for families. Right.

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That’s what it sounds, and, you know, Disney stuff. Yeah, right.

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But they actually have so much for adults to do as well. And there are a lot of people that do a Disney cruise, and it’s just a group of adults that go because they have a lot of adult only areas on the ship and a lot like adult geared entertainment. But they’ve also got all sorts of fun things that adults like to do, as well as the kids, like character meet and know it’s always fun to hang out with Mickey Mouse. Everybody likes.

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I know a lot of adults that absolutely are total fans. You know Disney character fans.

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Yeah, he’s so and you know, what’s better than to meet him at um so Disney also has a private island just like Royal Caribbean. And they actually have a second private island that they have not opened yet, but it’s coming. And their fleet is really small. So, for example, we talked about Carnival having 24 ships. Royal Caribbean has 26. Do you want to guess how many ships Disney cruise line has?

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Lyn oh, my gosh. Maybe 50.

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They are actually tiny, so they currently only have four ships in circulation.

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Oh, my gosh. Okay.

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Yeah. So it’s all really small, and they are expanding. They’re getting more ships in, but they’re little in the cruise industry. They’re giant in the travel industry, but they’re still pretty small in the world of cruising. Now, they make up a lot of cruises that people take. They have plenty of passengers, but they just don’t have as many ships as some of the other lines do. So Disney is also great at accessibility, especially for the deaf or hard of hearing community. They have a lot of different accessibility options for them. They have some options for the low vision and blindness community, but in my opinion, I should say they have a little bit of room for improvement in that aspect. For example, like, their movies have audio description, and they have large print menus available. Service animals are welcome as they are on any cruise line. But Disney doesn’t have qualified readers like Royal Caribbean does. So it’s things like that where they could improve a little bit in my you know, the providers of travel, they can’t improve without people’s feedback and people’s input. So it’s always important to get your voice heard and speak up price wise. I’ve been talking about the pricing of these different lines. Disney is on the upper end. You’re going to spend a pretty penny to sail Disney cruise line, but it could be worth the fee because you’re going to get that Disney difference, and you’re going to get that special experience of things like meeting the characters on the ship that you can’t do on any other cruise line. And Disney also includes a lot more in their pricing than the other lines do. So, for example, soda is included in the cruise cost of a Disney cruise, but it’s not included on the other line. So it’s not included at Royal Caribbean. It’s not included at carnival. You have to buy a drink package separately. So Disney is nice because it kind of wraps everything up a little bit more to a more, quote unquote, all inclusive feel. There is that difference in price there. But you’re getting more for what you’re paying.

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And you have people that are Disney folks, people that are Disney people, they’re kind of like don’t even they’re willing to pay for that.

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Lot of a lot of Disney adults. It’s Disney, I’m going to pay whatever it is, do it because it’s Disney. They’re very brand loyal, which there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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Absolutely not.

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The Disney difference is a thing. It is real. Never experienced it. I definitely recommend checking it out because it’s there’s a reason they’re so giant in the travel.

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So wow.

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Let’s go ahead and talk about let’s talk about Norwegian next. Okay, so Norwegian Cruise Line is known for having a freestyle cruising concept. So if I were to ask you, Lynn, what you think freestyle cruising is, what does that make you think of?

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I’m sort of thinking maybe it’s not as planned. You know, people just sort of doing whatever they want to do instead of having official activities.

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That yeah, that’s kind of what they’re looking for. They really want to be known as that relaxed and laid back ambiance. And the freestyle cruising means they don’t have assigned dining times, whereas the other lines, you’re going to have an assigned dining time, they don’t enforce dress codes, things like that, where it is very like, there’s still tons of activities, don’t get me wrong. Like Norwegian has so much stuff to do on their ships, but it is very much like go with the flow and do what you want to do and do your own thing. They are the ones who introduced this freestyle cruising concept. They also have a really neat program called Free at Sea where you’ve got a bunch of stuff wrapped in and does give that more all inclusive feel that I was talking about with Disney. You don’t have to book things with this program. It’s like an optional program that you can do, you don’t have to do. But it includes specialty dining and unlimited bar beverages and your Internet. Sometimes even your Air can be bundled in. So that makes it really nice that you’re getting for this one fee, you’re not having to pay all of these. Like you don’t have to pay for your drink package separately, and you don’t have to pay for your specialty dining at another time. You’re not having to book your Airfare separately and having all these little fees that add up over time altogether, which can be really helpful if you are thinking on the budgeting side of things because then you kind of know what your overall cost is going to be right up front.

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Yeah, no surprises like, oh my gosh, this is look at the drink package or whatever.

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Those drink packages, man, they can get expensive. Like, they vary based on cruise and sailing date and what ship you’re on and the lines and all of that. But the average price of a full inclusive package that includes alcoholic beverages is like $27 per person per day. So they can get really expensive. So it’s nice to have that program kind of all where it’s wrapped in together. Another really neat thing about Norwegian Cruise Line is they are very accessibility friendly and they actually have a meeting that they will schedule with you on the first day of your cruise with the staff so that the crew members can help figure out how they can best assist you for your trip. So you do need to let them know ahead of time. There’s still the forms to fill out and stuff, but you get to actually have a meeting and see someone face to face who’s like your quote unquote, main contact on the ship and give exactly what you’re needing to a real person instead of just filling out a form, which I personally think is really neat.

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Wow. That’s definitely a pro in terms of if you have a disability that you don’t. I always wondered how people do the mustard drills. Maybe we could talk about that later because I know these mustard drills, but I wonder how somebody who can’t see actually does that.

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Yeah, mustard drills are those are an interesting topic because they are in a transition phase and kind of figuring out how they’re going to do them. So, pre COVID, we can talk about mustard drills for a second. We’ll go off on this tangent. I’m on board. Sorry. Okay, so pre COVID, you would have to stand out on the outer edge of the ship on the deck where you’re in open air. You’d have to stand at the assigned number that you were at, which is not always the easiest to find for someone who is fully sighted. So it was even harder for someone who was blind. Although a lot of times a crew member would assist you to your muster station, which is we had that happen a couple of times on a cruise ship because I was like, I cannot find this. And I was like, Michael, go play the blind card. I need you to get us someone that can get us somewhere because I don’t know where I’m going. So you used to have to stand out there and they would have to scan your cards one by one, and it would take like 30, 45 minutes. It was not pleasant, but you have to do it. I understand the reasoning behind it. It needs to keep you safe. Now, post COVID, what a lot of them are doing are mustard jewels in the app. So when you check in and like the day of your sailing, you’ll have a video that you got to watch that talks about what your muster station is and how to safely get into the boat and where your life jackets are located in your stateroom. Like all of that sort of stuff is in there. And then you have to listen to the emergency horn and what that sounds like, which is good information to have. And then you have to verify that you did those things. And then once you get on the ship, you would go to your muster station, but it would just be you have to do it before the ship sails. It’s not like everyone has to do it at 430 where everyone on the ship is doing it together. It’s just kind of an open invitation and you can go. They recommend that you go right when you get on the ship. I agree with that because then you’ll forget, but you just go and you check in with a crew member and a crew member verifies who you are and marks that you’ve completed your mustard drill and you know where your station is, and then you’re on your way. It’s a much more smooth process, my opinion. Okay. Not all cruise lines follow exactly the same thing. And like I said, they’re still in a transition period. I know back I want to say it was January or February. They were talking about how they might have to go back to doing the other kind of mustard drills because using the phone might not meet maritime law standards about that. But then the last cruise I took was after that discussion, and we still use the app to check in and do the mustard drill. So I know that it’s still kind of something being discussed and gone over and it’s in a state of flux. But now you know more about mustard drills. Yeah, I’ve always thought about that.

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How would a blind person actually be able to get through that procedure? But that’s interesting.

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Yeah. And there’s crew members, like I said, that they’re more than happy to help. There’s crew everywhere, but we’ve never had any accessibility issues with anything like that on a cruise ship because like I said, they’re all so happy to help. And I’ve never met somebody that was mean on a cruise ship. Everybody’s in a good mood and the crew are really neat. Getting to talk to them and getting to know them is one of my favorite things on a cruise. There’s a scavenger hunt that a lot of cruise ships have where it’s the nationalities and you go around and you’re trying to find all these different nationalities on the ship. Usually do that on the first day, and then they have the ending of it on the last full day of sailing so that you get a chance to meet as many people as you can. And the crew gets really into it, which is really cool as well because.

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I guess it sort of makes them happy when they see passengers having a good time. Right. That’s sort of what they’re trying to do. I mean, that’s their goal.

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I don’t want to be working where everybody’s unhappy. That’s not cool. Okay, so getting back to the topic, back from that tangent, rein it back in. Leave it to me.

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I’m so bad that way.

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I am very tangential like. You’ll see, it’s all good. We’re back at you. Norwegian Cruise Line. So, like I said, very accessibility friendly. You get to have a meeting with a crew member on your first day. They are a larger line, so they’ve got 19 world class vessels, so they’re pretty big. And they’ve got all sorts of stuff on their ships. Like one of their ships, the Norwegian Bliss, even has go carting. How cool is that?

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That’s definitely different.

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Yeah. You can do all kinds of things at sea. There’s something for everybody. There’s even a skydive simulator on some ships.

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There’s some exciting things. Yeah. So, price wise, Norwegian really can vary greatly. And they can be a little tricky with their promotions. They’re one that I definitely recommend. Always booking with a travel professional, whether it’s me or if you have someone else that you know and you would like to use and you trust, because they can be really tricky with their promotions and how to make sure that you’re getting the most out of them and getting the best bang for your buck. So, overall, Norwegian is a super solid line. It’s excellent for anyone that’s really looking for some flexibility in their travel and looking for that more relaxed and laid back atmosphere. So I’ve got some other lines you’ve probably heard of. Let me know which one you want me to talk about first. Lyn I’ve got information on Holland princess.

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Well, I think Princess is another one that’s quite popular, right?

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Yes, it is.

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Holland is one I hear a lot about as well. Holland America.

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Yep. So I’ll do Princess first and then I’ll do America and then we’ll wrap it up with celebrity.

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So Princess is owned by Carnival. It is one of the Carnival lines and they have a much more, like, upscale feeling to their ships. Princess is known to be absolutely, hands down, just excellent for Alaska sailings. I have never heard of anyone who went on a Princess Alaska sailing and had anything bad to say about it. That it’s just great. Their average age of their passengers are a little bit younger than you find on Holland America. So they’re like 35 plus ish for the average age of the passengers. So there’s not nearly as many kids running around on a Princess sailing than there would be on a Carnival or a Royal Caribbean. They have a lot of couples that sail princess, so that can be really fun when you think about things like entertainment and the games that they can have on board. Like, when you’ve got a lot of couples on board, you can do a lot of really fun games that you can’t really do if you’ve got a lot of family. So it’s got some interesting entertainment options on Princess and they really strive to have a luxury feel, like a really high end luxury feel while staying as budget friendly as they can. And sometimes they run some really good promotions and you can get a really nice long cruise for just a steal. So that’s something that’s really nice about Princess. They are a good option if you like the idea of Carnival and you like the idea of that budget friendly, but you want to go something that’s not going to have as many young people or many parties, princess is a really good option for that. All right, so the other one you said you’ve heard of a lot is Holland America. So they are doing a lot of commercials, at least I’ve noticed lately. So they’re really trying to get the word out about Holland America. They are owned by Carnival as well. So they are another Carnival corporation line. And then Holland America tends to be for the older crowd. The average age on those ships is like 50 ish plus. Okay. They tend to be very spacious and have really good food. Holland America is known to have really good food, so they’re a good one for foodies. There are some other good cruise lines for foodies as well, but they are a good solid choice and they really are more of a luxury line. So Princess goes for more of a luxury feel while staying budget friendly. And Holland really is more of a luxury line. They tend to be on the more pricey end of things. And then their ships are mid size. They don’t have any really big ships. Their ships are fairly mid sized, so they have fewer adventure options necessarily on them. But for the age or the average age of the passengers on Holland America, that is what makes sense for them. So they’re a really good option for the more mature crowd who are looking for more of that refined elegance on a cruise. And then the last one I’m going to cover that you’ve probably heard of is Celebrity Cruise Lines.

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So celebrity Cruise Lines are known for contemporary luxury. They are owned by Lynn. Do you have a guess? Carnival? Actually, this one is Royal Caribbean. Okay, I do not blame you for guessing Carnival. So they are owned by Royal Caribbean. So the average age of the passengers on this one is similar to Princess. So like 30, 35 in that range. Like I said, they do have a kids program. It’s not as highly rated as the Royal Caribbean kids program though. So I think that’s why you see a lot more families on actual Royal Caribbean ships versus celebrity ships. But they really are an excellent option for the cost versus. The upscale elements that you’re going to see. So they are really solid option as well. So like I mentioned at the beginning, this is just a few of the cruise line options that are available. There’s so many, seriously, there’s a lot of cruise lines out there. But the best way to find out what’s going to work for you and what you want to get out of your trip is definitely by talking with your agent. Agents are trained to help you out and to help you make those informed decisions. So always talk to your agent and kind of talk through the options with them because they’re going to have a lot of insight for you.

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Yeah, because everybody’s different, right. Everybody’s needs, everybody’s wants on a cruise, you may just want to relax and hang out. You want a nice relaxing cruise or hey, you want to be really active. You like the party scene, you like the other things. Yeah, it depends. I mean, everyone’s different. So that’s why there’s a cruise line for everybody, right?

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Exactly. Yes. Everyone should cruise at least once. Try it out. I’m telling you, it is amazing.

34:34.390 –> 34:57.514
Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of people I know people that cruise all the time. I mean, it’s like they just love it and it’s really kind of unfortunate, right? Because sometimes in the press, the negative stories get all the press. Right. But the fact is that most people that go on cruises really do enjoy them.

34:57.712 –> 37:50.014
So I know that a lot of people who listen to this podcast and this channel are really interested in the tech thing. So I did have some tech info to chat about real quick. All cruise lines offer internet at sea, which in my very professional opinion kind of stinks across the mean. You’re out in the middle of the ocean, you can’t expect too much from they. I would say Royal Caribbean has what would be considered kind of the best internet at sea, but it’s still not great. What is really nice is all of their apps are made to still update and kind of automatically connect to the WiFi even though nothing else on your phone will. But at least the app for your cruise line you’re sailing on will be able to stay updated and they use them extensively, which is kind of what I wanted to talk about next. So all of the cruise lines pretty much use an app and that’s where your daily schedule is going to be posted. That’s where you’re going to find your deck plans, that’s where you’re going to find your boarding information. Everything that you need is going to be in the cruise line apps for that particular line that you are sailing on, at least until you get on the ship. I feel like they’re still really relevant once you are on the ship because like I said, they’re going to post the daily schedule so you’ll be able to see that there. Some of them even have a chat feature where the people who are on your reservation, reservations that you’re linked to, you can chat through the app so that you can stay in contact when you’re on the opposite side of this Wonder of the Sea ship that holds almost 7000 people. This giant ship you guys can still keep in contact even out in the middle of the sea, where you might not have WiFi if you didn’t purchase a WiFi package or your cellular is going to be on at sea and you might be charged a ridiculous rate if you text or something like that. So that’s a really nice feature about them. The issue I feel like, is the accessibility. They’re working on it. They have improved. I can specifically say for Royal Caribbean especially, they have improved from their original app structure, but it’s not great. There’s a few issues with it, but one of the biggest issues is the deck plan section of the app because it’s like all the different levels and they try to give you a 3D view of the ship and it tries to bounce the screen around to the part of ship that you’re on. And it could use some improvement.

37:50.062 –> 37:51.410
Some improvement, yeah.

37:51.560 –> 38:56.534
In that aspect, in my opinion, I’m not an It expert or anything like that, but I think that that could definitely be improved. So some ways that I personally have tried to kind of combat that for my clients is I like to type up an accessible deck plan and I send it along to them before they leave so that they can save it onto their phone so that when all the sighted people around them are looking at the deck plan, they can also be looking at the deck plan. It should be accessible to everyone in the app. But I try to make sure that any of my clients who are sailing have that accessible option because it’s so vital to your travel experience, knowing where stuff is on the ship. If you want to go to the casino and you don’t even know what deck it’s on, that’s going to make it really hard to navigate to that area. But like I said, overall, the apps are really helpful. They are highly encouraged. Some of the cruise lines even require that you have it because otherwise you would have a lot of trouble checking in for your cruise.

38:56.732 –> 39:01.962
Right. And for your probably ID and for ID purposes even, right?

39:02.096 –> 40:47.100
Yes. With a lot of the cruise lines, you’ll have a digital check in before you even arrive at the terminal. And your digital check in will take things like you have to take a selfie, you have to put in your driver’s license number, you have to put in your passport number, like all of that identifying information they’ll hold in the app. The other thing that is in the app when you’re on the ship, is your charges. So you don’t actually use any money on cruise ships. When you do your digital check in it’ll, have you put in a card of some sort? Whatever payment method? Yes, whatever payment method you want. And that will be what’s charged on the last day of the cruise. So as you’re going around the ship, you will have some sort of card, whether it’s like a hotel room kind of card key, whether it’s a medallion that you wear around your neck, on a necklace or in your pocket. Different cruise lines do different things, but that is how you pay for things on a cruise ship, is you essentially are basically like charging it to your room, right? So on the last day of the cruise, they’ll close that out automatically. But until that time, it’s almost live updates in a lot of the apps and you’ll see every single purchase or every single request of staff that you’ve made. Like, if you are sitting out by the pool and you ask one of the bar staff that’s walking around taking orders for a pina colada, they’ll take your card, they’ll come back. By the time your drink gets back to you, it will be in the app. So that’s always really good to be checking on, especially if you made a purchase, being able to double check what they told me the total was and what I was actually charged match. So that’s a really nice feature in the apps as well.

40:48.910 –> 41:08.882
Wow, that’s pretty cool. And again, you were saying that accessibility. I wonder how the accessibility of that is, but do you think that what we need is more feedback? Like, do you think we need to as folks with disabilities, the important thing is to give constructive feedback, right?

41:09.016 –> 41:10.722
Oh, absolutely. You know what I mean?

41:10.776 –> 41:26.200
Not just like angry feedback, but constructive, so that the cruise lines understand that, yes, there are people with disabilities and these are the challenges they face with the technology.

41:27.210 –> 43:37.810
Right. And sometimes it might be stuff that when they were in development, they maybe never even thought about. I’ve actually had that experience before with a line, I’m not going to say which, but we went on a cruise and they had visual trivia advertised and trivia advertised. So we would consistently go to these things and I would go to the visual. My husband would not, but after I went to the first one, I was like, you should have come to this. So on a regular trivia not visual trivia, regular trivia, they would frequently have pictures up on the screen and ask questions based on the picture, and then we couldn’t see the picture. So my husband would either have to get up and go walk up to the screen and look at it, or he would just be like, whatever you think it is, is what it is. Or I’d have to tell him, like, this is what is up on the screen, but on the visual trivia, not one single question was based on the pictures they had on the screen. Not a single one. The pictures were just up there as like, I don’t know, background input. It was weird. So when we got back, we filled out the survey and we gave that constructive criticism and we said, this is an issue that you have got going on. You need to relabel these, you need to fix these. What are you doing here? And then, like three weeks it did take a while, but three weeks later we got an email back and it was an apology from a manager and saying, thank you very much for this. We had not even realized that this was something that was happening. Thank you for your feedback, we really appreciate it. So they had never even thought of that. They were just thinking visual trivia. Every single question has a picture that could be the background of it. And they were thinking that there’s always something going to be on the screen. So this is visual trivia when it really wasn’t. So that feedback is absolutely vital.

43:40.070 –> 43:52.360
And where do you direct feedback? If you have feedback, you go on a cruise and maybe is there a certain place where you should direct that feedback? Customer service.

43:53.130 –> 44:33.220
You’ll always get a survey and those are great to fill out. They do take a minute for any cruise line. It’s going to take you ten minutes to fill out the survey. But those are really the best place for you to put your feedback because they will give you places to do that. Otherwise, it just really kind of depends on what your feedback is. Giving it to your travel agent is always a great idea because travel agents have account managers for every supplier, so we have a real human to go to directly for that supplier and we can give feedback to them. Or we may have other avenues that you don’t know how to get a hold of or don’t even know they necessarily exist that we could send that along to.

44:33.750 –> 44:36.082
So you guys have connections, right?

44:36.216 –> 45:25.782
Right, yeah. And your feedback from our clients that we help helps us know in the future. So let’s say that I did a site visit to a resort in Cabo in May, and then in December I sent a family there for that resort. Now, it’s been seven months between my site visit and when the family went. And the family comes back and they say, overall, it was really great, but here’s some things that we didn’t like about it. Then I can go, well, that was completely different the last time I was there. Or I could go, oh, this is a really good thing to watch out for the next time. Maybe this next family I send needs to go to the resort. Down the road, we’re able to take your feedback and use it as well. It’s not only the suppliers your agent can use it too. Right.

45:25.836 –> 45:47.130
Because you’re getting feedback directly from the people that are on the excursions or the resorts or whatever. And that really is good because I imagine that being a travel agent, there are just so many developments, so many changes. Like it’s a constant moving pieces.

45:48.910 –> 45:49.370

45:49.440 –> 46:05.022
You just have to really keep on your toes. It kind of reminds me of when I used to work in medical transcription and I had to know all the new drugs and it seems like every day there were changes coming out and I had to know them. I mean, it was part of my job, right?

46:05.076 –> 46:26.182
Exactly. And that’s one of the reasons I think that a lot of travel agents specialize in certain things. Because then if it pertains to your specialty, you need to know it and you need to memorize it like the back of your hand. If it’s outside of your specialty, it’s good information to have, but it’s not something you’re going to be frequently accessing. So it can kind of sit in the back of your mind. Right.

46:26.236 –> 46:45.600
Do agents ever work together? Maybe you have a question or you have an issue. Do you ever work with other agents who might know something or may be able to help? I didn’t know if it was a thing where you guys were competitive or if you actually work together sometimes on different things.

46:46.690 –> 47:40.574
In my opinion, there are agents who are competitive, but in my opinion, there’s enough people out there that are looking to travel. There’s plenty for everyone. I’m way more about connecting with people. I like the people aspect of this job and I like to get to know people and to make friends. So that’s where I’m at with it. So I’m very open in helping other people. And I’m so very fortunate that I found the agency that I did, because we are like a community and we’re all here to help each other. And if you have any question about anything, there’s 400 of us and we’re all happy to help each other. And if I don’t know the answer to something, someone in my agency does, or someone in my agency has been to that resort and can tell me all about it, which is really neat. So we are a very supportive agency. I’m sure there are some pretty cutthroat agents out there, but in general, you.

47:40.612 –> 48:19.660
Guys work together because you’re not I mean, especially with being in an agency, they are sort of your coworkers, right? In a way, like sort of working together. That’s pretty cool. Well, this has been absolutely enlightening for me because one of my plans is definitely to take a cruise. So with all the cruise lines that you mentioned today, I’m trying to think of the ones I’m probably the slow speed, relaxed kind of cruiser rather than the party girl, my party girl days are way over.

48:20.750 –> 49:23.300
Same. Yeah. So I do want to take a minute and mention that I do have a couple of guided group cruises coming up, so maybe Lynn, this could be a good fit for so that if any of these have piqued your interest, if you’re curious about getting on a cruise ship, please reach out to me. I’d love to talk to you about it, but my guided group cruises means that I’m going to be on the ship with my clients. We’re going to Alaska in September of 2024 and then the Caribbean in April of 2025. And I’m going to do like a ship tour. We’ll do get togethers around the ship. If we’ve got enough people interested. I want to do guided shore excursions, so it’ll be a really great time. Both of them are on Royal Caribbean and everyone is welcome. We would love to have anyone that’s interested come along with us. And then next time we’re going to be chatting about Disney World and the different accessible options that they offer.

49:23.670 –> 49:26.820
Yeah, disney is a major player. Oh my.

49:28.390 –> 49:28.766

49:28.798 –> 49:31.780
You could spend an entire show just on Disney, right?

49:32.710 –> 49:43.720
I honestly could probably do a show for each. Yeah, I could probably do it over four sections and still have things I could talk about. Disney’s huge.

49:44.090 –> 50:12.158
So now that the Pandemic is sort of over and people are moving on from cruise, it seems like cruising is really coming back. People are, yes. They really sort of took it on the chin during the Pandemic, but slowly they’ve been able to get back to mostly a normal cruising system again, right?

50:12.244 –> 50:27.414
Yeah. And they took the Pandemic as time for a lot of the cruise lines to kind of brainstorm more things to do and better ways to do the things they already are doing. So it’s a great time to get out and get cruising for sure.

50:27.612 –> 50:41.980
And especially with the winter coming up right. In the Northeast, if it’s almost out of the cold, you definitely want to think about getting out of that cold weather and maybe taking a cruise to a warm place.

50:42.350 –> 50:43.530
It’s a beach.

50:45.470 –> 50:46.860
Yeah. Awesome.

50:47.390 –> 51:34.520
Well, like I said, next time we will be talking Disney World. It is commonly thought that a Disney vacation is only for those with small kids or it’s exorbitantly expensive, but that’s not always the case. So make sure you tune in next time to hear some of my top money saving tips for Disney World. Thanks for listening. If you’re planning a trip or are interested in my complimentary planning services, if you have any questions or suggestions for the show, please give me a call at 317-694-4023 or shoot me an email at katie. K-A-T-I-E white. Spelled just like the color@mmvagent.com. See you next time.