What are the differentiating factors between these three categories of cruise lines?
This year I've been lucky enough to sail with three separate cruise lines in three distinct price categories, luxury, mid-price and budget, and let me tell you, they "vary". Here is my Kuki view on the differences -- loosely based on actual observations, but slightly twisted and all in good fun. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
- Luxury Line: we were met at the airport by white gloved crewmembers, who immediately found our luggage and delivered it to our shipboard cabin.
- Mid-price Line: we carried our bags to the dock where we tipped a longshoreman to make sure our luggage made it aboard the ship.
- Budget Line: We tipped a longshoreman who lost our luggage anyway, but we got it in the second port of call.
- Luxury Line: the cabin stewardess stocked our cabin refrigerator daily with our favorite soda -- compliments of the house.
- Mid-price Line: we were charged for the drinks we took from our cabin refrigerator -- including gratuities added to the tab.
- Budget Line: we didn't have a cabin refrigerator -- and we were charged for ice.
- Luxury Line: our bathroom had a tub AND a shower, with a separate area for an extra sink and toilet.
- Mid-price Line: the bathroom was so small I thought the toilet was the sink.
- Budget Line: the toilet was the sink, and we had to purchase toilet paper in the gift shop.
- Luxury Line: our butler hand-delivered gourmet delicacies from around the world to our cabin each afternoon.
- Mid-price Line: we were treated to delicacies from last night's midnight buffet during the captain's cocktail party.
- Budget Line: no delicacies, no parties, and when we asked what the choices were for dinner, we were told "yes or no."
- Luxury Line: the entertainment was provided by guest lecturers and Broadway stars.
- Mid-price Line: entertainment was provided by people I thought were previously deceased (and possibly some were).
- Budget Line: entertainment was provided by a guy who could belch in seven languages while chugging a pitcher of beer.
- Luxury Line: the entire crew went out of their way to please us.
- Mid-price Line: our cabin steward and waiter worked to please us until the tip envelopes were handed out -- then they disappeared.
- Budget Line: the entire crew went out of their way to avoid us. And I'm sure, after reading this you understand why.
Of course, this is a facetious look at cruising. The truth is, while I know many luxury ships really are as good as what I describe above, I have yet to sail on any ship as bad as what I wrote for the "budget line". Cruises come in all different styles and price ranges, and I have thoroughly enjoyed each one. I would be packed and ready to go on any of them again in a New York minute, if the opportunity arose.