More Cruise Options Available for Travelers
From overland odysseys in the Himalayas to the icy realms of Antarctica, cruising vacations this year will span the globe, offering experiences never before during a cruise, according to AAA Vacations.
In addition, ocean liners are more luxurious and activities plentiful, with dining experiences for every taste, from granola to rare wines.
"The summer of 2008 will see a first-ever Baltic cruise offered by Carnival Cruise Line," said Claudia Collins, branch manager in Southern Pines with AAA Vacations. "But act quickly. These 12-day Northern European trips are selling well primarily due to low lead-in prices."
For the more adventurous, you can combine cruising with exotic land excursions that have never before been paired with cruising. New adventures include travel in the Himalayas region.
"You can also sail the Pacific to Asia this year and enjoy in-depth land excursions in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Laos and Cambodia," Collins said. "More in-port overnights will be offered in Asia than ever before."
Caribbean cruises, of course, continue as a mainstay of the travel industry, while Alaskan cruises are enjoying strong growth.
Alaskan cruises, projected to increase by 10 percent this year, are also changing with the times, offering more opportunities to get off the boat and into the Alaskan wilderness.
"Cruise West is offering its guests the opportunity to get up-close and personal with the wonders or Southeast Alaska," Collins said. "Land tours of the Denali National Park and Preserve, home of towering Mt. McKinley, North America's tallest peak, can be added to cruise itineraries."
European river cruises, a relatively new addition to the cruising scene, are expected to continue increasing in popularity this year, according to AAA Vacations. The draw of river cruising is the ability to sail right up to a European city or village as opposed to docking in a seaport that may be miles from the city center, requiring overland travel.
"Luxury river cruises are enhancing the onboard experience, offering complimentary wine with dinner, bottled water in each stateroom, 24-hour specialty coffees and state-of-the-art portable audio headset systems for onshore activities," Collins said.
"Perhaps best of all is the added value that this type of trip affords -- luxurious amenities, impeccable cuisine and the ability to enjoy European locales that are off the beaten path and not easily accessible by land."
Disney Cruise Line, a relative newcomer to the cruising segment, is also growing and evolving with travel trends. Disney recently announced that it will double the size of its fleet, with new ship launches extending into 2012.
"Disney Magic is returning to the West Coast during 2008 for the second straight year, offering a dozen seven-night Mexican Riviera sailings from Los Angeles," Collins said.
Cruise lines are not only increasing the number and variety of destinations, but they are also making amenities more luxurious. Onboard spa services, high-end staterooms and new design schemes are abundant.
"Some liners are offering adjacent spa staterooms and suites that provide private access to the spa," Collins said. "Staterooms on some new ships are expected to be 15 percent larger on average and, bowing to a trend in home designs, bathrooms will be 24 percent larger. Additional improvements are more private balconies."
The luxury cruising trend is turning some ships into "dining destinations." In addition to dynamic panoramic sea views, cruisers can select from onboard menus that offer everything from health-conscious to extravagant.
"Healthy meal choices onboard many ships include extensive salad bars, 24-hour frozen yogurt and gourmet-style selections in the main dining rooms that are also heart healthy," Collins said. "If you prefer to indulge yourself, however, some cruise liners offer unique restaurants where lavish meals are paired with rare wines."
Cruise vacations have long appealed to a broad cross-section of travelers because they combine entertainment, cuisine, accommodations and enrichment learning. During a cruise vacation, activities abound, from relaxing by the pool to participating in self-improvement classes or even ice-skating.
"Cruising is a travel option that consistently provides outstanding value," Collins said. "Transportation, hotel room, meals and entertainment are all provided, plus you have the opportunity to visit several different destinations on one trip. As the changes taking place during 2008 illustrate, the cruise industry is creative and constantly looking for new experiences for travelers."
Anyone needing more information about the latest trends in cruising can visit www.AAA.com
AAA vacation services are available to both members and non-members.
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