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Finding the Right Cruise for You

Mar 28, 2008
The most popular cruise destinations now are the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Alaska. Here is how to choose the perfect region for your next cruise.

The Mediterranean

Most cruises focus on one of two regions.

-Western Mediterranean, including the west coast of Italy, the French Riviera, southern Spain and Portugal and perhaps Tunisia or Gibraltar.

-Eastern Mediterranean. This includes the Greek isles, Turkey, Croatia and the east coast of Italy.

Mediterranean highlights: Some people fall in love with Rome and Venice. Others prefer less heralded cities, such as Lisbon, Portugal, and Split, Croatia.

When to go: The high season runs from late April through early November. The best deals and weather are in late April and May, before crowds arrive, or September and October, after they leave.

The Caribbean

There are three basic itineraries.

-Western Caribbean is best for those who want beaches, with an occasional visit to a historic site.

Typical ports of call: Cozumel, Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman.

-Eastern Caribbean is best for combining sun worship with other activities, such as shopping and snorkeling.

Typical ports of call: St. Thomas, St. Martin, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

-Southern Caribbean is best for those who enjoy exploring islands, the distances between the ports are short.

Typical porfs of call: Curacao, Martinique, Antigua.

Caribbean highlights: St. Martin/St. Maarten is the smallest island to have been partitioned between two nations, France and Holland. St. Thomas features great duty-free shopping and Grand Turk and Cozumel have exceptional diving and snorkeling.

When to go: High season is January through March. The best deals are during the first two weeks of December, when demand plummets between Thanksgiving and Christmas. April and May also are good times for deals.

Alaska

There are two basic itineraries.

-Inside Passage is best for those who want to see coastal Alaska with as few hassles as possible. It departs from Vancouver and Seattle and typically gets as far north as Glacier Bay, near Juneau, before turning back south.

-The Glacier Route makes arranging connecting flights tricky, but it does give cruisers a chance to explore Alaska's interior before or after their cruise. The ship departs from Seattle or Vancouver. (Or it departs from Seward and ends in Seattle or Vancouver.)

Large ships provide more onboard entertainment options, but a smaller ship will get you much closer to the gorgeous coastline.

Alaskan highlights: Ships of all sizes cruise the stunning Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay.

When to go: Alaska's cruise season is mid May through mid September. Prices climb from mid June through mid August. Late May and early September offer the best deals. The weather will be cooler, but you will see more wildlife.
About the Author
Ranju Kumar is an assistant editor of TRAVEL-ENTERTAINMENT, is an "Under the Radar" Internet Entrepreneur who has been quietly selling various products from past 8 years.
Get more money-saving travel tips at TRAVEL-ENTERTAINMENT
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