Today’s modern ships offer a timeless way to experience the open seas and riverways. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly cruise, a culturally enriching river cruise, something off-the-beaten-port, the ultimate multi-beach escape, or a romantic getaway for two, there’s something for everyone. Get on board and read on to find out how to choose the right cruise line, ship, and cabin to suit your travel style.
Choosing the best cruise line for you
Families, culture vultures, adventurers, sunseekers, honeymooners, and everyone in between, there’s a cruise line that fits your travel style. The first thing to consider when choosing the best cruise line for you is, what type of overall experience you’re looking for.
Ocean Cruise Lines
Offering the widest range of options, big ship ocean cruise lines will appeal to cruise travellers looking for non-stop entertainment, a diverse range of activities and onboard amenities, plenty of dining options to please every palate, shopping, and lots (and we mean, lots) of space to stroll around and lounge in.
While they’re still family-friendly, small ship ocean cruise lines will appeal more to seasoned cruise travellers looking for a more relaxing, quiet, and even educational experience. From world-class entertainment and art seminars to intriguing cruise itineraries and specialty shore excursions, small ship cruise lines will captivate you onboard and at port.
River Cruise Lines
Inspiring itineraries, Michelin-star-worthy dining, cultural enrichment, world-class service. River cruise lines will appeal to cruise travellers looking for a more refined, sophisticated experience onboard and in-destination. (Oh, and complimentary beer and wine will most likely be included during your cruise.)
Looking for something more off-the-beaten-port? Expedition cruise lines will appeal to adventurers and intrepid travellers looking to get up close and personal with Mother Nature in remote regions of the world. Expedition ships will also generally include gear for your offshore adventures, like kayaks, Zodiacs, paddle boards, snorkel gear and wetsuits, so you don’t have to rent anything in-destination, or pack any more than you need to.
Choosing the best ship for you
Cruise ships are like floating resorts. Whether you’re looking for non-stop adventure, quiet spaces to relax and unwind in, or an in-depth expedition to some of the furthest corners of the planet, there’s a cruise ship for nearly every traveller, and for almost every purpose.
Narrow down your options by considering if a big ship, a small ship, river cruise ship, or expedition ship to suit your travel plans best. Some ships are built for non-stop activities and entertainment, some are built to suit those looking for a quieter, intimate getaway, and some are built to appeal to all and everyone in between. Either way, you have nothing but world-class, awe-inspiring, and state-of-the-art cruise ships to choose from.
Most of the mainstream ocean cruise ships can be considered ‘big ships.’ The average cruise ship passenger capacity is about 3,000 guests, while some of the behemoth cruise ships can hold upward of 5,500! These behemoth cruise ships can easily be mistaken for floating theme park resorts. Think water slides, zip-lines, go-karts, theatres, spas, and almost every type of restaurant you can imagine, from cafes to steakhouses. On big ships, you’ll never run out of things to do. You may even have a hard time deciding whether you want to disembark at port, or stay and play onboard. (Think about the short waterslide line-ups.) It can be a dilemma. Ocean cruise ships have itineraries all over the world, the most popular being the Caribbean, Alaska, and the Mediterranean. Big ships are also a great option for first-time cruisers. Test the waters (sorry) with a short 3-day Bahamas cruise or 5-day Caribbean cruise.
Small mainstream ocean cruise ships have the advantage of docking at smaller, less accessible ports than their big ship counterparts. The average small ship cruise passenger capacity is about 2,500 guests, with the numbers getting smaller and smaller the more niche marketed the ship gets. Small ships offer a more relaxed onboard experience, with theatres for Broadway-caliber performances, spas and fitness centres, and fine dining. Small ships cruise all over the world, including the most popular itineraries, like the Caribbean, Alaska, and the Mediterranean but with the added bonus of being able to stop at the smaller, less visited ports.
River Cruise Ships
An even smaller, more intimate cruising experience, river cruise ships hold an average passenger capacity of about 200 passengers. Most river cruise ships are like boutique hotels, stylishly decorated with thoughtful outdoor spaces and indoor lounges to enjoy the rolling landscape change as you meander down rivers and waterways, from the popular Rhine and Danube, to the Amazon, Nile, Mekong and the Yangtze.
For the adventurer, expedition ships regularly explore the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, the Arctic, Alaska, the Amazon, and beyond. Expedition ships generally hold an average passenger capacity of under 100 passengers. Ships are designed for agility to navigate remote regions and handle local geographic conditions, and like their river and ocean cruise ship siblings, can offer a wide range of onboard amenities. Staterooms will vary in comfort and amenities from ship to ship, as well as the spaces to lounge in and observation decks.
How to Choose the Best Cabin
You may not be spending the majority of the cruise in your stateroom, but it will be your home away from home for a few days. On ocean cruise ships, you can choose from inside, oceanview, balcony, and suite staterooms. Splurge or save to your liking. First-time ocean cruisers worried about getting motion sickness may want to opt for oceanview or balcony staterooms at the front or middle of the ship, the furthest from the engines, and the steadiest section of the ship.