When most people think of cruises, they think of Caribbean locales, fruity drinks + cheesy shore excursions. But that’s not all there is to cruises. If you’re not the cruise type, my list of 9 types of cruises just might change your mind!
Depending on the cruise line, cruises to Alaska typically tour the southern coast of Alaska. Rather than hopping from beach to beach, Alaskan cruises bring you to gorgeous parks and seaside towns where you can partake in outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, dog sledding, and more. If you’re a fan of wildlife, you’ll likely enjoy the many opportunities to see whales, seals, bald eagles, bears, and other Alaskan wildlife.
While there are over a dozen cruise lines that include Alaskan cruises, the cruise lines I recommend are Celebrity Cruises, Discovery Voyages, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, and Uncruise Adventures.
Aside from working at an Antarctic research station, one of the only other opportunities to see the 7th continent of Antarctica is via a cruise.
Antarctic cruises aren’t like most types of cruises. The ships are typically smaller and the on and off-board activities are geared toward the outdoorsy + nature lovers. That means pack your boots + parkas and leave the evening gowns and thoughts of late night parties at home. Some cruises are actually research ships, so if learning is your jam, an Antarctic cruise sounds right up your alley!
If you’re a fan of Disney Parks, then you’ll love the Disney Cruise Line. With over a dozen destinations and a host of special celebrations, such as Star Wars Day, chances are high that Disney Cruise Line will have the perfect itinerary for you. Disney Cruise Line even owns a private island, Castaway Cay, in the Bahamas.
Aside from plenty of itinerary options, Disney’s cruise ships are filled with fun for families. But don’t worry, these types of cruises aren’t just for families! There are plenty of areas on Disney’s cruise ships that are adults-only. So if you’re looking for a sans-kid trip with the magical Disney amenities that you’re used to at the parks, you’ll have plenty to do without feeling like you’re the odd one out among families with kids.
Disney Cruise Line is a natural choice for a family cruise, but it’s certainly not the only family cruise out there.
Carnival Cruise Lines has a seemingly endless list of options on board and offshore for families with kids. Think poolside movies, mini golf, water slides, teen clubs, video game lounges, a Build-a-Bear Workshop, Dr. Seuss themed activities, and so much more.
Royal Caribbean Cruises has a partnership with Universal Orlando to create discounted vacation itineraries that include time at the park and at sea. Most Royal Caribbean cruises also include character breakfasts, movie screenings and other activities themed around Dreamworks movies, such as Shrek, Madagascar + Kung Fu Panda.
Long Term Cruises
Got money and time? Spend several months or more at sea on a long-term cruise. If you play your budget right, you might even be able to work out living aboard a long-term cruise ship without needing a permanent home on land. This option is starting to become popular with retirees looking to travel the world at a slower pace.
Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruises are just a few cruise lines that offer long-term cruises of at least 3 months. Oceania Cruises offers several long-term cruise itineraries per year, with the shortest around 4.5 months and the longest at 6 months.
Mundy Cruising’s frankensteined itinerary takes the cake, though, with a whopping 357 days. As they are a travel agency, the itinerary is actually a mish-mash of several cruises back to back with the goal of hitting all 7 continents and seeing many of the world wonders and attractions.
Sometimes you just want to leave your worries behind + party ’til you can’t party no more on your vacation. Why not do it at sea? These types of cruises aren’t for everyone, as there’s not too much quiet time, but they can be a hell of a lot of fun.
Love EDM? Add Holy Ship to your bucket list. This party cruise sails out each year in early January for 4-5 days with a sick line up of the best EDM acts, like A-Trak, Chromeo, Kaskade + Steve Aoki. This party cruise has proved so popular that a second itinerary has been added in recent years.
New to the scene is Inception at Sea, having first set sail in 2016. The concept is similar to Holy Ship in that the cruise includes a music festival. This party cruise, however, is designed to be a Spring break destination, and typically sets sail in March. Inception at Sea 2017 included Dada Life, Lil Jon + 3MAU. If you’re avoiding Spring Breakers, the same folks who put on Inception at Sea also put on Groove Cruise, which sets sail from both Miami and LA once a year.
River cruises generally carry a different vibe than ocean cruises. The ships are smaller, the pace is slower, and land is always in sight. As the name suggests, river cruises set sail along a major river with stops along the riverbank.
River cruises are most popular in Europe, with routes along the Seine, Danube, and Rhine Rivers, among others. Other popular routes outside of Europe include the Amazon River in South America, the Nile River in Egypt, and the Yangtze River in China. Popular river cruise lines include Avalon Waterways, Disney Cruise Line, Uniworld and Viking River Cruises.
Semester at Sea
Semester at Sea is a study abroad program aboard a cruise ship. Students enroll in college classes just like they do on campus, with mini courses at each port. The program is run through Colorado State University, so students can earn credit toward their degree.
Not a college student? No problem! Enroll as a lifelong learner or sign up for a job aboard the ship. Jobs only last a semester, so they are great for a sabbatical, seasonal workers or retirees.
Still can’t decide what types of cruises are for you? If you’re a fan of something, there’s probably a theme cruise for you. Like the Walking Dead? Check out the Walker Stalker Cruise. Still in love with the Backstreet Boys? Yup, they’ve got a cruise too! Yoga, scrapbooking, even personal finance! Whatever your passion is, there just might be a cruise that works it into the itinerary or activities.
Many of the big name cruise lines host these theme cruises or work in conjunction with event planning organizations, so you’ll likely luck out finding them on their websites or newsletters. Some cruise lines specialize in theme cruises, such as Uncruise Adventures, which hosts cruises that focus on topics such as photography, birdwatching, craft beer + more.
Which types of cruises are up your alley?