How to Read Cruise Brochures

Brochure styles vary by each of the cruise lines. Open any cruise brochure and you are sure to find an overwhelming display of information and photographs. Some cruise lines feature their entire fleet of ships with the itineraries in one brochure. Others have brochures for each destination – such as the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Alaska, Hawaii and Europe.

What you need are just the facts in simple-to-understand terms (of course that’s where a travel agent’s guidance and expertise comes in, especially when you are working with a Master Cruise Counselor who has been on over 30 cruises!! :).

BUT, if you are going to try reading a cruise line brochure for inspiration and ideas, here are some tips and information to consider.

The front of the brochure has the table of contents. Here you’ll also find the illustrations and photos, along with description of the cruise line and the itineraries available in that particular brochure.

Next you will usually find information on any special programs offered such as their kids’ programs. You will also find a quick description of the ports of call and shore excursions offered.  It’s important to be sure the ports of call are going to meet your expectations if the in-destination experience is important to you!  Not all ports are the same. Some offer a wealth of activities, and others cater more towards shoppers, sightseeing, beaches, etc.  It’s important to have an idea of what kind of overall experience you’d like to have beyond the ship before choosing an itinerary.

Deck Plans, staterooms and fares, hotel stays, and past guest programs are usually listed next. A deck plan is a map of the ship that lists all levels of accommodations, shows the location of the restaurants, bars and lounges, swimming pools, fitness center, spa, shops, casino, kids’ center and everything else the ship has to offer.  These are typically color-coordinated and many cruise lines now offer interactive deck maps on their web sites.  These deck maps are also found onboard.

The last few pages of the brochure is where you will find the ‘fine print’. This section usually includes the following information – welcome aboard info, Q-and-A’s, terms and conditions, what you need to know before you go, important policies, and cruise line contact information. Make sure you read it very carefully, or just call your travel agent to walk you through all of the must knows.

The back of the brochure is also where you usually find the information on air and sea programs, cancellation insurance, and any amenity packages offered for your cruise.  Whether flying or driving, we recommend arriving into your port city a day or two early.  Problems can arise (more often than we’d like at times) and you wouldn’t want to miss the ship or start your trip off on the wrong foot.  As always, with cruises especially, we recommend travel insurance.


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