Do you want to do it all? Looking for a lively poolside scene, an exciting casino, a lavish spa, lots of entertainment, and a multi-generational atmosphere (including some quieter, adult hideout spots)? Consider a megaship. Operated by such brands as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International (RCI), Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Princess Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line, these ships carry 1,900 to 3,600 passengers. They are loaded with resort features, including a wide choice of eateries, bars, and types of accommodations; lots of people (occasionally, you’ll have to wait in lines); and activities to keep everyone from adults to tots entertained day and night.
Do you want the latest, greatest thrills? The newer and larger super-megaships of Carnival, RCI and NCL add a mind-boggling array of Instagram-worthy amusements, such as waterparks, laser tag, robot bartenders, thrill slides, racetracks, and zip lines. How big are they? RCI’s Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, carries up to 6,680 passengers. You’ll find fellow cruisers of all ages attracted by the “wow” factor.
Do you want to go back to school? Mid-size ships, operated by lines such as Oceania Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises, forgo loud, energetic amusements in favor of good food and wine, learning opportunities, and sophisticated entertainment. With 680 to 1,250 passengers onboard, these ships provide a comfortable way to get to exciting destinations at a slower pace. You’ll have time to listen to a lecture on, say, maritime history, and to socialize with your fellow passengers—most of whom will be age 55 and up.
Do you want interesting destinations? Small ships, most with fewer than 200 passengers, are casual, social, and adult-oriented. They focus attention on what’s happening off-ship—whether coming face-to-face with sea lions or exploring history and culture. Among the vessels offering this type of experience are expedition-style ships operated by brands such as Silversea and Ponant, yacht-like ships such as those of Windstar Cruises, and soft adventure-focused ships such as those of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic. River ships fall into this category, too, providing a comfortable way to explore inland waterways.
Do you want luxury? You enjoy the finer things in life, such as gourmet food, fine wine, and crisp linens, and you’re willing to pay for them. Luxury lines such as Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises cater to a sophisticated, adult crowd, pampering the 290 to 1,000 passengers onboard with such niceties as butler service and free-flowing Champagne. The low-key environment can be social if you want it to be or private if that’s what you prefer.