Cruises are the ultimate convenience as far as vacays are concerned. You can visit multiple destinations without constant packing and unpacking while knowing you're on a huge resort with every comfort. Cruises can be as short as a day or involve numerous months. Perhaps you're up for a voyage of a lifetime around the world in 80 days? We've scoured the internet for some of the world's most beloved cruise lines, so we won't steer you wrong. But whether you're leaning towards a Noble Caledonia vessel in Japan or a river cruise in India, check individual cruise lines' websites for the latest information.
Cruises often make travelers' lives easier because they include accommodation, meals, and entertainment all in one accessible package. There are different cruises for different budgets, and value-for-money deals are on the cards. Two of the best cruise lines for affordability without compromised service are Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line. Both are large, not mega, ship lines. The former has a fleet of 14 ships, and the latter has 11 ships that sail to over 470 ports.
Many cruise lines have youth clubs that occupy children of various ages while parents relax. Of course, Disney is at the top of the list for family-oriented holidays on the sea. There are plenty of adult-only areas, including spas, if you're wondering whether Mickey and Elsa are the sole attractions. Older kids can play sports, video games, and foosball, among other activities. If you're not a Disney fan, Royal Caribbean may be the cruise line for you. It offers kid magnets like ice rinks, rock climbing walls, zip lines, laser tag, and go-karts.
It's hard not to think of the epic 1997 film Titanic about a mid-Atlantic sinking without recognizing two things—a) how dramatic a tragedy it was, and b) how perfect a ship is for romance. Cruises provide unrivaled sunsets, loads of date night entertainment, and shore excursions that frequently incorporate waterfalls worthy of Simba and Nala's courtship. You'll also be happy to know that current regulations and technological advances make today's ships much safer than the Titanic and more conducive to a happy ending (wink wink). Viking Ocean Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Crystal Cruises are three solid options for couples.
All of the cruise lines we've listed thus far have excellent reputations for Caribbean cruises, but Royal Caribbean stands out for its massive Oasis Class floating cities. You should also check out Norwegian Cruise Line. Carnival Cruise Line's affordable offerings are well-known, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises trade in luxury. In addition, there are sailing ships from the likes of Star Clippers that are incredibly photogenic, carry hundreds of passengers rather than thousands, and travel to less-visited destinations in the region.
The Mediterranean is vast, so you'll need to pick a preferred area, such as the Greek Isles, or focus on the western or eastern Mediterranean if time and money are factors. One-week cruises along the western Med can take you to bucket-list coastal cities in Italy, France, Monaco, and Spain. Eastern cruises can cover gems in Turkey and Croatia. In terms of cruise lines, Azamara is worth considering for less busy ports in, for example, Slovenia. Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises are other popular cruise lines to explore.
Two as-yet-unmentioned cruise lines that offer premium experiences include Silversea Cruises and Oceania Cruises. Fine dining is the norm on these boats. There are formally trained butlers (Silversea includes one per suite) who will pack and unpack for you if you so desire. There are cooking classes, art workshops, and all manner of sophisticated goings on. You might also want to check out Ponant for yacht-like cruises, some of which go as far as Antarctica. The British cruise line Cunard's ships are best boarded with a tux and formal wear in tow, and the exclusive cruise line Paul Gauguin has just one vessel that travels to islands in the South Pacific.
Single cabins, parties for solo travelers, and single supplement fee waivers make certain ships a drawcard if you're going it alone. Virgin Voyages leaves from Miami and is a great option for younger travelers. U by Uniworld is another service provider you may want to spend your dollars on if morning yoga classes and walking tours of Vienna float your boat. Princess Cruises Norwegian Fjords adventure is gorgeous. And retired seniors may want to consider a world cruise that feels like home after a few weeks and goes to stunning destinations such as Cape Town, South Africa, and Sydney, Australia.
Keen on spotting breathtaking glaciers and encountering whales? An Alaskan cruise might be up your alley. At least a dozen cruise lines operate in the area. There's Carnival Cruise Lines on the budget end of the spectrum and Regent Seven Seas on the upscale side, with its onboard lectures by experts and elegant atmosphere.
River cruises traverse legendary freshwater bodies such as the Danube and the Rhine in Europe, the Nile in Africa, the Amazon in South America, and the Mekong in Asia. Uniworld River Cruises, APT, AmaWaterways, and Tauck River Cruises are favorites in this category. Menus regularly feature the relevant region's cuisine, complimentary bicycles are not uncommon, and cultural expeditions are a given.
Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas is the world's largest cruise ship—it can carry 5,734 passengers. Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wish is the latest from the media conglomerate, and Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima is its newest party boat. Silversea's Silver Galápagos wins in the small ship category. Celebrity Eclipse is known for its A-plus service, and honorable mentions go to the Coral Princess for its shore excursions and fitness programs.