So, you’re thinking about taking a cruise. Why not, the cruise is one of the most affordable and hassle-free vacations available. You unpack your stuff once and your resort goes from place to place. It’s true that cruises started as an elite vacation for the wealthiest retirees, but that’s no longer the case. Yes, there are boats and itineraries that still cater to “mature crowds,” but there are also cruises that focus on singles, couples and families. Practically whatever your pleasure, you can find a cruise that meets your needs.
But where can you go on a cruise? I think the best question is where you can’t go on a cruise. There are cruises that depart from almost every major coastal city including New York, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle and even Galveston, Texas. You no longer have to fly to Miami or even Florida for a cruise. You can drive to the nearest port. Destinations have also changed over the years. Everyone knows you can sail the Caribbean, but did you know you can sail to Bermuda, Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, Alaska and even the Mississippi River? That’s right, there are wonderful paddle-wheeled cruises in the center of the United States on the Mississippi. With all the itinerary options available, there’s no reason not to cruise these days.
Did you know that the largest cruise ship afloat weighs 225,282 gross tons? To give you an idea, that’s five times bigger than the Titanic or the same as 400 fully loaded Boeing 747-400s. This would be Royal Caribbean’s new Oasis of the Seas. Today’s cruises are basically floating, all-inclusive resorts. Now they have Broadway-style shows, water parks, resort-style spas, well-equipped exercise facilities, multiple dining options, and even ice skating and bowling. Yes, bowling! Now size isn’t everything, but the bigger the boat, the more choices there are on board.
I suspect you already knew most of these things. If you found this article, then you’re probably looking for information on which cruise line best suits your family and, hopefully, some tricks to find discounts. With over 20 cruises to my credit, I’ve learned a couple of tricks when it comes to finding the best deals. So, let’s get on with it and give you the goods you’re looking for, right?
Choosing a cruise line
With all the different cruise lines it’s hard to know which one is best for you and your family. There are dozens of cruise lines, but we have profiled the most popular here.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival is one of the largest and most popular cruise lines. They have 22 cruises with a new one, Carnival Magic, sailing to sea in 2011. The carnival boasts of being the “boat of fun”. They cater to a younger family-oriented crowd, along with college-aged children during summer and spring break. Carnival offers some of the best prices of any cruise line with offers for various departure ports.
Celebrity Cruise Lines
Celebrity is one of our favorite cruise lines. It’s a little more elegant. They are still family friendly, but also cater to couples and a mature audience. You will find that both the food and the service are a little higher than most other cruise lines. They operate eleven cruises worldwide.
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Royal Caribbean is probably our favorite cruise line. They are a mix of the most elegant ships, but also offer a range of activities and dining experiences. They control nearly a quarter of the world cruise market and currently operate 21 ships, including the Oasis of the Seas, which is currently the largest cruise ship afloat.
Disney Cruise Lines
Disney cruises are an extension of their Disney World theme parks. Disney serves families with a focus on children of all ages. The ships have children’s programs that keep young children entertained, allowing parents to stay away for a while.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian, also known as NCL, is also one of our favorite cruise lines serving almost every crowd. They operate cruise ships with the huge Norwegian Epic now afloat and cruising! NCL is advertised as Freestyle Cruising, allowing you to choose how to eat.