There are so many cruise lines to choose from.
Check out the benefits of each. There are basically three types of cruise lines; contemporary, premium and luxury as well as river cruises and niche markets.
Contemporary Cruise Lines
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Costa
Contemporary cruise vacations are similar to going to a floating resort at sea. The ships range in size from those that can accommodate 1500 guests to the newer “mega” cruise ships that can accommodate over 3000 guests.
Variety and choices of entertainment and adventure aboard the ship is the operative word when describing resort or contemporary style cruise experience. These value-packed mainstream vacations are feature and activity rich, often surpassing the amenities offered on a comparable land-based vacation. The setting is generally casual with opportunities to dress more formally for dining on select evenings if you wish.
The onboard diversions include pools (yes, that is plural), health clubs and spas and a selection of dining options including beautiful dining rooms, casual lido deck restaurants, pizzerias and a variety of specialty themed restaurants that offer dining at an additional charge, unlike the other options. Most also feature organized age specific children’s programs with trained youth counselors. The children are usually broken into three groups; 3 to 7, 8 to 12 and 13 to 17.
In the evening you can enjoy scaled down versions of Broadway/Vegas style productions, comedy acts, the casino, karaoke, and more. You may prefer to go dancing or just relax in one of the many onboard lounges. Cruise rates for a contemporary cruise line typically range from $100 to $200 per person, per day, and vary by season, cruise line, cabin preference and itinerary.
Contemporary cruise lines might be called party cruises, and although they may cater to a younger clientele, they welcome everyone who is looking to enjoy themselves.
Premium Cruise Lines
Princess, Celebrity, Disney and Holland America
A premium cruise line features all of the same shipboard amenities as a contemporary cruise (casino, spa, health club, pools, multiple dining options and restaurants, children’s programs, intimate lounges and incredible entertainment and more), but they also offer additional upscale features for travelers who are a little more demanding.
Ships generally range in size from smaller ships that accommodate as few as 500 guest to large ships that will accommodate close to 3000. Premium class cruises typically feature additional guest space, art collections, refined service and gourmet style cuisine. They also have a smaller crew to guest ratio to better serve their guests. Cruise rates for premium class vacations can range from $175 to $400 per person, per day. As you will find with all cruise lines rates vary by season, cruise line, cabin preference and itinerary.
Luxury Cruise Lines
SilverSea, Seabourn, Cunard and Crystal
Any category of cruise you choose offers a great experience, but a luxury cruise experience is head and shoulders above the rest. They appeal to the traveler who demands the finest quality available and luxury cruise ships offer services and amenities that rival the best resorts worldwide.
Luxury cruises are characterized by a refined onboard atmosphere, a wide variety of exotic destinations, spacious accommodations and the highest level of personalized service. To be more concise, they offer the finest of everything. They have opulent public areas, fabulous art collections, gourmet cuisine, fine wine, fresh flowers and pay close attention to every detail. Although the style may include a conventional ship, a yacht or even a sailing vessel, the common denominator is quality.
Luxury lines often have top named actors, musicians, writers and more on board to and share their professional talents. White glove butlers are common place. If you are looking to hang out and go to dinner in blue jeans this is probably not your style of cruising.
River and Niche Cruise Lines
Uniworld, Avalon, AMA Waterways and Viking
River cruises are rapidly becoming the cruise of choice for the more experienced and sophisticated cruise aficionado. These cruise opportunities are available on every continent other than Antarctica and are one of the best kept secrets in the travel industry.
The ships are smaller, more intimate, and generally have a fawning staff. The food, or should I say cuisine, is on par with the luxury cruise lines in most cases and the countryside is only a stones-throw away. There are cruises on all the major rivers in Europe, the Nile in Africa and the Yahngtze in China. The United States has cruises on several of its rivers including one up the Hudson River in New York or a cruise from Chicago to New Orleans on the Mississippi in a paddle wheeler.
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