Cruise Lines are extremely popular in the U.S. and the UK and the cruise industry is valued at more than $15.3 Billion a year. Many people see cruise lines as a great alternative to flying and bookings have increased greatly since 9/11. The cruise industry remained profitable, post 9/11, when other forms of travel and vacation categories suffered tremendous financial losses. Unlike many other forms of travel, cruise lines feature stops at many different destinations, which presents numerous opportunities to explore multiple cities, islands and excursions, all in one trip. Stops can last anywhere from a day to several days. With cruise ships capability to accommodate thousands of passengers at a time, itâ€™s no wonder more than 90 million people have taken a deep-water cruise over the past few decades. Cruise Lines are also proving that cruises arenâ€™t just for the â€œmatureâ€? set. More and more young passengers and professionals are opting for cruises to enjoy travel from a different vantage point.
Types of Cruise Lines
There are many different types of cruise lines to choose from varying in size, style and budget. 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.
Luxury cruise lines cater to a more upscale or sophisticated crowd and they feature many modern luxuries such as elaborate spas, world class cuisine, extravagant champagne bars and travel to some of the worldâ€™s most exotic destinations. Budget cruise lines, on the other hand, are much less formal and laid-back and many people describe them as a â€œresort at sea.â€? This casual environment attracts families, small groups of friends, retired couples or individuals or anyone looking for an ultra-casual â€œcome as you areâ€? atmosphere. Niche cruise lines vary in themes such as: Disney cruises, small ship cruises, wilderness or adventure cruises, river cruises and romantic island cruises that generally accommodate no more than 100 passengers. Some romantic cruises may accommodate roughly 30-40 passengers, for a more intimate environment. Freighter cruise lines are another option for passengers looking for smaller crowds (or none at all) and a more â€œrusticâ€? 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 relatively easy. The difficult part is narrowing your choices down to just one! The following are a few things to consider that may help you decide:
â€¢ Are you looking for a casual or formal environment?
â€¢ Budget or Luxury?
â€¢ Romantic or party-like/festive?
â€¢ How many days would you like cruise?
â€¢ Would you like an air and sea package?
â€¢ What activities are you interested in?
â€¢ Where would you like to go?
â€¢ How much would you like to spend?
â€¢ How many excursions are you interested in?
The price for cruises varies greatly depending on size of the vessel, location, length of vacation, type of cruise line, 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 like gambling.
A good place to start looking for a cruise line to suit your interests is online. Many cruise lines offer virtual tours, lots of facts and information about their cruise line and cruises in general, itineraries and many feature special online discounts and offers. If youâ€™re booking in October, November or December, discounts and special offers are abundant.