Picking a cruise that suits your personality

Passenger Profiling

Ever wonder what your fellow shipmates will be like and if you’ll  gel? I’ve got you covered

By Patti Pietschmann

us at captain's partyWhether you’re a virgin cruiser or veteran seafarer trying a new cruise line you might wonder what your shipmates will be like.  This is especially true if you’re on a ship with assigned dining and  might be sitting at a table with strangersm(we always ask for a table for two).  So I’ve curated a  passenger profiling list based  400 cruises (yup, been covering the industry since I graduated from college) and reflects  the personal observations of my first mate Richard and I:

Carnival paradise and freedom in Grand CaymanCarnival: The Fun Ships no longer attract only younger passengers onboard mostly to party and go on active shore excursions. You’ll still find lots of energetic revelry around the swimming pools and in the bars, but families and the middle-aged are now in the mix. These ships are where you will find Middle America; what you won’t find are dedicated foodies.

Celebrity : This fleet of upscale ships attracts a mixed bag of millennials, the middle-aged and seniors who tend to be great fans of the fun and food  Celebrity provides. Passengers are likely to be better-traveled and more global than most mass-market lines aimed primarily at North Americans.

Costa:  This line credits itself as being “Italian’ but much of the crew hail from other parts of the world. Still the product rings true of Italy via cuisine, Italian captains and ambiance. A large segment of the passengers are from abroad.  Most of them are 55 and older, veteran cruisers who generally join in the activities with gusto. A regular Toga Party garners lots of attendance with passengers doing Roman-style garb.

cunardCunard:  Cunard’s famous Queens appeal to older, wiser, more sedate passengers, although the summer Atlantic crossings between New York City and Southampton also attract younger Sloane Rangers and other sophisticates who are anything but stuffy. You likely will encounter a high percentage of passengers from the British Commonwealth, who will carry on the tradition of dressing for dinner. You will also encounter one of the last bastions of the British class system at sea, with portions of the ship off limits to the hoi polloi.

IMG_0054Crystal:  Most of your shipmates on the two medium-size ships of this globe-trotting line will be 45 years-old and above, well-traveled and well off, and appreciative of the line’s reputation for outstanding food and service. You will find many repeat passengers who know the ropes and wouldn’t think of switching allegiances to another cruise line. This loyal clientele eagerly attends the lectures, seminars, computer classes and shows that the line works hard to provide. Although passengers tend to be upscale, there isn’t a whiff of pretension.

Disney:  what can we say? The passengers (mostly couples with young children) who flock to sail with Mickey and Minnie are staunch fans of everything Disney. They buy out the gift shop during the first days at sea, don logo tee-shirts, Mouse ears and go gung ho on the theme. For the most part Disney fans are not sophisticated travelers. Most are from Middle America but there is a sprinkling of foreigners.

Holland America:  Most of the passengers on the HAL cruises I have been on (though none in a while) were older, reserved, dedicated to the line and relatively undemanding regarding food and drink. They know what they want and they know that they like the consistent product that Holland America gives them.

MSC Cruises:  untested waters for me, research indicates that this Swiss-based line attracts  many Europeans along with Americans. Demographics include couples, families (children under 18 sharing a cabin with two adults cruise for free) and single passengers. Average age is 50 and older.

Norwegian:  it’s been eons since sailing on one of these budget ships and the line’ s come along way since then.  It continues, however, to attract a lot of firs-time, young cruisers, couples and friends sharing staterooms.  You won’t find foodies flocking to the fleet, but you will find plenty of party animals and very active seafarers.

marina photoOceania: Passengers on Oceania’s ships love the food and the far-flung itineraries the line offers. Many have cruised dozens of times with Oceania and wouldn’t sail on any other line, which prides itself on affordable luxury. Your fellow passenger will be middle-aged or above and confident in his or her choice.

Paul Gauguin:  this spiffy little ship that has the market cornered on French Polynesia, attracts water babies and arty adventurous passengers who appreciate nature and the beauty  of this part of the world.  They are usually sophisticated younger than average, well-dressed and love fine food, beach activities and culture. While most passengers are from the US (many lot from California) you will find some French, German and Italians on board.  Many who sail on PG spend a few days before or after the cruise in a port such as Bora Bora or Papeete.

Princess Cruises:  You’ll find every type of passenger on this line—wide-eyed first cruisers to those who already know the maître d’ and have sailed with the company dozens of times. The line’s big ships offer endless activities and options and a popular shore excursion program.  Expect more fellow guests  over 50 than under 30, lots of Californians (the line is headquartered outside Los Angeles), and a tolerant attitude toward dress and decorum.

Regent Seven Seas:  As with its sister company, Oceania, foodies and gourmets flock to the many restaurants on each of the line’s upmarket cruise ships. RSS’s similarly loyal, nicely put-together clientele comes from all over the world; if there’s a type, it is well to do. They enjoy the line’s luxury and worldwide itineraries and all-inclusive pricing, and if you don’t mind paying for it, you will too.

Royal Caribbean:  this mainstream cruise line attracts  aa similar segment of seafarers as Princess and Holland America.  During the summer there will be lots of families. The rest of year you’ll find a mixed bag of mostly middle class folks.  Passengers are fairly well cruised who  sail on these ships more for the ports and entertainment then say the food (which is often good but not usually exceptional).

DSCN0972Seabourn:  Passengers on the smaller, stylish ships of Seabourn tend to the chic, the sophisticated, and the international. Country club is the prevailing style of the moneyed leisure class that dotes on Seabourn’s easy luxury, excellent food, relaxed ambience and inclusive pricing and find it exactly what they want.  They tend to be repeaters who have been there, done that and have the funds to do more of it. Meet them in the bar and you’ll find most as friendly as they are accomplished.

36c16-ships2bin2bst-2bkittsSilversea:  Shipboard mates will be similar to those you will find sailing on the other premium small-ship lines that offer inclusive pricing—well-dressed, discerning and, because the line is Italian-owned, more of them may be European. They gravitate to Silversea for the food, varied itineraries, and the Italian-owned line’s refined cachet. The Bar, the convivial center of the ships, is where passengers meet before dinner.

056Windstar (photo by Glenn Bozarth): This fleet of mastered sailing ships attract young to middle-age, upscale adventurers who go for the wide variety (and convenient) selection of watersports from diving to snorkeling. Although they prefer being in the water, they love the lure of the wind-propelled sail and the fine food served on board.

 Tips for making friends:

Passengers tend to mingle more on upscale ships where drinks at the bar are free.  This isn’t because of the comps, but rather it reduces that awkward pause when you’re with people you just met and the check comes.

Also like-minded passengers tend to gravitate toward each other.  Say you take a snorkel or biking tour. You’ll notice back on board that the people who were along with be more friendly to you. The same goes for cultural tours etc.

Don’t barge in on passengers when they are sitting down to dinner, especially couples, unless invited. That’s okay at the bars but not the dining venues.









Edie and the jets

Crystal Cruises CEO/president gets keys to spiffy new Boeing 777

edie and the jet It’s luxury travel provider Crystal Cruises latest extravagance. An amazing, over-the-top  swank aircraft that will fly the friendly skies with  Crystal AirCruise.    Edie Rodriguez took possession of her company’s spirited member of its expanding fleet of luxury liners, river boats and yachts,  Crystal Skye.
 The official passing of the keys took place  at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington where the keys to the exquisitely outfitted Boeing 777-200LR were delivered to Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez from Greenpoint Technologies. Crystal Skye, the largest privately owned tour jet in the world and probably most deluxe, will be used for chartered service. Steep fares, and posh interiors,  will most likely attract celebrities and other wealthy  travelers. Crystal Skye will be christened in Las Vegas on August 12.
 “We are ecstatic to welcome Crystal Skye to the family, as she marks the beginning of a new chapter and realm of luxury travel for guests who seek the unmatched Crystal Experience,” said
 Rodriguez. “As we embark on new global adventures with Crystal Skye, we are inspired by the shared vision of our own experts and those at Greenpoint Technologies, who brought this sky-high dream to fruition.”
Just how luxurious is it?
With a spacious design for up to 88 guests,  Boeing 777, Crystal Skye is appointed with features rarely found in even the most luxurious private jets.
 She has the highest crew to passenger ratio of any twin-aisle aircraft and a non-stop range of 19.5 hours, allowing travelers to explore the far reaches of the earth while enjoying the personalized service.
  •  Bespoke Crystal Exclusive Class™ seats are designed for maximum personal space and ergonomic comfort, and convert to 180-degree lie-flat beds.
  • An  expansive social lounge with stand-up bar fosters friendly camaraderie among luxury travelers.
  • Cuisine will be prepared by an executive chef, in two state-of-the-art galleys and paired with an elegant premium wine list from the Crystal SkyeCellar.
Crystal collaborated with Greenpoint Technologies for the extremely specialized development of Crystal Skye, as the company is renowned for its innovation and leadership in the creation of superior aircraft design. Greenpoint Technologies worked alongside Crystal’s own experts to conceive the standard of excellence and luxury required to ensure the unparalleled guest experience aboard a Crystal vessel, then brought the vision to life. The interior installation of Crystal Skye began in August 2016 at Greenpoint’s Moses Lake facility in Washington, focusing on exclusive features such as a 24-seat lounge with a central bar, sofas, custom coved ceilings, the largest wine cellar in the sky and ample space to socialize. Stone veneers, colored LED lighting and other premium details adorn the extraordinary interior.
Feeling flush?   For charter inquiries contact in the U.S. 855-207-2778 and/or 1-786-971-1010 (international calls); and in China 86-400-800-0348 and Hong Kong 852-2378-5760.
For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888.799.2437, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.  Follow the Crystal Cruises’ Facebook page and @crystalcruises on Twitter and Instagram, and engage in the conversation with #crystalcruises.
 Read more about Crystal here:

Lazy days on chic Crystal Cruises(photos)

Nothing like sailing on the open sea on Crystal Symphony or Serenity with nothing to do to but..

By Patti Covello Pietschmann with photos by Richard Pietschmann

Love days at sea? Most seasoned cruisers do. Some of us  actually more than others.  For instance my first mate, Richard, and I often choose itineraries where there are more days at sea than in ports. A couple of times we took 18-day cruises that only stopped in four ports along the way to Europe or back from Lisbon. We’re not  alone,  many of our ship mates on these cruises have been there done, that, so they pick a cruise where they can simply  chill out. Some ships are more fitting for sea days like

Photo courtesy Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises Serenity and Symphony.

On sea days on either luxury liner there are scads  of activities in which to take part, or not.  You can take exercise classes (Pilates, Yoga, stretch, cardio and more;or work out in the fully-equipped fitness center on your own).  There are language lessons, games, a jogging track, one of the most impressive Enrichment Programs and Computer University at Sea (with 40  27″ Apple iMacs)

where I mastered PhotoShop and other technical tricks. There is a well-stocked and inviting library that holds more than 2,000 books and a thousdand DVDs from which to choose movies to watch in your  stateroom.

offering head to toe  pampering; large swimming pools; steam baths and saunas; golf cages, paddle tennis courts,
 movies in a well-equipped theater complete with free popcorn, evening shows, bars and lounges with free drinks all around all the time and plenty  of deck space  and cushy lounges in which to plotz for moments of Zen. There is WiFi hookup throughout the ships for those who want to  stay connected, and  big screen computers to use in the Cyber Cafe.

Of course there’s also lots of  food options with casual breakfast and lunch buffets, the main restaurant and two  tops of the sea alternative dining venues: the Nobu-inspired Silk Roadwith mouth-wateringmenus,
and the equally exceptionally tasty food at the Valentino-like Prego.

You can also spend your sea days  in your stateroom wrapped in a big fluffy  robe ordering  room service,which is available around the clock, watching movies on the TV, sitting on your balcony or napping in a  Frette-linen-covered bed.

Butler service

The savvy seafarer’s cruise album

By  Richard and Patti Pietschmann

We’ve taken cruises on ships of every size and style from mega liners to small luxury vessels and written about  them in newspapers,magazines and on the web (most recently  www.cruiseable.com) and here are a few good photos from our voyages:

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Spa  time

Crystal Cruises deck and butler for our  penthouse stateroom

 Morning buckwheat pancakes on Crystal Cruises 

 A birthday/anniversary celebration on Silversea

 Dining on the deck of the Seabourn Quest

 A seafood fest on board Regent Seven Seas Mariner Alaska Cruise

 Regent SS Mariner stateroom stewardess

 A veal chop  on RSSC Mariner


 A veal chop at  Silversea Hot Rocks

Dining a Le Champagne on Silversea

 Leaving Bora Bora

Paddle  tennis  on Crystal Serenity

 Happiness is having room service breakfast on Crystal Cruisses

 Bora Bora

 The mighty Amazon from Seabourn Quest

French Polynesia from a Princess Cruise

Ruby Princess

And it doesn’t end here, next trip Queen Mary2 from New York to Southampton, England; Seabourn Encore, Silversea Muse, RSSC Explorer and others. Stay tuned.


Setting sail on a magical Alaska cruise

Regent Seven Seas stylish Mariner surpassed expectations


I knew we were in for a fabulous time on our Alaska cruise, especially since we were familiar with Regent Seven Seas attention to detail and passenger comfort. The 700-passenger actually exceeded expectations, and I mean it even as a guest of the cruise line.

The Alaska cruise began in Anchorage where we boarded a ship’s shuttle bus to ward, Alaska–a 2 1/2 scenic drive that we hadn’t actually looked forward to  doing since we had to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a 6:15 a.m. Delta flight that would stop in Seattle first.  It was worth it. The seven day cruise ended in Vancouver, British Colombia with mesmerizing scenery of icebergs, glaciers and rain forests combined with all the heavenly comforts of luxurious 700-passenger Regent Seven Seas Mariner. While the Mariner sports an inviting swimming pool few have dared to dive in as baby it’s cold outside. But there are two well-used Jacuzzi’s and a spa with steam and saunas to keep us warm. There is also delicious food to comfort the body and soul and much more, read the first entry here. The many splendors on board the feisty Mariner– from exceptional dining to luxurious appointments–aside Alaska takes the spot light. So follow along on the first three days with stops at the Hubbard Glacier and Sitka by the slideshow photos that are worth a million words especially from America’s Last Frontier.

Embarkation in Seward on the spiffy 700-passenger, 48,075-ton Mariner, that was stylishly refurbished in 2014 , was seamless with glasses of Champagne  proffered as we boarded. Stewards escorted us to our  suite  (the ships is the first all suite, all balcony vessel built in 2001). Our deluxe Veranda suite  805 measures 301 square-feet including balcony. It’s furnished with desk, vanity, king bed, flat screen TV, walk-in closet, lots of drawers, mini-fridge stocked with free beverages, robes, slippers, hair dryer, sofa, and table.

The Hubbard Glacier, pictured below, was one of the highlights of this trip.

hubbard deck shotRegent Seven Seas fares are the most all-inclusive offered which translates into all tips covered, most shore excursions, select wines and Champagnes, top shelf spirits, and all meals even in alternative dining venues such as Signatures and Prime7.

The RSSC Mariner runs smoothly and fairly seamlessly with an accommodating suite crew. Sailing on her in Alaska sitting on your balcony you might catch a bald eagle majestically gliding in the sky or a whale or two. Today in Sitka we are heading off on a bicycle/walking tour so come back for a report on that plus more about cruising Alaska on the gorgeous not so ancient Mariner.

The RSSC Mariner is manned by the company’s first female captain Serena Melani (pictured above) from Livorno, Italy who is did a fine job slowly gliding the ship up close and personal to the 400 to 700 year-old Hubbard Glacier (feature to come next on this amazing Ice Age formation) and into Sitka, yesterday and Juneau today, June 25. The vessel debuted in 2001 and was spiffed up stylishly in 2014. She sports all suites each with balconies, spa by Canyon Ranch, fitness center, large pool, Jacuzzi, four dinner venues, 24-hour room-service, very attractive bars ad lounges, and deck sports as well as indoor fun, shows and lectures. I wrote  this while on the ship with my laptop on top of a desk, where it was all week so I could post stories on websites and social networks.  Richard, my  first mate, and I shared  deluxe veranda 805 which is appointed with a desk, vanity, king bed, big bathroom with sink and shower, flat screen TV, free movies on TV and DVD, one free unlimited WiFi hookup per cabin meaning just one passenger gets to go on line without a fee and only one device at a time–much to the chagrin of a few passengers who nearly incited a cyber mutiny when they learned the service wasn’t free for everyone in their suite.

A magical Alaska cruise on RSSC Mariner

marina juneau3.JPG

The sight and sounds of Southeast Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier Hubbard glacierare transcendental. We encountered the world’s largest tidewater glacier on the second day of a week long cruise aboard  the  country club stylish 700-passengers Regent Seven Seas Mariner following the rugged, fjord-cut coastline of Alaska’s panhandle from Seward to Vancouver, and it was a showstopper. Hubbard winds 76 miles from the massive high-altitude ice field in Canada’s Yukon that feeds it down to Russell Fjord’s Disenchantment Bay in the United States. It moves with surprising speed, at a rate of tens of feet or more per day, not the inches typical of other glaciers. Its 400-foot-high face, or “snout,” is gnarled into abrupt towers and riven with the blue of ice compressed under great pressure until all air has been forced out of it. That vast shelf of sea-level ice is a mile across, and it periodically showers ice falls or calves icebergs into the water, often accompanied by the sharp cracks and deep booms of fracturing ice. Even the biggest cruise ships seem like bathtub toys. In front of it.

Hubbard Glacier, which is estimated to be from 400 to 700 years-old, is a highlight of any Alaska cruise It proves even more so on a stylish ship like Mariner where every suite has a balcony and thus instant access for all passengers to view a humpback whale blowing or a lone brown bear (called grizzly elsewhere) in search of a salmon dinner, and small enough to move quickly from one place to another to appreciate the ever-changing scenery of snow-clad mountains hung with high-altitude glaciers and endless swaths of thick forest packed with spruce, cedar and alder. Even the time of year cooperates, Alaska’s famed “midnight sun’s” lengthened days allowing hours more sightseeing time.

Captain Serena Melani, Regent Seven Seas first female commandant, adeptly navigated her 700-passenger vessel to the imposing glacier while naturalist and story teller Terry Breen regaled passengers with fascinating commentaries. Oohs and aahs were audible as passenger spotted turquoise-colored icebergs falling noisily into the water, a surreal scene and act of nature.

On this cruise the approximately three-hour voyage to the foot of the glacier took place on the day after embarkation in Seward. It is one of the most impressive experiences of the cruise but there are many more exciting sites to be seen until disembarkation in Vancouver on June 29.

Regent Seven Seas is one of the truest all-inclusive fare ships afloat, on this trip passengers were treated to  unlimited WiFi for one device , wines, Champagne, spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, shore excursions (we did four in seven days) and tips paid. The voyage was magical on this recently refurbished luxury liner.


The Cruiseable Bliss Tool app is a match maker for passengers and ships

IMG_5812Even though I, the Savvy Seafarer, Patti Pietschmann, is now a ‘team member’ on the new, exciting Cruiseable.com web site, I can unabashedly recommend the company’s hot new Bliss Tool app–a free download that helps people pick the cruise, cruise line, ship or destination that’s best for them. Think of it as a match maker of cruise and passenger. Aptly titled Bliss Tool, the app is easily downloaded to iPhone or iPad.  Once you have it you can easily search and scroll for cruise lines, ships byname, destinations, itineraries, maps, travel guides and photos. It sounds overwhelming but then you really want to be sure you pick your cruise carefully. There’s nothing worse than being on the wrong ship in the wrong ports of call especially after paying the fare (there is no buyer remorse cancellations that we know of).

According to the company the hallmark feature of its app is that its lets you zero in on exactly what you are looking for, leaving all guess work to them. Your National Cruise Examiner has written many article about how important it is to pick the right ship and this app goes even farther matching your preferences for spas, fitness, staterooms, dining (a major factor for most seafarers), entertainment and more.

“Twenty-three million people a year take cruises, but everyone has a different personal style and budget,” said CEO J.D. Lasica in a phone interview. “You might want to sail away with the kids, or to have a romantic escape, or to dive into local culture, or to see the Northern Lights on a cruise with fine dining and great entertainment. With our Bliss Filters, you can fine-tune your search, then save and share your personalized results with family or friends.”

What’s also cool about the app is you can save anything by bookmarking it and keeping a personal library on your home PC or laptop. “The Cruiseable app fills a big hole in the market,” said Giacomo Balli, chief technology officer. “Until now, consumers were limited to cruise discovery apps from the cruise lines, which steer you to their own ships, or from travel agencies. This is a tool intended to empower travelers with information and tips from fellow cruisers, not from the cruise lines’ marketing departments.”

Cruiseable.com employs a team of travel writers (including yours truly) and travel professionals whose assignments are to  monitor, evaluate and rate nearly 400 ships from 31 cruise lines. The mobile app combines ship reviews and destination articles with passenger content – photos, videos, reviews, comments – as well as search results that show cruise itineraries, dates, prices and availability.

“Both the app and the website draw from a single database,” Balli explained. “If you upload a photo or video or save an item while logged into the website, it shows up on your app a moment later – not weeks later when a new version of the app is released. And if you do something on the app, it’s reflected on the website instantly. That’s pretty cool.”

Lasica said the Cruiseable team wanted to build technologies that bridge the “artificial divide” between apps and the Web. “We think you want to explore, plan and book your cruise regardless of which device you’re using,” he said. “Unlike the vast majority of universal apps, the Cruiseable app on the iPad is not just a larger version of the iPhone app. The app was tailored to perform differently on the two platforms.”

“The iPhone is about swiping down vertically, Instagram style,” Balli said. “The iPad is about swiping across and getting immersed in these thousands of big, gorgeous full-screen images. Even the website somewhat resembles an app because it was designed with a mobile experience in mind.”

Cruisable.com can also book  your cruise and offers onboard credits of $50 for any cruise booked through them.  You can download the Cruiseable app  in Apple’s App Store, check them on Twitter@cruiseable or Facebookfacebook.com/cruiseable. Check out my latest Cruiseable.com article here.