Cruises are an enjoyable and convenient way to travel the world and see the most amazing sights. There is nothing quite like a relaxing cruise to make you forget all about your problems and live life to the fullest. You can enjoy all the luxuries of home, while traveling to exciting ports of call and exploring a wide choice of entertainment options and culinary delights.
Cruises remain popular with travelers of all ages from small children or middle-aged parents to retired seniors and teenagers. Although you are likely to enjoy any cruise, you may want to contact certain cruise lines to find out their typical age bracket. For example, Holland America and Celebrity Cruises tends to cater to older individuals with more medical facilities, special menu options and activities geared specifically for seniors. Some cruise lines such as the Cunard Line and Orient Lines even provide unescorted female senior travelers called gentleman hosts! On the other hand, Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean are catering to a younger crowd of passengers. They are offering a greater number of action-packed activities geared to younger individuals, including young professionals and teenagers.
Regardless of your annual income, you’re sure to find a suitable cruise. You can book a standard inside cabin on a short 3-day cruise to a luxury 20-day international cruise with a luxury suite and large balcony. Many cruise lines offer very affordable cruise vacation packages, whereas other cruise lines such as the Radisson Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Seabourn Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises are luxury cruise lines that cater more to the higher-income travelers.
There is an almost endless list of cruise lines from which to choose, and each has its particular charm. To help with your decision, we have compiled a list of some of the most popular cruises and cruise lines.
Luxury Cruises – Luxury cruise lines cater to travelers with a higher income bracket who are looking for the ultimate in comfort and luxury on their cruise vacation. Guests can experience the finest in activities, gourmet food, personal service and first-class amenities on a luxury cruise ship. Many luxury cruise lines also offer complete all-inclusive packages where everything from food and activities to tips and drinks are included for one set price.
Cruise Lines: Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, Silversea, Oceania, Seabourn, SeaDream
Premium Cruises – Premium cruise lines offer the same wide range of restaurants, amenities and activities as other companies. The difference is they also provide additional features for the upscale traveler such as art collections, gourmet-style cuisine, additional guest space and more personalized service.
Cruise Lines: Celebrity, Azamara, Cunard, Holland America
Popular Cruises – Many cruise lines such as the above remain popular with travelers of all ages, thanks to their wide variety of activities and amenities. Guests can enjoy a wide range of age-specific activities, supervised children’s programs and exciting off-shore excursions.
Cruise Lines: Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean
River Cruises – Most river cruises are offered in Europe where passengers can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the most famous waterways in Europe such as the Main, Elbe, Rhone, Seine, Po, Douro and Danube Rivers. They can relax as they travel scenic rivers on a comfortable floating hotel. Certain companies such as Uniworld River Cruises travel to exciting destinations worldwide including Egypt, China and Russia. Many river cruises are also available to the world’s three largest rivers – the mighty Nile in Egypt, the Amazon River in Brazil and China’s historic Yangtze River.
Cruise Lines: Amadeus Waterways, Peter Dielmann, Jewel, Uniworld and Viking River Cruises
Adventure Cruises – A greater number of cruise lines are catering to the adventure-oriented traveler. You can visit the South Pole at one of the world’s most remote locations on an Antarctica cruise, explore the mighty Yangtze River on a China river cruise, cruise the dense jungle on an Amazon River cruise or experience unique wildlife on Ecuador’s famous Galapagos Islands. Lindblad Expeditions has partnered with the National Geographic Society to offer adventure cruises where travelers can experience the ultimate in awe-inspiring nature. Many adventure cruise lines enable passengers to experience the true culture of remote destinations and travel to hidden gems located off the beaten path.
Cruise Lines: Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Voyages of Discovery
Family-Oriented Cruises – A greater number of families are deciding to spend an enjoyable and hassle-free vacation together on a cruise. Family-oriented cruises offer great activities geared for children of all ages, babysitting services and nurseries so parents and grandparents can also enjoy some quality alone time. Smaller children can enjoy activities such as face painting, storytelling, games and puppet shows, whereas older teenagers can enjoy exciting theme parties, movie nights, karaoke and video arcades. The entire family can spend quality time together on family-oriented ships and during memorable off-shore excursions.
Cruise Lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival is the world’s largest cruise line with one of the most modern fleet of cruise ships. Carnival cruise liners are often referred to as “fun ships” because of their emphasis on enjoyable activities, entertaining nightspots and Las Vegas-style shows. Families can relax knowing their children are enjoying a wide range of supervised activities at Camp Carnival and couples can arrange for a shipboard or on shore wedding.
Carnival Cruise Lines are known for their comfortable, spacious rooms and amazing service. Passengers can enjoy a drink at the sports bar, try their luck in the casino, relax at the Spa Carnival, dance the night away at one of the many nightclubs or even take a special golf cruise. With 14 departure ports in the continental US, passengers can visit exciting destinations such as Alaska, the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, Canada’s Maritime provinces and New England.
Costa Cruise Lines: Costa is an Italian company that has become the number one cruise line in all of Europe. Famous for the decorative and architectural aspects of their beautiful Italian ships, Costa combines sophisticated elegance with spirit and fun. The company provides great children’s programs, special dinner menus and lively onboard festivities and offshore excursions.
With 15 ships in the current fleet, the company offers non-stop entertainment, authentic Italian cuisine and warm hospitality. In addition to a spa facility, gym, casino and nightclubs, you can book a wedding package, take Italian lessons or enjoy a few golf lessons from an experienced golf pro on board a Costa cruise ship. Passengers can travel throughout the Americas, Northern Europe or the Eastern and Western Mediterranean.
Disney Cruise Line: Individuals of all ages love the magic of a Disney cruise. Everyone can enjoy entertaining Disney-themed stage shows in the Walt Disney Theatre and dining in themed restaurants aboard the Disney Wonder® or Disney Magic®. There are many other activities such as games, pajama parties, science experiments and cooking demonstrations designed specifically for children, teens and adults.
The cruise line is known for its extremely large staterooms which will accommodate a minimum of 3 people. In addition to the shopping, spas, dining and shows, guests can also book a wedding on shore or aboard the ship or celebrate a special occasion in one of the ship’s dining rooms. Passengers can enjoy cruises to South America, the Eastern and Western Caribbean, the Bahamas. Every Disney cruise also ends up at the company’s private island resort, Castaway Cay where guests can enjoy the beautiful, secluded island.
MSC Cruises: This Italian cruise line contains five beautiful ships where guests can relax with a luxurious spa treatment, try their luck at the casino, participate in MSC’s educational enrichment-at-seas programs or enjoy a Flamenco or Broadway-style show. All meals are prepared with authentic Mediterranean ingredients to offer traditional Italian cuisine.
MSC cruises are known for their true Italian service and blend of Mediterranean cuisine and maritime culture and traditions. Although MSC Cruises specialize in trips to the Mediterranean, passengers can visit South America, the Caribbean, Northern Europe, South Africa and the Transatlantic.
Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL offered a unique option to cruise passengers in 2000, called Freestyle Cruising. The company will select the ports, and passengers choose everything else. Guests can enjoy as many as 10 exciting restaurants with a relaxed dress code, relax in the Mandara Spa, try their luck at the casino or attend a lively theme party. The cruise line’s Kid’s Crew program offers supervised activities such as cooking classes, circuses, crafts, games, parties and parades for all ages. Couples can also book a wedding or vow renewal package.
NCL is associated with the freedom of choice and is known for personal and unique dining experiences and a relaxed resort-style atmosphere with an emphasis on personal flexibility. With 13 US and Canadian departure ports, the cruise line offers passengers the opportunity to visit Bermuda, the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, the Hawaiian Islands, Antarctica, as well as the New England or Canadian coast.
Princess Cruises: With one of the most modern fleets in the cruise industry, Princess offers guests a unique variety of amenities. For example, passengers can enjoy the Movies Under the Stars program and watch their favorite flicks on deck. Guests can also enjoy everything from scuba diving classes and a Lotus Spa treatment to shuffleboard and award-winning production shows. Shopping, casinos and art auctions are other great options. Guests are assured of receiving excellent service and experiencing an atmosphere of relaxed luxury aboard a Princess Cruise ship. The cruise line offers a Princess Kids & Off Limits Teens program and Princess Youth and Teen Centers with exciting supervised activities. Couples can book a wedding or celebrate any special occasion with an amazing reception package.
Princess Cruises is known for its Personal Choice Cruising program which started in the mid 1990s. This offers passengers a wide variety of options, and enables them to completely customize their perfect vacation. They can choose from the flexible onboard services, amenities and facilities to suit their individual needs. Princess’ Anytime Dining program means you can choose when and where you wish to eat.
Princess’ belief in personal choice extends to their 150+ itineraries; the cruise line offers voyages to more worldwide destinations than any other major cruise line. Passengers can choose cruises that last anywhere from 7 days to 72 days! Some of the destinations include Hawaii, India, Asia, Africa, Canada, Antarctica, Europe, the Mexican Riviera, South America, the Caribbean, Alaska, the Panama Canal, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Tahiti, French Polynesia and New England.
Royal Caribbean: With some of the most innovate and unique ships in the cruise industry, passengers of a Royal Caribbean cruise are guaranteed to receive superb dining and service. The cruise line has been providing passengers with exciting and memorable cruise vacations for more than 25 years. Guests return because of the spacious staterooms and attentive Gold Anchor Service.® Kids 3-17 can participate in the Royal Caribbean’s complimentary Adventure Ocean Youth Programs that combine entertainment and education with supervised activities. The cruise line also offers wedding packages and corporate programs for adult passengers.
Royal Caribbean is known for grand-scale adventure. Most passengers are active individuals who are continuously seeking exciting new experiences and a great variety of entertainment options. Guests can enjoy everything from rock climbing, art auctions and wine tasting to jewelry seminars, onboard ice-skating rink and ice-carving demonstrations. Passengers can visit hundreds of exciting ports including Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska, the Bahamas, Canada, Bermuda, New England, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific Northwest.
Orient Lines: Guests can enjoy all of the finest amenities on board the Orient’s luxury cruise liners, arrange for optional tours, relax at the Mandara Spa, dance in an elegant ballroom or hit the Monte-Carlo style casinos. Most longer voyages include guest lecturers and local cultural performers to entertain passengers.
Orient Lines is well known for providing the most in-depth travel experiences in the world’s most exciting exotic ports. The cruise line offers passengers the opportunity to learn about each of the places they visit during their voyage. Therefore, many of their packages feature Cruise Tours, complete with hotel accommodations and sightseeing excursions. Passengers can sail to the Greek Isles, the Baltic, South America, Southeast Asia, Antarctica, the Panama Canal, Britain and the Mediterranean.
Celebrity Cruises: Travel experts such as Condé Nast Traveler consistently rate Celebrity’s service as one of the best. Passengers of a Celebrity cruise are assured warm, personal service, exceptional cuisine, spacious rooms and European hospitality. They can book a golf excursion, shop in the ship’s boutiques, enjoy a Broadway-style show or relax in the AquaSpa. Children and participate in a wide variety of activities such as scavenger hunts, ice cream parties, ship tours, movies, video games, karaoke or a ball pit with the X-Club youth Activities program. All youth counselors have completed formal education in Education, Child Development, Recreation or a related field. Celebrity Cruises also offers special anniversary and honeymoon packages, as well as corporate meetings.
Guests associate Celebrity cruises with luxury, elegance and a premium cruising experience. The cruise line has become famous for its exceptional service that usually exceeds guests’ expectations. Passengers can book a cruise to Canada, the Caribbean, South America, the Panama Canal, Europe, New England, Bermuda, Alaska, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, Hawaii or the Galapagos Islands.
Holland America Line: Guests of Holland America will enjoy impeccable service, beautiful staterooms, elegantly decorated ships and superb dining. The cruise line offers a more traditional style of cruising with convenient inclusive pricing. Guests can book a golf excursion, take a kickboxing class, enjoy a guided art tour, shop, try their luck at the casino or relax at the spa. Certain cruise ships even offer a custom tailoring service where men and women can order exclusive custom-made garments. Children 5-12 can participate in supervised Club Hal® activities such as bingo, pizza parties, miniature golf, scavenger hunts, theme parties and on-deck sports events. Some itineraries even offer kids-only shore excursions to several Alaskan ports and the company’s private island in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay. Couples can also arrange a custom wedding package.
Holland America ships are all known for their more private verandas and larger staterooms so you can cruise in absolutely luxury and comfort. In fact, the staterooms are 25 percent larger than the same category rooms on any other ships. The public rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated with expensive art collections and fresh flower arrangements. Passengers can choose to visit more than 280 exciting ports of call including Hawaii, Europe, South America, Alaska, the Caribbean, Asia and North America’s west coast.
Oceania Cruises: Passengers of an Oceania cruise can enjoy flexible dining arrangements and 5-star menus, as well as first-class amenities and accommodations. Formed in 2002, Oceania Cruises has a fleet of luxurious 684-passenger ships where guests can enjoy daily historical lectures, comedians, casinos, fitness tracks, the Card Room or the Oceania Spa.
Oceania is associated with casual elegance where you can dine when and where you choose with no formal gowns or tuxedos required. Passengers can explore the Panama Canal, Scandinavia, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Many itineraries include overnight port stays, enabling travelers to enjoy the culture and history of exciting destinations. Oceania Cruises also travel to Russia, South America, the Greek Isles, Central America, the British Isles and the Black Sea.
Crystal Cruises: Condé Nast Traveler has voted Crystal Cruises the world’s “Best Large Ship Cruise Line” for nine consecutive years. Passengers can take a golf lesson with a PGA pro, relax at the Crystal Salon, tempt Lady Luck at the Caesars Palace at Sea® casino, shop at exclusive boutiques, enjoy a creative production show or attend lectures offered by the Crystal Cruises Creative Learning Institute. Children can enjoy supervised activities such as arts and crafts, board games and a video arcade and older children can participate in age-appropriate activities supervised by Junior Activities Directors. Adults can book onboard meetings with the state-of-the-art equipment and business amenities.
Crystal Cruises has become synonymous with grand luxury; guests can relax on elegant ships adorned with rich wood trim, polished brass and teak decks, enjoy exciting activities or explore exotic ports. Passengers can visit exotic destinations including the South Pacific, Asia, Alaska, the Caribbean, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Mexico, Australia, Europe, South America and the Panama Canal.
Cunard Line: Travelers who expect nothing less than the best will enjoy traveling in luxury on board a Cunard cruise ship. Passengers who choose a Cunard cruise can relax at the Canyon Ranch Spa Club, enjoy a music revue, practice their swing at the virtual golf cage or attend educational and entertaining guest lectures where they will learn about everything from acting to cooking and interior design. The cruise line also offers state-of-the-art audio/video equipment, cocktail parties and award ceremonies for businesses.
Cunard has become known for the lavish elegance and luxury cruising of days gone by. In 2004, the Queen Mary 2 made its debut as the flagship of The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World. The QM2 follows the traditions of luxury liners such as the Cunard and White Star Line predecessors. This remarkable cruise ship is the world’s longest, largest, tallest and most expensive, and it is the only ship to make regular transatlantic voyages. The Queen Elizabeth 2 offers passengers the same gourmet cuisine, impeccable service and British elegance, and has been touted as one of the greatest cruise liners.
Passengers can sail to exotic destinations such as Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Africa and the Transatlantic.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: The luxury cruise ships of this company hold hundreds of guests, providing passengers with personal service and six-star accommodations, amenities and dining. Condé Nast Traveler readers voted Regent Seven Seas as the World’s Best Small Cruise Line in 2003 and twice by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. Many special events, enhancements and benefits are provided to travelers at no cost or for a very nominal fee. Guests can take an exclusive classic French cooking course, play sports on the activity deck, take computer classes, listen to guest lectures, work out at the gym, relax at the spa, gamble at the casino or watch a Broadway musical revue in the Constellation Theater. Many Regent ships offer Club Mariner – a supervised program for children 6-11 or 12-17 with activities such as crafts, movies and games.
The Regent Seven Seas offers a program of discovery and exploration that rivals any other cruise line and has become the leader of the 6-star cruise industry. Passengers can explore more than 300 ports of calls on six continents such as Tahiti, the Panama Canal, Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, the South Pacific or even Antarctica.
Seabourn Cruise Line: Passengers of the Seabourn Cruise Line can explore exciting ports and relax on the company’s three yacht-like ships. Guests can enjoy complimentary wine and spirits, listen to a lecture program by renowned guests, arrange a golf excursion, relax at the Seabourn Spa, play blackjack at the casino, work out at the fitness center, enjoy a drink at one of the bars or lounges or witness cooking demonstrations. Seabourn also offers an enrichment program that involves inviting amazing individuals from various fields to enlighten and entertain passengers. Family, friends or companies can also charter one of the Yachts of Seabourn to celebrate a special occasion or personal milestone.
Seabourn has become famous for its atmosphere of luxury and amazing service. The cruise line has won many awards, and offers all-suite accommodations that are more elegant than almost any other cruise line. In fact, the cruise line’s amazing vessels are often compared to five-star resorts. Passengers can travel to the Eastern Seaboard, New Zealand, Africa, Southeast Asia, Northern Europe, the Atlantic Isles, the Mediterranean, Canada, the Panama Canal, Costa Rica, South America, Africa, the South Pacific, India, Belize and the Transatlantic.
Silversea Cruises: Passengers of Silversea Cruises can travel on smaller, more intimate ships that offer more space and more personalized service. While on board, guests can watch a culinary demonstration, practice at the putting green, compete in a water volleyball tournament, dance at the nightclubs, play the slots at the casino, practice with a golf pro, relax with a favorite movie or book from the library, enjoy a magic show or listen to a classical recital.
Silversea has become famous for serving the ultra-luxury market with some of the cruise industry’s highest quality ships. Guests are rewarded with open dining plans where they can choose where and when to eat and suites with ocean views and private verandas. The cruise line is also unique by offering all the amenities expected of a large cruise ship while managing to retain the intimacy and personal service of a small vessel. Because of the smaller ships, Silversea can transport passengers in absolute luxury to exotic ports such as the Pacific Coast, Alaska, the Indian Ocean, Mexico, Canada, the Amazon, Northern Europe, the Far East, South America, the Mediterranean and the South Pacific.
Uniworld: Guests on a Uniworld cruise will enjoy many amenities and conveniences that are unexpected for smaller ships. The cruise tour price also includes the majority of shore excursions in the heart of each city, making it a great value. The company offers great choice, value and quality, as well as warm, attentive service. Guests can relax with friends in the lounge, enjoy a spa treatment at the salon, shop for souvenirs or play a game of cards.
Uniworld is famous for comfortable and convenient international river cruising – the cruise line’s ships travel the great rivers of Egypt, Asia and Europe. Guests can relax while exploring the Rhine and Danube Rivers, France, Northern Italy, the Duoro River, Portugal, Spain, Moscow, St. Petersburg, China and the Yangtze River, Amsterdam, Vienna, Budapest, Constanta and the Dutch and Belgian waterways.
Windstar Cruises: Since the mid 1980s, guests of a Windstar Cruise have been relaxing on romantic masted ships called masted-sail-yachts. Passengers can enjoy a unique cruise experience in an atmosphere of casual elegance featuring exquisite service and exceptional cuisine. They can learn poke tips at the casino, relax at the WindSpa, take scuba diving lessons or participate in a wide variety of activities on the watersports deck. The cruise line visits many exotic destinations that are not usually included as ports of call. Windstar Cruises also provides the unique opportunity for companies to charter one of their ships and proudly display their company flag with Windstar’s. Corporate passengers can and, enjoy a cocktail party, afternoon beach barbeques, evening galas and complimentary watersports.
The word that comes to mind when you think of Windstar Cruises is romantic. The cruise line has become famous for sailing to exotic ports of call inaccessible by larger vessels. Passengers can travel the world to hidden harbors in places such as the Far East, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean.
Amadeus Waterways: Passengers of Amadeus Waterways can enjoy the ultimate in modern river cruising luxury. Although the company is based in the US, it specializes in European river cruises. Since 2006, the cruise line has offered more amenities than any other European river cruise ship. Every room has a view of the river and 82% feature large French balconies. Guests are greeted with a welcome reception, and they can enjoy champagne breakfasts, complimentary wine, beer, soda, espresso and cappuccinos, daily bottled water and all-inclusive tour packages during their vacation. The Panorama Lounge features exciting performances such as local folklore dancers or musicians performing classical selections. Adventurous individuals can use bicycles to explore the various villages and towns while on shore, and participate in daily entertainment, dancing, lectures and theme dinners onboard. Children pay the same rate as adults and must share a cabin with an adult if they are under 18.
Amadeus Waterways cruise line is known for luxurious river cruising. You can enjoy the convenience and comfort of exploring scenic rivers in intimate group settings. The ships are newer and more modern than other European river cruise ships. They also carry a maximum of 150 passengers, rather than the 1000-2000 passengers on larger ocean cruise liners. You can view the most treasured landmarks of Europe, Egypt or Russia from your comfortable floating hotel.
Azamara Cruises: Azamara has been offering travelers a new way to see the world since 2007. The company’s two smaller ships are able to enter exotic ports most larger ships can’t access. The ships are intelligently designed with all of amenities you could possibly want, including butler service in every stateroom. Guests can enjoy fine cuisine, yoga classes, live nightly entertainment, in-suite spa treatments or enrichment programs that include everything from culinary classes to photographic explorations. Other options include shopping, relaxing in one of the lounges, gambling in the casino, participating in an art auction, competing in the game show Star Struck or watching a hot show in the elegant showroom. Couples can also book a wedding or vow renewal package. Passengers under 21 must share a stateroom with an adult, except for minor children who are sharing an adjacent stateroom with a parent or guardian.
Azamara Cruises has become synonymous with deluxe cruising and out-of-the-ordinary destinations. The entire crew is dedicated to providing exception service and ensuring your vacation is a pleasant and memorable experience. Passengers can visit South America, the Panama Canal, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Europe and Antarctica.
SeaDream Yacht Club: As soon as you board a SeaDream yacht, you’ll experience the ultimate in pampering, five-star personalized service and five-star cuisine. The smaller yachts enable passengers to visit intimate ports and harbors inaccessible to larger cruise ships. A maximum of 55 couples are catered to by a crew of 95. All staterooms include an ocean view, personal refreshment bar and 24-hour room service.
While on board, guests can relax on a Balinese dream bed, try their luck at a casino, work out at the gym or practice their swing with a golf simulator featuring 30 championship courses. The cruise line also includes the SeaDream Spa, the only Thai-certified spa at sea where guests can relax with luxurious spa treatments. Passengers can also kayak, explore the land on a mountain bike, relax on a hammock, snorkel with exotic tropical fish, go sailing on a Sunfish or enjoy exciting water sports such as wakeboarding, waterskiing or jet skiing. Groups can charter the SeaDream I or II luxury yacht for special occasions or corporate functions.
SeaDream is known for the unique, luxury cruising experience if offers its passengers. The family-owned boutique yacht company has been rated the World’s Best Small Passenger Shipping Line in 2006 and the World’s Best Top Scoring Cruise Line in 2007 by Condé Nast. Passengers can visit exotic ports of calls in the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Transatlantic.
Peter Dielmann Cruises: Peter Dielmann offers comfortable 100+ passenger ships where guests can enjoy the breathtaking scenery or relax in the spacious lounges. The company operates a fleet of ten river boats, a barkentine and two ocean-going cruise ships. Guests have been treated to delicious cuisine, comfortable cabins and personalized service for more than 25 years. Delightful sightseeing excursions are also options where you can take a walking tour of European cities, shop at charming boutiques, enjoy a drink at a local pub or visit historic towns and villages.
Peter Dielmann is an award-winning company known for its affordable luxury river cruises. Passengers can explore the great rivers of Europe such as the Oder, Elbe, Rhone, Seine, Moselle, Douro, Danube and Rhine. It’s possible to experience several different countries, and many unique river landscapes during one relaxing river cruise. The company also offers special interest golf, wine, wellness, hiking, equestrian, music, and cycling and garden-themed cruises.
Viking River Cruises: Since 1997, passengers of Viking River Cruises have been enjoying outstanding service, delicious gourmet cuisine and comfortable accommodations. The company’s unique Viking ships contain the ultimate in world-class amenities and accommodations. Viking has received the World’s Best award by Travel + Leisure and was voted Best River Cruise Line by cruisecritic.com for two consecutive years. The company can arrange exciting onshore excursions with knowledgeable English-speaking Viking guides and deluxe hotel accommodations. Almost every itinerary includes at least one stop at an enticing port of call every day where the ship will usually dock in the heart of a town. With only 150-300 passengers per ship, travelers can experience a more intimate setting and more personalized service.
Viking River Cruises is known for its affordable and comfortable all-inclusive river cruises. With a fleet of 18 deluxe ships, 35 unique cruises and more destinations than any other river cruise line, Viking has become the world’s leading river cruise company. The company is renowned for adopting the Swiss hotel management standards of service.
Passengers can visit the most famous rivers of Europe visiting ports such as Budapest, Cologne, Vienna, Paris, Avignon, Berlin, Prague, Bad Schandau, Würzburg, Regensburg, Linz, Bratislava, Amsterdam, Nuremberg and Rothenburg. Some of the popular China ports include Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xian, Three Gorges, Great Wall, Wuhan, Suzhou, Nanjing, Jingzhou and Dongting Lake. Travelers can also visit exciting ports of call in Russia and the Ukraine such as Goritzy, Kizhi, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Kiev, Odessa, Yalta and the Moscow Canal.
Alaska – Alaska continues to be one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations. This vast, scenic American state has continued to attract endless numbers of passengers on year-round cruises. Although cruises used to cater to seniors, a greater number of younger travelers are choosing to explore this remarkable North American destination.
Travelers can witness breathtaking scenery that includes massive fjords and icebergs, watch for an abundant variety of wildlife such as humpback whales, grizzly bears, sea lions, puffins or mountain goats or take unique sled-dog, glacier or gold mine tours.
Popular Ports of Call: Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Nome, Misty Fjords, Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Prince William Sound, Whittier, Seward and Valdez. Most Alaska cruise ships depart from Vancouver, British Columbia or Seattle, Washington, although other cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco in California are also options.
European – European cruises present an enjoyable and affordable way to explore some of the continent’s most scenic waterways while exploring exciting ports of call. These cruises are actually quite cost-effective when you factor in the high price of most European hotels, meals, sightseeing options and transportation.
Western Mediterranean: These cruises often sail from Rome, London, Barcelona or Lisbon, and they enable passengers to explore the best of Italy, Portugal, Spain, France and some of the Balenaric Islands. Some of the popular ports of call include Paris, France, Dublin, Ireland, the south of France and Barcelona, Spain.
Northern European: These cruises usually feature the Scandinavian peninsula, Russia, the Baltic states and the Netherlands with stops in Oslo in Norway, Tallinn in Estonia and Helsinki in Finland. Most cruise ships depart from cities such as Amsterdam, London, Stockholm or Copenhagen.
You can choose to visit only one region of Europe or a longer cruise that makes multiple stops in many different European countries. Unique tours options include beautiful winery tours or breathtaking hot air balloon rides and nothing beats the view of the French Riviera from a European cruise ship.
Popular Ports of Call: Some of the most popular unique European cities for cruise lines include Athens, Corfu, Mykonos and Santorini in Greece, Naples, Rome, Florence and Venice in Italy, Cannes, Nice and Marseille in France, Barcelona in Spain, Ephesus in Turkey, Lisbon in Portugal, Dubrovnik in Croatia, Dover in the United Kingdom, Oslo in Norway Casablanca in Morocco.
Caribbean – Gorgeous sandy white beaches, a warm year-round climate, exciting water activities and remarkable shopping continue to attract cruise passengers of all ages.
Eastern Caribbean: You can choose from a relaxing Eastern Caribbean cruise where you can enjoy the duty-free shopping El Yunque Rain Forest of Puerto Rico or the and private beaches and incredible snorkeling of St. Thomas or sailing in St. Maarten. The slower pace and fewer number of ports make it a great choice for first-time cruisers.
Popular Ports of Call: Nassau in the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands – Tortola and Virgin Gorda, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico. Most Eastern Caribbean cruise lines depart from Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale or Miami, although some are available as far east as New York.
Southern Caribbean: If you want a little less time at sea and more time visiting exciting ports of call, you can opt for a Southern Caribbean cruise. This is often the preferred cruise for island hoppers and vacationers seeking to see the greatest number of sights. You can relax on a black sand beach on Martinique, explore some of the world’s largest limestone caves in Barbados, swim beneath a refreshing waterfall on the island of Dominica or take a cycling tour of Aruba.
Popular Ports of Call: St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, Martinique, Barbados, St. Lucia, Aruba, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Caracas and Isla Margarita. The majority of Southern Caribbean cruises depart from San Juan in Puerto Rico, although you can also sail from Barbados, Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
Western Caribbean: One of the most popular and affordable Caribbean cruises, many visitors choose to visit the Western Caribbean aboard a comfortable, luxury cruise liner. You can find some of the most unspoiled beaches and the world’s top scuba diving and snorkeling areas during your vacation. Spend the day climbing Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls, hiking the scenic Mayan city of Tulum, Mexico or snorkeling with stingrays in the Grand Cayman islands.
Popular Ports of Call: Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Key West in Florida, Cozumel, Cancun and Costa Maya in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Roatan and Labadee in Haiti. Another reason for the popularity of Western Caribbean cruises is the large number of departure ports, which include cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Barbados, Galveston, New Orleans, Houston, Tampa, Miami and Port Canaveral.
Antarctica – Despite the very short travel season, expense and cold temperatures, this remote area of the world is becoming an increasingly popular cruise destination for travelers. Adventurous individuals can visit the South Pole, watch huge groups of frolicking penguins, whales or seals or witness massive icebergs breaking off into the frigid sea. Many travelers include an excursion to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands or South America’s remote Patagonia region during their Antarctica cruise.
Popular Ports of Call: Deception Island, McMurdo Station, Mt. Erebus, Macquarie Island, the Ross Ice Shelf, South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands and South Pole. Most Antarctica cruises depart from Chile or Argentina, although some cruise lines also sail from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
South Pacific – If you want to enjoy some of the world’s most unspoiled tropical beaches and picturesque tropical islands, be sure to take a South Pacific cruise. You can visit a black pearl farm in Tahiti, snorkel with dolphins at Moorea, go whale watching in Tonga, or enjoy a deep sea fishing excursion in Fiji.
Popular Ports of Call: Nadi and Vanuatu in Fiji, Bora Bora, Papeete and Raiatea near Tahiti, Huahine, Moorea and Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, Apia and Pago Pago in Samoa, Tonga and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Most cruise ships depart from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tahiti or Hawaii, Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia.
Shore Excursions - Shore excursions used to play only a minor part for cruise passengers, but that has since changed. Many travelers now choose specific cruise lines or destinations specifically for the available land tours available. In addition to enjoying all of the first-class amenities, food and activities on a luxury cruise liner, passengers can also explore a wide variety of sightseeing options. Visiting exciting worldwide ports of call plays an important part of your entire cruise experience. You get the opportunity to explore the food, people, culture and history of many exotic locations, with the added bonus of luxurious accommodations awaiting you at the end of each excursion.
You can visit local attractions such as historical towns, cultural museums, zoos, gardens and scenic national parks, hit the hiking trails, scuba dive with tropical marine life, go horseback riding, sailing or enjoy a round of golf. River rafting, kayaking and boating excursions are also popular land package choices for the more active traveler. For travelers with enough money, physical stamina and adventurous spirit, you can even book private trekking expeditions to remote locations such as Antarctica. If you book with a reputable tour company, experienced professional guides will ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Land Tours – If you want to truly experience the culture, wildlife, scenery and people of any given area, you should consider a land tour. You can choose from guided city tours, historical tours, wildlife tours, flight tours, hiking tours, boat tours, bicycle tours, railway tours or fishing tours. Seeing the sights from a helicopter, railway car, trolley or inflatable Kodiak enables you to enjoy a very different perspective for interesting ports of call around the world. Some tours will allow you to explore exciting marine life from a submarine or glass-bottom boat. Younger cruisers may enjoy lively party tours where you can enjoy everything from beach barbeques and dinner cruises to pub crawls and theme parties.
Many areas even include unique tour options such as gold mine tours, glacier tours or even sled dog kennel tours. Explore the Forbidden City or Great Wall of China, Alaska’s El Dorado Gold Mine and Mt. McKinley or Antarctica’s majestic Ross Ice Shelf or world’s most southern active volcano, Mt. Erebus.
Advantages of Pre-Booking
We recommend consulting with a professional travel company to pre-book your shore excursions. You will often pay much less than overpriced excursions sold by the ship, and you can save time and hassle by avoiding long lineups to purchase tickets during your actual cruise. Pre-booking is a more convenient, stress-free experience that can enable you to fully enjoy your cruise. More importantly, you won’t risk missing out on popular trips that quickly sell out!
Before you book a land tour or shore excursion, you need to consider your budget, time frame and physical fitness level.
Do you prefer a leisurely stroll around the city or a challenging hike up a steep mountain?
Are you able to keep up in a large fast-paced walking group or do you prefer to travel with only a few other individuals by car or boat?
Do you have enough time to explore an entire city while onshore or only a few hours before your cruise leaves?
Are you looking for an affordable self-guided tour or can you justify the cost of the ultimate luxury excursion?
Questions such as these are important to ask yourself before choosing your shore excursion or land tour. Spending a few minutes to do so will ensure you experience the trip of a lifetime on and off your cruise ship!
Many cruise companies also offer affordable hotel packages so you can continue your luxury vacation on land, as well as sea. We recommend pre-booking at least your first and last night in a hotel. This will prevent you from having to rush around frantically trying to find a suitable accommodation at the beginning or end of your trip. You don’t want to risk missing your return flight home, paying much more than necessary for a substandard hotel or starting your cruise vacation frustrated and exhausted.
Cruise and tour companies also have access to a vast resource of reliable hotels. They will often find you a much better deal on hotels that they know are clean, safe and comfortable. You will most likely save money, time, stress and frustration by arranging your pre-post stays with a reliable company. This means you can start and end your cruise off right – refreshed and relaxed!