Analysis by Alan Whitt
Known for: Small ships that can travel where the big ships can’t ... exotic itineraries designed for cruisers who want something different ... upgraded shore experiences.
Suited for: Sophisticated, experienced cruisers ... mature adults ... middle to upper class clientele ... educated, sophisticated adults ... people who want to avoid the hustle and hassle that comes with three or four big ships in the more prominent ports around the world.
Synopsis: Owned by Celebrity Cruises, these two mid-sized ships were originally part of the Renaissance Cruises fleet before the line went out of business. They were refurbished to the tune of a combined $38 million before beginning operation in 2007. Because the ship was built for another line, interior and oceanview cabins are extremely tight; so you might want to upgrade to a balcony cabin or a suite. Don’t expect the glitz of showroom extravaganzas available on the bigger, newer ships; what you’ll get here are concerts, comedy and dramas.
Contact: Azamara Club Cruises, 1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL, 33132, 877-222-2526
Azamara Journey (Journey class - 2000 / 2007) - PHOTO
Azamara Quest (Journey class - 2000 / 2007)
Known for: Loud, colorful and “out there” decor with
a whimsical flair .. cheap cruises ... the world’s largest and most successful cruise line ... they don’t call them “Fun Ships” for nothing.
Suited for: First-time cruisers looking for a bargain ... families with children ... people of all ages ... folks who like a casual cruise experience ... those who want to let their hair down and put on a different face than they would at home.
Synopsis: Carnival Cruise Line often gets a bad rap from cruise patrons who feel they’re too good to stoop to the level of the most successful cruise concept of all time. Some would be wise to try Carnival today and not rely on an experience from 10-15 years ago. Yes, it’s still a “Fun Ship.” And yes, the decor takes some getting used to. But as Carnival honchos say: Carnival wants to make certain that you realize you’re no longer in your living room or any other resort-type vacation when you step onboard. Over the years they’ve refined the Carnival cruise experience, using less neon in the decor and adding supper clubs (one of the best pay restaurants concepts at sea) to newer ships. Some public areas are downright elegant. Bottom line: Carnival delivers what it promises, and is who it wants to be. That folhouette (Solstice class - 2011)
Celebrity Solstice (Solstice class, 2008) - PHOTO
Celebrity Summit (Millennium class - 2001)
Celebrity Xpedition (Expedition class 2001)
Known for: Europe’s most popular cruise line ... “Roman Bacchanal,” or Toga Night ... reasonable pricing.
Suited for: Cruisers looking for a basic experience ... those who think they know Italian ... people seeking an international-like vacation at bargain prices ... the younger crowd & first-time cruisers ... people who like to party ... families with children & folks who don’t mind children.
Synopsis: Owned by Carnival Cruise Line, this is the Italian version of the “Fun Ship” experience. In fact, Costa ships in some cases are more whimsical than a Carnival ship. A week on a Costa cruise starts slow, but builds as the week goes on. That may be because with an international crowd, jet lag makes it necessary to recuperate before really letting loose. Expect to hear a variety of languages: Italian, French, Spanish and German on Mediterranean cruises, mostly Spanish on Caribbean cruises. As this is a European cruise line, there likely will be lots of smoking so prepare yourself. The Italian food offerings are very good, but just about all other food is just adequate, not memorable. Costa is not known for its entertainment, which is mostly inconsistent.
Contact: Costa Cruises, 200 South Park Road, Suite 200, Hollywood, FL 33021-8541, (800) 462-6782
Costa Allegra (1992)
Costa Atlantica (Atlantica class - 2000)
Costa Classica (Classica class - 1992)
Costa Concordia (Fortuna class - 2006)
Costa Deliziosa (Atlantica class - 2010)
Costa Fasinosa (2012)
Costa Favolosa (2011)
Costa Fortuna (Fortuna class - 2003)
Costa Luminosa (Atlantica class - 2009)
Costa Magica (Fortuna class - 2004)
Costa Marina (1990)
Costa Mediterranea (Atlantica class - 2003)
Costa Pacifica (Fortuna class - 2009)
Costa Romantica (Classica class - 1993)
Costa Serena (Fortuna class - 2007)
Costa Victoria (1996)
Known for: Biggest ships among the luxury cruise lines ... gourmet food ... worldwide itineraries.
Suited for: People with discriminating taste buds ... Passengers who crave a luxury experience but don’t want to be isolated from the world.
Synopsis: Crystal Cruises continues to push the envelope to give their clientele more than just a vacation. Example: next year each passenger will get a free volunteer excursion to help locals in a particular port. When they return to the ship they can be certain that the chefs will have whipped up another fantastic gourmet meal of heavenly proportions.
Contact: Crystal Cruises, 2049 Century Park East , Suite 1400, Los Angeles, CA 90067, (888) 394-6073
Crysship, a Holland America cruise can be for anyone. Classic ships are popular with older clientele, including seniors and their grandkids; Newer ships are great for families with younger kids accustomed to more elaborate resort vacations ... also suited for middle to upper-middle class folks who want a sense of sophistication in their vacations, including educational opportunities.
Synopsis: Holland America has redefined itself over the last few years, trying to attract a younger crowd than its’ traditional 50-something passengers. With newer, brighter ships, along with its’ “Signature of Excellence” program that upgraded food, amenities, staterooms and more, the plan appears to be working. So far, 11 ships have undergone the change. Holland America is a true “premium” experience, and the differences are apparent throughout the cruise - including a rather stunning art collection.
Contact: Holland America Line, 300 Elliot Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119, (800) 426-0327
ms Amsterdam (2000)
ms Eurodam (2008)
ms Massdam (1993)
ms Nieuw Amsterdam (2010)
ms Noorsdam (2006)
ms Oosterdam (2003)
ms Prinsendam (1988)
ms Rotterdam (1997)
ms Ryndam (1994)
ms Statendam (1993)
ms Veendam (1996)
ms Volendam (1999)
ms Westerdam (2004)
ms Zaandam (2000)
ms Zuiderdam (2002)
Known for: Newest fleet in the world ... cleanest ships in the industry ... superior entertainment ... and kids cruise free!
Suited for: People who like an international crowd ... those who crave a different cruise experience ... cruise enthusiasts with Italian in their blood or can’t get enough Italian food ... grandparents and grandkids - since kids cruise for free.
Synopsis: Unfortunately, MSC has only one ship in the USA ... and not year-round. That’s too bad, because Americans have yet to discover this Italian dish. The privately-owned line hopes to step up its USA presence in the coming years, with dreams of placing a ship on the West Coast as well. MSC is a different cruise experience than regular Caribbean cruisers may be prepared for. The food is decidedly Italian ... and so is the service. But you will get use to the cruise director regularly repeating himself in five languages to accommodate a decidedly international crowd.
Contact: MSC Cruises, 6750 North Andrews Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309, (800) 666-9333
MSC Splendida (Fantasia class - 2009)
MSC Fantasia (Fantasia class - 2008)
MSC Fantastica (2012)
MSC Poesia (Armonia class - 2008) - PHOTO
MSC Magnifica (Armonia class - 2010)
MSC Orchestra (Armonia class - 2007)
MSC Musica (Armonia class - 2006)
MSC Opera (Armonia class - 2004)
MSC Armonia (Armonia - 2001)
MSC Sinfonia (
MSC Lirica (Armonia - 2003)
MSC Melody (1982)
Known for: “The Love Boat” ... dominance in the Alaska cruises and cruisetours market ... the first cruise line with giant poolside LCD movie screens ... superior and well-organized shore excursion programs.
Suited for: Older couples and singles ... families with teenage children ... people looking for a good cruise experience without the glitz ... folks who expect an organized vacation ... single women traveling alone and looking for male hosts provided by the cruise line.
Synopsis: There was a time when Princess was a dominant line in the American cruise market. But ”Love Boat” fame can only take you so far. Carnival Cruise Line has, for the most part, taken a hands-off approach since purchasing Princess. However, alhough Princess provides a good cruise experience for its fans, as that clientele gets older the line has made a serious effort to attract a younger demographic. Princess ships are beautiful and up-to-date, the food is consistent across the board and the staff is professional and helpful. And if want an Alaska cruise, Princess is the undisputed heavyweight champion and that title isn't likely to change anytime soon.
Contact: Princess Cruises, 24305 Town Center Drive, Santa Clarita, CA 91355, (800) PRINCESS
Caribbean Princess (Grand class - 2004)
Coral Princess (Coral class - 2002)
Crown Princess (Grand class - 2006)
Dawn Princess (Pacific class - 1997)
Diamond Princess (Grand class - 2004)
Emerald Princess (Grand class - 2007)
Golden Princess (Grand class - 2001)
Grand Princess (Grand class - 1998)
Island Princess (Coral class - 2003)
Ocean Princess (Pacific class - 1999)
Pacific Princess (Pacific class - 1999)
Royal Princess (Pacific class - 2013)
Ruby Princess (Grand class - 2008)
Sapphire Princess (Grand class - 2005) - PHOTO
Sea Princess (1998)
Star Princess (Grand class - 2002)
Sun Princess (1995)
Regent Seven Seas
Known for: All-suite ships ... superior dining experience & food ... unparalleled service ... world cruises.
Suited for: Folks with discriminating taste ... folks with several zeros at the end of their bank account or a limitless credit card ... educated, well-traveled cruisers.
Synopsis: Regent Seven Seas spent $40 million to upgrade its three ships - even though they aren’t that old by cruise ship standards. The ships are now Wi-fi enabled, cell phones work even at sea and bedding and bathroom were all upgraded. More than just a cruise, an enrichment program is designed based on each itinerary.
Contact: Regent Seven Seas Cruises, 1000 Corporate Drive, Suite 500, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334, (800) 285-1835
Contact: Seabourn Cruise Line, 6100 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 400, Miami, FL 33126, (800) 929-9391
Seabourn Legend ( 1992 / 1996)
Seabourn Odyssey (2009)
Seabourn Pride (1988)
Seabourn Sojourn (2010)
Seabourn Spirit (1989)
Known for: An "Uncompromising Commitment to Service" ... Loyal passengers ... all-suite, all-inclusive cruises ... small ships & niche itineraries ... luxury expedition cruises.
Suited for: Experienced cruisers ... folks with deep pockets .... people with a sense of adventure ... those searching for a different - albeit expensive - cruise experience.
Synopsis: This line expects to continue its growth by adding ships to its small fleet. It is always looking for ways to give its loyal passengers what they want - even when they embark/debark. Cruisers are allowed to join the cruise at any port during a voyage.
Contact: Silversea Cruises, 110 E. Broward Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301, (800) 774-9996
- Prince Albert II (1989 / 2008)
- Silver Cloud (1994)
- Silver Shadow (2000)
- Silver Spirit (2009)
- Silver Whisper (2001)
- Silver Wind (1995
Known for: Computer controlled sails ... casual cruises to offbeat places ... $7 liters of water.
Suited for: The young at heart, including couples and singles.
Synopsis: These are more yachts than cruise ships, as the biggest ship is less than 15,000 tons. The ship comes with a healthy inventory of water sports apparatus, including kayaks, a water ski boat, snorkeling and scuba equipment, etc. There is no formal entertainment; this cruise is all about adventure and participation.
Contact: Windstar Cruises, 2101 4th Avenue Suite 1150, Seattle, WA 98121, (800) 258-7245
Wind Spirit (1998)
Wind Star (1986)
Wind Surf (1990)