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Cond Nast Traveler Magazine July 2019  Beyond this Horizon Cruise Silversea
Courtesy Silversea Cruises

Cruise

Everything you need to know about one of the greatest ways to travel.

Why do you need a complete guide to cruise? We'll explain. There’s a saying around our offices that you start to hear every spring, when thoughts turn to summer vacations and we all start dreaming about days—weeks!—out of the office. Things are just better on the water, we say. Nowhere is that more true than when you’re aboard a cruise ship, pulling into a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting, or on deck under the stars in the middle of the Mediterranean, or having your personal butler bring another bottle of champagne and a full caviar service out to your private balcony overlooking those deep blues.

Yet only a small fraction of us ever give cruise ships a try: only about 3 percent of North Americans cruised in 2018, according to CLIA, the leading industry trade group, despite the fact that ships can take you places that’d be nearly impossible to see any other way (and for less cash than you’d probably expect). Don’t believe us? Let’s start with some of the hottest trends in cruising right now: expeditions. Whether to the Arctic or the Galapagos, a growing interest in smartly designed expedition ships are taking travelers—along with marine biologists and other experts—to witness whale migrations, glaciers calving, and giant tortoises strolling around national parks. There’s the perennial cruise favorite, Alaska, which makes a large state where nature dominates and where interstate highways aren’t proliferous much more accessible and navigable.

We regularly hear from readers that it’s hard deciding which cruise ship is right for you—and we get it. The truth is, there’s much more available on the market than you may realize, so if you start with the kind of trip you want to take, we can match you with a ship and itinerary that will deliver. Want small and personable and accessible? River cruising has your name all over it. Have active kids in the mix, of different ages, all of whom need entertainment—and access to other kids their age? You might want a large, tech-forward ship that has as much going on on-board as it does in the ports you visit. Maybe you need to be pampered with just a friend or partner in tow. There’s a wide network of luxury cruises that rival even the most indulgent resorts.

If your vacation time is limited or long trips are hard for you, there’s a huge surge in short-haul sailing—even in a place like Europe, which was once known for catering to leisurely trips. What about if you want to venture out alone? Fear not, solo travelers, the cruise industry wants you to sail with them, too.

We’re now entering the golden age of travel by ship, where there’s a cruise out there for everyone. Which is why we built this guide, the complete guide to cruise, to help you find it, book it, and experience it like a pro. After all, who wouldn't want to spend more time at sea?

Cruise

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Featured

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