Generally, cruisers start with one cruise line and tend to stick with that brand. This loyalty is good to a point, but don’t let it restrict your cruise experiences. Cruises can all be quite different depending on your choice of cruise lines. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, cruising offers many choices. Here’s a quick, and absolutely non-inclusive, primer on cruise lines.
AMA waterways: River cruising at its best. Known for their wine cruises in the fall, after harvest time, for bargain prices. But luxury anytime.
Avalon: River cruising with the added benefit of cooperative tours in every port. Immersion in your destinations along the great waterways of Europe.
Azamara: The small-ship line of Royal Caribbean/Celebrity. Their forte is overnight stays, longer stops,and night tours for the full experience of each port of call. Especially great for European sailings. Will not disappoint.
Carnival: The “fun” ships are geared towards just that. Inexpensive, lots of activity, sometimes criticized for being too loud, very popular with groups. Good for the partying crowd. Lots of bars, DJ’s, comedy clubs. “Fun for all. All for fun!” Here is a Carnival ship all decked out for fun.
Celebrity: Sophisticated, modern luxury ships, stand outs for their spa experiences and cuisine. More expensive, but good value for the price. Any age group looking for upscale experience. The premium line of the Royal Caribbean group.
Crystal: Luxury cruising all the way. No one doesn’t like Crystal. Pricey, but sometimes run nice specials.
Cunard: Old-world elegance, traditional cruising. Beautiful ships. Excellent for transatlantic crossings. A step above Holland America, but in the same family.
Disney: You’d think it was just for kids, but it’s not. Consistently top-ranked ships for food and service. Families love it, of course, but adults have their own areas. This Disney ship calls Port Canaveral, FL home.
Holland America: Refined elegance and traditional cruising. Some complaints that the cruisers are too old, but a great line for peace, quiet, romance for the over 50 crowd. Larger cabins than most. Mid-priced, but considered a premium line of the Carnival parent company.
The Holland America Noordam in St. Thomas
MSC: Family-owned line known for its cleanliness and top-notch entertainment. Quiet ships. You may not have heard of them, but you should know them.
Norwegian: Known for “Freestyle Cruising” because of its unconventional and innovative nature. Good for the individualist and individuals. The newest ship, the Epic, now has studio cabins for solo-travelers. Mid-price range. The Norwegian ship below sports beautiful murals.
Oceania: Deluxe cruising on smaller ships with emphasis on cuisine. Price point higher than most.
Paul Gauguin: Tahiti, Fiji, Bora Bora. THE line for the South Pacific. Small-ship cruising to amazing ports. Usually offer free air from LA and sometimes 2 for 1 sailings. Gauguin will take you to Bora Bora in style (below).
Princess: Relaxed, comfortable elegance. Total pampering. Their motto is “escape completely” because they tend to every detail, unobtrusively. For the total getaway consumer. Mid-priced. Princess knows Alaska. It’s the only choice for this destination. Ask me about it. I am a certified Princess Alaska Expert.
Regent: Luxury cruising and a price to match.
Royal Caribbean: Active travelers, but appeals to every age. You don’t have to participate in all the activity. You can just watch, too. Fitness buffs will love all the options. Well-priced, well-kept ships. New emphasis on food: farm-to-table fresh menus. (The Allure sports 25 restaurants!) Everyone loves Royal!
Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas at Labadee, Haiti
Seabourn: Luxury cruising. Pricey, but you’re worth it!
SeaDream Yacht Club: “It’s Yachting, Not Cruising” on these small-ships. Luxury all the way! 5-star service. You can’t afford not to go on SeaDream. Below is a SeaDream Yacht.
SilverSea: Small-ship (500 passenger) luxury romance. Goes to rarely-visited ports. Romantic restaurants on board. Spare no expense and go for it! All-suite, all-inclusive.
StarClippers: Real small-ship sailing vessels and a crew that knows how to sail. You can even help. Taking you to the lesser visited ports in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, Europe.
Viking River Cruises: Luxury along the rivers of Europe. Viking are adding dozens of new “Longships” in 2013 and 2014. The Viking ship here is representative of smaller river cruise ships.
Windstar: Competes with StarClippers. Small-ship sailing vessels but these use the motors more than the sails. Unusually itineraries because the small ships can go where larger vessels can not reach.
Did you know there are so many cruises lines available to you? A cruise line exists for every occasion, destination, and fantasy.
NOT ALL CRUISES END THIS WAY (Photo credit: roberthuffstutter)
And despite Robert’s caption above, cruises very often turn out that way! You should try one. Begin planning your own at www.susanmcdanieltravel.com or let me do it for you. Call 561-841-2224 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cruising is a sweet confection you should enjoy!