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2006 Cruise Season Preview:

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With the days so short, cruise-ship brochures are looking mighty enticing.

Luckily, your ship awaits.

More than 4.7 million North Americans took a cruise in the first six months of 2005, up 9 percent from 2004. The new year is expected to set passenger records. It behooves would-be cruisers to book early and to look harder for bargains.

Hot cruise destinations for 2006 are the Mediterranean, Hawaii, Mexico's Pacific coast and Alaska. The Caribbean remains the most sought-after cruise destination, twice as popular as all other destinations combined.

New ships have launched or are about to, including Carnival Liberty, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jewel, Holland America Line's Noordam, Princess Cruises' Crown Princess, Costa Concordia, Norwegian's Pride of America and Pride of Hawaii. In May, the 3,600-passenger Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas will launch, making it the world's largest cruise ship. Its coolest feature? A surfing simulator that lets you hang 10 without leaving the ship.

Today's cruises have one focus: passenger pampering. Fitness activities are a big draw, but food continues to be more important to passengers. When on shore, passengers expect physical challenges.

The average cruise is 7.3 days, up a little from a year ago. Cruisers seem more adventurous, opting to sail farther and for longer periods.

Source: Ellen Creagor, Gannett News Service

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Thanks for the article it just confirms the findings here on Crazies.. we are liking longer crusies, and most still prefer theh Caribbean.

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"The average cruise is 7.3 days, up a little from a year ago."

It's actually a 7 day cruise, and then you spend the .3 waiting to disembark! Ha ha!

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