Cruise Styles

Mainstream/Mega Ship Cruise


Mainstream cruise lines are great when you’re traveling with a group since they offer something for everyone. Ships tend to be the biggest at sea, carrying the highest number of passengers per available space.

Once aboard, you can discover why the mainstream cruise lines are so popular. The furnishings and fittings vary, but all generate their own type of excitement. Glittering and glamorous décor in public areas is the norm. Accommodations are available in a wide range of sizes and price ranges, from inside cabins with no windows for bargain-basement prices to some of the largest suites at sea that cost a king’s ransom.

What you do on a mainstream cruise ship is up to you. 

Activities are scheduled all day and into the evening. Every evening, the professional entertainment staff goes into high gear, and you can either watch production shows or participate in karaoke and bingo. Shipboard amenities tend to be extensive, including pools, a spa, a gym, numerous dining venues, kids’ clubs, and perhaps special areas for teens.

Food on mainstream ships may be lacking in the gourmet department but the choices will be vast. You can find something to eat 24/7, either in traditional shipboard dining rooms, a casual Lido buffet, or alternative dining restaurants.

Everyone sets sail to have a good time, and the atmosphere onboard is exhilarating, even overwhelming to some people. You’re sure to find passengers who share your interests among the couples, singles, and families on these popular ships. These are our favorite mainstream cruise lines

Mega-ships/Big ships are more than 70,000 tons and carry more than 1,800 passengers; the largest carry more than 4,000.

Because of their majestic size, these ships are able to accommodate both more passengers and more options to keep them occupied. Today’s big ships are among the most advanced and feature-rich at sea, offering the widest possible range of amenities and options. Most of these are mainstream ships, but some are premium.

These megaships include the bells and whistles modern passengers have come to associate with a cruise. They have the most amenities, including rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, bumper cars, bowling alleys, and surfing simulators. If there’s a new amenity, you can bet it will soon appear on one of the big mega-sized cruise ships. Big ships often have magnificent spas, expansive casinos, and extensive, high-tech gyms with the latest machines and also a staff able to offer classes on everything from ab work to yoga to spinning. They offer nonstop activities designed for all interests: they may have high-energy Las Vegas– or Broadway–style music revues; a wider variety of restaurants and lounges; dance clubs and discos; well-rounded children’s programs; and more.

However, there are some trade-offs. The size of big ships limits the ports to which they travel. And because they pack on the passengers, lines can develop almost everywhere, or reservations (when offered) can be tough to book. But a well-run big ship can overcome these problems through judicious use of technology and by employing a similarly big crew to address the needs of passengers.

**Fodors Travel. (n.d.). Best Large Ships. Fodors. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from

River Cruise

River cruises offer opportunities to step ashore in fairy-tale towns and major capitals that can’t be reached on a traditional cruise ship. The onboard ambiance spans such a range that there are ships to suit most travel preferences and lifestyles.

Designed specifically to transit the locks of river canals, modern river cruisers tend to be long and narrow, just like the locks.

8 Reasons to River Cruise

River Cruising allows passengers to experience multiple, memorable destinations in a short amount of time all while traveling the world’s most famous, historic rivers:

  1. Daily Discoveries - River cruises stop at new ports almost daily offering passengers an itinerary full of unique destinations to discover.
  2. Scenic Sailing - Looking to unwind on the water while taking in the sights? While river cruise lines do not spend a full day cruising, there is typically no shortage of time to take in the beautiful scenery when passing through scenic stretches such as the Danube's Wachau Valley and the Rhine's River Gorge.
  3. All-Inclusive - Most food, beverages, and often excursions are included in the overall price, allowing travelers to enjoy a decadent vacation without the stress of planning every detail and pinching every penny.
  4. One-of-a Kind Experiences - With access to narrow ports and through shallow waterways, river cruising offers a cruise for travelers who love to experience new cultures, visit historical sites and relax in cruise luxury.
  5. Maximum Return On Experience - River cruises offer a fantastic return on experience and investment, by allowing the chance to see multiple destinations under one price tag.
  6. Local Tastes and Cultures - Travelers get whisked away and drenched in local cultures with unique excursions and culinary experiences available only on river cruises, including authentic experiences at historical sites and tasting culinary masterpieces made with locally sourced ingredients.
  7. Love for Luxe - River cruises offer an exclusive, luxurious option for travelers. A smaller vessel means a more intimate vacation setting with staff focused on each guest.
  8. New Options - River cruising allows travelers to visit more intimate corners of the world and experience lands previously thought hard to get to by cruises, such as pockets along the Mekong and Amazon Rivers.

**Cruise Lines International Association. (n.d.). 8 Reasons to River Cruise. CLIA Cruise Lines International Association. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from


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Expedition Cruise

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Equal parts exhilarating adventure and travel by cruise ship, expedition cruising is one of the best ways to experience some of the most remote, and visually stunning, destinations on the planet.

Since discovery off your ship is the point of an expedition voyage, you won't find big ship features like Broadway-style theater performances, water slides and massive casinos. What you will find like the cruise experience is alfresco dining, private balconies (sometimes), spas, plush accommodations, sophisticated enrichment programs, a pool, lounging and culinary options that rival the best of small ship cruising.

  1. You Won't Need the Kitchen Sink - Expedition lines often gift travelers with a complementary parka and free use of key (and space-consuming) gear, like rubber boots. The parkas are normally yours to keep, but should you not want to lug them home many cruise companies have programs donating the coats to those in need.  For onboard life, no matter how upscale your expedition line is, leave formal wear at home (in fact, when I sailed more than one person wore shorts and flip-flops onboard). During the day, people are ultra-casual. At night, khakis, and collared shirts for men (same for women though resort-style garb is good, too), is the definitive dress code.
  2. Food Is Excellent - Even in some of the most extreme spots on the planet, luxury expedition cruise lines partner with famous chefs, such as France's Alain Ducasse, who train the onboard culinary teams to create five-star dining -- even when sailing to the bottom of the world. Add in other partners like Laduree and Veuve Clicquot and you have a dining experience unlike any other.  As well, newer expedition vessels devote more square footage to galleys, which means kitchens are better able to accommodate special diets, such as vegetarian, low-fat, and gluten-free. And many now feature 24-hour room service.
  3. Accommodations Are Luxurious - Plush bedding, spacious showers and of-the-moment electronics are also key extras that are relatively new to the expedition experience.
  4. Enrichment is Key - If you're thinking about an expedition cruise, then you probably already have a fierce curiosity and interest in wildlife and unique experiences. That's why you'll find that expedition voyages offer an extra dimension, depending on the itinerary, by bringing onboard historians, biologists, climatologists, ornithologists, photographers, and other erudite experts.
  5. You'll Make Friends - One aspect that genuinely surprised me about expedition cruising is the strong feeling of community. Whether it's Tahiti, the Galapagos or Antarctica, the act of visiting some of the planet's most amazing destinations with a small group of like-minded travelers creates lifelong bonds.
  6. Pre- and Post-Cruise Stays Are Common - Many expedition cruises start in some very remote areas of the planet, and the last thing you want to do is miss your cruise altogether. As well, flight connections to and from points of embarkation/disembarkation are often complex, which means that smart travelers will go ahead and plan to spend a few days exploring the area before leaving on the cruise. This is a travel bonus, as it allows a great opportunity to experience something totally different from the expedition cruise.
  7. You'll Be Extra Active - Most expedition cruise off-the-ship adventures are quite active, and you'll do more than just admire the scenery from the vessel's deck. Hiking to ruins, trekking across glaciers, climbing volcanoes, scuba diving and taking a polar plunge are all options -- depending on the destination of course -- that allow you to engage rather than just admire.


It's also important to point out that expedition ships may not often dock at a real pier. Zodiacs, which are inflatable rubber boats that you can board from the marina on your ship (and which make wet landings at "ports"), are a common fixture. They can require a bit of deft maneuvering to step into (and out of).

What may also surprise you is that newly designed and built expedition ships actually have onboard facilities, like spas offering standard massages and even super-exotic treatments, like balneotherapy (which uses mineral salts to make you feel more serene) and Moroccan hammams. Salons offer skin and nail treatments, and gyms, equipped with state-of-the-art gear, Kinesis walls, and private fitness trainers, are options. Alfresco pools and hot tubs are other diversions.

** Long, M. (2019, October 19). Expedition Cruises: What to Expect. Cruise Critic. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from


Yacht Cruise

If you want to explore beaches, islands and port towns around the world, consider a private yacht charter and enjoy an experience you won’t soon forget.

Explore More - Private charter yachts don’t require large ports, and therefore, yacht charters can go to smaller islands, hidden beaches, secluded anchorages, and dive spots away from the cruise ship crowds. Not to mention, larger charter yachts typically have a tender onboard, and therefore, guests can motor up to virtually any beach or cove.

Enjoy the Ultimate in Privacy - Yacht charters, though, are much more intimate. Just you and your guests are sharing the yacht (along with your dedicated crew). Therefore, you can spread out and relax, and avoid the crowds and lines you’d likely experience on a cruise.

Safety - Charter yachts offer a much safer experience. For example, charter yachts are cleaned and disinfected before and during each charter, helping to limit the spread of disease. You can plan your vacation to be fully social-distanced – i.e. arriving on a private flight, avoiding crowded restaurants and ports, etc. And because you control the guest list, you know your fellow passengers won’t be spreading disease.

Itinerary Flexibility & Customization - Yacht charter guests have much more freedom. Guests can control virtually any aspect of a yacht charter, including:

  • Itineraries – Pick what you see and where you stay
  • Menus – Help your chef plan the menu to your tastes
  • Shore Excursions – Explore the places you’d like when in port
  • Daily Schedule – Design your days to best suit your tastes, e.g. meal times, activities, etc.

 Exceptional Service - Yacht charters deliver a truly 5-star experience. Aboard a yacht, and you’ll be served by a dedicated crew. In fact, most crewed yachts have a crew-to-guest ratio of one-to-one. That means you’ll always have a stewardess to top off your drinks, help you plan shoreside excursions, and provide top-notch meal service.

You’ll also have access to a deck crew that can help you plan and set up water sports, tender excursions, and beach picnics.

 Amazing Food & Drink - Charter guests are served by an onboard chef, who will design menus to meet your exacting preferences. In fact, prior to embarking, guests provide the chef with their food and beverage preferences. The chef then uses this information to develop menus that meet the guests’ preferences to a T. Available food and drink options include tasting menus, pairings, themed dinners, birthday celebrations, and more.

More Activities and Water Sports - Charters provide guests with an amazing list of activities to enjoy. In fact, most charter yachts have an array of water sports toys and equipment for guests to enjoy, including jet skis, tenders, snorkels, scuba gear, and water slides. Another benefit: Charter guests have much more freedom to plan shoreside activities.

**Worldwide Boat. (n.d.). Yacht charter vs cruise ship. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from,more%20intimate%20and%20personalized%20experience.

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Luxury Cruise


Luxury travel is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to cruises. Some lines focus on smaller ships, impeccable service, and inclusive fares. Others care more about delivering immersive experiences in bucket-list destinations, while some larger cruise lines create exclusive, high-end enclaves on otherwise mass-market ships.

Traditional, All-Inclusive Luxury - These lines have always focused on the traditional elements of luxury: personalized pampering, spacious cabins (often all have balconies), the finest appointments onboard, gourmet cuisine and a world-class selection of wine and spirits. While all traditional luxury cruise ships can be considered small, they range in size from 1,000+ passengers down to just under 300 passengers. Passengers tend to be on the older side, though you will find wealthy young couples and families, especially during school breaks.

You'll find minimal nickel-and-diming throughout your luxury sailing, as most of these lines include alcohol, gratuities, and meals at alternative restaurants in their cruise fares; some also include flights, shore excursions, Wi-Fi, self-service laundry, shuttles into town, pre-cruise hotels, and water sports from the ship.

Contemporary Luxury and the Upscale Cruise Lines - The cruise industry can't agree on a collective name for these lines that skirt the edges of luxury. They might be referred to as "contemporary luxury," "upscale," "ultra-premium" or "luxury-lite." The lines themselves are quite different from each other, too, but we group them together because they offer a mix of mainstream cruise hallmarks (more a la carte pricing and smaller cabins) and luxurious attractions, such as destination-intensive itineraries with plenty of overnights, intimate and adult-oriented ships, and top-notch dining.

These lines are a good choice for cruise travelers interested in upgrading from premium lines but not sure they can afford or want the more formal ambiance of traditional luxury lines. They are also hailed by luxury travelers who enjoy destination-intensive itineraries, especially from the top-end suites.

Luxury Accommodations on Larger, Mainstream Cruise Ships - Not all luxury travelers prefer a small, formal ship with minimal entertainment options and an older passenger base. Young entrepreneurs might want a more happening nightlife; well-to-do families need a ship that can keep their kids happy. Many mainstream cruise lines have stepped up to accommodate these travelers, either with exclusive suite complexes or packages of extra perks for their higher-paying passengers. This way, affluent travelers can avoid the hassles of mega-ship life-long queues, crowded sun decks and lounges, nickel and diming -- while still benefiting from what those ships do well: more diverse passenger base, expansive kids clubs, active top-deck pursuits, and multiple nightlife and entertainment options.

Exclusive suite complexes, which combine top suites with private restaurants, sun decks, and lounges inaccessible to the majority of passengers. These passengers also receive extra amenities, services, and VIP privileges. The experience is like sailing on an intimate luxury vessel set onboard a larger, amenity-laden cruise ship.

** Silverstein, E. (n.d.). Luxury Cruise Basics: The 6 Types of Upscale Sailings. Cruise Critic. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from

Themed Cruise

What do "The Walking Dead," Elvis Presley, and a food-and-wine festival all have in common? They were all once themed cruises -- sailings centered around a particular interest or hobby, often hosted by a celebrity or group of celebrities.

When it comes to fun, a themed cruise is the way to go. This type of cruise tends to occur mostly on ocean liners – for example, Disney even has their own cruise line offering ocean cruises entirely themed around Disney movies and characters. From singing the movie soundtracks at the incredible evening shows to relaxing on Disney’s private island to fireworks at sea, you get the whole magical experience on a cruise ship.

Have you ever wanted to meet a favorite music legend after a concert, sip a fine glass of Pinot Noir poured by an award-winning winemaker, play poker with tournament champs, dance to polka bands every night or don an apron to cook alongside a celebrity chef?

Then you might want to consider a theme cruise vacation. Theme cruises -- sailings focusing on a hobby, area of interest or celebrity, as well as floating music festivals -- can be a backstage all-access pass to your passions.

They're increasingly popular, and it's easy to see why. Themed sailings offer immersion in a favorite activity or interest, combined with all the resort-like amenities of a cruise ship and the excitement of traveling to new places. They can include meet-and-greets with famous people, a lecture series, concerts, hands-on activities, days of dance lessons, classroom sessions or special-focus guided excursions while in port. You can indulge in your favorite pastimes, learn a new skill and make friends with like-minded people.

But before you book, take a close look. Theme cruises vary widely. They range from small affinity groups that meet on a regular sailing, to thousands of aficionados who take over a cruise ship and create a very different atmosphere from a typical sailing. You'll want to know just what you're booking -- and whether it's right for you -- before you commit.


  • Meow Meow Cruise! - This is a cruise for people who love cats.
  • Ultimate Disco Cruise - Enjoy a star-studded vacation with unparalleled access to legendary dance music stars.
  • Country Music Cruise - Put country before the party, as well as during and after the party, on a western music-themed odyssey.
  • Anthony Inglis And The National Symphony Orchestra - During this very special Transatlantic Crossing, guests will be treated to two spectacular performances in the Royal Court Theater—an evening of American-themed numbers and one showcasing the Best of British.  Alongside a Q&A with Anthony, guests will have the opportunity to audition for the choir and practice under the guidance of the NSO, ready for a group performance during the evening’s show.
  • Festival of Food and Wine - We’ll be joined by legendary chefs, culinary experts, and wine connoisseurs for this special Transatlantic Crossing. Spend delectable evenings in our onboard dining venues to sample special menus...

**Yancy, K. B. (n.d.). Theme Cruises: What You Need to Know. Cruise Critic. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from

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