Special Report

Cruises Better Than Other Vacations

Many people just want to relax or be entertained on their hard-earned vacation, while others want to explore the world and its treasures, or set out on a true adventure. With the many pluses that a cruise can offer and the wide variety available, a well-chosen cruise can be a dream vacation. Many destinations are welcoming tourists with open arms. These are the most tourist-friendly countries in the world.

Whatever the choice of cruise, there are common elements that will make it a better experience than other types of leisure travel. No matter how long the voyage, you are essentially living in one place. Your luggage and other personal belongings stay where you have arranged them in your cabin for your own convenience throughout the trip — no packing and unpacking as you move from place to place. And there is no dragging of roller bags in and out of hotels, or finding storage in between hotel stays as you negotiate between check-in and check-out times.

Even for those travelers who love to plan months ahead, plotting a route and building an itinerary, having someone else take care of all the planning and arrangements can be a welcome change. Cruise lines have well-choreographed itineraries designed to get the most out of your trip, visiting popular cities steps away from where you deboard and offering side trips to more exotic destinations via motor coach. These are the most visited countries in the world.

Click here to see 15 cruises that are better than many vacations.

The ship’s staff also takes care of all or most meals, often offering local dishes and, depending on the cruise line, menus and wine pairings that foodies can get excited about. There is plenty of free time to enjoy the voyage itself and allotted segments for exploring each destination on your own and, if you choose, snacking or dining in local taverns or eateries.

Cruises are a particularly good choice for retirees, who often have the means (cruises can be expensive) to travel well and who enjoy the flexibility (they can relax on deck rather than hike the volcano) and the full and friendly service a cruise provides — and these are the cruises with the best entertainment for seniors.

If your image of a cruise vacation is an immense multistoried party ship with swimming pools, multiple dining venues, climbing walls and Vegas-style entertainment, heading for a beach destination, these certainly exist, accommodating literally thousands of passengers. But there are many other options, from small education-oriented boats focused on geographic or historic themes, to calm-water river cruise ships that accommodate 200 people or fewer for trips to smaller, more intimate ports of call along with the big ones. And there are countless itineraries, scheduled for a few days to several months, from close to home resort towns to hundreds of destinations around the world. Many of these destinations are climbing in popularity. These are the fastest-growing vacation spots in the world.

Whether you are looking for a special family vacation, a romantic getaway, or the waterway less taken, there is a cruise for you.