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Silversea Cruises attracts the older, more affluent, and better traveled passenger. Activities, shore excursions and entertainment are sophisticated. Most evenings are formal, but in a relaxed elegant manner. Silversea food and service are admirable.
Runner-up: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Azamara Club Cruises Its category lies between mid-priced and luxury, providing luxury with affordable prices. The two 694-passenger Azamara ships - Quest and Journey - sail worldwide and enjoy a high repeat percentage among its passengers. Azamara Cub Cruises is the high-end member of the Royal Caribbean group of cruise lines.
Celebrity Cruises New World and European itineraries (one ship docks in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival). The average ship of the Celebrity Cruises fleet accommodates about 2,000 passengers each. Families with children are welcomed. Overall quality is well above average.
Royal Caribbean is a good choice for the average first-time cruiser because its ships have a middle-of-the-road mix of passengers in terms of age, education, culture interests, and bank accounts. Food is not gourmet, but neither is it lackluster. Passengers party, but not to an excessive degree. There are children, but not in an overwhelming number. Activities are many and varied.
Boutique-size cruise ship
SeaDream Yacht Club It has twin all-suite cruise ships. They cater to sophisticated seasoned cruisers. Each accommodates just 112 passengers in 55 cabins. The twin SeaDreams give you a yacht-cruise experience.
Lindblad / National Geographic jointly operates small, personable-sized ships. Itineraries include Antarctica and Galapagos. The line attracts affluent, seasoned travelers. Lindblad/National Geographic sailings are geared for the independent or small-group minded traveler. Rates are high end.
Crystal Cruises has outstanding onboard restaurants. The dishes are prepared by skilled, dedicated chefs. Food presentation has an alluring style. Crystal Cruise table service is polished yet personable. And dining room ambiance has a relaxed elegant feeling.
11 and younger
Disney Cruise Line has age-specific children activities, programs, and facilities, ranging from nursery to teenage. As in Disney World, the staff is immensely friendly. Parents and grandparents will not feel left out. Many facilities appeal to both child and adult - and some are for adults only. Rates are average.
12 and older
Royal Caribbean International has special facilities and activities geared for teens, including teen-only dance clubs, rock-wall climbing, in-line skating, ice skating, volleyball, basketball, and team sports. Teens are grouped by age, 12- to 14- and 15- to 17- years old.
Family - Muttigenerations
Carnival Cruise Line is family friendly and vigorously courts the family market. Its ships are modern and large (some accommodate several thousand passengers). This allows the Carnival Cruise Line to offer a wide variety of activities and facilities to please all ages, from four-year old to grandparent.
Paul Gauguin Cruises has a small cruise ship named the Paul Gauguin that sails to the romantic Polynesian Islands, including Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. The onboard ambiance is casual, relaxed - just right for honeymooning. The 300 passengers enjoy French and Polynesian dining, spa treatments, watersports, and shore excursions.
Carnival Cruise Line has a reputation for youthful party scenes on some of its bigger ships that sail short Mexican Riveria and Caribbean itineraries.
Sea Cloud delivers a grand, elegant experience on its two sailing ships, the Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II. The first has a refined yesteryear ambiance and an interesting story on how the vessel came to be. Furnishings are classic and shipboard quality is high. The Windstar cruise line is the runner-up in the sailing ship category.
Many small cruise lines sail on rivers, canals, and backwaters around the world.
Click River cruises to see my tips & insights on these destinations: Nile, Yangtze, Kerala, Rhine, Mekong, Amazon, Danube, Rhine-Danube, Volga, and Canal du Midi. I rank the Top 10 river cruise destinations and give each one its own web page and locator map.
Click What it's like to see what it's like on a quality river cruise.
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