“Cruising” is a magic word. We think of ocean liners. That’s only one of many, many options. Which one is right for you?
- Buying a boat. Do we forget about this one because it’s so obvious? You buy a sailboat or powerboat. You sail up and down the Intercoastal Waterway along the East Coast.
- Renting a canal boat. It’s one step away from sailing your powerboat up and down the East Coast. You fly to England and rent a canal barge, one of those narrow boats you see on PBS murder mysteries. Maybe you fly to France and rent a boat. Be prepared to open and close locks.
- Chartering a canal boat in Europe. You’ve gotten the brochures. You’ve seen Rick Steves float through Burgundy. The barge might accommodate 3-6 couples. It comes with crew. Trips are often six days. Expect Michelin quality food at similar prices for your fare. Generally speaking, you book the entire vessel for your group.
- Taking a river cruise. Chartering a canal boat has its drawbacks, like assembling your own group. Enter the river cruise. You know Viking is a major supporter of Masterpiece on PBS. Most of your friends have probably taken a river cruise already and loved it. It’s a smaller environment, you book your own cabin, similar to a conventional ocean-going cruise.
- Chartering a yacht. Below Deck is one of the most popular shows on Bravo TV. A group of people sail the Caribbean or Mediterranean for a few days aboard a fully crewed yacht. On TV, the voyages appear to be three days/2 nights. You can likely find longer ones. It’s going to be expensive.
- Taking an exploration cruise. We assume cruises are all about luxury. Some voyages are focused on adventure or exploration. You might have always wanted to visit Antarctica, the Northwest Passage or the Galapagos Islands. Not on the same voyage, of course.
- Booking passage on a car ferry. Norway is a good example. These are coastal voyages. The ship operates like a bus, following a route, picking up and dropping off goods and passengers.
- Booking on a freighter. Want to see the world a little differently? Consider traveling as a passenger aboard a freighter. Some circle the globe in 80+ days. They only allow a handful of passengers. The fares can be surprisingly attractive. It’s casual travel.
- Cruising under canvas on a cruise ship. Windjammer Barefoot Cruises was the name that got everyone’s attention decades ago. Although no longer in operation, other companies offer cruises where the primary power is the wind. These are smaller ships. As an example, Ponant operates one of these ships.
- Sailing on a smaller ship. You get the brochures from Silversea and Seabourn. All cabins have balconies. Smaller ships can get into ports the big ones can’t access. Tendering ashore isn’t usually an issue. Smaller passenger capacity at a higher price.
- Cruising in the traditional way. It’s what you remember, starting with the Love Boat. Now, the sky is the limit on ship size. There’s always an array of entertainment options. You usually book based on the character or target audience of each cruise line. There are family-oriented cruises. Adult cruises. Themed cruises. Your travel agent can tell you more.
Everyone has a favorite. What’s yours?
Editor’s Note: CruiseCompete travel advisors can provide assistance finding and booking dream cruises and vacations … ask about current deals, availability of all types of ships and cruises (including cruisetours) at https://www.cruisecompete.com/.
Cover Photo: Carnival Destiny in Dominica, courtesy ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews, AllThingsCruise official photographer