Q – We are thinking of going on a Crystal Cruise to Europe in 2012. But friends tell us that they read on the internet that Crystal is more expensive then some of the smaller ships. Price won;t be the main issue in our decision, but we were wondering if Crystal is generally more expensive then its competitors?

A – Actually, when you do cost-by-cost comparisons, Crystal is often less then many of the smaller luxury vessels. With 940 guests, Crystal has some economy of scale. There has always been a fair bit of misinformation about Crystal pricing because, during the past several years, it has sort of been a pricing anomaly in the luxury category, charging for drinks and gratuities and not touting its “inclusiveness.” That will change early next year when Crystal goes inclusive with drinks and gratuities included for all guests. You are correct to avoid the price trap that dictates which vacation choice is really best for you. Consider Crystal if you like evening entertainment, a wonderful guest lecture program, and more options then you would find on a more yacht-like vessel. And assume that the service is as good or better then its smaller sisters seated at the five star bar.