Unraveling the Mysteries of Confusing Categories of Cruises

by R Long
February 19, 2023

Exploring the Different Categories of Cruises Beyond Cruise Lines

When it comes to cruises, there are various categories that can be used to differentiate them based on factors like size, amenities, and level of luxury. Beyond these broad categories, cruise ships can also be grouped based on their intended audience, such as family-friendly, adult-only, or singles-oriented cruises. It’s common for a single cruise to fall under multiple categories of cruises at once.

Premium Class

Experience a higher level of comfort and service on mid-sized cruise ships that offer a wider range of amenities. With premium class cruises, you can enjoy luxurious features and attentive service, ensuring a truly exceptional vacation experience.

Luxury Class

Indulge in the ultimate cruise experience on the largest and most luxurious ships in the industry. With the highest levels of comfort and service and a wide range of high-end amenities, luxury-class cruises offer unparalleled opulence and sophistication for discerning travelers seeking the best of the best.

River Cruises

Discover the beauty of river cruising on smaller ships designed specifically for navigating these waterways. With a focus on scenic routes and ports, river cruises offer a more intimate and immersive travel experience. These ships have limited amenities, but make up for it with access to smaller ports and city centers, allowing you to explore destinations that larger ships can’t reach.

Expedition Cruises

Embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure with specialized ships designed for exploration in remote or difficult-to-reach destinations. With reinforced hulls and zodiac boats for shore excursions, expedition cruises allow you to discover some of the most stunning and unspoiled corners of the world. Experience nature up close and personal, and create lasting memories on an expedition cruise unlike any other.

Different Types of Cruise Lines (Beyond Categories of Cruises)

Contemporary Cruise Lines

For travelers seeking an affordable and fun-filled vacation, contemporary cruise lines offer a wide range of activities and amenities in a more casual and relaxed atmosphere. Ideal for families, groups of friends, and couples, these cruises are less formal than their premium and luxury counterparts.

Examples of contemporary cruise lines include:

  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Norwegian Cruise Line

Upscale contemporary cruise lines include:

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • MSC Cruises

Premium Cruise Lines

For travelers seeking a higher level of luxury and service, premium cruise lines offer a more refined and upscale experience. These cruises are typically more expensive than contemporary cruises, but provide a wider range of amenities and more attentive service. These lines offer sizable cabins, upscale dining options, and elegant public spaces for a truly luxurious vacation experience.

Premium cruise lines include:

  • Princess Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Disney Cruises

Ultra-Premium Cruise Lines

For the ultimate in luxury and service, ultra-premium cruise lines offer an unparalleled vacation experience. While more expensive than other cruise lines, they provide the highest level of personalized attention and a wide range of amenities, including spacious and well-appointed cabins, along with fine dining options,

Examples of ultra-premium cruise lines include:

  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Seabourn
  • Crystal Cruises

When considering an ultra-premium cruise, be sure to research the amenities and services included with your fare to ensure that it meets your expectations.

Ultra-Luxury Cruise Lines

For those seeking the most luxurious and exclusive cruise experience, ultra-luxury cruise lines offer the ultimate comfort, service, and amenities. These cruises are the most expensive, but provide the highest level of personalized attention and an unmatched range of amenities, including spacious and elegantly appointed suites, gourmet dining options, and exclusive access to private areas of the ship.

Examples of ultra-luxury cruise lines include:

  • Silversea Cruises
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Seabourn

Small Ship Cruise Lines

For those who prefer a more intimate and immersive cruise experience, small-ship cruise lines offer a unique opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and enjoy personalized service and attention. This category of cruise typically has fewer than 500 passengers and is designed to provide a more intimate atmosphere for socializing and exploring.

Examples of small-ship cruise lines include:

  • Windstar Cruises
  • Paul Gauguin Cruises
  • Star Clippers

While small ship cruises may not offer as many onboard amenities as larger cruise lines, they often provide a more personalized and authentic vacation experience, with access to ports and destinations that are not accessible to larger ships.

River Cruise Lines

For those seeking a more intimate and scenic cruise experience, river cruise lines offer a unique way to explore inland waterways and rivers around the world. These cruise lines typically operate smaller ships, designed to navigate the shallower waters of rivers and offer access to unique ports and cities that larger cruise ships cannot reach.

Examples of river cruise lines include:

  • Viking River Cruises
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
  • Avalon Waterways

In the USA, American Cruise Lines and American Queen Voyages offer a variety of river cruise itineraries on the country’s major rivers. River cruise ships typically accommodate fewer than 200 passengers, and offer a more personalized and immersive experience, with an emphasis on cultural enrichment and scenic cruising.

River Cruises – Different Categories of Cruises

River cruises are divided into several categories of cruises, each offering a unique level of amenities and service. Contemporary river cruises are typically more affordable and offer a more casual onboard atmosphere, while upscale, premium and luxury river cruises offer a more refined and personalized experience, with a wider range of amenities and higher levels of service.

Viking River Cruises is one of the most well-known river cruise lines, offering itineraries throughout Europe, Asia, and Egypt. Examples of river cruise lines in each category include:

  • Viking River Cruises
  • Ama Waterways
  • Avalon Waterways
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

It’s important to carefully review the costs and inclusions of each river cruise before booking, as these can vary widely between different cruise lines and itineraries. Consider your travel style and preferences, and choose a river cruise that offers the experience you’re looking for.

Expedition Cruise Lines: An Overview

Expedition cruise lines offer a unique and immersive travel experience that emphasizes the ports of call rather than just the onboard amenities. These cruises often visit more remote and less-traveled destinations, giving travelers the opportunity to explore areas that are not typically accessible by larger cruise ships.

Sailing Vessels and Yachts Cruise Lines

Sailing vessels are leisure crafts that primarily rely on sails for power, although they may have an engine as a backup.

A yacht is also a leisure craft, but it typically has a motor for cruising or racing in addition to sails. A vessel is classified as a yacht if it is longer than 50 feet. These types of cruise ships offer a more intimate and personalized experience with fewer passengers and a focus on sailing and exploring unique destinations.

Conclusion: Understanding Categories of Cruises and Cruise Lines

Deciding on the categories of cruises and cruise lines can be challenging as the distinctions between them are often unclear. Some cruises may fit into multiple categories, adding to the confusion.

If you’re a first-time cruiser, consider choosing a premium or luxury cruise or cruise line to start with. To determine what you’re looking for in a cruise, browse through booking sites, including Costco Travel for insights.

Take time to research and identify your priorities to find the best cruise that suits your needs. With a clearer idea of your preferences, you’ll be better equipped to identify the categories of cruises that best suit your needs.

Share This Article


Latest Articles

Related Articles

Table of Contents