Cruises continue to be a popular way to travel as there is something for everyone. It is also thought to be a quicker and more convenient way to explore multiple destinations in one trip. However, choosing the right one is challenging due to the diverse number of cruise lines, ship types, and itineraries. Figuring out the best type of cruise for you is a great start to ensuring a memorable experience.
Cruising is, arguably, one of the best family vacation options available. The almost all-inclusive nature of cruising ensures great value and ample activity options for all types of travelers. While land travel is often designed with a specific style of itinerary based on the interests of the overall group, cruising allows all members of a family to tailor their own onboard experience based on their specific age, interests and physical abilities. By providing a multitude of options including childcare centers, teen clubs, water slides, pools, casinos, entertainment and varying excursions suitable to the individual, multi-generational families are able to create a travel experience that appeals and engages all members of their family.
The destinations and style of cruises range from relaxing and fun-filled Caribbean adventures to awe-inspiring cruises to the glaciers of Alaska and Antarctica. For families with school-aged children, a European or Mediterranean itinerary offers families a glimpse into ancient history and unique cultures and enhances their children’s “world education” by allowing them to learn through experience. Cruising is also an excellent way to explore a variety of destinations for the first time and plan for future travel where more time can be spent at your favorite port on your cruise.
The best family vacations are those that appeal to your style of travel and offer experiences that entertain, enrich and engage your type of family. Not all lines cater to families, nor will you find the same amenities, activities, and services on every ship within the same line. Important factors to consider while planning a family cruise include:
• Accessing the depth of programs specifically geared towards family and children, including babysitting services and clubs for children and teenagers
• Determining whether the level of convenience, flexibility in dining hours, the variation of dining services available will accommodate your family’s dietary habits, needs, and expectations
• Qualifying the safety criteria and security standards of the cruise line as well as the ship
• Evaluating the size and configuration of the stateroom accommodations onboard
• Choosing an itinerary with port excursions and a length of travel time that aligns well with your travel goals and criteria
Popular cruise lines like Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Disney focus their services on family travel and ensuring a diverse range of amenities and activities. The larger ships accommodate travelers of different styles, by offering a variety of room categories, from interior cabins to luxury suites with exclusive amenities and privileges. Larger ships typically can accommodate families with special needs and larger groups needing specific accommodations, such as groups, where maybe some travelers may need accommodations for one person and others may want adjoining cabins.
A river cruise offers the convenience and luxury of an ocean cruise combined with the in-depth experience of a land tour. Offering an intimate setting, a journey along the river is just the right pace for getting the lay of the land and seeing some of Europe’s finest rivers such as the Seine, Danube, Moselle, and Rhine. Uniworld voted Best River Cruise Line in 2018 by Travel & Leisure, is doing a wonderful job of creating niches in the river cruise market. Their U by Uniworld line attracts young adult travelers while its Uniworld Generations sailings are designed specifically for families with children. Known for its luxury vessels, Crystal Cruises is gaining popularity in the river cruise market as well.
Cruise lines like Uniworld and Crystal Cruises are elevating all-inclusive river cruising to an entirely new level by offering the highest staff-to-guest ratios, including all gratuities onboard and ashore, airport transfers, in-suite butlers, elegant dining experiences, an impressive selection of premium spirits and wines, personalized shore excursions, onshore bicycles and walking sticks, unlimited free wi-fi and more.
Luxury river cruises are truly boutique floating hotels, featuring impressive artwork, custom furnishings, and decor, stunning yet inviting common areas, spa facilities, rooftop decks and other unique features.
Luxury cruises offer an enhanced level of service by accommodating fewer guests onboard and offering a higher ratio of crew to guests than other cruise ships. The staterooms are elegant and more spacious. In-suite butlers, personalized stationery, high-end bath products and all-inclusive amenities such as gratuities, concerts, and shore excursions are services and products that luxury cruises provide to distinguish themselves from other mainstream brands. Luxury cruise lines such as Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas and Azamara offer itineraries for discerning travelers who may have already cruised but are looking for new and more intimate experiences.
Expedition cruise lines have emerged to answer the increasing desire of travelers to get off the beaten path, explore difficult to reach destinations and support companies focused on environmental stewardship and preservation. Emphasis on expedition vessels is placed on connecting with nature, being able to view wildlife up close and engaging with onboard expedition experts such as marine biologists and nature photographers. The vessels which are used to sail in these remote regions of the world are designed and built specifically to safely navigate the waters and often changing weather conditions they encounter.
Although historically expedition cruises have focused more on reaching far off destinations than convenience the new vessels, being designed by cruise lines such as Silversea, Lindblad, and Ponant, are bridging the gap and bringing luxury onboard. Many now offer spas, luxury suites, and fine dining options.
Two very popular destinations for expedition cruising are Antarctica and the Galápagos Islands. Antarctica is one of the last untouched destinations in the world where you can see remarkable wildlife, such as penguins, seals, whales, and awe-inspiring scenery. For a more tropical destination, the Galapagos Islands offer adventurers a glimpse at Blue-footed boobies, Darwin’s finches, giant tortoises, pink flamingos, sea lions and a variety of other unique creatures in their native land and sea.
Selecting the right cruise line is paramount in ensuring the best overall experience. Price points, level of comfort, ports of call and onboard activities are important factors to consider in making the best decision. Lindblad Expeditions, one of the most respected expedition cruise lines in the world, essentially pioneered the concept of expedition travel. Through their partnership with National Geographic they offer exhilarating experiences led by undersea specialists, photographers and ice masters. Quark Expeditions differentiates themselves by offering sailings which include opportunities for camping, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in remote polar regions.
In addition to choosing the right cruise line and ship and evaluating the itinerary offered by specific sails, where you start and end your cruise are other important variables. Arriving three to four days before your cruise or extending your trip a few days following your final port, for example, allows you to also include an extensive land experience into your vacation.
Boutique Travel Advisors is a full-service, luxury travel agency. We specialize in creating bespoke itineraries for discerning clients around the world. Please visit ourwebsiteor call 480-787-1477 to speak with a dedicated travel expert.
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