People who cruise and those who don’t are the Bloods and the Crips of the travel and leisure class. The former breathlessly defend the virtues of “all-inclusive” and “pre-planned,” while the latter—if they’re up on their cruise drama—envision floating cattle cars covered in microbes and piloted by inebriates. I’ve seen the two groups clash at dinner parties, and it’s not pretty.
They’re both wrong, by the way. Whether on water or off, prepackaged trips can be a version of hell (trust me, I’ve been on a few), but people who form their opinions from a little bad press are not to be trusted.
You know who you should trust if you’re new to pleasure voyaging? Anthony Cave—a Miami-based correspondent for cruise review and news site Cruise Critic. The guy knows his way around a floating hotel. I asked him for his favorite upscale, adventure-oriented cruise lines, and he generously complied.
Cave describes this outfit as a “nothing else like this on Earth" experiences, adding that its ships are relatively small. “Some hold as little as 40 people,” he says. “You can kayak in Polar Regions or snorkel in the Galapagos Islands, all with the professional instruction of an expedition team made up of National Geographic explorers.”
SeaDream Yacht Club
“It’s a yacht that cruises,” says Cave, who likes the intimate feel of SeaDream’s pleasure boats (they hold a maximum of 112 guests), as well as the phenomenal food and drink found onboard. Other SeaDream amenities include mountain bikes that you can take off the ship, snorkeling gear, and yoga and Tai Chi classes. Sign us up for the Hong Kong/Singapore trip in March.
Cave likes this line for travelers who want to create their own itinerary. “Silversea’s Personalised Voyage option allows you to pick up a cruise in any port—and leave at any port too,” he says, meaning all you weirdos who’ve always wanted to cruise from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale are now in luck. The line also offers land tours such as biking through Valencia, Spain, so cruisers can spend an extra day or two in a port before or after their vacation.
Oceana Cruises’ Around the World in 180 Days
Because we’ve all got $40,000 to burn and half a year to kill, Cave half-jokingly would like to send you on this 44-country, five-continent, 89-port odyssey. The price includes all meals, tips, internet, first class airfare, and medical care. “Oceania Cruises also offers an unlimited shore excursion package,” says Cave, “so you can climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia one day, or do the Diamond Head Crater Trek in Honolulu the next.”