This is my first post on CC, and I'm seeking advise on the upcoming cruise. As many of you seem to feel the same way, I find cruising to be the most important investment I make during the year, the one that gives me the best satisfaction, and greatest time with my family. This is why when I cruise, I do spend a lot of time pouring over the different options prior to making a decision on the voyage that I feel best suits me. To me, my annual vacation is a big deal and I want to make the right choice, so excuse me if I go into a lot of detail- this isn't just ''a holiday'' for me, but rather the one part of the year I look forward to most.
Previously, I've cruised on a lot of the mass market lines like Holland and RCI, prior to settling down with Seabourn. I absolutely adore Seabourn, however it must be noted that I have not sailed on any of their original triplets- only the Odyssey and Sojourn, around the Med as well as in Northern Europe.
The above ships are absolutely a delight- both my cruises on them were flawless. One of the things I dislike though, is that when I can travel (peak seasons) they only offer 7 night voyages on the big sisters. I did a back to back once and didn't like the lack of 'flow' on the voyage, if you understand what I mean (especially as the Seabourn big girls have entreatment, which is repeated, etc..).
As such, this year I've been looking at longer cruises- either a 12 night cruise on Crystal Serenity, a 10 night cruise on Seabourn Legend or a 7 night voyage on SaeDream II.
While it may seem strange that I included SD in that equation, I felt that SD's ships can be experienced well in 7 nights, and that a week's cruise on an SD ship won't feel rushed as it is on, say, the Odyssey, which was really built with longer cruises in mind. If you just relax in your cabin and watch a movie, you won't feel that you're missing so much going on outside, which is the way I felt aboard Seabourn's week-long cruises.
The Crystal voyage is longer, quite port-intensive but does have three sea days, many overnights and a company that has a great reputation. Nonetheless, I've been to some of the places on the itinerary before, and as I love smaller ships am afraid that the service as such will be compromised.
The Seabourn cruise, well, I stay on the safe side, something I know and love, try a smaller Seabourn ship and go to quite interesting ports a long the way.
SeaDream- always on my bucket list, if I don't do it this year I will the next, or the one after, the whole concept seems alluring, I like the ships, have seen them along side many a port. Love the water sports marina, and the concept of jet-skiing around the ship, sleeping under the stars, it really does get to me. Only thing slightly stopping me is the length- 7 days.
Prices for the cruises are (prior to addition of tax bar Seabourn which has it included).
12 Nights Crystal- $5,410 per person
10 Nights Seabourn- $4,699 per person
7 Nights SeaDream- $4,699 per person
As I want the best advise you can give me I'll be very candid in saying that one of the things I like about Crystal is that many of their slightly longer itineraries are within my budget. At the end of the day we all have one, and the price I can pay comfortably for a cruise is about the $5,500 per person range. Anything above $6,000 per person isn't that comfortable, with $8000 + being a splurge, something I'm only willing to do once every few years for truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not just an annual vacation. The reason my budgeting is such is that I usually have a long three week post and pre cruise tour of the region, which I must calculate into the final cost. I see that whenever SeaDream does a longer cruise, their prices are well above my budget- but for the crossings and 7 nighters, I do have a range of voyages to pick from.
Would you advise me to do SD, stick with SB or go for the longer Crystal cruise? My concern with Crystal is again, service will suffer and that the ship will be too big.