In case you haven't noticed, the cruise business is booming with more ships taking more people to move destinations than ever before.
There are cruises for singles, cruises for families and cruises that focus on all sorts of special interests, including nature, adventure, culture, food and health.
You can choose among smaller ships that accommodate fewer than 100 to larger ships that carry 3,000 or more and just about every size in between.
Some of the ships are simple in their amenities; others are floating resorts, with gyms, spas, theaters, shopping plazas, atriums and even miniature golf courses. Some cruises last just a few days, others go for weeks, and yet others go clear around the world in a few months.
Faced with so many possibilities, the hardest part for most people contemplating a cruise is making the right choice.
An expert travel agent can show you how to choose a destination that's right for you, how to evaluate cruise ships and cruise styles suitable for your taste and show you how to find the cruise that meets special needs and interests. And, last but not least, how to save big money, too.
What to look for in cruise brochures
Cruise lines design their promotional literature very carefully to appeal to specific markets.
Of course, all of the brochures you receive will show beautiful ships and multitudes of happy people, but the literature is definitely worth looking at. If you can identify with the people in the pictures (pay attention to their ages) and the activities described that they are engaged in, you are on the right track.
Best time to book a cruise
The best time to think about booking a cruise is about a year in advance - and even earlier if you are thinking about a family reunion or a group departure - as you will then have the widest selection.
On the other hand, if you wait until close to departure, your choices may be limited, but you might also be in luck in getting a lower rate in case of heavy cancellations close to departure time. Nevertheless, that is not recommended as the cruising industry is in full boom and ships are usually full long before the actual sailing date.
How to book a cruise
There are a couple of ways to book a cruise. Although it seems logical, don't try to contact a cruise line directly.
Cruise lines are not truly set up to work directly with the consumer and prefer to work with travel agents or wholesalers.
Using a travel agency will also make it a pleasurable experience from beginning to end as agents take pride in giving excellent customer service. They treat the customers like kings and queens because their income depends on it.
Hot cruise destinations
The Caribbean remains among the most desired cruise destinations, including Southern Caribbean (Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Lucia etc.). On the other side of the globe, Hawaii is coming into its own. "Island hopping" through the Hawaiian Islands has become popular.
Alaska is one of the favorite destinations for all Americans because of its breathtaking landscape.
And of course, the Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, the Mediterranean cruises, the Greek isles and the Norwegian fjords are welcome cruise destinations for seasoned travelers looking for something different.
Not to be outdone, coming in vogue are the river cruises in Europe, Russia and China to name a few.
Those sailings are more laid back and are great for passengers looking for more history and culture of an area. The river cruises are able to come right up to the town's port in the heart of the city in many cases.
Ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime where all is included during your stay on board, i.e. all meals, beverages, entertainment and so much more?
Call your favorite travel agent and experience for yourself a truly relaxing and enjoyable vacation on a cruise of your choice. Cruising is the way to go.
Until your departure, happy travel dreams.
Geraldine Blanchard is a travel consultant with Global Tours and Travel,559 W. Eau Gallie Blvd. Melbourne. She can be reached at (321) 676-6040 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information, visit www.globaltours.com.