Cruise Lines 101
The cruise industry is one of non-stop growth and exciting developments. Companies are working tirelessly to better the guest experience while simultaneously satisfying the growing demand for cruise options across the world. While the Caribbean tends to be a extremely popular destination, guests can now choose cruise options to Alaska, through the Baltic, down the Panama Canal, to Antartica, or even completely around the world. However, with all of these options comes the overwhelming sense of which option is best for me?! Read below as we break down the notable differences between cruise lines and which company makes the most sense for your travel style:
Travel Style: A party-hearty crowd, shorter cruise options, budget-friendly
Best Fit: Carnival. With a relaxed atmosphere and informal dress code, Carnival puts “fun” first. They have a very loyal customer base that will line up for free-flowing water slides, karaoke shows and edgy comedians. The cabins are not overly flashy, but they get the job done. A majority of the fleet sails shorter cruises that are less than seven days with an abundant amount of inexpensive itineraries. Carnival a good starting point for those seeking quick Caribbean getaway. . The line has also focused on the “drive” market with a majority of Americans living within a day’s drive of a port.
Travel Style: Couples, aspiring globe-trotters
Best Fit: Princess. Originally dubbed the “love boat”, Princess now offers cruisers more family-friendly options especially on it’s newer ships. However, it stands true to it’s romantic roots and a great option for couples looking for a mid-size ship. They offer a more diverse array of itinerary options than most of the major lines, including the largest cruise presence in Alaska each summer.
Travel Style: All cruisers, including families and multi-generational groups
Best Fit: Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean is best known for it’s Broadway caliber performances at sea. However, they truly have something for everyone. The wealth of activities makes most Royal Caribbean’s cruises a good pick for multi-generational journeys. Royal Caribbean is heavy into branding—from Starbucks to Johnny Rockets, and from Shrek to Barbie, the ambience aboard Royal Caribbean’s ships will feel familiar.
Travel Style: Younger cruisers, budget-friendly, solo cruisers, minimum regulations
Best fit: Norwegian. This cruise line is best known for its “freestyle travel” concept. They do not enforce dress codes or mandatory dining times on their ships, making them a great option for the “go with the flow” travel style. Restaurant options are extensive, with most of the venues requiring a surcharge, but the actual quality of food is not a strong suit for the brand. However, entertainment is above average and waterparks keep kids enthralled. The line also offers smaller cabins for singles on some of its newest ships, a rarity in the industry.
Travel Style: Adventure traveler, nature exploration, intellectuals
Best Fit: Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten prides itself on tailoring their expeditions to the intellectual community looking to explore exotic areas of the world. During the voyage, guests can enjoy lectures about the area of travel presented by experts such as zoologists, oceanographers, and more! These are smaller ships that travel to more remote destinations like Antarctica, Greenland, and the Arctic.
Travel Style: Families, avid Disney supporters.
Best Fit: Disney Ships. No brand does family fun better than Disney, especially when catering to pre-teens! The novel split-bathroom concept in most cabins is something the other lines haven’t quite matched. As an Orlando-based line, Disney’s itineraries are heavily based on Caribbean travel out of Port Canaveral. All ships are designed with the quintessential Disney characters and stories in mind, a favorite of Disney World lovers and families. They charge a premium for its cruises.
Travel style: Older cruisers, aspiring foodies, world travelers
Best Fit: Holland America. As a more traditional mid-sized cruise line, Holland America caters to an older crowd. However, there are plenty of touches that make Holland America an appealing alternative to the bigger lines, including in-room DVD players with a free library, fresh squeezed orange juice at the buffet, cooking classes in a show kitchen, and bathtubs in most cabins. In addition, the main dining room serves food that is somewhat better, and more adventurous than the mass-market lines. Holland America travels to a greater variety of unusual ports of call, with frequent Panama Canal, Australia/New Zealand, and South America sailings!