Cruising: The Experienced Traveler's Choice

By by Anita Lynch, Cruise Holidays

In the past twenty years, cruising has been the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel industry… and for good reason.   Whether you picture yourself as “party-hearty,”, mature-and-demure, ultra-deluxe or informally elegant, there’s a cruise ideally suited to your style and budget.  With itineraries that cover every navigable region of the globe reaching all seven continents, cruisers can savor the pleasures of exploration throughout the world while keeping their suitcases firmly stashed under the bed.   Add to that legendary food and top quality Broadway and Las Vegas style entertainment that are all part of the all-inclusive price, and it’s easy to understand why singles, families and seniors have all become significant segments of the cruising family.  

Of all aspects of the onboard experience, perhaps least known to non-cruisers is the exceptional level of service afforded to all, whether you sail inexpensively or in high style.  From at-the-ready stateroom attendants seeing to your needs, 24-hour room service at no extra charge, waiters who remember your preferences (and even cut your children’s meat!) and an onboard staff devoted to your comfort and pleasure, ordinary vacations pale in comparison to shipboard service.  If all this sounds like a budget-buster, here’s an interesting side note:  many seniors now choose to cruise for months rather than maintain residency in an assisted-living facility---it’s actually cheaper!

The amenities available on today’s ships can provide an experience as laid back or active as you desire.  Gone are the days when shuffleboard and a stroll around the deck were the only ways to pass the time.  In addition to covered and outdoor pools, these resorts-at-sea offer fitness centers, spas, casinos, movies, lawn bowling (with real grass!), zip lines, simulated golf, rock climbing, ice skating, basketball , boxing, big stage entertainment and intimate lounge acts, computer classes and dozens of other pastimes.   And while adults enjoy the vacation of their dreams, cruising also allows inter-generational families to holiday together while still having “separate” vacations.  Exceptional onboard camps for the kids (also all part of the all-inclusive price) with age-appropriate activities and play groups staffed by professionals give moms and dads a time-out from their parenting responsibilities.   Teens have their own area and can lounge in the evening with their contemporaries, sipping “mocktails” and sharing the latest in digital games and disco dancing.   

Want to explore your favorite countries in depth?  A river cruise is the answer, a perfect balance between the relaxed style of cruising and the intensive cultural immersion of a land tour.  As Americans become more sophisticated world travelers, the river cruise industry has exploded!  In the past five years alone, more than a dozen new ships—featuring larger staterooms, balcony accommodations, expanded dining options and new itineraries—have been added.  Today, a river cruiser can traverse the entire European continent from Amsterdam to Istanbul; sail the Amazon, the Yangtze, the Mekong, the Duoro and, yes…the Mississippi…debarking in the heart of every town with included excursions that guarantee you won’t miss any “must-see” highlight .  

One cautionary note.  As this article suggests, there’s more to choosing the right cruise than simply making a price comparison.  Even financial gurus such as Clark Howard recommend, when it comes to choosing a cruise, talk to a travel agent.

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