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Survey says Disney tops among cruise lines

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J.D. Power is probably known to most observers as the company that ranks cars from automakers around the world. On TV, you will find the award -- or endorsement -- stamped on commercials, and the manufacturers wait anxiously to slap on that seal of approval.

But the people at J.D. Power are more than that. They rank insurance, electronics and a host of services and manufacturers, including travel.

Phil's pick of the week

This is a long cruise -- 31 days -- but it goes to a unique part of the world, from Los Angeles all the way around Cape Horn and north to Rio de Janeiro. The price starts at $2,899, less than $100 a day. Departure day is Dec. 4, 2013 on Princess Cruises' Golden Princess.

A shortened version to Santiago lasts 17 days and starts at $1,199. Prices, current at the time of writing this column, are per person and based on double occupancy.

Here is what you can expect: Cruising down the Mexican coast with one stop in Cabo San Lucas, one stop in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, then on to Lima and Pisco in Peru, followed by La Serena, Santiago/Valparaso and Punta Arenas in Chile, then past Ushuaia, Argentina, Cape Horn and the Falklands before heading up to Buenos Aires, then a short run to Montevideo, Uruguay and finally Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Jan. 4. Don't forget, you need a visa for Brazil.

I had assumed they felt the cruise industry was a niche market because their travel surveys concentrated on air, hotel, other travel and car rentals. Now cruising has caught their attention, and they have just completed the company's first Cruise Line Satisfaction Report for 2013.

The following seven categories, in order of importance, are the criteria used to rank the cruise lines: service, stateroom, food, embarkation/debarkation, entertainment, cost, and excursions (port adventures).

The ranking totals were out of 1,000 points and were based on 3,003 responses from customers who travelled on a cruise ship. The rankings took place from May 29 through June 14 this year.

The company that came first in the rankings? Disney Cruise Line, with 871 points, performed especially well in the food and entertainment categories.

The silver medal went to Royal Caribbean with 838 points, and Holland America finished third at 835. Both these lines performed especially well in service.

Following the leaders were Celebrity Cruises with 828 and Princess Cruises with 826. The average for cruise lines surveyed was 824 points. Scoring slightly below average were Norwegian with 817 and Carnival with 810.

There's something for all cruise lines to cheer about in J.D. Power's report, which concludes: "People who take cruises are generally pleased with their vacation choice, but there is room for improvement." The report adds "18 per cent of passengers across all cruise lines say they experienced at least one problem during their respective cruise."

Ramez Faza, senior account manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power, indicated among the brands scoring above the industry average, 68 per cent of passengers indicated they "definitely will" recommend their favourite cruise line to others. That sounds like Social Media 101.

However, when two to three problems are experienced, the chance of cruisers returning to that line drops to 33 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively. That dramatic drop should clue in cruise lines on the importance of a mistake-free cruise.

In other travel-related categories, here are J.D. Power's No. 1 brands:

-- Extended-stay hotel: Homewood Suites

-- Mid-scale full-service hotel: Holiday Inn

-- Luxury hotel: Ritz-Carlton.

-- Low-cost airline: JetBlue

-- Traditional airline: Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air

-- Rental cars: Enterprise

Now you know.

-- Postmedia News

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 E11

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