Cruise Control: 3 Ways To Have a Shipshape Vacation

Toby Saltzman | February 5th, 2018

A boat by any other name, is a boat – or is it? If you’re considering a sea-bound vacation any time soon, we’ve broken down three of the major ways you can sail the seven seas.

Yachts

Motor yacht powering through calm water

The look

Yachts are streamlined, dynamically designed vessels, typically with a jaunty prow that slices through waves, creating sensations of intimacy with the sea.

Massive yachts typically associated with royalty, celebrities and Russian oligarchs can run the scale of mid-size cruise ships, while cruise-line yachts are compact and alluring, their lifestyles like low-rise boutique hotels at sea. The most luxurious yacht at sea: Crystal Yacht Cruises’ new 62-guest Crystal Esprit. Popular, too: SeaDream’s twin mega-yachts I and II each carry 112 passengers; Windstar’s Star Pride, Star Breeze and Star Legend each carry 213 passengers.

The advantage

By virtue of their petite size, narrow width and shallow draft, they can usually navigate into small bays, narrow channels and berth right alongside small or remote ports.

The vibe

With limited space and often under 230 passengers, they cultivate an intimate ambience on exterior decks and interior lounges.

The dining

Yacht dining often means open seating and menus that are guidelines for ordering
customized cuisine.

Cruise Ships

cruise

The look

Floating like high-rises on the horizon, cruise ships are virtually land resorts at sea. Due to their wide and hefty girth, they typically limit itineraries to ports of call that have massive piers, unless they can tender passengers ashore.

Consider this sampling, noting there are smaller and bigger ships: Seabourn Sojourn, 450 passengers; Regent Seven Seas Explorer, 750; Queen Mary 2, 2,600; Sapphire Princess, 2,678; RCI’s Anthem of the Seas, 4,180; NCL’s new Norwegian Escape, 4,248.

The advantage

Show lounges with high-tech Broadway-style performances and, often, multiple pools. It’s worth checking websites for amenities that may include fitness facilities or drop-down marinas for water sports.

The vibe

While the smaller ships radiate a personal aura, the larger ones present like cities at sea, where passengers gravitate to the areas that suit them best. Mind you, even the largest offer boutique-like enclaves and facilities that are restricted to the masses.

The dining

Depending on size and scale, cruise ships may offer multiple bars and restaurants (specifying reserved or open seating).

Expedition Vessels

Pond Inlet, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada.

The look

Expedition vessels, like those used for Arctic and Antarctic cruises, are bold and brawny with solid ice-breaking bows and often look more like freighters than cruise ships. Although they vary in size and offer unique amenities, they typically use Zodiacs to tender passengers ashore or into small bays and channels for wildlife viewing. Adventure Canada’s 198-passenger Ocean Endeavour includes a brilliant roster of guest lecturers. Quark Expedition’s 102-passenger Kapitan Khlebnikov features a helicopter for sightseeing.

The advantage

Essentially built for seaworthiness and safety on the high seas in all types of weather, these ships offer rare experiences in nature and culture.

The vibe

Comfortably inviting, these rugged vessels encourage mingling and interaction with like-minded people. The passengers are worldly, well-travelled, urbane, curious, intelligent and eager to share experiences.

The dining

They typically offer one dining area with specified service times. Meals are hearty with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.