What Do I Need To Know About Cruises – As Team Cruise Lead, Gene Sloan oversees TPG’s cruise content and also writes TPG’s flagship travel guides. He has spent nearly 30 years writing about cruise ships and cruises, and is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject.
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What Do I Need To Know About Cruises
First, let me say that you might like it. I’ve been traveling on all the lines for almost 30 years, and I can tell you it’s a great way to travel.
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Of course, it’s not for everyone. Many people have tried it once or twice and are not fans. The world is also full of “non-riders” — people who, for various reasons, don’t think about getting on a boat for a vacation.
However, as study after study has shown, most people who try sailing for the first time rate it highly – and many end up traveling again. Chances are, you’ll be rated high, too.
However, before you reach your destination in your life of exploring the world by sea, you have a big decision to make before you set sail: Which line should you book?
It was not an easy decision. There are dozens of cruise lines, and no two are alike. Only some operate large ships. Some operate small boats. Some ship only to North America. Others once around the world. Some offer boats designed for family fun. Others don’t even allow children on board.
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In addition, you will see travel lines throughout the fare map. As with hotels and guesthouses, there are travel routes for people on a tight budget and airlines that cater to people who don’t care about money.
In short, there is a travel itinerary for everyone. However, depending on your preferences, not all lines are suitable. The trick is to find the perfect cruise line for you.
As noted above, there are dozens of cruise lines operating around the world. At last count, I’ve sailed with 41 different cruise companies, and I’ve yet to hit all the big marks – even though testing boats has been a full-time job for years.
One thing to understand is that the list of cruise lines you’ll find here on TPG and on other travel sites includes companies that offer incredible experiences.
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When you think of “cruise,” you probably think of the giant floating megaresorts run by the likes of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line that you see in TV commercials—the kinds of ships that carry thousands of passengers and has all kinds of ships. gee-whiz entertainment on the upper deck.
But the world of cruises includes companies that operate smaller, more intimate ships that carry a few dozen to a few hundred people. These boats have a completely different vibe. They are like little boutique hotels that float around from place to place.
Additionally, you’ll find “expedition” tour companies that offer a completely different type of travel – one that involves going to off-the-beaten-track places like Antarctica in small, rugged boats designed for exploration. . Some tour companies specialize in river cruises, while others operate boats.
If you hear someone say that they will never go on a cruise because the cruise is “too big” or “too crowded,” you’ve just met someone who doesn’t know what’s out there.
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You can travel on a large noisy ship that can carry 6000 people or a small yacht-like ship that can carry 60 people and everything in between.
The cruise industry likes to divide its offerings into anonymous categories, such as “contemporary” and “premium” lines. But for me it’s all about marketing. Just don’t forget it when you see it. After three decades of covering the industry, I like to break things down into the six categories you’ll find below and (in a few cases) multiple categories—each of which appeals to different types of vacationers.
Seven main lines account for most of the North American ships. They are, in order of size (when measured by passenger capacity):
If you are traveling for the first time, you will probably go with one of the above brands – as they dominate the cruise market in North America and the world. As you can read in the latest Royal Caribbean guide, this single brand accounts for nearly 20% of all cruises worldwide. Add the next three biggest players – Carnival, MSC Cruises and Norwegian – and you reach 50% of the cruise business.
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Read more: Ultimate Guide to Norwegian Cruise Lines | Ultimate Guide to Carnival Cruise Line | Ultimate Guide to MSC Cruises
The boating industry likes to label these seven lines as “contemporary” (the first four on the list) or “premium” (the next three on the list). The idea is that the last three brands offer “premium” products to the first four. Such a name is a throwback to the early days of travel that I believe no longer have meaning.
All of these symbols have changed over the years, and the old distinction no longer applies. You can get a “premium” experience in the special The Haven area on Norwegian cruises, for example, which will highlight everything you would experience on a so-called premium cruise. A Royal Caribbean cruise experience can be just as elegant – or more so – as an experience on a Princess cruise.
What all these brands have in common is that they operate a large fleet and market with affordable starting prices. Just keep in mind that the word “great” is relative. These brands have a wide variety of boat sizes. Holland America’s largest ship, for example, is less than half the size of Royal Caribbean’s largest ship and carries fewer passengers.
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In fact, although Holland America ships are “large” compared to many of the luxury, cruise and river cruises that I will discuss in this story, the brand is often referred to as a “midsize” cruise operator. in the industry to distinguish it from the operating line of the largest vessels.
You will also find that the size of the boats within these brands’ fleets can vary greatly. For example, Royal Caribbean’s largest ship is three times larger than its smallest ship.
The important thing to know about the seven “biggies”, as I call them, is that the types of experiences they offer vary greatly. If you are booking a trip for the first time, be aware that the seven lines are not necessarily interchangeable – even in cases where they offer the same price on the same route. You may like one of these brands more than others, depending on your taste and preferences.
Are you a fan of big, crowded megaresorts with all the entertainment known to man? You may want to turn to Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises. These three brands are what I call “floating megaresort lines” – lines that offer unusually large ships that resemble land-based megaresorts like Atlantis in the Bahamas.
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We’re talking boats with seemingly endless mountain fun areas, from water parks and swimming pools to go-kart tracks and laser tag courses, as well as restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, spas, casinos and more. . These ships can hold 5,000 or even 6,000 people, not including the crew.
Royal Caribbean ships like Harmony of the Seas are full of fun, from surfing and pools to giant inflatables and zip lines. ROYAL CARIBBEAN
These are brands designed to appeal to a broad demographic, including families with children of all ages. They offer $100 per night cabins, $1,000 per night cabins and everything in between. The best way to describe them is that they are like a big Las Vegas resort, except they float.
As noted above, the size of each boat used by these brands varies. Generally, the new ships in their fleet are the largest, like megaresorts.
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If a cruise ship that looks like an amusement park isn’t your idea of fun, the best of the big ones are Princess, Holland America and Celebrity. These are what I call “anti-floating megaresort lines”.
Full of water parks, rock climbing walls, surf simulators and everything else that characterizes the floating megaresort line. These are more traditional cruises for people who don’t want to have a floating theme park or Las Vegas experience.
Instead of a lot of entertainment, the top of Princess Cruises ships offer a more casual pool and lounge experience. GOD CRUISES
Instead of being an attraction, the upper decks of these ships provide a place of quiet and relaxation.
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