Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
When one becomes a senior in age and experience, there comes a knowledge of what works for you and what doesn’t, which influences your choices for entertainment and travel. Recently returning from my first cruise of the new decade of 2020, I’ll share some reflections that might prove beneficial to fellow seniors. To add to my professional travel writer credentials, I was not given any special monetary discounts for my editorial evaluations.
As you recall from my Senior News and Living January edition, “To Cruise or Not to Cruise” (https://seniornewsandliving.com/020215/travel-entertainment-to-cruise-or-not-to-cruise/), there were a number of choices one must make when booking a cruise, as it pertains to individual preferences. Even with the convenience of online booking, there is an educational learning time needed as to how each cruise line sets up their own online booking arrangements.
I found the Celebrity online website a bit daunting at first, but after using it first in September of 2019, and becoming familiar with its style, it is a fast and convenient way to book a cruise, with a down payment to reserve your choices. Of course if educating yourself with online booking is not your thing, you might set up a relationship by phone to help you out with many questions that might arise. When I started my booking it was during a bad weather period as some offices were shut down due to the September Hurricanes. With long wait times on the phone, this was not my preferred booking option.
On a peraonl note I chose the Celebrity Equinox Cruise ship as I had a college friend that was employed in their theatrical cast. This gave me a primal interest in the Equinox, so that I might not only enjoy the lux life of cruising the Caribbean but share in the talents of a friend, with his theatrical performances.
With that decision made, and the best specific January dates needed, I got serious as to cabin location and class. Here again many choices and many price levels. With past cruise experiences with upscale lines such as Regent and Royal Viking, I found paying a few hundred dollars more for a high class cabin is a good investment. I discovered Celebrity has an Aqua Class which is just a step down from their top tier of cabins in the suite category. Aqua Class offers the advantage of special boarding and departing options, no extra charge room service, which is so comforting when you are not up to going to one of the many dining options. It is convenient for your time and energy restraints, and Aqua class also offers other exclusive dining options.
Aqua class offers the dining option of the exclusive Blu Dining room with excellent service, gourmet food options and an elegant atmosphere. The only draw back is that it is first come first serve with no reservations, so picking an off peak dining time is recommended.
Other specialty dining options, with an up charge of from $30 to $40 above your cruise charge, includes: Italian, a continental, steak and sushi dining options. Timed reservation are taken there, which can adjust to your own schedule. When booking you are asked if you want early or late dining seating at the all ship option of the silhouette dining room where the menu changes each night. Luncheon options are also available in other venues which I will describe in more detail next month in part two.
You can explore and reserve and pay for shore excursions on line. The pre cruise online shore excursions are very limited, so you might wait on all your choices until you board where an extensive list of on shore tours are offered and can be paid for at the guest services desk several decks below your cabin level. Prepaid tours and dining options are non refundable.
Another choice to be made is your Beverage Package. It’s an economical no worry way to prepay your beverages. You probably already know if you want upscale wines and spirits, or if ordinary brand spirits and wines are more to your liking, or if you only want a soft drink package. This prepaid option goes along with your mandatory gratuity charges, which also can be prepaid so there is no shock at the end of the cruise with your bill, which is billed to the credit card you signed on with. A few days after returning home you will receive an email with an itemized list of your on board charges. I find this most helpful and eases any idea of undue charges. I found no undue charges in my bill. Celebrity is interested in how you evaluate your cruise and sends you a survey. Be sure and be honest for praises and short comings. I did.
Of course with the uncertainty of travel relating to weather and airline delays, you should consider arriving at your port of call city the day before the start of your cruise. An inexpensive hotel in the area is a good insurance policy against ‘missing the boat.’ Celebrity also offers their own travel insurance if you feel the need for health reasons. Requesting a wheel chair for getting on and off the ship is also offered and I recommend such, as there is a long walk up and down the gang way.
Next month I’ll explore my dining and activity and tour options. Feel free to check out the Celebrity website to explore the many ships and destinations Celebrity offers: (www.celebritycruises.com) or call 1-888-751-7804
Mr. Terry Zinn – Travel Editor
Past President: International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association
3110 N.W. 15 Street – Oklahoma City, OK 73107