Nearly everyone has a favorite cruise ship. In this chart, we outline the key distinctions among the 8 most popular cruise ships in the industry. Look for highlights of onboard accommodations, dining and entertainment, as well as ship itineraries. Don't have a favorite cruise ship just yet? Our picks just might inspire you to find the perfect vacation match. Want more info about these top 8 cruise ships? Click on the vessel name below to read about ship highlights and find links to itineraries, a photo tour of the ship, a comprehensive expert review and hundreds of reader-submitted critiques.
Popular MSC Cruise Articles
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Even with accommodations, meals and entertainment wrapped up in its fares, cruising can still be pricy if you're taking the entire family on an oceangoing getaway. Just when you thought that bringing the brood would break the bank, we've come up with a list of lines that let kids sail free. If the idea of free cruises for kids gets your heart racing with excitement, be aware of a few caveats: With most lines, free kids fares are only available as limited-time promotions, require applicable taxes and fees to be paid for each passenger and necessitate sharing a cabin with the junior travelers as the third and/or fourth passengers in the room. (Contact a travel agent or your cruise line for specific information before booking any cruise.)
The total price of a cruise is rarely just the ticket price and some government fees. While accommodations, most meals and tons of activities are included in your fare, you will have to pay extra for an array of tempting amenities and activities, like spa treatments, shore excursions and cocktails. If you're on a budget, it can be tricky to figure out just what your total vacation cost will be and what kind of extra charges to anticipate. While a $7 pina colada likely won't break the bank, you might be surprised to discover how quickly an exercise class here and a round of bingo there can add up. To help you figure out how much you might actually spend on a cruise vacation, we've culled and tallied the prices of common extra charges found on weeklong Caribbean cruises and listed them for eight popular -- and amenity-laden -- cruise ships. We've also added in the daily gratuities for each passenger in a standard cabin. (Tips for suite passengers might be higher.) Use these numbers as a guide to help you calculate the total price of a cruise. Editor's Note: Prices may vary by ships within the same cruise line, as well as by itinerary, and they're subject to change at any time, without notice; these prices were accurate as of July 2018. We realize that travelers will not rack up every one of these charges every day, but we have presented both the prices and a sample a la carte cost for one day to make the point that onboard charges can accumulate rapidly.
As you lie on a massage table, legs tucked into a soft sheet, hot stones soothing the tired muscles of your back and arms, you will most certainly not be thinking about cruise ship spa ratings. And while you relax on a heated tile lounger or in a steamy sauna, eyes drooping, thoughts of work and bills scurrying far away, you're probably not wondering about your cruise line's philosophy on its spa product. But when you sit down at your computer to research your next cruise vacation, you might very well want to know where to find the best spas at sea -- and we'll be there to help.
Cruise ship water parks are a top-deck jumble of cascading tubes in Crayola colors, cartoon characters playfully spraying into kiddie pools, and delighted screams that splash out of slides and from behind water cannons. These water playgrounds are an especially attractive diversion on the warm-weather itineraries offered year-round by most cruise lines. Cruise ship water parks are being quickly one-upped as cruise lines get creative with their brand-new ships. Innovative slides that thrill riders with drop-out floors, two-person floats and spiraling funnels now include dazzling light effects, and expansive top-deck areas have added even more square footage and water features as cruise lines roll out their largest water parks to date. In today's world of water parks at sea, five cruise lines stand out because of their impressive aquatic chops. Here are our favorites.
In just 10 years, MSC Cruises has gone from operating one ship in North America -- mostly targeted to Europeans sailing in the Caribbean -- to a line sailing five ships in and around the Caribbean, including several marketed to North Americans departing from U.S. homeports. If you don't know a
If you're like me, your inbox is flooded daily with cruise line emails advertising amazing sales that will save you money. Free this, free that, BOGO (Buy One Get One) half off, discounts of 50, no 60, no 75 percent off prevailing rates. Your inner bargain hunter starts itching to snag that deal, while the killjoy skeptic on your other shoulder is whispering, "This sale is too good to be true." Which is it? If the offer is coming from the cruise line or a travel agent, it's not a scam -- you will be able to book a cruise. But the deal, as advertised, might be misleading. Promises of huge discounts might not actually result in the cheapest cruise fare you've ever seen, and fees hidden in the fine print can bump up the price you pay. To cut through the confusion, we take a look at some of the most common cruise line offers to uncover what's really on offer. Scam or deal -- the only thing that matters is what price the cruise line or travel agency is asking, and whether you're willing to pay it.
No, "cruises for millennials" is not an oxymoron. The emergence of smart-ship technology, Broadway-quality entertainment, designer stores and an emphasis on current culinary trends means that cruising has caught up to many other forms of travel, in terms of hipness. And what other type of vacation can guarantee you'll have just as good of a time getting to your destination(s) as actually being there? If you were born between 1982 and 2004, face it: You're more or less an M-word. Some traits we arguably share include addiction to our phones, high expectations, the need for constant stimulation and the desire to travel and acquire experiences. Luckily, all of these things --and more -- can be sated on a cruise. Finding the single, perfect cruise for everyone born over the course of two decades -- it's a tall order. The millennial generation is often lumped together as one group, but in fact, these children of the '80s, '90s and early '00s are all at different points in their lives, and looking for different things from a cruise and from a vacation. Someone in their late-30s with a six-figure salary is going to want something different from someone in their mid-20s with kids, than someone who is still in college. That's why we are counting down nine different cruise options for the millennial with a young family, the millennial couple looking to spend their hard-earned money on a getaway and the millennial scraping together tips to just leave it all behind with a group of friends.
Budgets can get tight at times, but that doesn't mean you have to ditch your vacation plans all together. If taking a cruise this year involves penny pinching, why not consider a cruise on a line known more for value than for the latest splashy features? Unlike the airline industry with its low-cost carriers (think Spirit Airlines, Ryanair or even Southwest), not many cruise lines would be considered budget (though some older ships on well-established, contemporary cruise lines, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, could fall into this category). So, to help in your search for cruise deals, we've come up with three categories for penny pinchers -- budget cruise lines, budget itineraries and budget seasons. You don't necessarily need to sail with a dedicated budget cruise line to find rock-bottom rates, but you need to know which itineraries and cruising seasons traditionally have the lowest prices. With savvy strategies, you can even find extremely affordable sailings on more upscale cruise lines, as well as the mainstream ships. So stop moping and start shopping -- there are plenty of affordable cruise vacations if you know where to look.
Constant communication -- that's what modern cruisers demand. In addition to keeping in touch with friends and family back home, passengers want the ability to connect with their spouse, kid or friend who's onboard with them. Specifically, cruisers want texting on cruise ships, and lines are responding with apps to facilitate this. Though apps vary from line to line, the essential function is the same: enabling cruisers to use their own mobile devices to text other people on the same ship. We take a closer look at which cruise lines offer texting apps to their passengers, and how they work.