If you are planning a cruise, why not go for the best holiday memories you can afford? You may find the lowest fares on the huge “mega- ships” that hold upwards of 3000 passengers.

But luxury cruises on smaller vessels, while they do cost a little more, also give you more for your money. Some of the cruise lines that offer these more upscale cruises are Silversea, Seabourn, and Crystal.

There are a lot of things you are more likely to find on luxury ships than you will on the big mass market or budget cruise ships. While each cruise line’s luxury cruises vary, here are some of the differences you may find when comparing luxury versus budget.

The Main Differences

1. Accommodations – One of the things that makes a luxury cruise more “luxurious” is the fact that all of the cabins are suites and none of them are “inside” rooms. This can be a great asset when your cruise destination is somewhere like Alaska where the weather is not always warm and balmy.

Being able to stay in your room and still look out and experience the scenery is a wonderful perk. On any cruise, if you take part in some of the more active shore excursions, having a comfortable and roomy place to rest is a plus as well. Most of these cabins will have balconies from which to enjoy the view when cruising along the coast of places like Hawaii or the Mediterranean.

2. Free non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages – Many luxury cruises are more “all-inclusive” than the standard cruise. This means that cocktails and wine are part of the package as well as soft drinks. These are generally extra on the mass market and budget cruises.

3. Better service and no tipping – When you book a luxury cruise, you will probably be told that no tips are expected on board. The service people such as wait staff and stewards on the mainstream ships are usually hustling for tips. The staff on luxury ships are paid better and don’t have to rely on tips. This can mean higher quality service people as well.

4. Destinations – These smaller luxury ships can visit ports that the mega ships either can’t or won’t. In the Mediterranean, for instance, these ships can stop in places like Capri or Portofino and in Alaska they may port at Misty Fjords or Sawyer Glacier. These ports are smaller and more exotic and less stressful. Why are they less stressful? There won’t be four or five gigantic ships docked there with as many as 15,000 other cruise passengers wandering about like there are in bigger ports like Juneau.

5. The little things – When these luxury ships are built, much more attention is paid to design, detail, and ambience. Bathroom fixtures are often stainless steel and designer brands; there are double sinks set in a genuine marble countertop; a separate tub and shower; deep, lush carpeting; and even plush bath robes for each occupant. In other words, your cabin will be more like a 4-star hotel than a budget motel.

6. No crowds and queues – The smaller ships are obviously going to have fewer passengers. There usually won’t be queues for boarding and disembarking in port or two sit down to a meal. These ships are much more intimate and you may even be able to find a quiet place to get off to by yourselves.

Not every luxury cruise will have all of these positive points. But most of them will have enough that it could make it well worth the extra money to upgrade from a budget or mass market cruise line to a luxury cruise.

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