Within our region we have very mixed communities and age groups though Cruise Companies operate ships to suit most requirements. Several lines offer reasonably priced packages with ships departing from Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Cartagena.
English and Spanish are normally the main languages on board. Local travel agents offer deals, often including free transfer and are inclusive of port taxes and drink packages, but read the small print to ascertain precise details.
The usual price quoted is based on two persons in a double cabin and from bitter experience, the controversial ‘single supplement’ on the majority of ships is a pitfall, sometimes resulting in the cost almost being doubled for a single passenger. Various lines have differing percentages as an additional supplement, with some now offering the option of single cabins, but the cost is still in excess of prices advertised.
When booking direct with the Cruise Line or through a Travel Agent, check that Credit and Debit Cards are accepted in payment. However, be aware that on board, Debit Cards are not accepted by most lines. It’s Credit Card or payment by cash only for opening the necessary on-board account. This has been a source of grief personally on many occasions as I do not and refuse to be, a holder of a Credit Card. Furthermore, reluctant to carry large amounts of cash, including that obtained from ATM’s in various ports, probably the most risky place to be is on a Cruise in possession of cash. Sometimes a solution is that Debit Cards may eventually be accepted though often down to the powers of persuasion.
Despite the negatives mentioned, Cruises are a fantastic source of relaxation, or the opportunity of letting one’s hair down if so inclined. First class dining and entertainment facilities on board, offer opportunities for visiting wonderful places – thoroughly recommended, but discuss with the Travel Agent as to the Cruise Line most suited to your individual requirements.
A recent visitor in Cartagena was “AIDA Stella”, I pictured from the city walls.
In case of anyone being a little nervous of the ‘safety at sea’ factor when cruising, I have included two pictures of ‘Safety Boats’ based at Cartagena and at the majority of ports. The larger is the ‘tug’ safety vessel permanently on standby in case of emergency with any ship, be it a cruise or cargo vessel.
The smaller one, also on permanent standby, is for the retrieval of yachts or cruisers in difficulty. The one pictured here is bringing a broken down craft back to port which I witnessed a week previously. This latter safety boat also performs emergency evacuations from ships at sea and although cruise vessels have medical and hospital facilities on board, it is occasionally necessary to remove the sick or injured person for hospitalisation. Rest assured, even when at sea safety and medical care is excellent.