Before even considering price or the trip’s itinerary, you need to know if the ship itself is the right one for you. All cruise ships differ from one another, even within the same cruise company. Getting a good price but the wrong ship is not a good deal. You should inquire and consider the following about any cruise ship you are thinking of booking a trip on:
– Physical layout and amenities: Are there plenty of elevators and ramps to minimize using steps? Is the ship wheelchair accessible if you need this? Are the beds and bathrooms senior friendly? Is there adequate medical service and facilities onboard?
– Does the ship’s dining conform to your dietary needs and likes?
– Are the recreational facilities appropriate and safe for seniors? Is the entertainment your ‘cup of tea’? Who are the other passengers – all adults or also lots of families with kids?
– Does the ship and the crew’s service have good recent ratings from prior passengers?
– Book your cruise for an off-peak travel time, meaning not the summer or around any holiday.
– Don’t pay extra for a fancy cabin (such as with a view or balcony) if you know you will be spending most of your time out of the room partaking in the ship’s activities.
– See if you can get an ‘all inclusive’ fare – where all of your meals, drinks and other basic activities are included and not extra (some of these fares even include tips).
– Always try to drive to the port of departure and not have to fly (the cruise line will add to the price if you need a fly and cruise package price).
– Be flexible with your trip schedule – there are great deals available not only for off-season cruises, but also for last minute bookings (usually within 60
– 90 days before scheduled departure date). There are many cruise travel websites that specialize in this.
– Always ask for available discounts – such as for AARP or AAA members or just being a senior.
– If you have a number of friends or family who can cruise with you on the same trip, ask for a family or group discount.
– If you are a Florida resident, you may be able to get a ‘resident discount’ for some cruises that originate in Florida – and there are many of them.
While you still need to make sure that the particular ship is the best choice for you as discussed above, the following cruise companies have been rated as senior friendly overall:
– Celebrity Cruises: This company has been an industry leader for many years. Recently, US News and World Report magazine awarded them the “Best Cruise for the Money” award. They are famous for providing modern and exciting cruise ship interiors and sophisticated gourmet dining experiences.
– Royal Caribbean: They have two important attributes that contribute to being considered senior friendly – friendly and engaging service, plus wheelchair accessible rooms. Royal’s fleet includes the three biggest ships in the world — Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.
– Norwegian Cruise Line: Their attributes include multiple and quality dining options, plus high quality service overall. They recently implemented The Norwegian Edge Program, an innovative program that promises to provide a new standard of excellence that encompasses the entire guest experience.