Did you know there are cruises designed to suit nearly every interest and personal preference?
With so many choices large ship cruising on contemporary ships have an incredible selection of entertaining facilities.
There are luxury cruises, where you can be pampered by white-gloved staff; classic ships that evoke the time-honored traditions of original cruising. There are also special interest or exploration cruises, specializing in unique destinations with consideration to cultural enrichment or river voyages to the heart of a preferred destination.
Like I said, nearly every taste of style can be accommodated by a cruise.
There are cruises that feature light adventure expeditions to unique frontiers such as Antarctica, the Amazon rain forest or the African Serengeti. Or, take some time to discover historical legacies closer to home with informative itineraries to New England, French Canada, colonial America and America's rivers, among others.
Experienced travelers have choices, too, with destination-focused cruises that specialize in culturally rich ports of call with itineraries devoted to revealing such historic, world class treasures as the antiquities of classical Greece, the Polynesian paradise of Hawaii, the enchanted splendor of Norwegian fjords or the castles and museums of Europe's rivers.
There are many whose ideas of a perfect vacation include the non-stop fun and sun of a tropical resort- style cruise to the Caribbean, where a variety of island cultures and cuisines can be sampled while relaxing your worries and cares away.
To make this even better, there are a lot of cruise lines that offer special "themed" cruises, with entertainment ranging from culinary delights to jazz festivals and classic music concerts to golfing at sea.
Some cruise lines offer something very unique: learning onboard. To help travelers discover the spirit that can only be evoked by traveling, many cruise lines have extensive educational programs available.
Whether you want to learn how to use your Blackberry and impress your children or grandchildren, or to learn what foods compliment a bottle of Chianti, there are a lot of cruise lines that offer such educational programs.
There are lectures highlighting the history and sights of the ports you will be visiting. You could even take part in special presentations from Renaissance art to strategic financial planning to connoisseur secrets of classic French cuisine.
Cruises, as a whole, visit more than 500 ports of call worldwide. This includes almost every destination accessible by water. You can start your cruise from one of the more than 30 North American ports or travel to an exotic destination to start your dream cruise vacation. The best thing about cruising is you have choices and you only have to unpack once. The ships take you to different ports of call where you can stay for a day or so then hop back on and head off to another fun, exciting, exotic port.
For those who are more active, you can join an exercise or dance class or one of the sports contests the cruise of your choice may offer. You can practice your tennis, basketball, golf or, on some cruise lines, practice surfing, all onboard.
For those who are onboard just to relax, stretch out in the sauna, watch a feature film, be entertained by a Broadway style show or almost anything else you can think of.
Keep in mind you do not have to participate if you don't want to. Remember it is your vacation. You can do everything or absolutely nothing. One of the best things about being at sea is it tends to give a feeling of total freedom that no land based resort can offer.
Onboard there is plenty of room; in fact it may take you a couple days to find everything that is available.
There is so much to do in the ports of call, you may have a hard time choosing. You can take the time to explore on your own or take part in a guided tour.
Guided tours are more often than not referred to as shore excursions in the cruising community. You can take a shore excursion to ancient ruins or take a raft ride over river rapids, go horseback riding, climb a waterfall or even a pyramid, learn to parasail or windsurf, test your speed with a wave runner, swim with dolphins or simply relax on the beach.
In my opinion, cruising is the best, easiest and most economical way to sample an array of new destinations, try all the things you have dreamed of doing or choose to do nothing, with the ease of not having to keep packing and unpacking.
Karrie Torok is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cruisetraveltours.com.