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A Basic Guide to Ocean Cruises

The absolute first thing you need to understand when looking at ocean cruises is those two little letters "PP" and their best friends "DO". PP stand for Per Person and DO means Double Occupancy. When you put them together it means that the eye-popping price that you're looking at is for EACH person in the room and, if you don't plan on cruising with a partner, you just might end up either having a stranger for a room mate or paying for an extra bed that no one is going to be sleeping in.

It's in the stars

The next thing that you need to understand is what the common "star" ratings mean that companies who make their living rating the ships that carry people on ocean cruises hand out to individual ships. Fortunately, this is not too difficult an assignment. The ratings start at Five Star Plus and then make their way through plain old Five Star all the way down to Two Star. Apparently One Star is such an abysmal rating that they don't even bother giving it out. Hmm, what does that make a Two Star cruise then?

What do the stars mean? Generally speaking, the higher the number of stars the better the ship's condition (luxury-wise, not safety-wise), and the more amenities that are offered. It also relates to the size of the largest (and smallest) cabins, the crew person to passenger ratio, and how much weight you'll be gaining after availing yourself of the non-stop culinary excursions that greet you on almost every deck.

What the stars do not indicate is how much fun you will or will not have on a cruise. Well, maybe they do in some odd way. If you want to be with a bunch of beer drinking party animals who are line dancing topless on the promenade deck, then you are more likely to find them on the Two Star ocean cruises because the number of stars also relates directly to the cost of your vacation at sea. And we all know that the ultra rich do not line dance clothed much less topless.

Speaking of prices, there is sort of a caste system when it comes to ocean cruises. The more you pay for your room the further away from the "undesirables" it is and the better the view. The small (tiny) lower inside cabins have no portholes (windows) and are the cheapest. "Outside" cabins aren't really "outside", of course, but they are located along the outer edge of the decks and have a little round window that you can look through when you're standing on your bed. As you move higher up the deck order you end up in the suites which may actually be equipped with sliding glass doors which lead to little private verandas that you can dance topless on without fear of being viewed by the riffraff below you. Be careful however, because someone who considers even you to be riffraff may be occupying an even nicer cabin that's above yours.

Some people may tell you that ocean cruises are expensive. They're really not when you consider all that you get. On a landlocked vacation you'll have to pay for a hotel room, and your food, and some sort of transportation to get around to the nightlife, and the nightlife itself as well as that long ride in and hot and humid taxi which is driven by a local who knows the way to those ancient ruins that you're dying to see. When you're cruising, the room is covered as are the meals. Many ships also cover the drinks and the nightlife is almost always included. And those ruins? Well, the chances are that the cruise company hired a nice air conditioned 40 passenger bus to whisk you right to the base of the temple. Now that's cruising!