With so many different types of cruises out there, not to mention destinations, our guide will help you choose the right type of cruise for you.
Want to set sail on an enormous, floating hotel featuring pools, waterslides, restaurants galore and nightly gala performances? Then ocean cruising is for you.
Cruise liners tend to be big and can carry thousands of passengers. They often provide children's programs and activities, 24-hour dining, shopping, late-night entertainment, and days spent travelling through endless seascapes. On the down side, liners can be crowded, with queues for embarking and debarking at ports. While ocean cruises may offer cheaper base fares, they also tend to charge for extras, such as the cost of visiting ports.
River cruising generally involves smaller ships with fewer passengers and amenities than ocean liners. You're unlikely to get extensive entertainment options or access to swimming pools and will probably have set meal times. There are smaller crowds and queues than on ocean liners, less likelihood of sea-sickness, and river cruises tend to be truly all-inclusive.
River cruises mostly travel at night, reaching a new place every day, meaning more time to visit different destinations. Scenery on a river cruise changes more regularly, and ports of call tend to be the main attraction rather than the ship itself, as it is on an ocean liner.
You can take a river cruise along the Danube and the Rhine in Europe, the Yangtze in China, the Chobe in Africa, the Lower Ganges in India, Alaska's inland waterways or the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia, among others. Find out more in our guide to top cruising destinations.
If you're looking to cruise alone, there are several options available. Some cruise liners offer single-occupancy cabins, and some don't charge a solo supplement, while others facilitate cruise groups for solo travellers. Look for liners that offer solo services such as organised activities like craft, dance and language classes and catch-ups that allow you to meet other singles onboard.
Family-friendly cruises offer programs and kids' clubs that will keep younger and older kids entertained. To find the right family-friendly cruise for you, look for one with age-appropriate activities for your kids, such as cartoon characters, pools and water slides and kid-friendly evening entertainment. Make sure you look into which activities and services cost extra. Check whether the ship has onboard babysitting if you want some alone time, and find out what the policy is for whether you can leave the ship while your kids are in care.
If you have a baby, choose a ship that has an onboard crèche. Be aware that some cruises will set a minimum age of between six months and one year for babies, and others will have a minimum age for children participating in kids' clubs.
Not keen to share your ship with kids and prefer a more romantic experience? Then an adults-only ship might be for you. Several companies operate over-18s-only cruises, including Viking Ocean Cruises and P&O.
If that's not an option, look for ships that don't have amenities geared towards families and kids, or those with adults-only activities and areas.
Luxury cruises offer VIP service, more refined dining and better amenities. They tend to utilise smaller vessels, and may include such options as flexible itineraries, a personal butler, larger cabins, more exotic destinations and they're more likely to be all-inclusive.
If you're less keen on water slides and cabaret and more interested in nature-watching and remote villages, an adventure cruise may be a good choice. Adventure cruises tend to use smaller ships, which can access more remote destinations such as Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Arctic Norway or the Amazon. Shore excursions are wilder – perhaps white-water rafting or mountain climbing. On board, you may be treated to lectures from wildlife experts or historians.
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