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Opinons on cruises

I finally have a little money for travel, so I have been looking at some of the cruises (they are usually more in my price range). But I don't know how to tell a good company from a not so good company. Roads Scholar comes up a lot in my feed.
I wwould love opinions on these sorts of trips.
Thank you in advance.

Posted by
3789 posts

Why would you cruise with a tour company? is what I would ask.
I took a look at Road Scholar but don't really see an England cruise of just England. (I am trying to work with the fact that is the forum you have posted in).
If you want a strong enrichment program Road Scholar offers that, but it looks like these small ship or cruise options are fairly new, so might limit any reviews. You may have to settle for the company's reputation over the specific cruise's itinerary.
I still travel DIY most of the time, so am surprised to see that a cruise 'tour' is cheaper than a land tour. Particularly if you are a solo traveler. Certainly, I have seen cruises cheaper than some of my land DIY, but that isn't the norm.
I think we need a bit more information as to your interests and why you are considering a cruise or cruise tour to help (you'll find many here have a dislike of cruises).

Posted by
1188 posts

Check to see if any of the land portion accommodations of a "cruise" tour are booked separately at an additional cost. I have noticed that a lot of the shorter excursion tours have the accommodations ( which can be to each travelers needs) at a separate cost to keep the Tour Costs themselves lower.

Posted by
2041 posts

Yes, need more info. What is a little money? Small ship cruising can be delightful, such as Viking Ocean Cruise line. There are many companies. We are looking at Star Clippers company - 90-125 passengers - for a cruise around Greece in 2021. They have great deals if you book far in advance. Look at websites or order brochures, sometimes they are less expensive then you might think and deals are to be had.

Posted by
2924 posts

There are many types of cruises and even more cruise lines. What kind of cruise are you looking at? Ocean? River? What part of the world are you considering?

As for affordability, I've heard a lot of pros in favor of cruising, but affordability for solo cruisers definitely isn't one of them. With only a few exceptions solos pay as much as 200% solo supplement because ship cabins are sold based on double occupancy, And unless you sail on a luxury line ($$$$), there are other costs like automatic daily gratuities.

If you are serious about cruising, then some research is in order. I'd suggest spending time on the Cruise critic website. It concentrates mostly on ocean cruises, but has a dedicated river cruising forum as well as one specifically for solo cruisers.

Posted by
21195 posts

Not sure where to start. There are cruises and there are cruises -- everything from river to ocean. Roads Scholar is kind of a unique group and it may not appeal to you. It originally was Elderhostal and was geared to low cost travel for seniors. They were non-profit and were quite good at what they did. I have had no experience with them since the name change so don't know if any of their approach has changed. The best thing you can do is find the groups on the internet and generally you will find evaluations. But it is a bit of an art to read evaluations since sometimes people complaint about the smallest details and may not be important to you.

We like cruising and especially the European ocean cruises since you can see a lot of Europe very conveniently and will some economy. But -- you need to refine your interests before anyone here can be of a great help. Hit the travel section of your local public library as a good starting point.

Posted by
10 posts

Oops. Sorry for being so vague.
I was looking at some cruises around Europe, most of which (in my price range) seem to go around the boot of Italy. I like exploring local areas, but I like the security of traveling in a group.
I'm 66. This would be only my second time traveling alone, so I'm still a bit nervous about it.

Posted by
3789 posts

Still a lot of details missing, and I could write pages about cruising, but I'll try to keep it relevant.
Road Scholar is well reputed but may cater to a specific demographic. Do you want a tour because of enrichment and learning, or just the comfort of safety in a crowd? Road Scholar is known for their enrichment programs. You could read numerous reviews on TripAdvisor Senior Travel forum or even ask your question there. RS is often discussed along with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and other popular American-centric tour companies. OAT also does cruises and without single supplements.
I looked at Road Scholar's 11 day cruise around Italy. As the ship as only 350 passengers, it can fet i to Cinque Terre area....one of the few that can. Currently there is free airfare from some cities. I think they will try to match you up with a room mate making the price quite reasonable for airfare, cruise, shore excursions and wine with dinner. If wanting a single cabin or if airfare isn't covered, it becomes pretty pricey. You could take a mainstream cruise with private guides for port visits and still be money in pocket.
There are themed cruises that would have people of similar interests on the same cruise. Everything from politics, religious groups, quilters, knitters, polka dancers, LGBQ, swingers, Harley Davidson fanatics, you name it; they most likely have a theme cruise for it.
I am booked on a 20 day cruise from Dubai to Venice. It is almost sold out but I have an oceanview cabin for $92 cdn a night (~1400US cruise and taxes). I have to add in daily tipping, any drinks and excursions (I have 2 ship's excursions, Petra and Jerusalem, long trips so big costs), 15% gratuities on drinks and whatever. An extra night in Dubai and 3 nights in Venice. With airfare, the total for 26 nights is approx $5000 cdn (3800$US). About the same as I budgeted for a 3 week DIY land trip in Italy. The ship is known to be 'budget' and is European but I am okay with that. Not all North Americans are.
I am 61, by the way, but have a number of years of solo travel u der my belt.
I wanted to just let you know there could be other considerations such as a budget cruise line, but ship excursions for ports or even private guides.
You could lurk over on the Cruise Critic boards, or the 'TripAdvisor Cruise forum'. It is hard to find, but if you just Google that phrase, it should come up. These forum may jelp you see your options for cruising on a budget.

Posted by
8236 posts

Although none were cruises, I’ve done 10 programs with Road Scholar, #11 booked for October. I’ve been solo on all of them and have really enjoyed the programs. The land-based programs have had excellent guides and interesting group members.

I’ve also been on 11 Rick Steves tours, lol!! I base my choices now on which of these companies has an itinerary that appeals.

In general I think they are mid-range price-wise. They are specific about what they cover on the land-based programs so I assume they do the same for cruises. This means no financial surprises about tips or optional tours.

Sorry I can’t help with specifics about cruises. Some of the programs sound interesting but I’m just not a boat person.

Posted by
21195 posts

Still not sure what you want. But take a look at the Holland America line. They have good value and lots of different cruises all around Europe. Most of their European ships are in the range of 1800 to 2200. Not small but on the small size compared to some of the mega ships. I think it is a good balance for size and price.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you all so much for all of your suggestions. I have only traveled by myself once and still very unsure of myself. It's very encouraging to have so many offer reassurance.
I have a lot of info here to help me put together a fun excursion.
Thanks so much.

Posted by
9782 posts

Also look at Odysses Unlimited. Small group travel and they can make all your arrangements for you. You would probably be about the average age.

Posted by
4866 posts

We have done 20 Ocean cruises and 4 River cruises in the past 9 years.

Cruises are great for visiting lots of ports and you are in your floating hotel with entertainment, etc.

Especially good for visiting ports that are a bit hard to get to otherwise, like the Greek Islands or Dubrovnik.

In picking a cruise and cruise line, competition is you friend. Compare several lines with their prices. Some of the cheaper cruise lines like Costa and MSC are Italian lines and don't rate so high in customer satisfaction.

Lines like Viking (they have river and ocean cruises) for ocean cruises are great, but expensive.

Lines like Carnival appeal more to younger people and people that drink a lot.

The lines that we have used are Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). They are all good, but Celebrity excels in dining while Royal and NCL excellent in entertainment.
Princess and Holland America (HAL) are good lines. We avoided HAL because they had a very liberal smoking policy (smoking on balconies) but they changed that policy to be more in line with the others a couple of years ago.

Do some research, compare ports for itinerary and pricing. Some lines tend to bundle promos like drink packages (alcohol) with the price, but you can usually avoid that if you don't want a promo.

Price wise, if you book early, soon after the cruise is announced, you will get a better price, except that sometimes you can look for last minute bargains. If you are flying from North America to Europe, you probably want to book early.

The website cruise critic.com has cruise reviews and boards with posts from people that cruise. It is a great resource.

Posted by
3789 posts

Costa and MSC are Mediterranean lines. Not always appreciated by US passengers as may have more liberal smoking rules, less friendly and familiar customer service, and announcements are done in multiple languages with English near the end. Since geared to Europeans, there are bigger family groups and may have more kids. But they have smaller and mega ships just like the major 'US' lines. They know their region, however, and offer some different ports. They are also priced affordably. Even is single supplement is 200%, it fits the budget. My 20 day cruise mentioned earlier is with MSC. I haven't used them before but have used Costa and like an international mix.
Rick Steves has a cruise the Med guide book and cruise videos. I expect he will cover what you need to consider for pricing, extras and add ons.

Posted by
1879 posts

Taveling alone by yourself..........without a doubt, check into Silversea cruises. In fact, you could ask for Lisa Bell when you call....she is great!
What sets Silversea apart is that on cruises they will have special gatherings for people traveling alone. Fun things on days at sea and also pre-dinner gatherings, which makes it a natural to then have built-in dining people.
We chatted with a few of the people traveling alone (mostly women, but also a few guys), and they told us they cruise only with Silversea because it is like a comfortable shoe....they know they will feel comfortable.

We have cruised with them three times and would not hesitate to do so again.
Small ships 275-600ish passengers, butler and cabinet attendant for every suite/cabin. All inclusive,often with certain shore excursions included, but others available at a fee. Fabulous, educational on-board speakers...we have met some fabulous people who were speakers.
Seabourn is also a nice cruise line, and National Geographic (Lindblad) offers some fabulous expedition cruises and they specify a certain number of single cabins.

Posted by
1778 posts

Although the OP did not specify how much money they have for their cruise/trip, it sounds like he/she may be more on the budget end of things and while we have not cruised with Silversea, I have looked at all the cruise lines and they are not in the budget travel range.
Also, not sure why Norma mentions a cabin for 3 people when OP specified they would be traveling alone.
I agree with others that have said there is not enough information here to be of much help.

Posted by
4866 posts

Silversea == $$$$$$$

For your first cruise, I recommend a mainstream cruise line like Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Princess or HAL.

Posted by
21195 posts

Silversea is near the top of luxury cruises. Never cheap.

Posted by
1879 posts

Silversea offers some very good deals. In fact, it is possible for someone to travel as a single at 110% of it would cost to travel per person as part of a couple. They also offer journeys with no single supplement. They offer from time to time, free airfare or greatly reduced airfare.

Yes, Silversea is high-end, but not always expensive. We only book when we get great deals. The VISTA suite, the entry level is fabulous, and you get all the same benefits as the people in the really high-end digs.

Our first Silversea Cruise was thru the Greek Isles and Turkey, right after the last serious market meltdown......very attractive price and included international airfare, many shore excursions, and because Silversea is so inclusive (even gratuities) it is totally possible to leave at the end with absolutely no charges on the shipboard account. But, we still typically give a gratuity to the butler (who goes above and beyond).
Like anything in life....one can look just for budget travel, or one can look for special deals and travel in a very fine manner at almost the same price.

In fact, that cruise cost us less (with the airfare included) than our RS Heart of Italy Tour. It does not a matter of HOW one travels, but how smart they are in what they book and when.

Posted by
1758 posts

Maggie is certainly entitled to travel however she chooses. If she finds a great deal, more power to her, if she doesn’t, more power again. And I don’t thInk she needs anyone’s approval here.

Posted by
183 posts

There is a site called cruisecritic which rates and evaluates cruises both from the professional point of view as well as the guest.

I have sailed 5 times with Norwegian and getting ready to go on my 6th cruise with them. I chose Norwegian because of the studio cabins. I like traveling alone. I also now get amenities because I have sailed with Norwegian so many times.

There is both good and bad sailing with Norwegian. The ships with the studio cabins are huge. Guest services can sometimes be so so but I love the studio cabin. Complimentary food is usually very good. Lots to do on the ship.

If you read the reviews for Norwegian, they go from one star to five stars but this is true with all the cruise lines. Some persons love their cruise and other hate theirs.

There are cruise lines like Viking which are more upscale but you often pay much more. It's a trade off.

I know very little about Roads Scholar but if you are traveling alone, you might also consider Norwegian. I have mentioned the solo cabins. There is also a solo lounge and activities for solos. Cruisers tend to be very friendly.

Posted by
2624 posts

Look at Viking Ocean Cruises. Lots of good options. Sign up to receive emails and brochures from them. This is how you get notifications of deals and sales. When you see a good sale price on a trip you want, jump on it. Some of their cruises are more expensive than others. Just look around their website and see what interests you.

Celebrity Cruises have sales, too. Look at their website.

Cunard is another to look at. You'll want to sign up for deal alerts there.

Maggie had a good suggestion about Silversea Cruises. Yes, as someone said, she can travel any way she pleases. We have all worked and saved all our lives, and now in retirement we deserve some "treats"! Sign up to receive emails and brochures from Silversea, and you may be able to snag a deal if they have a promotion.

Go to the website Cruise Critic and read reviews. If you sign up for emails from them, you will receive alerts about deals.

Posted by
327 posts

Here's a good article from Cruise Critic about solo travel on cruise ships.

https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=419

All cruise lines have promotions - Beginning about 18 months ahead of departure date. January to March is known as "wave season" so if you deal with an experienced cruise travel agency, you may have an opportunity to see some of the best deals for future cruises. Also, if you are able to travel on short notice, there are tremendous "last minute" space available sales (usually about 60 days within departure dates).

Posted by
2924 posts

well well well. look what rick published today

It may be new on YouTube, but it's not new. I think Ive seen it at least 3 times on PBS in the last year.

Posted by
3789 posts

I'm not sure how I have missed this in my search for cruise YouTube videos,but RS Cruising 101 is a great lesson. Discussing the up sells, categories of cruise lines (though missing some), and how to be a RS type traveller by boat.
NCL (100-200 per person per day) Silverseas (starting at 700 pp pd) with 2 other categories in between.

Posted by
1879 posts

Unfortunately, I do not think there will be any rock-bottom deals on Silversea in the near term. Received a call from our Silversea contact, ironically, just on Friday. When I asked, she said they are having a banner year with very, very brisk bookings and have even added extra support staff.

However, for those who might be interested in expedition cruises, yesterday I received an email from Lindblad (who operations the National Geographic ships) celebrating their 40-year anniversary with 25% (that's significant) reductions on certain 2019 journeys along with free air from gateway cities (also significant). Sale starts Monday 9am EST and goes thru Friday. I noticed among other destinations Antarctica is included as is Galapagos. So worth checking out for those who may find this of interest. National Geo ships are excellent in the expedition category, with incredible naturalists....lots of educational opportunities.....and (giggle giggle) no tuxedo nights....a collared shirt is dress-up for those journeys :)
Personal experience with Antarctica and Greenland/Iceland. Wish our circumstances were such that we could book Galapagos, but it will not work for us this year....drats!! Although between now and tomorrow a.m., I may find a way to make it work....at those savings.

That's the kind of deal I mentioned earlier in the thread that makes me pounce on high-end cruises.

EDIT: I just looked on National Geographic Expedition's web site and this sneak preview email was truly that, as this special is not yet on their web site (guessing it was just sent to previous customers, but it did not say it is restricted to previous customers). In case any of you are interested, I am kindly listing the included destinations: Alaska, Antarctica, Galapagos, Columbia River, Baja, Vietnam/Cambodia, California, Costa Rica, Pantagonia, Pacific Northwest. They cruise/sail to many more world-wide destinations, but the big sale is limited to these destinations.

Posted by
10 posts

Oh, WOW! So many helpful people with so much great advice!
Thank you all! You have given me a LOT to consider and I see that I really have a lot of research to do. But I didn’t really know where to start, before posting my question.
I now see another wonderful new adventure in my future!!!
~Naida

Posted by
21195 posts

...But I didn’t really know where to start, .....** That is why they invented libraries. And being married to a national recognized librarian, you know where we start. Yes, Maggie -- that is bragging but she is worth it.

Posted by
1879 posts

For Frank:
Asked with a wink and a smile:
For clarification, are you bragging that your wife is a nationally recognized librarian OR that she agreed to marry you? :) :)

Posted by
1725 posts

I encourage you to examine your interests and your concerns. I also encourage you to consider a land based tour, especially from Rick Steves.

What are your goals? Is it to socialize or explore and learn? Do you want to have a chance to interact with folks who live where you'll be visiting?

What is your budget? You may find that the type of experience you want to have will necessitate the pricier cruise packages and that they are more expensive than a comparable land based tour. I'd really do a careful comparison of costs and benefits. A cruise isn't a bargain if you spend most of the time on board and have little time on shore if your intent is see the area you're visiting.

While my wife and I, who are older than you, normally travel independently, we have done tours and we have done a river cruise. As expected, traveling independently provides a lot more opportunities to get "close to the ground" and make new friends and have more intimate experiences. A well run tour, such as those provided by Rick Steves comes a lot closer to having interaction with folks in the areas you visit. Cruises tend to isolate you from the places you visit. You sail around, have your meals and your evening entertainment on board. When you depart at a port of call, you pretty much spend your time on the tours provided with little free time to explore on your own.

Posted by
4866 posts

DougMac,
I agree with you about the limitations that cruising has on travel. Cruises are not the most thorough way to tour unless you want to visit a number of ports for short periods.
Cruises are great for visiting the Greek Islands, going around the Horn of South America, viewing glaciers up close in Alaska, or even crossing the Atlantic (instead of flying).

Cruises are not great for visiting key European cities like Rome, Paris, Madrid, London or Berlin. These places need several days to visit properly.

Land tours usually cover more area and have the convenience of the individual not having to plan tours, transportation, lodging and dining. However, land tours tend to be more expensive per day than the cruises that we have taken.

Self-touring, with a rental car can be amazing, we did a 28 day drive tour of S. Wales and England and it was wonderful, but require much planning and required driving on the left in narrow country lanes. It was cheaper for us than taking a bus tour and we were able to visit exactly what we wanted to see.

naidalavon, each travel choice has its advantages, just make sure to pick the one that suits you travel needs.