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Known for: Small ships that can travel where the big ships can’t ... exotic itineraries designed for cruisers who want something different ... upgraded shore experiences.
Suited for: Sophisticated, experienced cruisers ... mature adults ... middle to upper class clientele ... educated, sophisticated adults ... people who want to avoid the hustle and hassle that comes with three or four big ships in the more prominent ports around the world.
Synopsis: Owned by Celebrity Cruises, these two mid-sized ships were originally part of the Renaissance Cruises fleet before the line went out of business. They were refurbished to the tune of a combined $38 million before beginning operation in 2007. Because the ship was built for another line, interior and oceanview cabins are extremely tight; so you might want to upgrade to a balcony cabin or a suite. Don’t expect the glitz of showroom extravaganzas available on the bigger, newer ships; what you’ll get here are concerts, comedy and dramas.
Contact: Azamara Club Cruises, 1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL, 33132, 877-222-2526
Azamara Journey (Journey class - 2000 / 2007) - PHOTO
Azamara Quest (Journey class - 2000 / 2007)
Known for: Loud, colorful and “out there” decor with
a whimsical flair .. cheap cruises ... the world’s largest and most successful cruise line ... they don’t call them “Fun Ships” for nothing.
Suited for: First-time cruisers looking for a bargain ... families with children ... people of all ages ... folks who like a casual cruise experience ... those who want to let their hair down and put on a different face than they would at home.
Synopsis: Carnival Cruise Line often gets a bad rap from cruise patrons who feel they’re too good to stoop to the level of the most successful cruise concept of all time. Some would be wise to try Carnival today and not rely on an experience from 10-15 years ago. Yes, it’s still a “Fun Ship.” And yes, the decor takes some getting used to. But as Carnival honchos say: Carnival wants to make certain that you realize you’re no longer in your living room or any other resort-type vacation when you step onboard. Over the years they’ve refined the Carnival cruise experience, using less neon in the decor and adding supper clubs (one of the best pay restaurants concepts at sea) to newer ships. Some public areas are downright elegant. Bottom line: Carnival delivers what it promises, and is who it wants to be. That formula has proven to be very successful ... and profitable.
Contact: Carnival Cruise Lines, 3655 NW 87th Avenue Miami, FL 33178-2428, 1-888-CARNIVAL
- Carnival Breeze (Dream class - 2012)
- Carnival Conquest (Destiny class - 2002)
- Carnival Destiny (Destiny class - 1996)
- Carnival Dream (Dream class - 2009) - PHOTO
- Carnival Elation (Fantasy class - 1998)
- Carnival Ecstasy (Fantasy class - 1991)
- Carnival Fantasy (Fantasy class - 1990)
- Carnival Fascination (Fantasy class - 1994)
- Carnival Freedom (Destiny class - 2007)
- Carnival Glory (Destiny class - 2003)
- Carnival Imagination (Fantasy class - 1995)
- Carnival Inspiration (Fantasy class - 1996)
- Carnival Legend (Spirit class - 2002)
- Carnival Liberty (Destiny class - 2005)
- Carnival Magic (Dream class - 2011)
- Carnival Miracle (Spirit class - 2004)
- Carnival Paradise (Fantasy class - 1998)
- Carnival Pride (Spirit class - 2002)
- Carnival Sensation (Fantasy class - 1993)
- Carnival Spirit (Spirit class - 2001)
- Carnival Splendor (Destiny class - 2008)
- Carnival Triumph (Destiny class - 1999)
- Carnival Valor (Destiny class - 2004)
- Carnival Victory (Destiny class - 2000)
Known for: A sophisticated cruise experience at a reasonable price ... superior food across the board - even at the buffet ... stewards who escort you to your room when you board ... real lawns on Solstice class ships ... modern, contemporary ships with an understated elegance ... topless sunbathing ... and no announcements.
Suited for: People looking for a cruise that focuses on the experience more than the almighty dollar ... middle- to upper middle-class clientele who prefer to mingle with their own ... people who hate party ships ... educated, sophisticated adults ... families with older kids or teens ... those who aren’t looking for bargain basement prices but prefer a premium cruise at near mainstream prices.
Synopsis: Celebrity definitely provides an upgraded cruise experience and you can usually get it for pricing similar to parent company Royal Caribbean. Spend a few extra bucks for a suite and the difference is even more pronounced. The ships are easy to get around and make sense. Some might call the clientele stuffy. The production shows haven’t exactly had a wow factor over the years, but the Solstice class ships have changed that.
Contact: Celebrity Cruises, 1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL 33132, (800) 437-3111
Celebrity Century (Century class - 1995)
Celbrity Consellaton (Millennium class - 2002)
Celebrity Eclipse (Solstice class - 2010)
Celebrity Equinox (Solstice class - 2009)
Celebrity Infinity (Millennium class - 2001)
Celebrity Mercury (Century class - 1997)
Celebrity Millennium (Millennium class - 2000)
Celebrity Reflection (Solstice Class - 2012)
Celebrity Silhouette (Solstice class - 2011)
Celebrity Solstice (Solstice class, 2008) - PHOTO
Celebrity Summit (Millennium class - 2001)
Celebrity Xpedition (Expedition class 2001)
Known for: Europe’s most popular cruise line ... “Roman Bacchanal,” or Toga Night ... reasonable pricing.
Suited for: Cruisers looking for a basic experience ... those who think they know Italian ... people seeking an international-like vacation at bargain prices ... the younger crowd & first-time cruisers ... people who like to party ... families with children & folks who don’t mind children.
Synopsis: Owned by Carnival Cruise Line, this is the Italian version of the “Fun Ship” experience. In fact, Costa ships in some cases are more whimsical than a Carnival ship. A week on a Costa cruise starts slow, but builds as the week goes on. That may be because with an international crowd, jet lag makes it necessary to recuperate before really letting loose. Expect to hear a variety of languages: Italian, French, Spanish and German on Mediterranean cruises, mostly Spanish on Caribbean cruises. As this is a European cruise line, there likely will be lots of smoking so prepare yourself. The Italian food offerings are very good, but just about all other food is just adequate, not memorable. Costa is not known for its entertainment, which is mostly inconsistent.
Contact: Costa Cruises, 200 South Park Road, Suite 200, Hollywood, FL 33021-8541, (800) 462-6782
Costa Allegra (1992)
Costa Atlantica (Atlantica class - 2000)
Costa Classica (Classica class - 1992)
Costa Concordia (Fortuna class - 2006)
Costa Deliziosa (Atlantica class - 2010)
Costa Fasinosa (2012)
Costa Favolosa (2011)
Costa Fortuna (Fortuna class - 2003)
Costa Luminosa (Atlantica class - 2009)
Costa Magica (Fortuna class - 2004)
Costa Marina (1990)
Costa Mediterranea (Atlantica class - 2003)
Costa Pacifica (Fortuna class - 2009)
Costa Romantica (Classica class - 1993)
Costa Serena (Fortuna class - 2007)
Costa Victoria (1996)
Known for: Biggest ships among the luxury cruise lines ... gourmet food ... worldwide itineraries.
Suited for: People with discriminating taste buds ... Passengers who crave a luxury experience but don’t want to be isolated from the world.
Synopsis: Crystal Cruises continues to push the envelope to give their clientele more than just a vacation. Example: next year each passenger will get a free volunteer excursion to help locals in a particular port. When they return to the ship they can be certain that the chefs will have whipped up another fantastic gourmet meal of heavenly proportions.
Contact: Crystal Cruises, 2049 Century Park East , Suite 1400, Los Angeles, CA 90067, (888) 394-6073
Crystal Serenity (2003)
Crystal Symphony (1995)
Known for: Ocean liners, not cruise ships ... transatlantic crossings ... a history of maritime innovation ... a decidedly British feel ... only cruise line allowing dogs and cats onboard ... Tea served by white-gloved stewards.
Suited for: Veteran cruisers who want to experience a cruise from yesteryear, or as close as you can come in this century ... people looking for a refined cruise ... Americans who want to rub shoulders with the British.
Synopsis: If one is a cruise enthusiast, a Cunard cruise has to be added to your to-do list, just to experience the difference. Cunard has managed to keep its rich history intact while bringing onboard all the amenities one expects on a cruise today. There is a class system onboard a Cunard ship, but nothing like the days when those in lower categories were denied access to parts of the ship. Now it’s basically restricted to main dining facilities and a few lounges. Regular customers have access to everything else. Children’s facilities are some of best on any line.
Contact: Cunard Line, 24303 Town Center Drive, Suite 200, Valencia, CA 91355, (800) 7-CUNARD
Queen Mary 2 (2004) - PHOTO
Queen Victoria (2007)
Queen Elizabeth (2010)
Known for: Rotating dining system where your wait staff follows you from restaurant to restaurant to restaurant ... some of the biggest cabins in cruising ... split bathrooms ideal for families ... the best private island in the Caribbean.
Suited for: Families with children ... adults who never grew up ... Disney enthusiasts ... people who want to avoid rowdy party cruises ... people immune to sticker shock ... folks who don’t mind kids at every turn.
Synopsis: When Disney Magic joins the fleet in 2011 it will mark the line’s first newbuild in 12 years. This cruise brings the Disney experience to sea for kids and adults alike. Although much on the ship is PG rated, full-grown kids (over 21) can also enjoy what each of these ships have to offer, including an adults-only restaurant and night club. Thank God the kids program is extensive and complete, giving mom and dad chance to get away from little Johnny long enough to realize they’re on a romantic cruise. And let’s not forget, Mickey Mouse is also a passenger.
Contact: Disney Cruise Line, 210 Celebration Place, Suite 400, Celebration, FL, 34747-4600, (800) 511-1333
Disney Dream (2011)
Disney Fantasy (2012)
Disney Magic (1998)
Disney Wonder (1999)
Known for: “Signature of Excellence” service ... attention to detail ... teakwood outdoor promenade decks ... cooking classes at each ship’s Culinary Arts Center.
Suited for: Depending on the ship, a Holland America cruise can be for anyone. Classic ships are popular with older clientele, including seniors and their grandkids; Newer ships are great for families with younger kids accustomed to more elaborate resort vacations ... also suited for middle to upper-middle class folks who want a sense of sophistication in their vacations, including educational opportunities.
Synopsis: Holland America has redefined itself over the last few years, trying to attract a younger crowd than its’ traditional 50-something passengers. With newer, brighter ships, along with its’ “Signature of Excellence” program that upgraded food, amenities, staterooms and more, the plan appears to be working. So far, 11 ships have undergone the change. Holland America is a true “premium” experience, and the differences are apparent throughout the cruise - including a rather stunning art collection.
Contact: Holland America Line, 300 Elliot Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119, (800) 426-0327
ms Amsterdam (2000)
ms Eurodam (2008)
ms Massdam (1993)
ms Nieuw Amsterdam (2010)
ms Noorsdam (2006)
ms Oosterdam (2003)
ms Prinsendam (1988)
ms Rotterdam (1997)
ms Ryndam (1994)
ms Statendam (1993)
ms Veendam (1996)
ms Volendam (1999)
ms Westerdam (2004)
ms Zaandam (2000)
ms Zuiderdam (2002)
Known for: Newest fleet in the world ... cleanest ships in the industry ... superior entertainment ... and kids cruise free!
Suited for: People who like an international crowd ... those who crave a different cruise experience ... cruise enthusiasts with Italian in their blood or can’t get enough Italian food ... grandparents and grandkids - since kids cruise for free.
Synopsis: Unfortunately, MSC has only one ship in the USA ... and not year-round. That’s too bad, because Americans have yet to discover this Italian dish. The privately-owned line hopes to step up its USA presence in the coming years, with dreams of placing a ship on the West Coast as well. MSC is a different cruise experience than regular Caribbean cruisers may be prepared for. The food is decidedly Italian ... and so is the service. But you will get use to the cruise director regularly repeating himself in five languages to accommodate a decidedly international crowd.
Contact: MSC Cruises, 6750 North Andrews Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309, (800) 666-9333
MSC Splendida (Fantasia class - 2009)
MSC Fantasia (Fantasia class - 2008)
MSC Fantastica (2012)
MSC Poesia (Armonia class - 2008) -
MSC Magnifica (Armonia class - 2010)
MSC Orchestra (Armonia class - 2007)
MSC Musica (Armonia class - 2006)
MSC Opera (Armonia class - 2004)
MSC Armonia (Armonia - 2001)
MSC Sinfonia (
MSC Lirica (Armonia - 2003)
MSC Melody (1982)
Known for: Freestyle cruising ... individualized, colorful artwork on the hull of each NCL ship ... NCL America ... Chocoholics Buffet ... bowling alleys.
Suited for: People who want a vacation without a schedule ... first-time cruisers ... young families ... people who wear their Sunday best only on Sundays.
Synopsis: NCL has always prided itself on being different - and freestyle cruising is it’s latest contribution to the changing face of the industry. Most mainstream cruise lines have since added some level of freestyle to its dining options. Freestyle is meant to allow people to vacation at their own pace, with no set times to do anything except get on and off the ship. There are no mandatory formal nights on NCL ships, although passengers can break out the tux or suit anytime they want. NCL is a friend to lone cruisers, including the introduction of single-person cabins onboard the new Norwegian Epic. The food is unspectacular and ordinary, unless you shell out the extra bucks to eat at one of the specialty restaurants. Even though this is a freestyle cruise, NCL offers a well-planned, very efficient cruise experience.
Contact: Norwegian Cruise Line, 7665 Corporate Center Drive, Miami, FL 33126, 800-327-7030
Norwegian Dawn (2002)
Norwegian Epic (2010)
Norwegian Gem (2007)
Norwegian Jade (2006)
Norwegian Jewel (2005)
Norwegian Pearl (2006)
Norwegian Sky (1999)
Norwegian Spirit (1998)
Norwegian Star (2002)
Norwegian Sun (2001
Pride of America (2005)
Unamed ship (2013)
Unamed ship (2014)
Known for: A luxury cruise masquerading as a premium cruise ... a superior, well-trained but unobtrusive staff.
Suited for: Those who cruise for the destinations, but expect luxury to boot at a premium price ... people who expect superior service on their cruise ... cruisers with an appetite for gourmet food ... experienced cruisers ... middle- to upper-class clientele.
Synopsis: Oceania offers true value for the price on mid-sized ships that are well-appointed. Expect Oceania to exceed your expectations.
Contact: Oceania Cruises, 8120 NW 53rd St, Suite 100, Miami, FL 33166, (800) 531-5658
Marina (2011) - PHOTO
Known for: “The Love Boat” ... dominance in the Alaska cruises and cruisetours market ... the first cruise line with giant poolside LCD movie screens ... superior and well-organized shore excursion programs.
Suited for: Older couples and singles ... families with teenage children ... people looking for a good cruise experience without the glitz ... folks who expect an organized vacation ... single women traveling alone and looking for male hosts provided by the cruise line.
Synopsis: There was a time when Princess was a dominant line in the American cruise market. But ”Love Boat” fame can only take you so far. Carnival Cruise Line has, for the most part, taken a hands-off approach since purchasing Princess. However, alhough Princess provides a good cruise experience for its fans, as that clientele gets older the line has made a serious effort to attract a younger demographic. Princess ships are beautiful and up-to-date, the food is consistent across the board and the staff is professional and helpful. And if want an Alaska cruise, Princess is the undisputed heavyweight champion and that title isn't likely to change anytime soon.
Contact: Princess Cruises, 24305 Town Center Drive, Santa Clarita, CA 91355, (800) PRINCESS
Caribbean Princess (Grand class - 2004)
Coral Princess (Coral class - 2002)
Crown Princess (Grand class - 2006)
Dawn Princess (Pacific class - 1997)
Diamond Princess (Grand class - 2004)
Emerald Princess (Grand class - 2007)
Golden Princess (Grand class - 2001)
Grand Princess (Grand class - 1998)
Island Princess (Coral class - 2003)
Ocean Princess (Pacific class - 1999)
Pacific Princess (Pacific class - 1999)
Royal Princess (Pacific class - 2013)
Ruby Princess (Grand class - 2008)
Sapphire Princess (Grand class - 2005) - PHOTO
Sea Princess (1998)
Star Princess (Grand class - 2002)
Sun Princess (1995)
Regent Seven Seas
Known for: All-suite ships ... superior dining experience & food ... unparalleled service ... world cruises.
Suited for: Folks with discriminating taste ... folks with several zeros at the end of their bank account or a limitless credit card ... educated, well-traveled cruisers.
Synopsis: Regent Seven Seas spent $40 million to upgrade its three ships - even though they aren’t that old by cruise ship standards. The ships are now Wi-fi enabled, cell phones work even at sea and bedding and bathroom were all upgraded. More than just a cruise, an enrichment program is designed based on each itinerary.
Contact: Regent Seven Seas Cruises, 1000 Corporate Drive, Suite 500, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334, (800) 285-1835
Seven Seas Voyager (2003)
Seven Seas Mariner (2001) - PHOTO
Seven Seas Navigator (1999)
Known for: The biggest cruise ships in the world by a wide margin ... unique elegance at the mainstream level ... ice skating rinks & rock climbing walls ... eye-popping innovation, innovation & innovation.
Suited for: People who believe that size does matter ... active individuals who never have enough to do. ... Families with or without children ... singles who want to mingle ... folks who cruise for the ship & not the itinerary ... those who aren’t looking for bargain basement prices.
Synopsis: Royal Caribbean’s elegant ships can be considered cities at sea with the four largest ships in the world carrying its name. Ships are bright and contemporary ... with a resort feel. Most ships provide more activities and things to experience than the average person can complete in a week. As the ships get bigger, the entertainment has to follow suit. Ice skating show ... broadway musicals like “Hairspray” and “Chicago” ... and high-dive water show acts ... are becoming onboard staples. The kids program is one of the best at sea. Dining options are plentiful, even though the trend is more alternative restaurants that charge a fee.
Contact: Royal Caribbean International, 1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL 33132, (305) 539-6000
Adventure of the Seas (Voyager class - 2001)
Allure of the Seas (Oasis class - 2010)
Brilliance of the Seas (Radiance class - 2002)
Enchantment of the Seas (Vision class - 1997)
Explorer of the Seas (Voyager class - 2000)
Freedom of the Seas (Freedom class 2006)
Grandeur of the Seas (Vision class - 1996)
Independence of the Seas (Freedom class - 2008)
Jewel of the Seas (Radiance class - 2004)
Legend of the Seas (Vision class - 1995)
Liberty of the Seas (Freedom class - 2007)
Majesty of the Seas (Sovereign glass - 1992)
Mariner of the Seas (Voyager class - 2004)
Monarch of the Seas (Sovereign class - 1991)
Navigator of the Seas (Voyager class - 2003)
Oasis of the Seas (Oasis class - 2009) - PHOTO
Radiance of the Seas (Radiance class - 2001)
Rhapsody of the Seas (Vision class - 1997)
Serenade of the Seas (Radiance class - 2003)
Splendour of the Seas (Vision class - 1996)
Vision of the Seas (Vision class - 1998)
The Yachts of Seabourn
Known for: Outstanding service ... unique itineraries ... Smaller ships with European-style service ... all-inclusive beverages.
Suited for: Experienced cruisers ... folks with deep pockets ... Americans.
Synopsis: Seabourn is another line owned by Carnival but allowed to maintain its uniqueness. The line prides itself on attention to detail, and has developed a loyal following through the years that return frequently. With new ships in 2009 and 2010, and another scheduled for delivery in 2011, Seabourn gives those loyalists bigger and better facilities.
Contact: Seabourn Cruise Line, 6100 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 400, Miami, FL 33126, (800) 929-9391
Seabourn Legend ( 1992 / 1996)
Seabourn Odyssey (2009)
Seabourn Pride (1988)
Seabourn Sojourn (2010)
Seabourn Spirit (1989)
Known for: An "Uncompromising Commitment to Service" ... Loyal passengers ... all-suite, all-inclusive cruises ... small ships & niche itineraries ... luxury expedition cruises.
Suited for: Experienced cruisers ... folks with deep pockets .... people with a sense of adventure ... those searching for a different - albeit expensive - cruise experience.
Synopsis: This line expects to continue its growth by adding ships to its small fleet. It is always looking for ways to give its loyal passengers what they want - even when they embark/debark. Cruisers are allowed to join the cruise at any port during a voyage.
Contact: Silversea Cruises, 110 E. Broward Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301, (800) 774-9996
- Prince Albert II (1989 / 2008)
- Silver Cloud (1994)
- Silver Shadow (2000)
- Silver Spirit (2009)
- Silver Whisper (2001)
- Silver Wind (1995
Known for: Computer controlled sails ... casual cruises to offbeat places ... $7 liters of water.
Suited for: The young at heart, including couples and singles.
Synopsis: These are more yachts than cruise ships, as the biggest ship is less than 15,000 tons. The ship comes with a healthy inventory of water sports apparatus, including kayaks, a water ski boat, snorkeling and scuba equipment, etc. There is no formal entertainment; this cruise is all about adventure and participation.
Contact: Windstar Cruises, 2101 4th Avenue Suite 1150, Seattle, WA 98121, (800) 258-7245
Wind Spirit (1998)
Wind Star (1986)
Wind Surf (1990)