Caribbean cruises are popular among vacationers looking for a complete package of activities, meals, and amenities and among those who want to see more than one island while visiting. However, the Turks and Caicos Islands are not the most popular stop for cruise ships, and it's difficult to find lines that include this area.
Cruise planning should be done months in advance whenever possible. Cabins can be fully booked even six months early during popular vacation times. You can book the cruise yourself by calling the cruise line or making an online reservation; you can also book your journey by contacting an online or in-person travel agent.
Those choosing to work out the details of this cruise vacation on their own, may want to call the cruise line, use the cruise line's Web site, or book the cruise through a general travel Web site. When planning, keep in mind what type of mood you'd like your trip to capture. Families, for example, may be best served by a Disney cruise that designs activities specifically for children. Couples may enjoy a quiet, romantic escape, perhaps on a a Princess Cruise - the line used by the "Love Boat" TV show. If you'd like to sail aboard the most luxurious ship available, look to liners known for their top-notch services such as Crystal, Silversea, or the new Queen Mary II.
Because the Turks and Caicos Islands are off cruise ships' beaten paths, take special care finding a cruise that hits the destinations you're interested in.
Depending on the type of cruise you seek and how much money you wish to spend, knowledge of the four classes of cruises: contemporary/value, premium, luxury, and specialty, can assist you in selecting the appropriate ship.
Carnival and Royal Caribbean are known as the powerhouses of cruising; they are two of the most popular contemporary/value cruise lines and together make up almost 90 percent of the entire cruise industry. This is the largest class of cruising and is known for its reasonable prices and package deals.
Premium ocean liners like Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America boast a larger wait staff for fewer passengers. These cruises are usually more expensive, and the ships aren't as large, but the service is considered superior to that of a contemporary/value cruise.
Others may want to consider a luxury class ship. Luxury cruises come at a higher value than even premium cruises, but the experience is considered to be worth the investment. Ocean liners like Seabourne, Windstar, and Cunard are known for offering top-notch service and amenities and belong to this highest class and.
Ships in the specialty class, like regional cruises, typically sail to a unique, secluded destination, perhaps including the Turks and Caicos, but not the usual major Caribbean ports of The Bahamas or Jamaica. These ships may also offer specialized cruises for exclusive passenger groups such as homosexuals, senior citizens, or singles.
Theme, décor, and luxury level are just the beginning when it comes to cruise ships' differences - they also vary in size. The size of a ship is a critical factor when booking a trip because some are too large to visit particular islands.
A Panama-class ship is the largest available. Its name comes from its size - these ships are so large they can barely pass through the Panama Canal. These enormous ocean liners, holding a maximum of 3,000 passengers, visit the major ports, such as Aruba, Barbados, or The Bahamas.
Smaller ship carrying no more than 300 passengers can dock at islands the megaships need to avoid. These smaller ships, such as the Windstar Cruise Ships, generally stick to the small harbors like those in the Virgin Islands.
One note, however, is that travelers on smaller ships may feel more roll and turbulence in the seas. Megaship passengers rarely feel much motion due to their large size.
Ships are classified based on the following criteria:
|Gross registered tonnage||measurement of the ship's volume/vessel's size||1 gross registered ton = 100 cubic feet|
|Passenger-to-crew ratio||number of passengers served by each crew member||Smaller ratio = better service|
|Passenger capacity||based on double occupancy (2 passengers in each cabin)||More rooms = more passengers|
|Space ratio||comparison of ship space/tonnage to passenger capacity||Higher ratio = extra spacious|
The initial step when selecting a cabin is deciding between the two types of cabin available - a "run of the ship" cabin or a "perfect" cabin. Run of the ship cabins are not assigned until the week of departure, which lowers the cost for travelers. This option only allows for a choice between an inside and an outside cabin. Perfect cabins guarantee exactly what you request and pay for.
Some additional guidelines for selecting a room:
Confirm the view you'll have in an outside cabin , make sure you're getting what you expect. You may want to request a view of the ocean.
If you are subject to motion sickness, consider a cabin on the lower decks. The further into the middle of the ship you get, the less you'll feel ship movements.
If you are traveling with young children, do not select an outside cabin, especially a cabin with balcony access.
Avoid booking cabins in close proximity to anchors, bars, casinos, elevators, engine rooms, gyms, nightclubs, public rooms, stairways, pools and hot tubs, theaters, or thrusters. These areas can be particularly noisy.
Keep money and valuables safely hidden in your room and always lock your cabin door. Avoid carrying unnecessary cash around the ship.
The most popular time to cruise is also the most popular time to visit the Caribbean - winter holidays such as New Year's Eve, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are especially popular dates for travel. Other times of year can be much less expensive than these popular travel times, but many travelers dislike the idea of traveling during hurricane season, which makes up most of the summer months - June to November. Remember, though, that most travel is not effected by hurricanes.
Since Turks and Caicos cruises are so rare, you'll need to select a cruise based on the other destinations at which it also stops. Selecting an island destination is an important step in your vacation planning. Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa are primary departure ports from which you may choose to visit the western or eastern portions of the Caribbean. An Eastern Caribbean cruise may include stops in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbados, or St. Maarten, as well as the Turks and Caicos.
Cruises vary in many ways, and travelers can choose to cruise from two days to two weeks. Those visiting the Turks and Caicos may be limited by cruise lengths to choosing what is available. However, longer cruises generally stop in at more of the popular cruise locations.
On shore travelers can usually experience activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, horseback riding, tours, and even golf. Excursions usually cost an additional $25(USD) to $100(USD) and can be booked either along with the cruise itself, or once you're onboard. Still, don't forget to set aside some shore time for sightseeing.
Cruise costs vary from cruise to cruise, as well as by luxury level, length, and even number of travelers, with singly occupancy rates surprisingly higher than double occupancy rates. However, items you won't have to budget for are food and onboard activities and entertainment. Careful though: Beverages and excursions, as well as the final tip, are often not included in the original cost. Unusual amenities for cabins, such as bathtubs and televisions, may be available, but can incur additional fees - request these if you'd like them, but travelers may want to inquire about additional costs before booking.
When considering what to carry on your cruise, consider what you'll wear in the Turks and Caicos. Cruise ships are not known for their luggage capacity, so you'll want to avoid bringing unnecessary extras. It's recommended that travelers bring bathing suits, lightweight shirts, shorts, and other cover-up clothing items, flip flops or other sandals, sunglasses, and hats for additional protection from the sun.
Evening wear can be a bit more complicated. Jeans are generally prohibited from the dining areas, but the dinner class will dictate what is most appropriate. Evening meals are classified as evening casual, informal, or formal. Appropriate evening casual attire consists of slacks and a collared shirt for men and a sundress or slacks with a blouse for women.
Carry a suit and tie or cocktail dress for dinners that qualify as informal. Black tie is the key to dressing well for formal dinners. If you have questions about what to wear, do not hesitate to consult the cruise director.
Traveling to the Turks and Caicos by cruise can be a truly unique experience for vacationers.
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