TRAVEL THERE: STEPPING UP TO SUITES & STATEROOMS
The ultimate experience at sea is supposed to be a suite. I have one friend who won’t cruise without a suite and another who enjoyed Celebrity’s Aqua Class, but would cruise tomorrow with or without it. I have to base my comments on their experiences, because I’ve never enjoyed the suite life.
Over the Fence
While I am sure every ship I’ve ever been on had suites, it wasn’t until I cruised with Norwegian that I realized I was missing something. As we roamed the decks during the Sail Away Party, we ran into a high barrier. I got out my map and realized we’d come to the section reserved for the suite clientele.
Sometimes suites are virtually unrecognizable as a suite from the outside. They have a door on a hall, just like everyone else. Only once you get inside do you start getting the royal treatment. Nowadays many ships not only have suites, they also have whole sections of the ship that peons like Bill and I never get to see. That was the case on Norwegian. They call it The Haven. Havenites have their own pool, their own restaurant and their own decks. No need to mingle with the unwashed.
This new suite arrangement is kind of like First Class on airplanes. You know how you walk down the aisle and stare at all the people in those great big leather seats, fully aware that you are about to subject yourself to several hours of space deprivation. Well, when you’re strolling along a deck and suddenly come up against the barricade hiding the suite section, you know you’re missing something. Did Bill figure out a way to look over the top? I’ll never tell, but it did make us wonder what we were missing.
So my bestie took a cruise and tried out Aqua Class – that’s your usual stateroom with suite amenities. Your room will be a little larger than the guys who merely opted for a balcony, but you’ll also get more. You’ll have special access to the spa, your own specialty restaurant and special amenities – those lovely terry robes and swanky toiletries you find in upscale hotels. Did she love the extras? You bet! Did they ruin her for suite-less cruising? Not at all. It was sort of like me and balconies.
Suites on cruise ships work for the same reasons hotels have suites. In some situations one room just doesn’t cut it. Many cruise lines have family suites designed to make traveling with kids a little easier, without putting you in the Ritz. However, most of the reasons people move up to the suite life have to do with luxury. They just want more – more room, more service, more opulence.
Are you a suite cruiser? First, look at your budget. You’re going to pay for the extras and only you know whether the extras are worth it to you. However, be careful. What’s the suite life on one ship does not necessarily translate to the next ship. Know what you expect and what they are offering.
It’s not just about a little extra space, though. You get preferred boarding and disembarkation. You often get a butler or concierge. Special events like dinner with the captain often come with a suite. Some of the things other people pay for on board, like shore excursions, wi-fi or certain spa privileges are included. You get specialized treatment in various restaurants, special tables in the casino and often you even have an exclusive restaurant. The Suite Life is the Sweet Life.