A cruise line is a company that operates cruise ships, both large and small. A cruise line may offer itineraries that consist of a few ports of call or it may offer cruise vacations that feature a dozen ports of call.
While cruise lines are popular around the world, they are extremely popular in the United States and the United Kingdom. Cruise lines are so popular in fact, that the cruise industry is valued at more than $15.3 billion a year. Many people feel that opting for a cruise line over any other type of vacation travel is a great way to take two vacations in one. This means that not only does a cruise line offer excitement while the ship is at sea, it also offers even more excitement once passengers head out on any number of cruise shore excursions at any number of ports of call. Simply put, a cruise line features cruise vacations that offer numerous opportunities to explore multiple cities and islands — all in one trip. Stops can last anywhere from one day to several days.
There are many different types of cruise lines to choose from varying in size, design, and price. Potential passengers can choose from a wide variety of cruise lines including: luxury or budget cruise lines, river or freight cruise lines, expedition cruise lines, niche and around the world cruise lines, American, European or Asian cruise lines and sailing cruise lines, to name a few.
A luxury cruise line caters to an upscale and sophisticated crowd and it features many modern luxuries such as elaborate spas, world-class cuisine, extravagant champagne bars, and travel to some of the world’s most exotic (and remote) locations. A budget cruise line, on the other hand, is much less formal and laid-back and many people describe them as a “resort at sea.” This casual environment attracts families, small groups of friends, retired couples or individuals or anyone looking for a “come as you are” atmosphere.
Disney Cruise Line is considered a niche cruise line as well as small ship cruises, wilderness or adventure cruises, river cruises, and romantic island cruises that accommodate no more than 100 passengers. Freighter cruise lines are another option for passengers looking for smaller crowds (or none at all) and a more “rustic” feel. Freighter cruise lines usually travel to exotic destinations and cities and small ports. Chances are you will be among only a handful of passengers, so the experience will feel closer to a private cruise.
Booking a Cruise
There are so many cruise lines available to choose from that finding one to fit your needs should be pretty easy. The difficult part is narrowing your cruise line choices down to just one! The following are a few things to consider when searching for the perfect cruise line:
·Are you looking for a casual or formal environment?
·Budget or Luxury?
·How many days would you like cruise?
·How many excursions are you interested in?
·How much would you like to spend?
·Romantic or party-like/festive?
·What activities are you interested in?
·Where would you like to go?
·Would you like an air and sea package?
The price for cruises varies greatly depending on size of the vessel, location, itinerary, type of cruise line (luxury, budget, moderate), vacation package, etc. But as a general rule of thumb, the vast majority of cruises include: meals, ship transportation, cabin accommodations, entertainment and most social activities. The price may not include: alcohol, laundry and dry-cleaning, shore excursions, gratuities, port charges, and extra activities such as gambling.
A good place to start looking for a cruise line to suit your interests is online. Many cruise lines offer virtual tours, a section dedicated to facts and general information about the cruise line. The cruise lines’ website may also offer information about cruises in general and details about a variety of different itineraries, and many feature special online discounts and offers. If you’re booking in October, November or December, discounts and special offers are plentiful.
Interested in hearing what passengers have to say about any given cruise line? Visit any of the popular cruise review websites listed below.
Cruisecritic.com offers more than just reviews, this site has several search functions to help you find everything from bargains and discounts to theme cruises and exotic itineraries. The site also includes features, news, planning tools, and a variety of cruise message boards where fellow cruisers can exchange stories and information.
Cruisemates.com offers short reviews and ratings. The two types of ratings include: star ratings and value ratings. Star ratings are based on one question — “how good is this ship?” One star is the worst, five stars is the best. Cruisemates.com takes everything from age and accommodations to food, service, and entertainment into account when rating the worlds cruise ships. Value ratings or “thumbs up” ratings are all about the “Bang for your Buck.” Five thumbs up means the ship is an excellent value while one thumb up means you won’t find much of anything that resembles a value here.
Reviews, ratings, rankings, and popularity contests — at Cruisereviewsonline.com find out which cruise ships are at the top and which ones are not. Get other information on cruise lines, as well as information, ratings and rankings on embarkation ports, and ports-of-call.
Cruisereport.com offers the lowdown on cruise lines from A to Z. Unbiased reviews, cruise searches, quotes, and feature articles are just a few of the sites extras. You can also search for “the perfect cruise” and browse through news pieces about cruising. After checking out their ratings and reviews, you can also search for discounts and deals. With more than 50,000 visitors per month, Cruisereport.com has information on roughly 8,500 current sailings.
Cruisedirectonline.com relies on reader surveys to help keep reviews & ratings in check. In addition to cruise ship reviews and ratings, visitors to the site will find top ten and top thirty lists, as well as feature articles about the best of the best in the world of cruises. The site has other information about discounts, as well as information on roughly 12,000 sailings. Cruise Direct Online has been featured in Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine, and on MSNBC, CNBC, MSN Money, and more.