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The Best Cruise Lines: A Guide for Americans & Canadians

The Best Cruise Lines: A Guide for Americans & Canadians
Rick Adams

Have you always wanted to go on a cruise? Not sure where to begin? There are lots of different cruise lines out there, but choosing the one that’s right for you may not be easy. To make things a bit simpler, here is a brief breakdown of the most popular cruise lines.

Keep in mind that the various cruise ship lines offer different services, amenities, activities, and so on. It is a fact that  no two cruise ships or cruise company lines are exactly the same. For example, Disney targets families while the best cruise line for college students is probably Carnival. If you’re looking for the best cruise line for singles, then it depends on the ship you’re on, the destination, the time or year, and other factors that will affect who you’re likely to meet.

Of course, the term “best” is subjective but here are some ideas to get you started. These are the most common cruises that Americans and Canadians tend to book their reservations with. One final note to keep in mind is that many of these cruise companies are not based in the US or Canada. Rather, they tend to set up their headquarters in countries that help them avoid paying high taxes while milking the tourists from these countries for money. This fact also means that legal issues may not be resolved in your country, if anything happens to you. That’s just a side warning to give you a heads up. Overall, cruise vacations provide for an affordable and very fun way to visit other places.

Top Cruise Lines

Carnival cruises are popular the world over. This cruise line has been in business for many years, and most people who book a Carnival cruise are happy with this choice. These cruise ships tend to cater to younger crowds that are looking for fun and excitement. While Carnival lines aren’t the most luxurious, you’ll find that many of the comforts of home can be found aboard these ships, often in mini-format. They’re known as the “Fun Ships” and they typically have shorter trips, like 5-day cruises from California to Mexico. They also offer a cruise to nowhere meaning that they leave New York, spend a day at sea and then come back to New York. That’s actually a great way to party but also learn about cruise life. Think of it as a testing ground if you’re single, and want to see what life aboard a cruise is like. The Carnival Corporation has a number of affiliated companies, including Princess (see below), Holland America Line (see below), Seabourne (an American line), P&O, Cunard, and others. Taken together, Carnival is the largest cruise line in the world.

The name of this cruise line says it all. Celebrity cruises are full of little luxuries. Most passengers that book Celebrity cruises are looking for a safe and predictable ride. Boarding a Celebrity ship is a lot like staying at a five star hotel. These ships cater to affluent couples, though some families can be found aboard these ships as well. The line has a number of ultra-modern ships with unique activities like glass-making shows and mini-golfing on real grass.

Families, older couples, and mature singles often book Princess cruises. These ships are large and modern with lots of activities to keep all passengers busy. Passengers aboard Princess ships come from all walks of life.

Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) cruises are affordable and less formal than some of the other cruising options. Dining times are flexible, destinations are varied, and most passengers enjoy the laid back attitude of these cruise ships. While NCL isn’t known for offering five-star service, these ships also offer many comforts of home. NCL enjoys passengers of all ages, though many younger passengers often book NCL cruises.

Royal Caribbean
This cruise line is known for having the largest cruise ships in our oceans. Passengers tend to range from age 20-35. These ships cater mostly to families, though many couples also book Royal Caribbean cruises. Many activities and different options are available on any given Royal Caribbean cruise.

What American vacation list would be complete without mention of a Disney property. Believe it or not, Disney has its own cruise line aimed at families. The name says it all! This ship is ideal for people who want to bring kids along for the ride and the activities and destinations are tailored to this target audience.

Holland America Line
Holland America Line (HAL) is comprised of more mid-sized ships so if you’re looking for a rush from being on a gigantic ship, this line may not be for you. HAL is a good value option but you probably won’t find many activities for younger individuals. This is partly due to the fact that their ships are smaller, hence less space to put things. Still, this is a well-established line that is worth looking into for a cruise vacation.

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    September 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Sorry to tell you this, but the Holiday was the worst ship Ive ever wokred in. Terrible. And Ive wokred onboard for 10 years.Hopefully the made some renovations, because it was really bad.As for booze, get your cabin steward to get you a bottle from the Duty Free. Tip him and he will do it. On top of the tip they get 20% off the prices, so its a deal.They do it all the time.