Our Cruise Expert Series is a wonderful opportunity for Cruise Sale Finder to pick the brains of those in the know. The best of the best from the cruising blogosphere, who have made their names across the world by writing interesting copy, analysing ships and itineraries and helping to provide an invaluable source of information for an ever-expanding industry.
It's a great privilege to have the Cruise Maven, Sherry Kennedy, on board with us. A cruise and travel writer, Sherry Laskin Kennedy has a particular passion for food and wine and has been on ships for more than five decades. She launched Cruise Maven in 2001 and is a well-respected fountain of knowledge. Her work and opinions have appeared in numerous publications around the world, so lets get started.
1. What are the most important tips you would offer any first-time cruiser?
Do your research. Check the ship's deck plan to make sure your stateroom location isn't under the disco or a dining area. If mobility is an issue, find a stateroom near an elevator bank. Bring squishy ear plugs just in case you have noisy neighbors. Make sure your travel documents are current and that you carry them with you on embarkation day, not in your checked luggage. Pack light and, finally, ask your doctor to recommend a seasick pill for you or bring SeaBands just in case.
2. Can you sum up your best and worst cruise experiences?
I've been very lucky to have never really had a bad cruise experience, aside from a few moldy shower curtains, Perfect Storm weather conditions in the North Atlantic and horrible coffee! The best experience? It would have to be my first cruise decades ago aboard the old SS Matsonia, a Trans-Pacific crossing from Los Angeles to Honolulu. It was an entrée into a life of cruising the world.
3. What's the strangest thing you've ever seen on a cruise?
Probably Halloween night on a Caribbean cruise. The costumes that people brought with them were straight out of a Hollywood movie set. There were Carmen Mirandas, Charlie Chaplins and even Superman.
4. In your many years of cruising, what do you think has changed the most during that time: demographic, facilities, itineraries on offer, etc...
Almost everything has changed, except for maybe itineraries. The pool areas have seen phenomenal change. The tiny pool aboard the SS Matsonia could hold about 15 people as long as they didn't move in the water. Entertainment has become a techno event, as well as onboard activities. It's not just a vacation for the wealthy anymore - there are cruises to fit nearly every budget.
5. In terms of the future, how do you think the major lines will try and improve the experience and get more people onboard?
As the current cruise population ages and cruise lines look to fill their ships, more gizmos and gadgets will appear to attract new Millennials and X-Gen passengers. Cruising is a multi-generational experience; not just everyone in a family traveling together, but instilling from generation to generation a love of the sea and cruising. Because longer cruises attract the older, retired crowd and generate more onboard revenue, watch for longer cruises to be offered by the mass market cruise lines.
6. If you could choose one ship and one destination, where's your ultimate cruise?
Tough question. Destination: Around the world cruise that includes New Zealand of course! One ship? Well, the Queen Mary 2 would most likely provide the best ride through any type of weather and I love that ship. But there are so many wonderful ships, it's nearly impossible to pick one. I probably have one favourite ship from almost every of the ocean cruise lines.
7. What are the major areas of improvement that major lines can work on?
More solo staterooms that are priced better than they are now. Sometimes it's less expensive for a solo passenger to book a much-larger double occupancy stateroom, than a tiny stateroom designed for one passenger. Also food quality and selection with better Wi-Fi packages on the horizon.
8. Do you think that cruise travel can ever lose the stereotype of being for the 'older generation'?
It already has. When you look at longer 10+ night cruises, the only people that can do those are usually retired, because if you're working, it's hard to get two consecutive weeks of vacation time, especially in America.
9. Where are the most important cruise destinations of the future?
China and Asia. Everyone is sending ships there now. The Chinese people love to cruise and bring their extended families, too. Ships are being remodelled to accommodate their culinary and cultural needs.
10. If you are travelling with a family, how do you get the most out of your holiday?
Don't try to cram four or five family members into one stateroom. There are connecting staterooms for just this purpose. You'll enjoy your holiday so much more with two bathrooms, more closet space, maybe two balconies and more personal space, too.
Our sincerest gratitude to Cruise Maven Sherry Kennedy. Check out her wonderful blog site here. Next up is Chris Owen of Chriscruises.com.