How Do Cruise Lines Stack Up Against One Another?
For many years, cruise travel was exclusive and expensive. Each traveler’s packed those huge, heavy steamer trunks filled with evening gowns and tuxedos as well as leisure clothes.
Today cruise travel is open to everyone at prices that fit your budget. In fact, cruising is an increasingly popular family vacation option as well as for family reunions. Think of choosing a cruise ship the way you choose a car.
Whether luxury sedan or bargain SUV, the car gets you where you are going, the question is more one of style than transportation. Several cruise ships can take you to the Bahamas for example, so the choice you make is about the features and style of the cruise ship.
Carnival Cruise Lines jumped out from the pack early to position their product as “the Fun Ship.” Carnival caters to families by offering special supervised programs for children and teens so the parents can enjoy time on their own.
The largest cruise line in the world, Carnival offers innovations such as the first smoke-free ship, Carnival Paradise, increased smoke-free zones, Internet Cafes, and the renowned Nautica Spa – now called SpaCarnival.
Disney Cruise Lines incorporated their characters and fantasy world onto the ship experience. To enhance the family-friendly image, Disney Cruise Ships do not have any casinos. The children’s programs are top-notch – plus, there are some kid-free zones in restaurants and the spa for adults to unwind.
Holland America is among the old guard of cruising. Purchased by Carnival, the Nordic heritage of Holland America is evident in its gracious service and well-mannered staff. The cruise experience is slightly more traditional which attracts higher-income passengers who prefer the old cruise elegance. Children’s programs are best during summer vacation months.
Royal Caribbean started the massive center atrium design that is common on newer ships. As the smaller ships are replaced by newer ones, Royal Caribbean is adding Wi-Fi zones, Internet Cafe, and offering a CyberCabin for an additional fee. Another feature on the new ships will be a non-smoking major lounge and smoke-free zones in many public areas.
Windstar Ships are small, catering to 148 to 250 passengers compared with thousands on the major lines. The Windstar passenger is typically younger, active, and prefers the “Casual Elegance” which is the official dress code. Each ship has a water sports platform for passengers to participate in wind sailing, snorkeling, scuba, and water skiing.
Looking at these and the many other cruises, which one is the best? That answer depends on the type of vacation you want, the level of activity, degree of formality, availability of children’s programs, and maximum amenities v. budget price. The great thing about cruise travel is that you can get to the same destination for different prices depending on the cruise package that’s right for you.