Choosing A Cruise – Part 2
Written by: Kuki
Today’s cruise world has truly gone global. If there’s a significant body of water, these days it seems some sort of cruise vessel is sailing upon it.
In my view there’s really three types of cruises – the travel cruise; the adventure/exploration cruise; and the pleasure cruise. While there are some features or amenities which cross-over amongst each category, the differences between them are fairly simple to spot, and to understand. So your first job in choosing your cruise is to decide what type of cruise you are looking for.
Part 2 – Travel Cruising
Some may wonder how cruising may even be considered as an option for those who consider themselves to be ”travelers”.
There is, in fact, a broad cross-section of ways and means to travel. One can attempt to embed themselves in an area or culture by devoting a significant amount of time to a specific area to experience and learn about that area. But even in that endeavor there are different ways to accomplish the goal.
Dissenting opinions are common, whether staying in luxury hotels and touring an area can be considered equal to back-pack touring, as far as participating in and experiencing a community.
While cruising is yet another diversion from that type of travel, it is becoming ever more common for cruise lines to design itineraries more suited to the “traveler personalities”. Typically cruises are noted for their short times in ports of call. Even on itineraries where that may be true, the fact is a cruise allows you to visit many more places in a shorter amount of time than most other form of travel.
And, of late, the newest trend in “travel cruising” has many of the cruise lines implementing more overnight stays in ports of call, or offering options for guests wishing to disembark the ship temporarily for a day or two of land travel, and meet the ship at a different port of call.
Due to various constraints, including the U.S. Passenger Services Act, these options are not yet common on sailings in the Caribbean. However, they are growing much more available for cruises in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In fact, where not disallowed by law, even if the options are not directly scheduled in an itinerary, passengers can choose to customize their itinerary somewhat, by leaving and rejoining the ship where they wish (at their own expense).
The most common denominator in what I refer to as “travel cruises”, is their itineraries most frequently visit a different port of call almost every day. Indeed, on those cruises, days at sea are rare.
The big advantage to traveling my cruise ship is the cruise does make the transportation portion of travel much simpler; it is just easier. So, you have to decide for yourself if the disadvantage of less time to immerse yourself in a particular place is made more desirable with the ability to transport more easily, and experience more places.
- Exploration/Adventure Cruising
There are enough variations within this category, that they could be slotted into their own categories. However, as they are really niche markets, I’m choosing to leave them together.
The largest, as well as fastest growing segment of this category is River Cruising. It is fastest growing not only in the number of people interested in river cruises, but also in the significant numbers of new river cruising ships that are bring brought to the market.
As a result river cruisers have multiple options to travel through many regions of Europe, including the Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, as well as many eastern European countries. River cruises also travel through Russia and China.
There are numerous reasons for the growing popularity of river cruising. Size and pace may be the biggest attraction, particularly to people who’ve tired of the sailing on the larger cruise ships, and the fact they are limited to visiting coastal ports.
During river cruises, while visiting some larger cities, you’re also visiting smaller towns and cities that you wouldn’t easily get to if not traveling by ship. To be able to traverse the rivers these ships are necessarily smaller (with less than 200 passengers). The new generation of river cruise ships are including amenities, such as private balconies, that passengers on larger ocean going vessels have grown used to.
I would say River Cruising certainly fits the bill for the definition of ”exploration cruising” because of the up close, intimate experiences they can provide.
If you’re searching for more of an adventure experience, there are certainly options available a step beyond the river cruise. There are even smaller ships which can take you to Antarctica, or small exploration ships which can take you to parts of Alaska you simply can not reach on the larger mass cruise ships.
Options, options, and more options… to my view that is one of the biggest attractions of cruising. Some people think of cruising in terms of their limitations. and don’t think about them in terms of all the options.
I think it’s important to consider them all, and find the option that you think will fit you best. You may eventually even want to try all of the categories available. But, to start with, pick one, and get cruising!
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Posted: September 10th, 2013 under Kuki.