Cruise

Cruises 101

by Sherri Eisenberg

The benefits of a cruise are many: You unpack once, someone else does the driving, and each morning you wake up in a brand-new locale. The downside? You're stuck on one ship, with one group of people; unlike at a hotel, you can't just switch. That's why it pays to be choosy, and to understand which cruise line will fit your needs and your personality. So we've created a primer to the most popular cruise lines, outlining the strengths, weaknesses, and audiences of each. Look it over before you book—make the wrong choice and you'll want to take a walk off the plank.

Some general tips: Even after narrowing down your choice of brands, consult a travel agent—they're the most knowledgeable about specific ships, cabins, sailings, and other important choices you'll have to make. Condé Nast Traveler's consumer news editor, Wendy Perrin, compiles an annual list of the best specialist agents, including those with expertise in cruises. Also, remember to factor in the cost of shore excursions, booze, tips, spa treatments, and classes and activities like yoga, many of which are not included. (The less expensive the cruise, the less that's included in the price.) Consider buying travel insurance, which can protect you if a delayed flight causes you to miss the sailing. And read that fine print carefully for a change—it contains important information about cancellations, itinerary changes, and other vagaries of maritime law.

Published August 2007

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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