Blue skies. Sun shining. The smell of salty sea water filling the air. Waves upon waves lapping at the sides of the intensely massive ship you are standing on.
Yes, cruises are a fantastic and cost-effective way to have an all-inclusive, hands-free and worry-free vacation. Summed up – cruises are EASY and FUN! The great thing about going on a cruise is that you can make it as adventurous or laid-back as you want. In fact, the biggest decision you will have to make when cruising is which cruise line you will be traveling on.
So, to help guide you with this choice, here is a list of 5 of the top cruise lines complete with their prices, atmospheres, types of travelers, quick reviews and loyalty programs. Why have I included loyalty programs? Because cruises are like tattoos. Once you go on one, you will most likely want to go on another. So comparing loyalty programs is actually a good idea and could pay off down the road.
Therefore, THE TOP 5 POINTS you will want to compare when selecting a cruise line are:
- Types of Travelers
- Loyalty Programs
- Ports & Destinations
Also, if you are planning on traveling somewhere tropical, you should definitely check out my Ultimate Tropical Vacation Packing List. Because, especially on cruises, being prepared and packing properly is extremely important as you won’t be on the mainland to purchase replacement items for things left behind.
Here are 6 of the top cruise lines you may want to consider…
• Price: Budget-friendly.
• Atmosphere: Fun, family-oriented.
• Loyalty Program: Fair. Start earning decent rewards on your third cruise.
• Best For: Families & Friend Trips.
The family-friendly cruise line. If you will be taking children or have large or multiple age gaps between those cruising with you, this is your cruise. There truly is something for every age group on the Carnival Cruise ships. While other cruises may have more of a variety of activities for select age groups, Carnival appeals to all. Carnival cruise ships have bars, casinos and nightlife for adults and couples. They have pools, waterslides and live performances for families. And they even have daycare disguised as “clubs” where you can drop your children off to mingle with other children under staff supervision so that you may go participate in an adult activity with your spouse or friends. Oh, and the food? Uhm. Prepare to gain a couple pounds. The food is delicious and served buffet style 24/7.
• Price: Budget-friendly.
• Atmosphere: Youth-oriented.
• Loyalty Program: Good. Automatic enrollment into loyalty program after first cruise. Start earning good perks after first cruise.
• Best For: Families with young children.
This epic name speaks for itself. Did you know Disney has a cruise line?! A lot of people don’t! Disney has it’s hands in so many different business pots that it’s cruise line often gets overlooked. If you are traveling with children and are looking for a family-friendly staff atmosphere at every turn, then look no further. As they do on land, Disney cruise lines cater to family, especially children, at sea. You can expect to see characters dressed up, Disney-themed EVERYTHING and music from your children (and your) favorite Disney movies playing on deck. Even if you are traveling sans children, a Disney cruise would be sure to bring out your inner child and may just be the reset you need from your corporate life.
• Price: Less budget-friendly.
• Atmosphere: Personal paradise.
• Loyalty Program: Good. Automatic enrollment after first cruise. Start earning perks and rewards after first cruise including discounted rates for future cruises.
• Best For: Couples and lone travelers.
Norwegian Cruise Line boasts a unique feature – studios for single travelers! Since it advertises for lone travelers, single sailers needn’t feel strange or out of place. There are sure to be many other lone travelers on this cruise line. This is also a fantastic cruise line for couples looking for a romantic or adventurous get-away. Norwegian is all about enjoying your own personal paradise. Dress up, dress down, party all night or slow down. If you are traveling alone or as a couple and don’t want as much family or children traffic as some of the other cruise lines, this is probably the cruise line for you.
• Price: Less than budget-friendly.
• Atmosphere: Adventurous luxury.
• Loyalty Program: Great! Discounted rates for future cruises, onboard spending money after booking future cruise and plenty of other perks and rewards.
• Best For: Couples, Older Families & Friend Trips.
Princess Cruise ships have lounges and activity centers exclusively designed for teens. Those in combination with their learning and discovery centers make this a great cruise line for families with teenagers. The large variety of cruises, ports, land excursions and nightlife also make this a fantastic cruise line choice for friend trips or adventurous couples. Princess Cruises also has, in my opinion, one of the best loyalty programs out there. Those in the loyalty program enjoy discounted rates for future cruises and several limited-time offers throughout the year. Currently, the limited time offer is $600 onboard spending money after booking a future cruise. Also, once in the loyalty program, a host will check-in with you throughout the cruise to ensure your comfort, satisfaction and that you are aware of all of your benefits while onboard.
• Price: Expensive.
• Atmosphere: Luxurious.
• Loyalty Program: Great! Fantastic awards. This is probably the best loyalty program but you definitely pay for your perks through the traveling fares.
• Best For: Wealthy singles, couples and families.
Luxury. Sheer luxury. Classy. Think gold-lined staircases and a black-tie affair. If budget is not in your vocabulary and/or you have a lot of extra cash to spend, then you should check out Seabourn Cruise Lines. Seriously, only check it out if you think you can afford it. You cannot unsee these gorgeous, luxurious beasts.