CruiseMate Newsletter
NCL's Freestyle Cruising to the Caribbean
Do you want the 5-, 7-, 9- or 14-day tan? NCL has many choices to the Caribbean and Bahamas. Call your travel professional. Book now.

Enjoy Thanksgiving with a feast of fun and activities onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.


Playboy Jazz Cruise Contest!
Hosted by Marcus Miller

Win a cabin and full entry tickets for two people to the Playboy Jazz Cruise aboard the Holland America Westerdam. Itinerary: Roundtrip out of Fort Lauderdale. Produced by JazzCruisesLLC.
Enter the Playboy Jazz Cruise Contest


Kiplinger's Magazine named CruiseMates to its
Top 25 Best Value Travel Sites for 2006

CruiseMates is the most useful cruise-review site. We especially like its advice columns, which are written for people of different ages and interests.


Last Minute Deals Looking for a deal? Check America's Vacation Center's last-minute cruise offers! Click for Details!

Other HOT Deals...
  • from $249
    UNBELIEVABLE 7-Night Caribbean cruise on Norwegian Dawn to St Thomas, Tortola and Private Island.
  • From $179
    4-day Carnival Imagination cruise from Miami to Key West and Cozumel
  • From $459
    7-night Mexico Los Angeles to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan on Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas. Military gets $200 off.

We want your cruise reviews!
CruiseMates started publishing our readers' cruise reviews long before other web sites even thought of it. We already have thousands of reviews online, but there are never enough! CruiseMates and our sister site both want more of YOUR cruise reviews. So, please send them to us: Euro Watch: 1 Euro = $1.30 Dollar.
A lower dollar means better better value in 2009 European cruises.


Ruby Princess Debuts
The last brand new Princess Cruises ship scheduled for the Princess Cruises fleet will be introduced to the public Thursday night, November 6. Princess currently has no more ships on order, so this will be the newest Princess ship until at least 2012, as far as we know. Ruby Princess is a sister ship to Crown and Emerald Princess, which debuted two years ago. She is not an identical twin sister, however. There are a few subtle differences.
Ruby Princess will be christened in Fort Lauderdale Thursday, November 6.

At approximately 113,000 tons, Ruby is a mega-ship, bigger than as any Carnival ship afloat. Still, we consider Princess to be a premium cruise line, a cut above Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL which are considered "mainstream" cruise lines, also called "contemporary" in the industry. Why? Because Ruby has two small dining rooms onboard, one of them offering anytime dining with open, "Personal Choice" dining. You dine when and with whom you please, at a table for two or a table for ten, your choice.

Ruby Princess also has two alternative dining restaurants, the Italian "Sabatini's" and the steakhouse grill "Crown Grill." It also has the optional Sabatini's breakfast for suite passengers featuring an exclusive morning meal served in the Italian restaurant as well as the Wheelhouse Bar Pub Lunch featuring traditional British favorites like bangers & mash, fish and chips, cottage pie and a selection of beer. This is served from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on sea days at no additional charge.

Ruby Princess will be christened by Trista and Ryan Sutter, who were featured on the popular televison show "The Bachelorette." I will be at the ceremony taking video and pictures, and will be sending pictures and other updates back to CruiseMates right after the ceremony and during the follow-up two-day orientation cruise.

Ruby Princess will spend its maiden season sailing seven-night Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Jamaica's Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and the Princess private island.

Enjoy Thanksgiving with a feast of fun and activities onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.
Royal Caribbean: 1-800-Royal Caribbean

Next, on November 18, I will be attending the inaugural ceremony for the new Celebrity Solstice, also in Fort Lauderdale. Now, while Ruby Princess is just an iteration of an existing cruise ship design which many of us are already familiar with, Celebrity Solstice is an brand new class of ship about to be introduced to the cruising public for the very first time.

I put both Princess and Celebrity, along with Holland America, into the "premium" category of cruise lines. These lines are considered a cut above the "contemporary" mainstream lines mentioned above. However, an interesting side note is that many cruise experts who work as travel agents do not put Princess into this category.

I am not saying these people are wrong, but I want to point out that the main reason is because many Princess ships are much bigger than the current fleet of Holland America and Celebrity ships. As I said, Ruby Princes is 113,000-ton of displacement. Of the seventeen Princess cruise ships in service, six of them are of this post 110,000-tons mega-ship size. The rest of the Princess fleet is under 100,00 tons, and many of them are the same size as the average Holland America ship, about 80,000-tons.

Now, I need you to understand that in most cases smaller ships are considered better. Why? Larger ships not only have more passengers, they generally cater to more younger passengers so there is more noise and distractions onboard. Also, fewer passengers means more personalized service, shorter lines and hotter food, etc. Still, the truth is that size is not the only factor that defines whether a ship is "contemporary mainstream," or "premium" or even "luxury." It can be but one factor.

And here ios the exception that may or may not prove the rule; while many experts will argue that Celebrity is a premium cruise line while Princess is not, the fact is that the new Celebrity Solstice coming in two weeks weighs in at an even bigger 122,000-tons of displacement, larer than Ruby Princess, but it carries only 2850 passengers. The argument then becomes not sheer size alone, but passenger/space ratio, or the amount of ship area you have per passenger onboard.

No doubt, Celebrity and Holland America ships generally offer more ship per passenger than Princess, but I still believe Princess provides a premium product. The average Princess ship is generally much smaller than these mega-ships, and these larger ships tend to offer all of the amenities of the smaller ships, including excellent wine service in the dining rooms, a higher quality menu in the dining rooms and a plethora of onboard enrichment programs such as cooking classes.

Still, I cannot mislead you. I expect to find a lovely ship when I visit Ruby Princess tonight, but I am really looking forward to an especially nice ship when I first view Celebrity Solstice. Queen Mary 2 is the ship that changed my view on whether ship size reflects its quality. Queen Mary 2 is over 148,000-tons and carries 2620 passengers. That is a lot of ship per guest, and the space is used to give the ship a feeling a grandeur - NOT to pack in a lot of extra useless knick knacks that don't add that much to the experience.

Premium is a perception. Princess is a great cruise line, with the kind of consistency that defines a great hotel chain. Still, many people will still argue that Celebrity is a cut above.

gray hr

new feature articles

Thunder, Lightning, and Sad News
Norwegian Cruise Line has one of the very best ideas in the cruise industry; itís a small wheel mounted outside your cabin door... blue arrows

Politics in Cruising
How the current candidates have legislated on the cruise industry in the past. blue arrows

Freestyle Cruising for Teens
Freestyle cruising offers a lot of amenities for cruisers of all ages, and choices especially abound on the Dawn. blue arrows

The Future of Travel
Cruise ships go all over the world, not just to the Caribbean. blue arrows

gray hr
Reader Contributed Cruise Reviews!
We have thousands of cruise reviews written by people like you. This week's review:
Celebrity Cruises Galaxy by Cliff Meyers
Upon reading the daily activity sheet I noticed that there were going to be three "formal" nights rather than the two that Celebrity's booklet that came with the tickets said.
-- 1000's of Reader Reviews here!

- - We also wants articles by aspiring travel writers. Get More information.
gray hr

Read about CruiseMates

"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."

"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"

blue arrows


Celebrity Solstice - Brand New ship
SOLD OUT! Our prices were $400+ under everyone else. From $749 balcony! Celebrity's newest ship, Solstice from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl on November 30, 2008. 7 glorious nights, calling on San Juan, Puerto Rico - St. Kitts, St. Maarten, and returning to Ft. Lauderdale.

John Heald's Blogger Cruise 2
Come and join all of John Heald's friends and the CruiseMates' family. Everyone is welcome on this cruise, and it's going to be a ball.

Ruby Princess Venetian Fantasy
Travel down the canals of Venice to the Inter-coastal Waterways of Ft. Lauderdale! 18 Amazing nights and six glorious 25 hr. sea days on the most stunning Princess ship yet.