Healthy Travel Tips »
Healthy Travel Tips » Stay safe on vacation
4 Reasons to Try a New Cruise Line
Pro tips for deciding whether a new line with whiz-bang features and amenities is right for you.
Consider factors such as your desired itinerary, onboard atmosphere, available culinary programs and price point before taking to the open seas with a new cruise line.(Getty Images)
The cruise industry continues to lure travelers seeking a value-packed vacation experience. And while it's often easier to sail on the high seas with a trusted cruise line year after year, you may be selling yourself short and missing out on new cruise ships. "Although it's nice to be able to rely on a consistent experience every year with the same cruise line, sometimes loyalty can overshadow a great deal," says Jessica Bisesto, a senior editor at TravelPirates.com, a travel deals site.
To help you determine if a climbing aboard a new cruise line is the right option for you, U.S. News asked cruise experts to share top selling points – and drawbacks – for trying a different cruise company.
You Want a Different Onboard Atmosphere
If the cruise ambiance you're looking for is changing, you may want to consider a luxury cruise line with new ships touting sophisticated onboard areas and stimulating enrichment programs. After all, if you've been loyal to the same cruise line, you could be missing out on a number of new perks offered on different vessels that have debuted or improved in the time since you chose your go-to cruise line, Bisesto says. One company to consider is MSC Cruises, a European-based line with two Miami-based ships setting sail in 2017: the MSC Divina and the brand-new MSC Seaside, set to debut in December. The Seaside will boast sea-level promenades with outdoor spaces, shops, restaurants and sweeping ocean views. Other noteworthy family-friendly features include an Aqua Park with four waterslides, a ropes course and two zip lines. In total, Seaside will have 11 eateries, including a standout Pan-Asian restaurant from celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi. The Divina is another ideal pick within the MSC fleet for an intimate and refined onboard setting thanks to its elegant spa and innovative specialty dining choices.
"MSC Cruises is a European cruise line, which means that fleetwide guests enjoy offerings inspired by our Mediterranean heritage, such as a wide variety of Mediterranean and international cuisines and elegant ships, while still having an experience tailored to fit the needs they are accustomed to and the region we are sailing in," says Roberto Fusaro, president of MSC Cruises USA. According to Fusaro, another enticement to sail with MSC Cruises is that MSC is the only cruise line that offers a status match program. "With the program, frequent travelers who are part of a rewards program from another travel company can benefit from instant status and perks with MSC," he says. "It's a win-win situation and travelers looking for a new experience can give MSC Cruises a try without worrying about losing the loyalty or benefits they may have built up with another brand," he adds.
[See: 10 Amazing Cruise Ship Amenities.]
You Want to See a New Destination
If your preferred cruise line doesn't sail to a port of call you want to visit, that's an ideal opportunity to make a change. "If you've got your heart set on visiting a specific port that your normal cruise line doesn't sail to, you might have to book another line in order to get there," advises Simon Duvall, community manager at Cruiseline.com. For example, if you're already sailed to the Caribbean and exploring the Hawaiian islands is on your travel bucket list, Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America is an ideal choice for you. The ship's one-of-a-kind inter-island itinerary offers nearly 100 hours of port time and visits Hawaii's main islands, including an overnight in Kahului, Maui, and an overnight in Nawiliwili, Kauai, as well as stops in Hilo and Kona. Plus, you can enjoy an afternoon cruise by the spectacular Na Pali Coast.
You're Yearning for a Niche Cruise Experience
U by Uniworld, a new brand from Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, aims to offer authentic and adventurous experiences geared toward travelers ages 21 to 45. According to Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO of Uniworld, the line is designed to meet the needs of its audience. The line's immersive sailings along popular rivers across Europe are now available to book. U by Uniworld will begin sailings in spring 2018 with nine itineraries on the Seine, Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, aboard two renovated ships with a maximum capacity of 120 passengers.
"We are thrilled to be making history with the first river cruise experience created expressly for a young, professional audience that values authenticity and adventure," Bettridge says. "From 'Insta-worthy' foodie moments and silent discos to kayaking on the Seine River, U by Uniworld is building something very cool and fresh, reimagining a beloved vacation experience for a new generation," she adds. Experiential itineraries focus on longer stays in destinations to connect explorers to local experiences and vibrant nightlife scenes. The ships feature a contemporary look and feel in all public spaces and guest areas. What's more, communal dining tables will complement a local fare and street food-inspired culinary program, with creative mixologists and international DJs onboard.
You Want an Action-Packed and Affordable Cruise Vacation
If you're looking for a fun, family-friendly vacation option that won't break the bank, consider Carnival Cruise Lines. "Not only do we host the most kids in the industry – 800,000 children this year alone – we offer all-ages fun that appeals to everyone," says Vance Gulliksen, a public relations manager for Carnival. Plus, the line is known for its top-rated kids programs, massive WaterWorks parks and Seuss at Sea offerings operated in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, but there's also plenty of diversions for adults. "From award-winning Playlist Productions shows to the unique cocktail pharmacy Alchemy Bars, luxurious spas and the only craft brewery on a North American-based cruise ship, there's something for everyone on Carnival," Gulliksen says. Plus, thanks to the line's partnership with celebrity chef Guy Fieri, Carnival boasts mouthwatering burgers and BBQ created exclusively for the cruise line. For a more formal dining experience, try one of Carnival's steakhouses or specialty restaurants. "Cruising is all about food and Carnival certainly delivers on all counts," Gulliksen says.
10 Things You Shouldn't Do on a Cruise
10 Things You Shouldn't Do on a Cruise
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.