Cruising is one of the best ways to experience and see as much as you can in one trip. There are many different cruise lines to choose from and each has their own vibe, activity level, and cuisine. Some people like to explore different cruise lines and strictly go by their itineraries and others like to stick with a particular cruise line to maintain the standards they expect or to rack up on their status with the company to gain extra perks. Perhaps this article will help you choose one or several that fits your style.
Mega and large ship cruise lines- Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Princess, Virgin Voyages- these ships are generally less expensive per person and contain many different venues and choices for activities onboard. Each have their own vibe, however. These lines are generally for couples, families, large groups, and partiers. Some ships may quiet down before midnight, but nightlife on these vessels lasts into the morning. Drop-off kid programming on some of the Carnival ships starts at age 2 (most start at 3), allowing parents to take a night off. Carnival would be considered the most active in terms of nightlife. Food would be considered moderate to good, with some of these lines offering an upcharge to dine at their better venues. Virgin Voyages are new to the line-up and cater more to a younger party-searching adult crowd. Norwegian has been rising in popularity since the inception of it’s “Free at Sea” promotions that are providing great value.
Medium to large upscale cruise lines- Celebrity, Cunard, and Holland America cruises are a bit more conservative lines in terms of clientele. They are generally a bit more expensive and do not cater as much to the party crowd or children. Celebrity offers more nightlife and trendy bar venues as well as fun entertainment. They also offer extra beverage packages as a special here and there. Holland America and Cunard usually have an older clientele and have many learning opportunities onboard. They have a quieter nightlife and generally shut down earlier in the evening. Food choices are varied and generally above moderate standards. Cunard has an upper level of service called the “Queens grill” that only goes with a certain room categories.
Upscale smaller ships- Oceania, Azamara, and Viking are three lines that are more expensive, but well worth spending more for if you like a more educated feel and like to learn more about each port. These cruises discourage children as guests and cater to a discerning client that enjoys educational experiences onboard and port intensive sailings. The nightlife consists of piano bars and theatrical performances, with Oceania leading the talent pool. Oceania and Viking offer a special packages that also include airfare. Oceania claims to have some of the “best food on the sea,” and I cannot argue with that. Viking guests always rave about their food as well. Viking does not have a casino, but very good performances in the evenings. Azamara also usually has a particular night of a special performance that is outstanding.
Luxury and Ultra Luxury – Seadream, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, and new to the market- Ritz Carlton yacht collection are the most expensive lines to book and cater to a smaller and sophisticated group of clients. Several of these also have world voyages that clients can book to go around the world. Regent caters to an older and worldly crowd and has outstanding service, performances, and port lectures. The food is outstanding as well. They include a “free” excursion at every port. Silversea would be their rival in terms of service, food, and included excursions, but attracts a more diverse age group. Service is totally exceptional on Silversea and every cabin includes a butler. Seabourn also attracts a somewhat older clientele but is exceptional in service as well. Seadream and Ritz Carlton are in the market as yacht collections. Seadream has been out there for some time for small groups and clients love being spoiled by their smaller experience. Seadream cabins to do not have a balcony, however. Ritz Carlton is new and we all know and love a Ritz Carlton experience and have great expectations for them.
Themed cruises- Of course, there is the all-famous Disney Cruise Line that has always topped the charts for wowing families. Nothing can beat their character breakfasts and activities throughout the ship for children. When the children are happy the parents are happy!
Casual cruise- Windstar is in a category of its own due to its very outdoorsy, casual theme. While moderately priced, no jackets are needed, and guests enjoy a more casual, naturistic atmosphere. These cruises attract a more adventurous clientele that love outdoors and water sports. There are no evening shows to attend or entertainment to speak of, but these “yachts” can sail into ports that other cruise ships cannot.
Whichever line suits your taste best, it is always a fun way to travel and see as much as you can see and not have to move luggage or find restaurants. It is also nice to be able to pay upfront with American dollars for the international destinations!
The Classy Travel Blog is a great way to educate yourself; Not only with travel tips and tricks, but also with insight on all of the Classy Destinations around the world.