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Cruising for Relaxation & Adventure

When it comes to cruising there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for new adventures or just need to decompress.

For travel agent Kim Huber, the words “‘tis the season” mean something more than just the holidays. Once January rolls around, cruising is top of mind for many vacationers. And because cruises are such a popular choice, Kim emphasizes how important it is to book far in advance — in some cases, up to a year.

“I had customers in October who were trying to book dates in February and March 2023, and those ships were already three-quarters full. With cruising in general, six months out or more is ideal,” Kim advised. “Timing is everything.”

There are several different types of cruise experiences, some more well-known than others. The most popular — and Kim’s favorite — is ocean cruising. “To me, it’s pure relaxation. You’re disconnected, so you’re not worrying about anything other than what’s around you. You realize that maybe all those things stressing you out aren’t as big as you thought. Being on the ocean with the waves and the calm, that’s one of my favorite parts.”

Unlike ocean cruising, river cruising is all about exploration. “It’s a very different experience than an ocean cruise,” Kim explains. “Not only because the ships are smaller and more intimate, but because your ports are actually in the destinations you’re visiting.” River cruising is actually on the rise in the United States, coming to areas like the Pacific Northwest, up and down the Mississippi River, and around the Great Lakes.

A third type of cruise experience is the small ship expedition cruise. “It’s kind of in between the other two. Ships are smaller and specially fitted to go into places like the Arctic, the Antarctic and the Galapagos. It’s all about adventure,” she explains. “The ships are built for that terrain, and there are only a couple hundred people on board at most.”

“I always like to ask people what kind of experience they want. Some are looking for a social environment. Ocean cruises are perfect for them. Others are explorers and they want to do it on their own. I might steer them toward a river cruise or an expedition cruise because you're dealing with fewer people on board, and a much better staff to guest ratio. So it’s a much more intimate experience with the staff. They know what you like and what you need and how to give you the best service. Also, on the smaller ships you’re getting up close to the areas you want to see. You just step off the boat and there you are.”

Cruise Experiences for Every Traveler

1   Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking was rated best river line and best ocean line in 2022 by both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure — a good reason to check them out. The cruise line is designed for experienced travelers with interests in history, science, culture and cuisine.

2   Virgin Voyages Themed Cruises

Known for some of the best spas at sea, Virgin Voyages offers a number of themed cruises for health and wellness. Their fleet are all exclusively adult, offering a sanctuary at sea for travelers 18 and up.

3   AmaWaterways

This river cruise company is family-owned and operated. Two of its most popular river cruises run on the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, and on the Danube River from Budapest to Vilshofen.

4   Hurtigruten Expeditions

With sustainability and exploration at its core, Hurtigruten runs expedition cruises in 30+ countries, including exhilarating small boat cruises in Antarctica and the Galápagos Islands.