Since the cruise market emerged in the 1970s, options for a vacation have grown. Do you stick with a standard, or “contemporary,” cruise? Or, do you take advantage of all-inclusive package deals offered by luxury liners? Or, as river cruises are now a popular option, do you prefer the slower trip that spends more time in each port?
Essentially, the choice all comes down to the traveler – the type of trip and features he or she wants. Nevertheless, contemporary and luxury liners both have advantages.
While not the first liner, Royal Caribbean embodies the contemporary cruise. This particular brand consists of more than 20 ships, including two of the largest in the world, and also encompasses Celebrity Cruises as its upscale traveling experience.
Royal Caribbean’s larger ships mirror the amount of activities contemporary cruises offer. Baseline activities and entertainment covers spas for relaxation, gyms and other recreation facilities, evening shows, nightclubs, and multiple onboard restaurants. The sheer possibilities resulting from such combinations have created the “freestyle cruising” experience, one that, beyond the standard features of a ticket price and itinerary, a traveler can create alone.
Larger ships, as well, have resulted in expanding activities on board. Beyond the basics, a contemporary cruise may include nightclubs for all ages, restaurants for a larger range of taste buds, rock climbing walls and other high-level recreation options, and multiple slides and water activities.
The variable, freestyle, or a la carte cruise experience is often within the budget of many travelers and extends past activities. Such a cruise, be it in a Royal Caribbean or other contemporary ship, involves rotational or open dining, rather than the fixed schedule of years past.
Additionally, contemporary cruises are said to have more family-friendly features on board, be it activities and dining specifically for children or even child care run by experienced professionals.
If Royal Caribbean liners represent the contemporary cruising experience, Regent Seven Seas Cruise is the apex of the luxury market. Considered one of the top-rated cruise lines, Regent consists of a small fleet – just three ships – with each vessel holding 700 or fewer passengers. The experience onboard, however, is considered more spacious and lavish, with personal service and gourmet food a top priority.
Part of luxury travels is the educational experience. Aside from excursions in each port, as well as trips going to less-traveled destinations, luxury cruises often include lectures and demonstrations, as well as other enrichment opportunities.
An aspect of Regent and other luxury cruises is all-inclusive deals. Tickets, while priced higher, cover the cost of not only food, a stateroom, access to pools and gyms, and entertainment, but also complimentary beverages, tours at ports, airfare, and hotel stays.
Travelers should keep in mind that luxury cruises are typically geared toward adults. Although activities may be on board for children, the full experience is designed with the adult traveler in mind.