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Helpful Cruise Guidelines

What "guarantee" means as it applies to a cruise reservation.

The term "guarantee" is an assurance that you are confirmed in cabin accommodations in the price category you paid, with the understanding you will be assigned a specific cabin by the line at a later date. The cabin assigned will be in the category paid or higher, at no additional cost.

Of course, the categories on different ships can vary greatly in location, size and configuration. Fares for specific categories are determined accordingly, with the least expensive cabins usually having an inside location on a lower deck. Since demand for certain categories always exceeds the supply of cabins available in those categories, cruise lines employ the "guarantee" technique to control their inventory of cabins throughout the ship. Many cruise passengers are willing to accept a "guarantee" for a certain category knowing they will not have the opportunity to select a specific cabin, but pleased they are protected at the fare with which they were comfortable.

The obvious advantage of a "guarantee" is that an upgrade of one or more categories may result. However, it should be understood that an upgrade is not a guaranteed part of a "guarantee." The assignment could very well be within the category paid, which in the case of lower priced categories, may result in a less desirable cabin than the passenger was hoping for. The passenger must understand that final assignment of your "guaranteed" stateroom, which may occur from two months to two weeks prior to departure, is at the sole discretion of the cruise line.

The differences between small ships, expedition ships, cruise liners and freighters. How to tell which one you are best-suited for.

The diversity of cruise products now available is very extensive, with many niche operators aimed at targeted markets. Cruise options are also complicated by the sundry size and type of vessels on the market.

Recognizing our membership as mature and experienced cruise travelers, we have attempted to categorize available products into five classifications that hold appeal to the majority of members. We hope that ascertaining your interest in these areas will allow us to select the cruise offerings that most meet your needs. We ask you to characterize your interest in ship travel on the questionnaire sent to all new members; you can update this on our Web site any time.

Freighter Travel

The first category is our original specialty, freighter travel. By checking this box you are telling us not only that you have the flexibility to tolerate departure and arrival delays (or advances!) and adaptable expectations to deal with variable levels of service and itinerary changes, but that you are comfortable with a small group of fellow voyagers...12 or less. There is a certain mind-set necessary to truly enjoy a freighter: independent, flexible, self-reliant, adaptable, tolerant. It is definitely not for everyone, but rewards advocates with very special travel experiences.

Expedition Cruises

Expedition cruises, our second category, is a segment of the cruise industry that has grown in recent years. These voyages feature ships with relatively small passenger complements, usually under 200, and out-of-the-ordinary destinations. Typically, on-board experts highlight the cultures and natural history encountered on the trip. While casual in atmosphere and unpretentious in shipboard accommodations, expedition vessels feature all the amenities one requires for destination-oriented travel. These cruises tend to be expensive and the value must be perceived in the overall experience this type of travel affords: the opportunity to explore and learn about remote regions of the globe with the ease and comfort of a well-appointed small ship.

Cruise Liners

The third category we list is conventional cruise liners. With new tonnage coming on-line almost constantly, the choices can be overwhelming. Therefore, our selection of cruise programs is contingent on an interesting itinerary or unusual value rather than the ship itself. We tend to promote attractively priced, longer cruises on a variety of ships. Passenger complements can run from several hundred to several thousand, depending on the operator. If you check this category, expect to receive details on cruises of two to four weeks — sometimes longer — with comprehensive itineraries.

Small Ship Cruises

The specialty cruise product niche of small ship cruises appeals to travelers who are willing to forego the usual big ship amenities for the opportunity to have more of a non-tourist experience. A true small ship carries 60 to 200 passengers (some even less) and will visit the popular ports, same as the big ships, but will also call at places not on the traditional cruise ship routes. Small size allows access to ports and waterways that large vessels cannot reach. If visiting some off-the-beaten track locations and cruising smaller waterways without being part of an off-ship excursion seem an enhancement to the trip, then a small ship may be a good alternative for you. A small ship will get you closer to the scenic highlights, allow the opportunity for personal contact with on-board guides and other experts and offer a more in-depth experience than a big ship. The relevance of this is a matter of personal taste—and budget. Due to the economies of scale involved, a small ship cruise costs more—but most returning passengers agree the experience is worth it.

Unique and Unusual Ships

Unique and unusual ships could be a catch-all for any cruise product that doesn't fit the other categories. But again, we limit our offerings to cruises that would seem to appeal to the mature, seasoned traveler. Checking this box could bring you information on steamboat cruises on North American rivers, sailing ships in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, or small coastal vessels and yachts. The key here is that your cruise interests are not restricted to the typical passenger ship but you may not always have the time or flexibility for a freighter or desire for the in-depth experience of an expedition.

Riverboats & Canal Barges

You may also check Riverboats & Canal Barges if you have an interest in cruising on the rivers and canals of Europe or the Far East.

We hope you will find the selection of TravLtips cruise offerings tempting. Feel free to suggest a type of cruise you would like but haven't seen from us.

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