Cruises

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Part
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1st Time Cruiser's Mindset

First time luxury cruiser's mindset includes a range of expectations and concerns. Among their primary expectations are exemplary service, spacious accommodations, and diverse destinations. Some of their concerns include whether the entire cost is due at once, the cancellation policy, and confusion about how to learn more about their booking process and other information.

Below you will find our full overview of the mindset of a first-time luxury cruiser.

Expectations

When a luxury cruiser books a cruise for the first time, their expectations are usually very high. Service expectations are an excellent example, and the cruise staff are expected to be top-notch. Evidence of this expectation can be found in the staffing patterns found currently in cruise ships, which is usually a 2 to 1 ratio. This means that for every 2 passengers that board the ship, 1 employee is there to provide service. For the high-end suites, butlers are a common amenity. The luxury passengers expect the staff to remember not only their name, but their personal preferences as well.

Accommodations on a luxury cruise are on a scale that economy options cannot match, and the first-time cruiser knows it. The luxury cruise ships can hold as few as 100 passengers, with the larger ships carrying approximately 900. Compare this to the more typical 1,500-3,000 on the standard cruise. A luxury cruise line's smallest rooms are generally twice as large as the standard accommodations on most other vessels.

When booking their first cruise, the first time cruiser may select Alaska or the Caribbean without a second thought, but sold-out luxury journeys to the Orient and Africa, South America, and even around the world demonstrate the desire for more exotic locations.

First-time cruisers may be willing to spend quite a bit of money on their vacation, but they still expect value for that money. They expect the high price-tag to be all-inclusive and the luxury cruise lines provide packages that include a remarkable amount, including air travel, wine with dinner, pre- and post-cruise hotels, and far more.

First-time cruisers also expect to book their journey easily and quickly. The travel agent still has a prominent place in the cruise booking process, but more consumers want to book their experience directly. According to GoogleResearch, 47% of those who have taken a cruise booked their most recent one online, while 35% did so through a travel agent.

Concerns

The payment process for a cruise can be confusing for some consumers, and many become concerned about whether they are expected to pay at once, or over a span of time. In acknowledgment of this concern and the cost associated with a luxury cruise, most cruise lines require a deposit and the full amount between 1 and 3 months prior departure.

Another point of concern for first-time cruisers relates to the cancellation policy of their cruise. These trips are often booked far in advance and luxury passengers are often busy and are well-aware that last minute eventualities do occur. Cruise lines vary in their policies, but most offer a penalty schedule, with the amount going up the closer it is to the departure date, with a cancellation less than a month prior allowing the cruise line to retain 75% or, within 14 days, even 100% of the cruise cost.

Other concerns related to taking a luxury cruise for the first-time relate to lack of understanding of the process and environment, and questions on where to find that information. Travelers question how long a vacation they will need and what type of cabin would best suit them, according to TripSavvy.com. CruiseCritic indicates that many travelers do not know whether they should bring their children or whether the ship will offer enough for their entertainment. Also, if they bring their whole family, they wonder how many cabins they will need.

Conclusion

First-time luxury cruisers have high expectations for their vacations. They demand great service, spacious accommodations, exotic locals, and more. They have concerns when booking, too, from questions about the payment schedule and cancellation policy, to general ignorance about the cruise process and concern over how to find more information.
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Part
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Cruise Barriers

Many travelers experience complications booking the desired cruise destination for the desired date(s). Travelers also express concerns regarding safety, health, and convenience when deciding to take a cruise. I will go into more depth on these issues below.

BARRIERS FACED DURING BOOKING
The most prominent problem luxury travelers face when booking a cruise is finding a desired travel destination that coincides with the traveler's chosen travel dates while remaining in their budget. Because travelers often book cruises so far in advance, cruise companies have reported a recent significant increase in booking prices, which greatly affects the decisions of travelers who are working with a predetermined budget.

Along with these high prices, luxury travelers are also facing complicated booking processes. Travelers spend an exorbitant amount of time researching what cruise ship they wish to travel on, the desired time frame for the cruise, price points for the cruises, as well as ship itineraries, cabin categories, and offered dining times. Many travelers decide to hire a travel agent for their booking needs, though this process also proves to be a major concern.

While travel agents provide services that will ease the stress and workload of travelers during the booking process, it is often difficult to find an exceptional travel agent who will offer good advice without wasting the traveler's time. Those who opt for hiring a travel agent often find that it slows down the process if the agent is not available at all times. Aside from these booking barriers, travelers frequently face problems receiving their cruise documents on time, and many also experience challenges obtaining the travel documents required to board a cruise ship. These obstacles often deter travelers from choosing the option to take a cruise.

BARRIERS FACED DURING CRUISE
Once a traveler succeeds in working through the pre-cruise complications, he or she will often be faced with many more unwanted problems upon boarding the ship. Along with concerns about on-board illnesses, even passengers among the super elite report significant convenience issues, including but not limited to the following:
1. Misplaced luggage
2. Problems with room accessories, such as damaged or inoperable televisions, air conditioning units, and room service telephones
3. Inappropriate or undesirable dinner arrangements
4. Issues obtaining the desired service or experience (e.g. personalized spa appointments, exclusive shore excursions, etc.)
5. Poor room service
6. Rude servers, waiters, and/or bartenders
7. Unplanned ship itinerary changes
8. Unhygienic rooms and/or beds
9. Inability to use health insurance at the ship's medical facilities
10. Billing errors
11. Poor or lacking maintenance facilities/services

Along with comfort and convenience issues, luxury travelers also report safety and hijacking concerns, largely due to the threat of piracy on the open seas. In 2009, passengers aboard the MSC Melody were forced to spend a portion of their travel time deterring Somali pirates who were attempting to board. The passengers used the ship's tables and deckchairs to force back the pirates before they were able to overtake the ship, but this and similar instances have led to hijacking and piracy concerns among cruise ship passengers. These concerns often prevent passengers from engaging in on-deck activities such as parties, movie nights, and swimming, and many travelers are deterred from choosing to take a cruise because of these concerns.

CONCLUSION
In conclusion, there are a number of factors that luxury travelers consider before booking a cruise. The booking process is often long and complicated, and it is difficult to book a cruise that is traveling to the desired location for the desired price point during the time frame in which the traveler wishes to book. Passengers also express concerns regarding convenience and on-board services, including loss of luggage, poor room service, and problems obtaining desired services or experiences. There are also major health and safety concerns, including fear of on-board illnesses and piracy attacks. Passengers of all status rankings, including luxury travelers, often decide to stay on land to avoid the complications and risks involved in boarding a cruise ship.
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