WHAT'S YOUR CRUIAING STYLE?
The Easiest Holiday
Cruising makes it easy to visit several places in a single trip without the need to repack your belongings and sit in a car/train/bus/plane to travel to each one; your hotel room comes along with you, and even provides the transportation.
Additionally, seeing several islands or cities in a region can help you decide if and where you'd want to visit later for a longer time.
Today you can visit every continent on earth, including Antarctica, by cruise ship.
Premium and Luxury cruise lines tend to have much smaller capacity ships carrying 100-1250 or so passengers. Most ships carry 2,000-3,500 passengers, while mega-ships can carry over 5,000...a virtual city on something that weighs many times as much as the Titanic. Each size has its merits, e.g.,:
- Smaller ships can visit smaller harbors in highly desirable or unusual locales, e.g., the Riviera, Galapagos, rugged shorelines. They may also be able to port inside a city at an older city port, saving up to 2 hours of travel from where larger ships must dock.
- Larger ships may offer a few more amenities...as discussed in "On-board" below...but must use well-sized harbors (or anchor/moor off-shore) with transport and touring infrastructures to handle so many people.
- Mega-ships offer huge public spaces and wide-ranging activities, but are limited to major and sometimes even custom built ports...again with even greater infrastructures.
Cruise lines offer widely varying itineraries. Examples range from...
- A few days at sea or to a nearby port-of-call. These may be offered as an introduction to cruising, or just as an opportunity to party.
- One or two weeks to visit ports and sights in a particular region, per "Cruise types" below.
- A month or more to see a region of the world, or three or more months to go around the world; a lifetime experience.
Your experience will be substantially affected by the cruise type you choose. On a port-intensive itinerary, except for a few sea days...
- You might dine one evening, then enjoy entertainment, dancing, etc., go to sleep, and wake-up docked at your next port of call.
- Under a typical full-day port visit, you can often start ashore at 7-8 AM, and be expected back 30 minutes or so before ship departure at 5-6 PM or so.
- You can breakfast at your place of choice and be off-ship on your way to an organized tour, self-arranged tour or activities, or just a walk-about.
- An "all-day" tour may include lunch ; a half-day tour can have you back to the ship for lunch...then further touring, shopping or a walk-about for the afternoon if you choose.
If you prefer such cruises...
Look for itineraries in regions that offer many stops near the port where your cruise starts, e.g., Mediterranean, Baltic, The Fjords, United Kingdom, Caribbean, Alaska, Mexican Riviera.
Look for departure ports within the region, to minimize sea days, e.g., Caribbean trips starting in San Juan or Barbados, or Amsterdam or Copenhagen for the Baltic or Fjords.
In contrast, ships from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Tampa can take 1-2 days to reach the Caribbean, and the same to return. But you have more cruise and ship choices there, and you can choose to drive to either port if you live close enough.
If you prefer sea days, you can look for:
- Re-positioning cruises (often crossing oceans)...usually taking two weeks or more...often involving one-way international flights.
- Distant island or region visits from a mainland port, e.g., Hawaii from Los Angeles.
- Segments of around-the-world cruises, usually traversing major regions over a 3-6 weeks. They too will involve one-way international flights.
- Around-the-world cruises, taking 90+ days...best considered once you know you're comfortable with many days at sea.
As you find temptation, look at "Do" below and the ship's description (on-line or in brochure) to appreciate on-board activities.
There are also various cruises for special interests — sports, celebrity entertainers/bands, food and wine, comedy; just to name a few.