Wednesday, July 22, 2009
There are 7 big cruise lines that are the major industry players, and which (if you're into the cruise world) you've probably heard of. These are Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International. So, which is best?
I have to admit that I haven't been on all of them (yet!), so I'll refer to the Berlitz 2009 Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships to answer this question. Each line has its own specialty, so which is "best" will depend on what you're looking for.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival is known for "all-round fun, activities, and casinos for the lively youth market" though the guide book points out that many of their passengers are over 45.
These guys are said to have the best food and the most elegant ships and spas. All that considered, the guidebook considers them under-priced.
Costa Cruises features a European style with multi-national passengers and a lively ambiance, so if you're looking to escape your countrymen, this may be the place to see folks from different cultures.
Holland America Line
These guys are popular with seniors and retirees, thanks to their "smiling service staff, lots of flowers, traditions of the past, good cooking demonstrations, and alternative grill rooms."
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL is known for affordability and is often recommended to first-time cruisers. They have a good choice of dining experiences and solid entertainment.
The book says Princess has "consistent product delivery" (I'm not sure how much of an accolade that is!) and informs us that the decor tends to be bland and the passengers older.
Royal Caribbean International
These guys specialize in the Caribbean (no surprise there) and offer a good experience for first-time cruises and families. They have a good variety of entertainment and children's programs that will keep the young-uns busy.