A Guide to Cruise Lines

They say that you are either a cruise person or you’re not. I’m not exactly sure who ‘they’ are, but it does seem like people are really into cruises or are kinda ambivalent.

Having only been on one cruise a few years ago, I’m one foot in the ambivalent pile, but moving towards more interest. After all, cruises are basically a vacation all in one. You get to travel to a few spots, you only have to unpack once and you get fed 24 hours a day. Not too bad.

In fact, with the economy down and tourism struggling, now is the perfect time to look into cruises, because there are incredible deals to be had.

One problem though. There are a freaking ton of cruises out there. I did a cursory search the other day for a 4-5 night Caribbean cruise and holy crap I got like 500 results back. Not only are there are million actual sailing routes, there are a bunch of cruise lines I hadn’t even heard of.

It got me thinking that maybe some of you have come across the same issue. So, why not make life a little easier and make up a quick guide.

The Super Luxury Liners

I’ve you are looking for ultra luxury cruise line for vacation, then there are basically 5 companies you want to be looking at. And frankly, if you can afford these, please contact me I’d like to go too!

Each of these companies are going to provide you with top of the line service and dining. Most of these ships are going to be much smaller than your conventional cruise and will offer suites in each room.

The Upscale Liners

Ok, now were starting to talk here. These liners will feature more of a hybrid, they provide some of those extra luxury touches and very good food, but have larger ships which bring in more crowds.

The upscale liners focus on the clientele. Generally these lines will feature more upscale features, but if you do a bit of searching you can get yourself on one of these cruises for a good price.

What really matters on these lines is the food. All of them are known for having really great food, and many of the boats like with Celebrity features a variety of specialty restaurants on board like tapas, Japanese or Argentinian steakhouses.

These liners are also going to feature smaller boats, which has a couple of benefits. First you don’t feel quite like you are on a small floating city. Second, because of the smaller size, these ships can get into smaller ports, so you can hop off at places that the bigger guys can’t get to.

The Big Three

When you think about cruises this is probably what you envision. The big three lines, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival combine to hold the vast majority of all of the cruising market.

With the big three you are going to find larger boats, many of them will be 2,000 – 3,000 people. Though it means more people on board, it also means a lot more activities as well. Some ships Royal Caribbean have zip lines, wave machines and even rock walls on board!

These cruises are also going to feature a mixed crowd of people, though some say that you will typically find more younger crowds on Carnival Cruises.

Another benefit of the big three is that they are going to offer you a ton of options off the boat for shore excursions. Which means the cruise line connects with local (or their own) guides to take you off snorkeling, on shopping trips, and on jungle ATV tours just to name a few.

The big three will also offer a pretty diverse and varied port of call list. They leave from all over the US, from Boston to Miami, New Orleans to Los Angeles so you can hit places like Canada, the Caribbean, and Central America on your trip.

The Family Favorite

Duh, did you really think that Disney wouldn’t get themselves a few ships to bring the happiest place on earth to the seas?

Just like you are probably thinking, Disney is focused on the family style cruising. But, never fear singles and couples, you can still have a great time on vacation just like you would if the kiddies were there too.

Disney boats bring what works from their other properties to the sea. You’re going to find a ton of activities for the kids, your favorite characters wandering around and plenty of stuff to do.

Something that Disney also offers which you aren’t going to find in any other lines is that they do combo vacations. So you can do the first half of your trip in Orlando and then hop on the ship and head out to sea for the rest of your trip.

What do you think, have you been on a cruise before? What’s your favorite?

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  • I thought I would hate cruising, but became addicted. As you mentioned there are lots of cruise lines (even several that you haven’t mentioned) so it is a good idea to work with a competent travel agent to help you choose the ship that fits best with your needs. There are also luxury options within the mass market cruise lines and that can further complicate things.