no image
Baby Boomers
no image
Culinary
no image
Destination & Tours
no image
Experiential Travel
no image
Family Travel
no image
Luxury
no image
Off the Beaten Path
no image
Romantic Travel
no image
Travel Buzz
Cruising 101: Calling All First Time Cruisers

Setting sail on your first cruise is unlike any other kind of vacation experience, no matter if you’re taking the entire family on an adventure through the sparkling Caribbean or cruising one of Europe’s most romantic river settings with your main squeeze.

No matter which style of cruise you choose, you can rest assured knowing you’re in for the time of your life and receiving one of the best vacation values dollar for dollar. All you have to do is board the ship, unpack once, and then do nothing but enjoy your cruise and all the unforgettable ports of call you’ll experience — it’s that simple!

Sailing the Ocean Blue
Ocean cruises are great for travelers of all types and ages, and particularly ideal for anyone who enjoys a lively atmosphere paired with a lengthy list of onboard activities to choose from. Ocean ships are downright comfortable for sailing long distances, such as in the Caribbean, Alaska or Asia. The vast majority of ocean cruise ships can be quite large, carrying approximately anywhere from 2,000 to over 6,000 passengers; and one cruise line can have a range of ship sizes in its fleet.

Ocean ships appeal to all kinds of travelers as their many organized programs offer a wide range of activities for nearly every interest. If you want to get out and be active, you can participate in pool games, basketball and volleyball tournaments, improve your golf swing, or take dance classes. Indoors, you might prefer attending a history lecture, cooking demonstrations, or try your luck in the casino. Entertainment during the day can range from musical performances by the pool to afternoon shows such as movies, comedy improve, or even ice skating! Ships also offer a great selection of children’s and teen programs and activities to keep everyone in your brood well entertained and happy. Kids of all ages will love playing outside on the rock-climbing walls, rope courses, and mini-golf courses. Some ships even have on board surfing and circus lesson fun.

During the day, guests also have more relaxing options to choose from like shopping at the onboard boutiques, searching for a great read in the ship’s library, and enjoying a well-needed message or body treatment at the spa — not to mention the many venues for delicious round-the-clock dining, drinking, and snacking. Of course if you want burn off some of those calories, most of today’s ships have fully-equipped, state-of-theart fitness centers, exercise and yoga classes.

After dark, most ships take on a cool Vegas vibe. This is when the casinos are at their very best and most exciting, so why not try your luck at the slot machines or a few hands of poker or blackjack? Throughout the evening and well into the night, the lounges feature nightly live bands and cabaret singers for your dancing or listening pleasure. Piano bars, complete with sing-alongs, are popular hotspots where you sit back and relax with a cocktail. And if you still have some energy and want to keep the party
going, the disco is always hopping late into the night.

One special entertainment hallmark of ocean cruise ships are their theaters which are home to a variety and ever-changing lineup of Broadway and Vegas-style shows. These shows typically are featured on several different nights during each cruise, so you have a selection of dates and times to choose from. On other nights, you can expect the theaters to feature singers, comedians, and magicians. If you have little ones, cruises in the Caribbean and Bahamas offer great itineraries for families. Itineraries in the Mediterranean and Alaska are prime for couples new to cruising.

Rolling On a River
Having grown in popularity over the past decade to become one of the most unforgettable vacation experiences anywhere, river cruising presents an entirely new kind of travel perspective jam-packed with historical sites, beautiful landscapes and cities — both large and small. Unlike ocean cruising, river cruise itineraries are very port-intensive — on some itineraries you may visit more than one port per day — and an actual full day on the river is a rarity. 

Many classic cities, like Vienna, Budapest and Paris, were built along rivers as they were the original trade routes long before roads and railways. Since their waterways are not large enough to allow for passage of modern ocean cruise ships, low-slung river cruise ships calmly and gently ply the inland waters, often times docking just steps from some of the world’s most significant river port destinations. 

Itineraries may incorporate major cities as highlights, but your experience will focus as much on smaller towns and villages that you come across along the way. Daily shore excursions for river cruises are normally included, though policies can vary between lines and some lines do charge for specially planned tours like cooking classes, private orchestral performances, and specialty dining experiences. River ships may even carry bicycles on board for complimentary use while in port and for bicycle tours. 

Whether it’s sailing along one of Europe’s scenic rivers, like the Danube, Rhine or Seine, or cruising through one of Asia’s beautiful and vibrant river regions on an exotic journey, all the beautiful scenery and on shore excursions you’ll witness and experience will be fully complimented by sumptuous dining and highly personalized service on board. And since river cruise ships rarely top out beyond 200-passengers, you won’t feel crowded while on board. River ships feel like much smaller versions of seagoing ships. A strict attention to detail, paired with luxury amenities and personalized service, is a hallmark for many river cruise lines. 

Throughout your cruise, you’ll have the chance to learn more about the ports you’ll be visiting and touring. Many lines work with local guides who are infinitely knowledgeable about the sights you’ll tour. On many tours, wireless headsets allow you to hear everything your guide says, giving you plenty of time to soak in the setting and snap photos. 

Europe is definitely an ideal place to start your first river cruise as it offers so much to see and experience. The Rhine (which travels through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland, among other countries) and the Danube, which crosses through Germany, Austria, Hungary and beyond, are impeccable rivers offering a great number of sights and landscapes you’ll be talking about for years to come.

Always at Your Service 
No matter if it’s an ocean or river cruise, keep in mind that on board amenities, features and levels of personalized services can vary between ships and cruise lines — and with so many new ships sailing each year, it can be quite exhausting to keep up with all that’s hot and happening in cruising. To make sure you find the perfect cruise, be sure to contact your local travel professional. They’ll not only help you find your dream cruise vacation, but they can get it for you at the very best possible value.

Click here to view the new issue!

Cookie Policy