How to Pick a Cruise Line Part 3

Best for Night Owls

Eagles Aft Lounge on Carnival Valor

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian ships have an array of bars and lounges, from the bordello-meets-bowling-themed Bliss Ultra Lounge to Getaway’s Sugarcane Mojito Bar and other specialty venues focusing on beer, whiskey, cocktails or Champagne. Norwegian’s signature White Hot and Glow Parties (they vary depending on what ship class you are on) are the hottest dance parties aboard, where cruisers come dressed in white and the entertainment staff, bedecked with angel wings or layered in neon, keep the fun going with group dancing and on some ships, a mesmerizing video screen. We’ve also heard some mighty impressive karaoke on these ships.

Carnival Cruise Line

It’s no shock that the Fun Ships are ideal for night owls. Carnival’s piano bars just might be the happeningest in cruising (true night owls know the songs get raunchier after midnight), and karaoke is offered nightly. You’re never far from a bar or dance club, and the casino is often in the heart of the action. Late-night 18-plus comedy has always been a staple event at the line’s Punchliner Comedy Clubs.

MSC Cruises

When you’re cruising the European way, be sure to adjust to European bedtime, when even the smallest children are found in the nightclub around 10 p.m. That’s the vibe on MSC, even on its U.S.-geared ships. Piano bars, sports bars, lounges with wine-blending classes and hangouts with international beer — it’s all there. What keeps the nightlife lively isn’t only the atmosphere, it’s the clientele; MSC passengers typically keep the party going until the wee hours of the morning.

Best for Entertainment

Disney Dreams

Disney Cruise Line

Disney knows the entertainment biz better than anyone, and that shows in its cruise line offerings as well. Its onboard stage shows mix original productions with live versions of hit movies like «Frozen» and «Tangled,» but all feature catchy tunes, creative props and costumes, and favorite Disney characters. Its best known event is its once-a-cruise pirate-themed deck party, which combines an interactive musical show with dance parties and at-sea fireworks.

Gurkemeie K2 PLUSS

Royal Caribbean International

This line loves to the push the boundaries of onboard entertainment options. It’s the only line to offer ice-skating shows and water-based acrobatic shows. Plus, it was the first to bring Broadway to the high seas with condensed versions of «Chicago,» «Hairspray» and «Saturday Night Fever.» It utilizes every square inch of space onboard to keep the fun going, with toe-tapping parades along its indoor Promenade shopping and dining district and aerial performances in the atriums of its Vision-class ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian is RCI’s competitor when it comes to innovative entertainment options. The line has also introduced Broadway-quality shows including «After Midnight» and «Million Dollar Quartet.» Add to that a production featuring the cult hits of «16 Candles» director John Hughes, the unique Cirque Dreams and Dinner Show (part acrobatic show, part alternative dining venue), jazz and blues clubs, celebrity musician impersonators, dueling pianists and comedians, and it’s hard not to be entertained.


Best for Exploring Onshore

Azamara Club Cruises - Concert

Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara’s catch phrase is «destination immersion,» and its fleet of two small ships achieves this in several ways. Itineraries include less-touristed ports and cruise regions, and often feature late-night stays and overnights in port. Plus, nearly every cruise includes an «AzAmazing Evening,» a complimentary shoreside event that presents the local culture in an intimate or exclusive setting. When possible, Azamara also tries to schedule its cruises around major destination events, such as Carnaval in Rio or the Grand Prix in Monaco.

Celebrity Cruises

One of Celebrity’s goals is to offer sailings to every continent, including Antarctica, with more overnight calls and more small-group excursions. (Clearly, it’s following in sister Azamara’s footsteps.) A Destination Concierge is on every ship; these port experts assist passengers in making the most of their time ashore, even going as far as creating individual excursions tailormade to your touring desires. A fleet of three expedition ships cater to cruisers looking to explore the Galapagos.

Viking Ocean Cruises

Join a home visit in Stavanger, Norway, or a full-day walking tour in Rome. At least one shore excursion is included in each port on all Viking’s itineraries. Plus, itineraries tend to be port intensive, so expect to visit a new city nearly every day of your cruise. If you’re not impressed by a morning exploring the city, opt to pay for one of the line’s more custom shore tours like a helicopter ride or a journey through Nice in the footsteps of Henri Matisse. Want to arrange a private car ride in port? They’re a way to do that, too.

Best for Water Lovers

Kayaking couple

Windstar Cruises

Water-lovers have two reasons to love Windstar. First, the line’s yachts have plenty of open deck space, including alfresco dining options, for getting that sea-wind-in-your-hair feel. Second, the ships offer complimentary water sports from a built-in onboard marina. You can borrow kayaks, windsurf boards, small sailboats and inflatable boats and mats. Passengers have access to free snorkel equipment, and water skiing is offered by the ship’s staff. Select itineraries feature beach party days, as well.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin’s namesake ship sails in the South Pacific, an ideal place for savoring water-based activities and scenic island views from the sea. The ship has a retractable aft marina used for complimentary water sports, such as kayaking, windsurfing and water skiing. The ship also lends out snorkel equipment, but it can’t be used from the onboard marina, and offers a scuba program with both recreational dives and certification classes. Water-lovers will also enjoy beach days on a little island in Bora Bora and Motu Mahana, a tiny island off Taha’a complete with a floating bar offshore.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Another big-name luxury line with a water sports platform is Seabourn. Its marina is stocked with all the toys: banana boats, kayaks, pedal boats, water skis, windsurf boards and the «doughnut,» an inner tube in which you sit while being pulled along by a speedboat. If you’re excited about taking advantage of this option, choose your itinerary wisely — cooler weather sailings and busy ports are not conducive to marina use.

Best for Solo Travelers

Studio Cabin on Norwegian Getaway.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian’s much acclaimed Studio cabins proved to the world that solo travelers aren’t always overlooked. Norwegian Epic offers the line’s largest studio offering with 128 single cabins measuring 100 square feet with a corridor-facing window, mood lighting and access to a shared social space with large-screen TVs, coffee-making facilities and a bartender. You’ll find 82 studio rooms on Escape, with an area that includes a lounge bar and social space. Getaway has 59 studio cabins, with access to a two-deck lounge, complete with a 50-inch TV and a self-service wine bar, as well as a tea and coffee machine.

Holland America Line

Even before dedicated cabins, solo cruisers were choosing Holland for its social atmosphere and a ton of independent travelers sail the line every year. HAL’s Single Partners Program is designed for single cruisers with meetups, activities and events geared just toward solos. On longer itineraries, social hosts serve as greeters and dance partners for women. Prinsendam now features single cabins and Koningsdam, the line’s newest vessel, has solo cabins without a single supplement. If you’re sailing a ship without a solo cabin, the program can arrange for you to share your room with another same-sex single to save you money.

Crystal Cruises

A popular choice for solo travelers, Crystal entices lone travelers with its wide range of onboard activities, singles get-togethers, gentleman hosts and low solo supplements. Many single cruisers choose the line’s set-seating option to meet new friends over dinner, while its Table for 8 program matches solo travelers for group meals at the specialty dining venues. The onboard atmosphere is communal and social, so no passenger needs to feel lonely.


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