slobQ – We had an absolutely awful cruise experience in 2012 and have not cruised since. The staff was often rude, and the passengers dressed like slobs, and no one seemed to have any sense of propriety and manners. But the worst part was that we were assigned a table with a retired, alcoholic surgeon who kept us “entertained” with stories of emergency room traumas. Now, we want to do the Southern Caribbean route from San Juan with, hopefully, a more civilized group of fellow passengers. Do any of these lines specialize in college educated guests?

A –  Your question raises questions. Did a good cruise consultant place you on the wrong ship? Does your budget preclude sailing on a smaller, more upscale smaller ship? Why are you limiting your experiences to the Caribbean?

Here are some things you can do to assure an on-board environment that will likely meet your needs:

  • Concentrate your search on  one of our cruisetruth top-ten rated lines. If price is an issue, consider one of the less “tween” four-star lines like Azamara or Oceania.
  • Try to do a ten-night rather than a seven-night cruise in the Caribbean. That will dramatically improve the education demographics of your fellow guests.
  • Choose an itinerary out of San Juan that includes ports in both the British Virgin island chain and the French-speaking islands. Avoid a Western Caribbean itinerary.
  • Choose a cruise consultant who has actually won production awards from the top-tier lines and is, therefore, in a position to counsel you on their differences.
  • Do not cruise the Caribbean from June through September. The best ships avoid the Caribbean during this period.
  • Buy up – look for a cruise in the $400 or more per day price range. That will substantially change the kind of guests attracted to the product. If you can’t afford one of the better cruises we would advise you to delay your plans until you can. That sounds harsh, but we want you to understand that, despite all the deceptive marketing and beautiful photos, in cruising, you generally get what you pay for. The executives who operate these ships have yield and profits down to a science and you should always strive to avoid those travel products that are clearly appealing to the budget travelers. In marketing research they are often referred to by terms such as “Tattoos and Trailers”. The fact is that you can make a ton of money with mass market products. Cruise lines do not speak about all of this openly but if you look closely at the photo models in their brochures, and the way they are dressed, you will get a sense of who they are really seeking as potential guests.