• Cruise Ship Industry News

    Viking Ocean Cruises’ fleet of six planned ships has now become eight and possibly ten.
    The line and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri have signed a memorandum of agreement for two additional cruise ships, plus an option for two more. The next pair is set to launch in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
    Pending final financing and other closing conditions, the two ships will come online after the already launched Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky. Viking Sun is next set to be introduced in late 2017 followed by Viking Spirit during 2018 and the sixth as-yet-unnamed one in 2019.
    By then, Viking will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line.
    "Our guests and the industry have spoken, and they love the ocean ships that we have built with Fincantieri. In our first year of operation we were named the World’s Best Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure, and we are proud of Viking’s dominance in x’s 2017 Cruisers’ Choice Awards, where we won 10 categories, including ‘Best Overall’ and ‘Best for First-Timers,’” said Torstein Hagen, in a press release.
    “We set out to bring the destination back to cruising, and the cruising public has responded. These additional ships are needed to meet the demand we are experiencing. Once only known for being the leading river cruise line, we are now equally known for upscale, inclusive ocean cruise experiences.
    "As we celebrate our 20th year of operation in 2017, we are pleased to continue innovating and to introduce even more guests to The Viking Way of exploration.”
    According to the release and Cruise Industry News, it is anticipated that Viking will predominate the luxury ocean industry with a market share of 23.9 percent by 2020 on a per berth basis. It’s a statistic that will be further boosted by the extra ships through 2022.
    All the new ships will keep to the successful 47,800-ton, 930-guest design, complete with 465 all-veranda staterooms. Each will feature modern safety and “Safe return to port” systems while upholding the latest navigation standards.
    "The extraordinary moment of the cruise sector is continuing, and with this announcement Fincantieri reaffirms its worldwide leadership in the segment. The series – which began with the Viking Star prototype – reaches eight ships with these additional units, with the possibility to further grow thanks to the expansion plans of this dynamic cruise company,” said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, in a press release.
    “As the worldwide river cruise leader, Viking decided to enter the ocean cruise segment with a startup together with Fincantieri as shipbuilder, achieving great success. We can but consider this agreement as a strategic and commercial success, which allows us to further strengthen our already excellent partnership with Viking Ocean Cruises."
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Viking Ocean
    River cruising is increasing in popularity all the time, with new river cruise vessels launching every year.
    However, if you’ve never been on a river cruise before, you might not know what to expect. It’s definitely different from a traditional ocean excursion, so what else do you need to know?
    Ask A Pro:
    “My best advice is to get a travel professional who has been on a river cruise,” said Candie Steinman, Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist. “This a tough trip to do on your own. If you have not done one, you would not know which river cruise company would best suit your needs or which river to travel on.
    "There are many things included in river pricing that are not included in most ocean options, and that needs to be explained. Many passengers are at first turned off by the higher prices for river, but when you compare everything that is included...river is actually a good value. Often, air rates are very competitive through the river cruise company and the agent can explore that for the new river cruiser.”
    Karen Quinn-Panzer, Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist, emphasized how many choices there are, with notable differences between the top five to six brands and different rivers in Europe, Asia and the U.S.
    “So make sure you talk to a travel agent to learn what works best for you,” she said. “Wine or theme cruise? Which rivers are you most interested in? Do you want a very active river cruise with hiking/biking or one where you can tour the highlights of each port? These are just some of the questions a good agent will ask.”
    Take a Group Tour:
    “When traveling with a group tour, you'll get a far better, less expensive rate," said Greg Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours.  
    "Our tours are all-inclusive, so everything from airfares, to transfers to most meals are included in our price. Traveling smarter with a group on river cruises equates to spending 50%-60% less, yet enjoying the same amazing sights.”
    “Understand your accommodations can vary based on the price level you are at,” said Greg Antonelle, managing director of MickeyTravels LLC.
    “Like regular cruises, hotels, or airline seats, there are value River Cruises and there are high-end river cruises.  Know what you’re looking for prior to booking to avoid any surprises.”
    Book Ahead:
    “Book at least nine months to a year in advance for the best options and pricing,” said Quinn-Panzer.
    Don’t Get Sticker Shock:
    “Many people think the price is high for a river cruise," said Amy Madson, Independent Vacation Specialist with Cruises Inc.  
    "When you consider all the included excursions, beer and wine with meals, intimate ships and a crew who knows you by name, river cruising is good value for this high service, culture-immersive cruise experience.”
    Don’t Worry:
    “You do not need to allow extra time for embarkation and disembarkation because there are no long lines for boarding the river cruise,” said Ronda Zeneri, Land & Cruise Specialist with Cruise Planners.
    “It’s similar to checking in for a hotel stay. Also, you do not need to worry about transportation in the ports because most of the towns are just a few steps away.”
    “If you’ve been afraid to cruise because of seasickness worries, rest assured you won’t get seasick on a river cruise,” said Madson. “The shore is always in sight and there are no real waves on the rivers."
    Be Entertained:
    “One of the biggest differences of river cruising vs. ocean cruising is the entertainment,” said Madson.
    “On river cruises, you won’t find casinos and big production shows. You find amazing local entertainers, such as a couple who will teach you how to waltz in Vienna or an Austrian Folk music group serenading you during dinner.  If you are lucky, the crew will put on a show for you and this will be one of the highlights of your cruise.”
    Get Out and Enjoy: 
    “Take comfortable, walking shoes for the many available tours,” said Zeneri.
    “Enjoy the sites,” said Margie Lenau of Wonderland Family Vacations. “You may only be in a city for a few hours, so don't miss out.”
    “[If] you are flying all the way to Europe, why not stay a few days before and/or after the river cruise to enjoy a little more of Europe?” added Zeneri.
    “Be ready to meet people and share stories,” suggested Madson. “River cruising usually offers an intimate group of 200 or fewer travelers with open seating for dining.  Sit with different people each day, learn their stories and share yours. You may make some amazing friends.”
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Viking River Cruises
    Norwegian Cruise Line announced Wednesday that it would begin employing certified lifeguards at onboard family pools on every ship in its fleet. The American Red Cross-trained and certified lifeguards will be tasked with monitoring family pools during scheduled hours. Passengers will begin seeing the new staff on Norwegian’s four largest ships—the Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic—this summer.
    As for the rest of the cruise line’s fleet, the lifeguards will be hired and in position by early 2018.
    “Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015 and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet,” Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Andy Stuart said in a statement.
    “While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet.”
    The cruise line will also offer complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the company’s four largest ships. Passengers will be able to obtain the safety vests at towel stations on each ship's pool deck during daytime hours.
    In February, Royal Caribbean also announced that it would be adding licensed lifeguards on every ship in its fleet, starting with Oasis of the Seas. The process is expected to be completed by the end of June.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Travel Pulse
    Royal Caribbean International introduced Symphony of the Seas on Wednesday, revealing the long-awaited name and details of its fourth Oasis-class cruise ship.
    With a gross register tonnage of 230,000, it will be the largest cruise ship ever. 
    The cruise line confirmed that Symphony of the Seas will arrive in April 2018 before sailing the Mediterranean in the spring and summer of 2018, making stops in Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Rome and Naples.
    In the fall of 2018, the ship will cross the Atlantic Ocean to its homeport in PortMiami, where Royal Caribbean has just broken ground on the 170,000-square-foot "Crown of Miami" cruise terminal in Terminal A. The cruise line said it will be the most innovative cruise facility in the U.S. when completed.
    Symphony of the Seas will be joined by its sister ship Allure of the Seas in Miami.
    From Miami, Symphony of the Seas will alternate between seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries featuring stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
    Confirmed amenities aboard the 1,188-foot-long ship include a FlowRider surf simulator, an ice skating rink, a rock climbing wall, a Splashaway Bay aqua park, a Vitality at Sea spa and an Ultimate Abyss slide with a new twist.
    Some of the Symphony of the Seas' more than 20 dining options will include Chops Grille, Jamie's Italian, Izumi, Solarium Bistro and Sabor.
    Bookings for the ship's sailings are currently available online, over the phone or via a travel agent. 
    Royal Caribbean plans to announce additional details about the ship in the coming months.
    Symphony of the Seas is currently under construction at STX France in St. Nazaire, France.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Travel Pulse
    On Wednesday, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it has opened escape rooms onboard several of the company’s ships, dubbing the new entertainment experience “Escape The Big Top.”
    For travelers unfamiliar with escape room attractions, passengers sailing with Norwegian will have the opportunity to put their critical thinking skills to the test in a physical adventure game to solve challenges and beat the clock.
    Escape The Big Top will be an onboard carnival that goes wrong, forcing passengers to solve the clues and escape the spell before the time runs out. The event is complimentary for guests and is open to passengers of all ages.
    The escape room experiences will be available several times per cruise and can be found on Norwegian Cruise Line’s four newest ships, including the Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Escape.
     To take part in Norwegian’s escape room attractions, passengers can make their reservations through the box office once they are onboard. Sign up information can be found in each ship’s Freestyle Daily.
    In addition to the new escape rooms, Norwegian features entertainment beyond anything at sea, including Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals, dinner theater experiences from Cirque Dreams, headline comedians, sing-along fun from Howl At The Moon, live music, theme parties, spectacular shows and much more.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Travel Pulse
    Viking River Cruises officially christened its new Viking Hild and Viking Herja at a festive event in Koblenz, Germany yesterday afternoon and extending through the evening.
    The ceremony marks the sixth such launch since 2012, commemorating a staggering total of 48 Longships built in the short period of time. In attendance were Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of parent company Viking Cruises; senior vice president, Karine Hagen, and godmothers Dr. Princess Stephanie Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg and Debbie Wiseman.
    The former christened the Viking Hild, with the latter christening the Viking Herja.
    Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg is the CEO of Weingut Fürst Löwenstein—a winery in Lower Franconia—and fellow steward for Schloss Löwenstein in Kleinheubach, the family’s 1725-built home. As the Longships pass the historic property, Viking presents what it calls a Privileged Access shore excursion for guests to tour the facilities and taste its wines onboard the riverboats and ocean ships.
    Wiseman is an award-winning British composer and conductor whose credits include film and television, as well as Classic FM Live’s Composer in Residence. Viking has commissioned Wiseman to write a new piece of music commemorating the cruise company’s 2017 20th anniversary. She will record it at Abbey Road Studios and premiere it on Classic FM Live at the Royal Albert Hall on April 18, 2017.
    “Two decades ago when we started this company, modern river cruising was still unknown to most travelers. Now 20 years later, we are pleased that most travelers know river cruising, and they know Viking as a household name,” said Torstein Hagen, in a release.
    “The naming of a new ship by a ceremonial godmother is a sacred maritime tradition. We are honored that the godmothers of our two new Longships are also important partners who will help us deliver thoughtful and enriching experiences for Viking guests this year.”
    Now that the two ships have been christened, they are set to begin carrying their first official guests on March 20, 2017. We are currently aboard the Viking Hild for a 5-night preview sailing, and the new vessel exhibits the same innovative Longship design first introduced by the Viking Odin in 2012. Since then, there have been subtle changes, but the efficient layout remains to better accommodate each’s 190 passengers in great comfort and unpretentious style.
    A full review of the riverboat is forthcoming.
    The Viking Hild will soon depart on the line’s new Paris-to-the-Swiss Alps itinerary along the Rhine River in the spring, and both the Hild and the Viking Herja will later embark on classic Danube Waltz and Rhine Getaway sailings.
    Altogether, Viking Cruises operates 60 vessels for its Viking River Cruises brand and three ships for its Viking Ocean Cruises label. While there are options for additional river builds, no more have yet been ordered, but another three ocean ships are set to come online through 2020.
    In the meantime, Viking also just announced it has purchased a riverboat for cruises in Egypt; it will be updated with the line’s understated but warm decor to be consistent with the rest of the fleet. That craft will begin operations next March along the Nile. What’s more, the line’s Ukraine ship is set to come back online soon, and the company’s Douro Longships are now fully under the company’s control.
    The existing Viking Odin and Viking Freya have also been customized for the China market and will start Mandarin-speaking voyages on March 28, 2017. Additionally, Viking continues to pursue eventual entry into U.S. river cruising along the Mississippi.
    When asked about lessons learned from the new ocean ships (for features or programming) to roll back to the riverboats, Torstein Hagen remarked that its expanded dining choice among alternative restaurants at sea provides a good model for how cuisine might be broadened along the river as well. Already, the signature Freyja Collection of toiletries from the Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky have replaced the former L’Occitane ones on the Viking Hild and beyond.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Travel Pulse
    Traveling costs money, but there are ways that you can cut back on your expenses and leave more cash for your next trip.
    Schedule at the right time: “The best way to save money when traveling is simply to schedule your trip at the right time,” said Anthony Tucker, All Inclusive Outlet. “Your destination may be in the middle of a season that is different from your home, so that can affect the rates for both transportation and accommodations. Seasonal rates vary depending on where you’re headed, so be sure to do your research to determine the best time of year for your chosen destination.”
    Book early: “At least nine months in advance if you can,” said Margie Lenau of Wonderland Vacations. “However, do not book until you are sure of your travel plans. There are change fees that can add up and cost you more in the long run.”
    Bring snacks: “I always take packets of instant oatmeal with me,” said Lenau. “It saves money on breakfasts or a snack, and I won't go hungry. All you need is hot water, which is readily available at most places.”
    Go all-in: Tucker explained that staying at an all-inclusive property is one of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck while traveling abroad. “While some may shy at the initial cost, keep in mind that all-inclusive resorts come with countless amenities to ensure your stay is comfortable and enjoyable,” he said. “An all-inclusive provides not only a great room to stay in, but also most (if not all) of your meals, beverages, and many onsite activities like snorkeling lessons and food tastings. The flat rate for an all-inclusive can be much easier to budget with, rather than having to account for small expenses here and there that can certainly add up.”
    Focus on preferences: “You can also save money by focusing on vacation preferences rather than a specific destination while planning,” said Mark Noennig, executive vice president at The Mark Travel Corporation. “Rather than being dead-set on a specific place, explore travel options by activity, theme and culinary preferences.”
    Book with a travel agent: “We always advise that people book with a travel agent,” said Noennig. “Contrary to what some people would probably assume, recent research by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) showed that agents could save consumers an average of $452 per trip. Travel agents have the optimal amount of experience and knowledge needed to build the best package possible, regardless of the budget.”
    Stick to a budget: “Once your trip is finalized, make sure to decide on a budget and stick to it,” said Noennig. “Planning your activities ahead of the trip through your travel agent can minimize unexpected in-destination expenses. That way you can manage how much money you and your family are willing to spend before you ever step foot on a plane, which can help make trips a lot less stressful. Pre-established budgets and plans let you focus on fun instead of your wallet.”
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay Free Images
    Yet another ship has reemerged from Carnival Cruise Line with several of the company’s latest venues. This time around, the Carnival Ecstasy has received Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, Alchemy Bar and Cherry On Top.
    With the newly improved Carnival Ecstasy out, half of the Fantasy-class ships have received the brand’s newest Fun Ship 2.0 features. The Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration were first to receive them, and only the Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise have yet to.
    The new spaces on Carnival Ecstasy were added during a multi-million-dollar, two-week dry dock from January 10-24, 2017 in Freeport, The Bahamas.
    The BlueIguana Cantina now complements the BlueIguana Tequila Bar with free Mexican cuisine in the form of custom-made burritos and tacos wrapped in fresh tortillas and topped from an extensive salsa bar. Meanwhile, Guy’s Burger Joint now sits across from the RedFrog Rum Bar where guests can enjoy complimentary gourmet burgers and fries from Food Network personality Guy Fieri.
    Plus, the Alchemy Bar newly prescribes cocktails from the pharmacy-themed space with signature drinks such as Forty is the New Twenty and The Restorative Basil Drop. Also, Cherry On Top is the source for bulk candy as well as other gifts and custom apparel.
    The Carnival Ecstasy is based year-round in Charleston, South Carolina departing on 4- to 7-day cruises to The Bahamas and Caribbean. The ship will also embark on one of the line’s special Carnival Journeys sailings for 10 days to the Caribbean on November 5-15, 2017.
    Next up from Carnival Cruise Line to be updated is the Carnival Dream as it enters dry-dock on January 29, 2017 to receive the Alchemy Bar, Pizzeria del Capitano, Guy's Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Cantina, Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que and Bonsai Sushi. And among the remaining Fantasy-class ships, the Carnival Sensation is scheduled to get Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Alchemy Bar, Cherry On Top and Camp Ocean in February 9-22, 2017.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Travel Pulse
    On Thursday, Viking Ocean Cruises announced the company had taken the delivery of its newest ship, the Viking Sky. The Viking Sky becomes the third ship in the Viking Ocean Cruises fleet, and the delivery ceremony took place at Fincantieri's shipyard in Ancona, Italy. The ship’s maiden voyage will begin Feb. 25, departing from Rome's port at Civitavecchia and sailing through the Mediterranean.
    Following sailings in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, the Viking Sky will make its way to Norway for the official christening on June 22 in Tromso. From there, it will continue her maiden season in Scandinavia and the Baltic, before eventually heading over to the Americas and the Caribbean.
    “In the past two years, we have been encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response our first two ocean ships have generated among our guests and travel industry partners,” Chairman of Viking Cruises Torstein Hagen said in a statement. “Today we mark an important milestone in welcoming the third ship to our fleet.”
    “By the end of 2017 – our 20th year in business – we will also welcome our fourth ship, doubling our fleet in less than a year,” Hagen continued. “With our fast-growing fleet and innovative design, we look forward to introducing even more experienced travelers to The Viking Way of destination-focused itineraries in the years to come.”
    The new all-veranda Viking Sky is a sister ship to the Viking Star and Viking Sea, which launched in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Each of the ships boasts a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, is equipped with 465 staterooms and accommodate 930 guests.
    Viking Ocean Cruises also announced that its next ship, the Viking Sun, will spend her maiden season sailing the company's first-ever World Cruise. The voyage will last 141 days and reach five continents, 35 countries and 66 ports.
    In 2018, the company’s fifth ship, the Viking Spirit, will join the Viking Ocean Cruises fleet and sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A yet-to-be-named sixth ship is expected to be delivered in 2019.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of J. Leppert, Travel Pulse
    Have you always wanted to take a cruise, but a few concerns have been a hangup? Let’s debunk the most common cruise travel myths once and for all.
    Cruise Ships Are Unsafe
    Accidents can occur anywhere, but to the contrary of the myth, cruise travel is statistically safer than air travel—the golden benchmark for safety. If you as a passenger use common sense and are mindful of your own personal safety, you’ll have nothing to worry about onboard.
    Seasickness Is Almost a Given
    Ships do move with the motion of the ocean but not nearly as much as you might think. Newer, larger vessels are more stable than their predecessors, and certain routes and times of the year are calmer than others. Consider inlet voyages or a river cruise and avoid stormy seasons if you’re concerned.
    Cruise Ships Are Viral Breeding Grounds
    Thanks to the mainstream media’s undue attention given towards Norovirus, everyone has surely heard of the gastrointestinal bug, but outbreaks are statistically rare onboard, and you can protect yourself by simply regularly washing your hands.
    Quarters Are Cramped
    Contemporary cruise ships tout larger cabins or at least better-outfitted ones with more-efficient use of space. Expectedly, they will not be as large as shoreside equivalents at a hotel, but they are still very comfortable, and larger suites are available for those who would prefer.
    Decks and Public Spaces Are Overcrowded
    Sometimes, popular areas onboard can become busier, but there are usually plenty of other places to go for a quiet retreat. Look for higher passenger-space ratios for cruise ships with more available room per guest.
    It Will Just Be a Booze Cruise
    The drunken debauchery once associated with cruises has thankfully died down. They are far more intellectual now and well behaved accordingly. If you want to avoid any element of weekenders, seven-day or longer sailings are ideal.
    There’s Nothing to Do Onboard
    In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. As cruise ships get bigger, the abundance of activity, entertainment and dining options rapidly expand with them. You will absolutely not be bored onboard.
    Cruise Ships Are Isolated from the Destination
    Cruise ships are, in a way, destinations unto themselves, but they do still sail to actual international ports-of-call, allowing every passenger the opportunity to explore ashore or stay onboard as much or as little as they please.
    Cruises Are Too Expensive
    There was a time when cruise travel was pricier, but with a massive amount of cruise lines and ships now in the market, per berth rates have decreased significantly, making cruising one of the best values in travel.
    Cruises Are for the Newly Wed and Nearly Dead
    As the cruise industry evolves, so too does its demographic. Cruise ships do remain a great option for honeymooners, but the average age of cruisers has dropped substantially. In fact, the passenger quantity of Millennials and Generation Z is beginning to match and now exceed that of Boomers and Generation X.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of 
    (Article courtesy of Travel Pulse, "Resort for a Day: How to Take a Caribbean Beach Day Like a Boss")
    When you take a cruise to the Caribbean, you want to make the most of your time in the sun.
    For me, this means getting to the sands and blue waters.
    I'm talking about a beach day, that classic excursion most cruisers crave when they reach the islands.
    You have several options.
    Book a beach excursion on your ship. These can be pricey and crowded. You pay a premium for the convenience of booking onboard, and you probably will be traveling to and from the beach resort with hordes of others loaded onto coaches. Plus, your schedule is likely to be extremely structured and allow for a shorter time ashore than you would like.
    Or stroll off the ship, snag a taxi and tell the driver to take you to the best beach on the island. This can work out well for the adventurous traveler, but it also can be a bit sketchy. Some drivers can be unreliable, won't charge a fair price or drop you off with no way to get back to the ship.
    You also can find a kiosk or hawker in port rounding up cruisers looking for a snorkeling trip or beach outing. I like to try this sometimes because you can often get together with a group of fellow cruisers and negotiate a deal for a shuttle van to the beach (or a tour of the island or however you want to customize your excursion). This can be affordable but won't include any extras.
    How about if you want an all-inclusive, no-hassle reasonably priced beach day?
    On a recent sailing on Carnival Vista, I discovered the company Resort for a Day and used its Curacao day pass for my time in port there. I joined a group of about 20 people who were taking the excursion, and we were shuttled about 30 minutes from the port in Willemstad to Santa Barbara Beach Resort.
    The resort is one of 20 offered by Resort for a Day, a World Travel Holdings Inc. company. Resort for a Day features properties in popular cruise destinations like Cozumel, Barbados, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, St. Lucia and St. Kitts. (One is coming soon in Kauai.)
    The most popular resort is Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas. We'll chat about this playland in a bit.
    In Curacao, at Santa Barbara Beach Resort, we quickly found our beach rhythm. We soon were indulging in all the resort goodness: stretches of sand, swimming pools, food and drink. For $114, you get round-trip transportation, unlimited food from the poolside restaurant Splash, which serves appetizers like fish tacos, wings and nachos and meals like half-pound burgers, Caesar salads, paninis and pulled pork sandwiches. Drinks are included, too. We enjoyed sodas, local beers, margaritas and frozen cocktails.
    The beach is just steps from the pool area. Bring along your snorkel gear and jump right in, or you can rent snorkels and other watersports gear like kayaks and standup paddleboards. Hiking trails, golfing and bike rentals also are available.
    Our Curacao resort was a blast. But not all Resort for a Day properties are all-inclusive, and some don't include transfers to and from your ship. Each resort offers a different package, so pricing differs because of this, ranging from $60 to about $120 per person for the excursions.
    Resort for a Day sells about 20 to 40 passes at the properties depending on whether it's high season or low season, and you'll have a full day to play -- six to eight hours. The excursions are available for cruise passengers only and can be reserved online.  
    Atlantis Resort is such a big attraction with so much to do that it stands alone in the Resort for a Day portfolio. A higher number of passes are available at Atlantis than for the other resorts, but they still sell out quickly, says Lynn Walters, the manager of day passes for cruisers.
    You'll find seven different options for passes to Atlantis, ranging from simple tours to the best deal: a $194 combo pass that includes lunch, a dolphin swimming encounter and an Aquaventure pass that allows you to experience the waterslides, rivers slides, Dig Aquarium, marine habitats and pool area with loungers and towels.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Resort for a Day
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    Program Schedule Announced for the Hungry Girl Cruise!
    Exciting news! The full itinerary for the Official Hungry Girl Cruise (setting sail January 28th) is now available! Learn how to end the battle with the scale (finally!) from Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien herself, all while experiencing the Eastern Caribbean aboard a luxury Holland America cruise. Nearly 3 million email subscribers and social media followers eagerly await Hungry Girl's recipes, food finds, and tips & tricks each weekday. This is your chance to get face-to-face weight-management guidance from the guru of guilt-free eating! Get the scoop on the schedule below, and book your spot ASAP -- space is limited! 
    Saturday: Depart Ft. Lauderdale
    4pm: Sail-Away Party - Meet Lisa, the Hungry Girl crew, and your fellow HG cruisers!
    Sunday: At Sea
    9am: Intimate Interview with Lisa + Cruise-Ship Eating Strategies - A look inside the mind of Hungry Girl, plus how to enjoy vacation without gaining weight!
    3pm: Swap 'Til You Drop - Lisa serves up calorie-saving swaps and TONS of recipe ideas! 
    Monday: Turks & Caicos
    8am: Arrive in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos - Quiet beaches, spectacular for diving, snorkeling, and sailing.
    10pm: Hungry Girl Karaoke Dance Party - After a day on the island, sing, dance, and have a blast!
    Tuesday: Puerto Rico
    9am: Hungry Girl Around the World + Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Look at Hungry Girl - Survival strategies for every type of cuisine! Plus, Lisa’s also got the scoop on the secrets of HG recipe creation, and a video tour of Hungryland.
    1pm: Arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico - Historic-town exploration by day; glittering casinos and clubs by night.
    Wednesday: St. Thomas
    8am: Arrive in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands - A shopaholic's dream. Plus, glimmering bays, clear blue water, and powdery sand beaches.
    Thursday: At Sea
    9am: How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever - Lisa teaches a master class in weight management, Hungry Girl style!
    3pm: Makeup Mania with Jackie - Learn to maximize your natural beauty from one of the industry's top makeup artists, Jackie Mgido!
    7pm: Selfie-Happy Happy Hour - Sip cocktails, snap selfies, and party it up!
    Friday: Bahamas
    7am: Arrive at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas - A private crescent-shaped bay with white-sand beaches. Swimming, snorkeling, glass-bottom boat rides, and more.
    3:30pm: Hungry Girl Book Signing, Q&A, and Trivia - Get your (free!) book signed by Lisa, ask her all your Qs, and win exclusive goodies.
    Morning Workouts * Deckwalking * Spa * Exclusive Hungry Girl Gifts * Restaurants * Casino * Shows * Boutiques * Bars * Pools * Live Music
    For more information about the Official Hungry Girl Cruise, visit cruise.hungry-girl.com!
    Exact schedule and events are subject to change.
    The cruise industry may be all abuzz about specialty restaurants, but complimentary main dining rooms are still wonderful culinary options. Many of them also happen to be spectacularly well designed venues, so here is our list of the seven most beautiful at sea.
    Britannia Restaurant, Queen Mary 2, Cunard Line
    Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 is already a gem as the last true ocean liner afloat today, and its Britannia Restaurant similarly hearkens back to a time of vintage glamour on the high seas with its art deco sconces, maritime wall tapestry and vaulted curved skylight ceiling. The ship’s unique mezzanine levels even ensure the room is three decks tall but wonderfully terraced to spread seating across only two.
    The Dining Room, Koningsdam, Holland America Line
    When hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany designed Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, he took inspiration from music, and The Dining Room is an elegant space exhibiting curved structural ribbing reminiscent of the braces inside a hollow acoustic instrument. The space is also pleasantly brighter than previous Holland America ships with an unexpected but harmonious color combination of merlot and yellow offsetting the cream paneling.
    Grand Dining Room, Riviera, Oceania Cruises
    The Grand Dining Room aboard Oceania Cruises’ Riviera is striking for appearing wide open thanks to bright whites and an abundance of crystal lighting. The room is architecturally classy with a high ceiling that contributes to the overall finesse of the ship and its exquisite dining as a whole.
    The Manhattan Room, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Cruise Line
    The Manhattan Room on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape is handsomely arranged as a supper club with a central dance floor and double-decker opening overlooking the ship’s stern. A bright wall of windows lets natural light pour in over the elegant art deco details and rich wood paneling in a timeless manner.
    The Restaurant, Seabourn Quest, Seabourn
    For being the smallest venue and ship on the list, Seabourn’s The Restaurant on Seabourn Quest is a spacious dining room nonetheless. Occupying the full width of the vessel, the airy space has an array of bright windows on either side and flowing white drapes that swoop up into large ceiling vaults in the deck above.
    The Restaurant, Viking Sea, Viking Ocean Cruises
    Unlike most main dining rooms that are centrally focused, The Restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Sea is intentionally positioned along the windows with the galley displacing the core. What’s more, the windows are actually sliding patio doors that open to the surrounding promenade deck to provide diners with an al fresco option as weather allows.
    Tiana’s Place, Disney Wonder, Disney Cruise Line
    The Disney Cruise Line recently remodeled one of Disney Wonder’s rotational dining rooms to the theme of the animated film “Princess and the Frog,” and the result is the stunning Tiana’s Place. The festive atmosphere includes everything from a live jazz band and appearances by Tiana herself to narrative easter egg details along the walls and in the plates as the frog prince is cleverly seen wearing a crown by the end of the meal.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of Holland America Lines

    By Jason, in Articles,

    For anyone who’s enjoyed the pleasures of cruise travel, they’ll know that there are a few items that should always be packed in order to make the trip as enjoyable, memorable and relaxing as possible.
    Although mainstream cruise lines allow a little leeway in terms of how much we can take on board, it can still be a struggle. So here’s a few essential items that can save you space whilst maximising your enjoyment.
    Most cruise ships have swimming pools, so be sure to take some hanging clips with you so that you can hang your swimsuits out to dry in the shower. And regardless of what sized bags you have, always be sure to roll your clothes as it gives you more space and limits the amount of creasing that your clothes receive.
    And don’t forget to take a small pool bag so that that your books and smartphones don’t get splashed whilst poolside. Similarly, taking a few plastic ziplock bags means that you can take a few snacks from the buffet for a late-night feast!
    Travelling around different countries means that we can often have plenty of passports, itineraries and documents to carry with us. So be sure to take a photograph of all of your important documents and print it off so that you have all of the relevant information should you misplace your wallet.
    Getting a decent power extension lead for your cabin is also essential for making sure that your cameras, iPods, eReaders and smartphones are all fully charged so that you can relax in style.
    And smartphones are a real life-saver on a long cruise, as they’ll not only allow you to show off your sunbathing selfies to the family back home, but they’ll also allow you to claim your sign-up bonus from Lucky Nugget Casino and play glamorous casino games like roulette from your bunk - much more luxurious than those noisy slot machines that some cruise ships have on board!
    Other items that can make your cabin feel a little more glamorous include bringing a little night-light or even a few fake tealight candles to spare you the unpleasant atmosphere that the overhead artificial lights create.
    And finally, one of the biggest challenges is working out what to put in your carry on luggage and what to put in the hold. So the best bet is to put at least two or three days worth of essential clothes in your carry-on luggage just in case either goes astray so that you can enjoy those online casino games without too much stress!
    3rd of a Series, by Travel Pulse
    In a series of cruise travel basic articles, we’ve already looked at how to best select a cruise line and choose a specific cruise ship. The next step is to determine just where it is you want to sail to, and deciding on a destination is dependent on a few more factors than you might initially be aware of.
    If you selected a cruise line with a massive fleet of ships like Carnival Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean International, chances are it will be easy to head for any mainstream cruise destination and find a vessel that sails there. However, if you’re keen to cruise on the newest ships from any such company, they will frequently be deployed to the most popular areas in the world. More often than not, new vessels built in Europe start out in the Mediterranean and Baltic but soon end up in the Caribbean.
    If, on the other hand, you’ve chosen a small-scale line like Azamara Club Cruises, for example, you will be limited to traveling only where its two ships are going at any given time.
    Then you also have to consider seasonality. The Caribbean and Europe have ships deployed to the region year-round, but others like Alaska and the Baltic have cruise ships visiting only during certain months during ideal weather conditions. Then again, regions that can be frigid during the winter like Norway still have lines like Hurtigruten visiting year-round, making Northern Lights viewing an option for the heartiest travelers in wintertime.
    Seasonal destinations will also not feature every class of ship that cruise lines offer sent there. With some exceptions, niche Canada and New England, for instance, generally receives smaller older vessels whereas Alaska is more popular and has newer larger vessels deployed there. Many mainstream lines participate annually in these area, but ones with smaller fleets tend to skip for several years.
    World Cruises
    For those wanting to see the best of every destination, world cruises are the way to go, but like seasonal destinations, lines are likely to deploy one of their mid-sized or smaller vessels of an earlier vintage on such extended itineraries. Breaking that rule, however, will be Viking Ocean Cruises when it sends one of its brand-new ships on the route.
    Remote Regions
    If you’ve been there, done that; plenty of more obscure destinations are reachable by expedition ships that extend well beyond the usual likes of, say, the Mediterranean. Silversea Expeditions, for instance, goes to the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic.
    In Reverse
    Alternatively, if you have a very specific destination or port in mind, in may be better to reverse engineer your overall cruise choice. Rather than starting by selecting a cruise line and then a destination, you may have to book from a shorter list of ships that actually call there.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Photo: Courtesy of J. Neves
    Travelers with knee, hip or other joint replacements have another reason to hate flying: airport security. 
    When being discharged from the hospital last December after a total knee replacement, one important piece of advice was missing from the pile of recovery plan papers I received from the staff, that is - how to get through airport security without setting off the alarm and the resulting embarrassing pat-down, both of which have happened to me at one time or another in the months since my surgery. A member of airport security in Boston recently offered me some helpful advice which I hope will assist other "bionic" travelers at the airport.
    There used to be a time when the doctor would give you a note to show at airport security making them aware of your joint hardware. This is no longer the case, as TSA won't accept it as evidence of body metal. In fact most physicians rarely bother to offer a note. Whether you have a note from your doctor or even display your surgical scar to the security agent makes no difference. When you pass through the metal detector, the alarm will sound, and you will require a full and thorough pat-down (VERY thorough, if you get my drift). To avoid humiliation, try the following tricks:
    If there is the option for a full body scanner, choose it, as it will be much easier. There is no need to announce your artificial joint to security personnel. While metal will still be detected, the scanner will clearly show that the metal is in the bone. If a full body scanner is not available, be sure to tell a security agent that you have joint hardware BEFORE going through the metal detector. They may still direct you through the machine or they may direct you to another area for further screening. Either way, any resulting wand detector, frisk or light pat down will most likely be minimal and less intrusive. In the unlikely event you still find yourself undergoing a full pat down, ask for a privacy screening and assert your preference for a male or female screener.  Patients undergoing joint replacement have enough issues to worry about. Airport security shouldn't be one of them.
    Article by Jan N., CruiseCrazies Member and Authorized Agent - Seven Sea Journeys
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Oceania Cruises revealed Tuesday that it's set to become the only luxury cruise line to homeport in New York City.
    Beginning next year, Miami-based Oceania Cruises' 680-plus-passenger Insignia will sail more than 20 voyages from Manhattan's 48th street terminal.
    Notable overnight ports of call will include New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Reykjavik, Iceland; St. George, Bermuda and Hamilton, Bermuda, among others.
    2017 highlights include three 10-day roundtrip cruises to New England, Canada and Bermuda, an 11-day Seaside Medley sailing, four 10-day open-jaw cruises from New York to Montreal and one 15-day North Atlantic cruise from Reykjavik to the Big Apple.
    Popular ports of call on the 2017 cruises will include Newport, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine and Halifax, Nova Scotia, among others.
    Available starting Nov. 16, notable 2018 voyages will include a 14-day Caribbean Palette cruise sailing from Miami to New York and a series of 10-day roundtrip and open-jaw cruises to New England, Canada and Bermuda departing in the second half of the year.
    The 2018 Caribbean cruises departing in July will make stops in Santa Marta, Colombia; Oranjested, Aruba; Kralendijk, Bonaire: St George’s, Grenada; Castries, St Lucia; Roseau, Dominica and St George, Bermuda.
    "Insignia offers an acclaimed culinary experience that rivals the best restaurants ashore as well as an irresistible blend of culturally rich and fascinating destinations. Combined with her elegance, sophistication and luxurious Canyon Ranch Spa Club, Oceania Cruises' Insignia is the perfect match for New York and New York is the perfect match for Oceania Cruises," said the cruise line's president and CEO Bob Binder in a statement.
    Article Courtesy of Patrick Clarke/Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Oceania Cruises
    In celebration of Veteran’s Day, several Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) member brands are offering special discounts and programs to military members and veterans, and a sampling of details from the main brands is outlined below.
    “From the sunny beaches of the Caribbean to the storybook villages of France, cruise vacations offer a unique way for our country’s honored servicemen and women to see the beauty of the world solo or with family and friends,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “The cruise industry is proud to offer programs to help make these one-of-a-kind travel experiences as attainable as ever.”
    Carnival Cruise Line
    Carnival Cruise Line is offering savings, upgrades and onboard credits to active and retired members of the military. The special amounts to a $50 shipboard credit per cabin, complimentary two-category accommodations upgrade and 50 percent reduced deposit; all of which can be combined with Carnival’s military rates and extended to two additional cabin bookings. The promotion is available through November 14, 2016, applicable to 3- to 15-day sailings embarking between January 2017 and April 2018.
    Cunard Line and Princess Cruises
    Both Cunard Line and Princess Cruises are extending extra spending cash to military members year-round, with Princess offering $250 credit towards onboard and shore excursion expenses and Cunard providing extra credit good for spa treatments, cocktails, etcetera when reserved fourteen days ahead of time. 
    Disney Cruise Line
    Also year-round, Disney Cruise Line offers a changing weekly selection of sailings with special military rates. Currently, fares begin at $245 per person, per night on the December 16, 2016 3-night Bahamas cruise aboard the Disney Dream.
    MSC Cruises
    MSC Cruises provides military members, spouses, parents, parents-in-law and dependent personnel at least a 10 percent discount off balcony, suite and MSC Yacht Club cabins and at least a 5 percent discount off interior and ocean-view staterooms. Plus, there is no limit to the amount of rooms that can be booked, and there is no penalty to missing a cruise due to redeployment or revocation of leave. A 100% full cruise credit can be applied to a future date.
    Norwegian Cruise Line
    Norwegian Cruise Line also offers up to 10 percent in savings for military members and their families good towards select sailings, and the brand continues to extend its Free at Sea specials to all travelers.
    Royal Caribbean International
    Extending benefits to civilian traveling companions as well, Royal Caribbean International lets military spouses make a discounted reservation for all in the stateroom if the member is traveling with them. The line even extends special rates to spouses of deceased military members. Similar military specials also apply to select sailings onboard corporate cousins Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
    Article Courtesy of Jason Leppert/Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Pixabay
    Come November 10, 2016, Disney Cruise Line will reintroduce the Disney Wonder to the fleet with new improvements, and we’ll be onboard to share them all with you. Until then, let’s take a look at what work has been done to the ship before her next grand unveiling.
    Gene Sloan at USA Today got a sneak peek at the ship being remodeled during its extensive September 9 to October 23 dry-dock in Cadiz, Spain, showing a little of what went on to soon bring new venues to life. Most significantly, the kids facilities, one of the three main dining rooms and adults-only spaces were retooled.

    “Frozen” will be integrated into Disney’s Oceaneer Club for ages 3 to 12 and open to all ages during select open house hours to check out. The new Frozen Adventures space we now know will feature Wandering Oaken’s, the trading post from the amusing character known for his signature “woo hoo” call.
    “Frozen” will also make its way onboard the Disney Wonder in the form of a brand new production show. The 977-seat Walt Disney Theatre will host "Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” and hit numbers like "For the First Time in Forever," "Love is an Open Door," "In Summer" and "Fixer Upper” sung by Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and more.
    The kids club will also see the addition of Marvel and Pixar properties as Spider-Man is introduced at sea along with his web shooters, Captain America’s World War II shield, Iron Man’s helmet and Black Widow’s gauntlets on display. Also, Andy’s Room will be a new “Toy Story”-themed multi-level play structure, and up on deck, the AquaLab, Twist ‘n’ Spout slide and Dory’s Reef toddler splash area will activate new water fun.
    All together, the enhancements to the Disney Wonder mimic those made to its Disney Magic sister-ship a few years ago such as the conversion of Route 66 into the chic After Hours district just for adults. However, this time around, the ship will not receive the AquaDunk plunging water slide added to the Magic, and according to what deck plans show, neither will the atrium see the removal of one of its symmetrical staircases.
    In fact, since the Disney Magic saw its major changes, that ship has since added the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique retail makeover experience and Concierge Lounge, as well as displaced its video arcade for the newly located Edge tween club, and it now looks like the Disney Wonder has made these modifications, some of which were previously unannounced.
    Of course, the changeout of Parrot Cay for the fresh Tiana’s Place restaurant and many more new features were already anticipated, along with the expected duck tail added to the stern, and we’ll soon be sharing them all here in our own photos, video and detailed evaluation.
    Article Courtesy of Jason Leppert/Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Please visit CruiseCrazies.com for more cruise news & articles.
    Featured photo credit: Travel Pulse/Disney Cruise Line
    Second in a series by Travel Pulse
    In the first of an ocean Cruising 101 series, we outlined what to consider to choose a cruise line or brand best suited to your personality and budget, but that’s only part of the picture. Within each cruise line there can be up to 25 individual ships, like in Carnival Cruise Line’s expansive fleet, in which to select from.
    Here are some additional guidelines to point you in the right direction.
    In regards to a specific ship selection, the things you’ll want to primarily focus on are vessel size and capacity, its modernity and the specific features and style onboard. Of course, fleets are ever changing as new ships come online and older ones are transitioned out, so be sure to do your research.
    The size of a ship is generally and indicator of its capacity and class. Some cruise lines have only one class of ship – that is a single design or at least basic layout usually repeated as several sister ships – like Viking Ocean Cruises’ new Venice-class ships, the identical 930-guest Viking Star and Viking Sea. Royal Caribbean International, on the other hand, has 8 classes of ships, ranging in size from the one 1,840-passenger Empress of the Seas Empress-class ship to the three over 6,000-passenger Oasis-class ones led by the largest cruise ship in the world, the Harmony of the Seas.
    Needless to say, by capacity alone, you are likely to have a very different experience cruising together with several hundred passengers or less versus thousands.
    More often than not, the size of the ship is an indicator of its age as well. Generally, the larger ships are also the newer ones, but some new ones like Viking’s are trending smaller.
    While a small ship is not likely to have all the bells and whistles of a larger one, older ones are not necessarily passé. In order for cruise line’s to sustain interest in their existing fleets, they have spent million of dollars updating them over the years to be as consistent across the board as their size will allow.
    Of course, a larger ship will spatially be able to accommodate a greater list of features which are sure to attract those looking for the most to do, but less can be more if you prefer a classic relaxed atmosphere focused more on the destination than elaborate onboard attractions.
    Again, it comes down to which feature set best suits your personality. Regardless of their overall size, one thing that is more common on newer ships are more comfortable private accommodations, namely larger bathrooms and showers.
    If there’s one last thing to consider, it’s specific style. Sister ships within a class can often be identical from one vessel to the next, but subtle to obvious differences can also exist. The best thing to look at are the deck plans for each ship to see if any particular layout is more to your liking. Also, photos and videos of each ship will show off the aesthetic of each. Carnival Cruise Line ships, for instance, vary greatly in their theme.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News 
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    (1st of a Series, by Travel Pulse)
    For cruising veterans, it may seem obvious how to choose the best cruise line for your vacation, but for newbies, it’s the crucial first step and begins by asking the right questions.
    To start, ask: What is my budget and what is my traveling personality?
    There are four main categories of cruise line quality increasing in cost in order of standard ones, premium ones, upscale ones and luxury ones, and in each category, there are a number of different lifestyles to be expected onboard each individual line.
    The guidelines below are merely a loose primer, that for the sake of this exercise excludes boutique and adventure lines, and researching those brands in your budget more extensively will point you to the one best suited to your tastes.
    Mainstream cruise brands like Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International fit into the standard quality category, and while many are similar, they do each have their own personalities that may or may not match your own. Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean are fun casual options with MSC Cruises and Princess Cruises being a bit more refined.
    Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line and arguably Disney Cruise Line make up the premium category of cruise brands for offering a step up in overall quality of service, dining and more. Of course, Disney is going to be more family-friendly whereas Cunard will be far more formal and traditional. Meanwhile, Celebrity and Holland America are both known for great cuisine.
    For an upscale experience, the likes of Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises near luxury quality for a lower price and are thus known for offering a fantastic value. Viking is raising the bar for this category overall while Oceania is the leader in fine dining and Azamara excels in entertainment.
    Then luxury brands like Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises lead the pack as the best of the best. All-inclusive is the name of the game onboard these, which are altogether very similar, with Regent perhaps being the most inclusive of the bunch.
    Another question to ask: where do you want to go?
    Not all cruise lines go to every desired port of call, or at least not with regular frequency. Upscale and luxury lines have smaller fleets and spread their ships around internationally, and standard and premium lines usually follow seasonal deployments in regions such as Alaska, Canada/New England and Europe while often having a year-round presence in the Caribbean. Plus, it’s good to remember that specific destinations affect fares as well. For example, Alaska commands a premium price that can tip the scales of perceived cruise line value.
    One last question to ask is: Who will you be traveling with? 
    An elderly couple that might ordinarily sail on a luxury line might be better off on Norwegian Cruise Line when with their children and grandchildren. That way they can stay in the line’s luxurious Haven ship-within-a-ship complex while the younger generations are happily tended to in less-expensive stateroom categories.
    Article Courtesy Travel Pulse and Seven Sea Journeys/News  Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more.
    Featured photo credit: Travel Pulse/Thinkstock
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