What is the difference between decks on river and sea ships, what families with children and elderly parents should pay attention to, affects whether the cabin class is serviced? We learned from experts how not to be disappointed in the trip and whether it is worth booking everything yourself.
CHOICE OF A DECK – THE HIGHER, THE MORE EXPENSIVE
As a rule, a conversation between a cruise operator and a tourist begins with specifying the deck on which he would like to purchase a cabin.
The deck really matters in pricing, both on relatively small river boats and on 8-story sea boats. liners.
Very often the principle “the higher, the more expensive” applies here, and the difference in cost for absolutely identical cabins, but located at different levels, can range from several thousand rubles to 30-150 euros.
However, tour operators are sure that the choice here is purely price. According to Svetlana Goncharova, development director of the cruise company Mosturflot, the cabins of the same category, even located on different decks, are the same in terms of content, range of services, the presence of a window or balcony, etc.
Cabin with a balcony on the ship “Princess Victoria”. Photo: Mosturflot
Lifehack from experts: You should not take a cabin, guided solely by the height of the deck, it is much more important to understand the needs of passengers.
EVENING PROMENAD OR SPLASH OF WATER
But if the issue of the deck is still fundamental , then experts from the Vodokhod cruise company give good advice regarding river boats:
- The main deck – there is no promenade area, i.e. no one will walk past the windows, which will allow you to calmly observe the river scenery from the cabin.
- The middle deck is the main promenade and the main living area of the ship. On the one hand, it can be a little noisy here, on the other hand, you are always in the center of action.
- The boat deck is usually the uppermost living deck. There may also be a walking part, although there may also be VIP areas with a balcony. Often there is a conference room, bar or music lounge.
- Lower deck or hold. The window here replaces the porthole. On the lower deck are the largest of the standard cabins – for example, 3 or 4 people, and there is no promenade deck. These cabins are separated from the engine room by 2 more service compartments, so no engine noise will be heard in the cabins.
Triple cabin on the lower deck on the ship “Nizhny Novgorod”. Photo: ATOR
By the way, many tourists are not at all afraid of cabins on the lower deck on river boats.
“Cabins on the lower deck are sold out very quickly. And not only because they are budget-friendly, but because it is very quiet there – you can say that only the splash of water overboard will be heard, ”says Andrey Mikhailovsky, CEO of the Infoflot cruise center.
The same picture is observed on sea liners, where interior cabins without a window are popular along with comfortable cabins with a balcony.
MSC Lirica's interior cabin. 7-10 decks. Photo: MSC Cruises website
“Of course, choosing a cabin with a balcony, the client gets the maximum impression from the cruise. Internal cabins do not have such view properties, but are much cheaper, plus the tourist has exactly the same opportunity to use the entire rich infrastructure of the liner, ”emphasizes the specialists of the PAC Group tour operator, who offer Russians foreign sea cruises on MSC Cruises liners.
Life hack from the experts: When choosing a cabin, it is important to consider its location to the areas necessary for the tourist – a restaurant, a bar, a pool, etc., so that the budget cabin downstairs in some cases may be the most correct option.
TRAPS, BARS AND AFTERNOON
The second question that a good cruise consultant should ask a tourist is the composition of the travelers.
The needs of passengers on a ship can be very different. For example, if a family with small children is traveling, then it is necessary to think over the child’s daytime sleep in silence.
“Cabins located in the bow or in the middle of a river boat can be much quieter and more comfortable than similar cabins in the stern. And the best option for those who want to sleep during the day is the main deck,” say the experts of the Vodokhod company.
And if a cheerful company has gathered, then, on the contrary, proximity to party places is important for them.
“If young people who are in the mood for entertainment are traveling, then they can take cabins near the bar – they themselves sit for a long time in the bar, and, as a rule, they are not bothered by the traffic that is often created in such places of entertainment” , – says Ms. Goncharova.
If older people are traveling, and there is no elevator on the ship, then they should probably choose the deck where the restaurant is located. And for smokers – exactly the deck on which there is a specially designated smoking area.
On sea liners, given the huge size of the vessel, you can choose the location of the cabin closer to the most frequently visited areas. For families with children, there is a kids club, restaurants, a water park located in the stern.
The view from the window is also important – cabins sometimes have a limited view due to an external gangway or lifeboats, which can also be important for tourists who plan to spend most of their time watching nature.
Outer gangway on the motor ship St. Petersburg. Photo: ATOR
Life hack from experts: Before buying, you must carefully study the entire plan of the ship or at least your deck. And if in doubt, be sure to clarify all the points with your agent.
In most cases, complaints about a cruise arise due to insufficient understanding between the tourist or agent or inattentive study of the plan of the ship. For example, if a client or agent mixed up the category of the cabin, did not pay attention to the limited appearance in the name of the cabin on the sea liner, etc.
NOISES COMMON AND UNEXPECTED
Noise that can disturb tourists in the cabin is another important point to consider when booking.
For example, it is considered that on sea liners it is not worth taking a cabin above a 24-hour casino or a nightclub. Although, according to PAC Group experts, on most modern huge liners, like MSC Cruises, there is excellent sound insulation, so the same proximity to the elevator or bar is more of a convenience, and not at all a source of problems.
With river liners it is easier – there the noisy animation ends at 23:00. But still, when choosing a cabin, it should be borne in mind that music from a disco bar or music salon will be heard most of the evening if the cabin is close to these places.
However, other unexpected noises can also upset tourists – for example, a loudspeaker located at the cabin window, or the so-called. an expansion joint (the junction of two above-water parts of the ship), which sometimes makes sounds when the ship moves, etc.
Some customers may even be annoyed by the sounds from the children's room behind the wall and the activity near the reception.
Children's room on the ship “Mustai Karim” designed for active pastime of young passengers. Photo: ATOR
Life hack from experts: Choose your cruise agents carefully and always talk to them about your needs in advance to minimize the gap between expectation and reality.
DOES A CABIN AFFECT SERVICE
The class of the cabin, of course, affects the range of services that will be provided to the tourist. In deluxe cabins, for example, there will be bathrobes and slippers, more expensive cosmetics, a safe, etc. There may also be free Internet access and their own restaurant.
For example, on the ship “Mikhail Bulgakov” of the cruise company “Mosturflot” there is a deluxe cabin area, and the food in the restaurant for these tourists is slightly different. There will be additional options like unlimited salad bar, dessert bar, coffee and tea, etc.
Motor ship “Mikhail Bulgakov” has a deluxe area with balconies on the boat deck. Photo: ATOR
And as part of MSC's sea cruises, you can choose the top cabins of the MSC Yacht Club with limited access. They have a separate lounge, their own restaurants with a unique menu, priority pick-up/drop-off and first-class service.
Hack from the experts: On Russian rivers, the class of the ship itself is still more important than a separate cabin on it. Because the service, excursions, and even meals on luxury ships are very different from more budget river liners.
CABINETS FOR FAMILIES AND BIG COMPANIES
If a large enough family or a group of friends is going on a cruise, then this is usually a completely separate type of request.
Most cabins on liners are designed for two, so the problem is how to accommodate tourists in 4 + 5 or 3 +1 always needs to be decided beforehand.
In fact, there are almost always good options for 1-, 3- and 4-berth cabins, but they are sold out very quickly. It is also worth considering the age and physical capabilities of family members – some large cabins come with bunk beds.
If parents are traveling with children, they can take a classic family suite, like on MSC or Blue Sapphire liners (his interests on the Russian market is represented by the tour operator ANEX Tour).
The Superior outside cabin on the Blue Sapphire is a convenient connection for the family. Photo: Selectum Blu Cruises
And on the Russian rivers, you can book 2 cabins with a balcony next to each other. The partition on the balcony is removed upon request, and the cabins of children and parents are connected in this way.
And finally, there is one more thing – a large company will want to sit next to one or more tables in a restaurant, so everything will have to be here too arrange in advance.
Life hack from the experts: In case of a large number of bookings, it is better to contact the cruise operators directly, but if you are all if you did it yourself, then inform the representatives of the company about yourself before the cruise. Then you will not be separated at the table and bred into different groups during the tour.