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The news that Carnival Cruise is going to leave from Singapore brings up another pitfall with choosing a cruise. Will you feel isolated when other guests are speaking Chinese?

Last year I took a river cruise on which 85% of the passengers were German ( it was marketed as ‘an international departure’). This mix meant announcements in 2 languages,  only 10-15% of the passengers spoke English and we were segregated at all meals. We found out we paid much more than the Germans. The cruise line rebated $250 a person for an experience that cost close to $4,000 was lonely and  miserable.

Know nationalities before you book!

1-look on the German and British sites of your cruise. You can find them on www.yahoo.co.uk for British and www.yahoo.de for German. (Germans and Brits are the biggest EU cruisers). Or click on the flag usually top right of a website to get to foreign websites.

Now translate the German site by ‘Selecting All’ and putting copy into Google Translation. Generally only certain dates are multi-national and the foreign calendar will now tell you if that date is being marketed abroad

2- Look at the menu selections and at the rule for smoking on deck (not usual for US passenger-happy ships).

3- Look at the excursions list on the foreign site; if they have different tours, the passenger list is likely to have more non US guests.

4- Check for English language speakers, television channels,movies, activities like Trivial Pursuit.

If I had to do this again, I would have made the reservations person put in writing exactly how many passengers were non English speaking. As nice as the other people were, we were limited to a handful of people to dine with,  listened to endless public announcements in German, were segregated at dinners due to the ‘pricing’ difference ( their term not mine had no English language tv or news). And paid more and were asked to tip more!

Carnival might be looking for Asian guests or might just be seeking more economic ports. But make sure your fellow passengers can talk to you.