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Cond Nast Traveler Magazine July 2019  Beyond this Horizon Cruise Silversea
Courtesy Silversea Cruises


Everything you need to know about one of the greatest ways to travel.

Why do you need a complete guide to cruise? We'll explain. There’s a saying around our offices that you start to hear every spring, when thoughts turn to summer vacations and we all start dreaming about days—weeks!—out of the office. Things are just better on the water, we say. Nowhere is that more true than when you’re aboard a cruise ship, pulling into a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting, or on deck under the stars in the middle of the Mediterranean, or having your personal butler bring another bottle of champagne and a full caviar service out to your private balcony overlooking those deep blues.

Yet only a small fraction of us ever give cruise ships a try: only about 3 percent of North Americans cruised in 2018, according to CLIA, the leading industry trade group, despite the fact that ships can take you places that’d be nearly impossible to see any other way (and for less cash than you’d probably expect). Don’t believe us? Let’s start with some of the hottest trends in cruising right now: expeditions. Whether to the Arctic or the Galapagos, a growing interest in smartly designed expedition ships are taking travelers—along with marine biologists and other experts—to witness whale migrations, glaciers calving, and giant tortoises strolling around national parks. There’s the perennial cruise favorite, Alaska, which makes a large state where nature dominates and where interstate highways aren’t proliferous much more accessible and navigable.

We regularly hear from readers that it’s hard deciding which cruise ship is right for you—and we get it. The truth is, there’s much more available on the market than you may realize, so if you start with the kind of trip you want to take, we can match you with a ship and itinerary that will deliver. Want small and personable and accessible? River cruising has your name all over it. Have active kids in the mix, of different ages, all of whom need entertainment—and access to other kids their age? You might want a large, tech-forward ship that has as much going on on-board as it does in the ports you visit. Maybe you need to be pampered with just a friend or partner in tow. There’s a wide network of luxury cruises that rival even the most indulgent resorts.

If your vacation time is limited or long trips are hard for you, there’s a huge surge in short-haul sailing—even in a place like Europe, which was once known for catering to leisurely trips. What about if you want to venture out alone? Fear not, solo travelers, the cruise industry wants you to sail with them, too.

We’re now entering the golden age of travel by ship, where there’s a cruise out there for everyone. Which is why we built this guide, the complete guide to cruise, to help you find it, book it, and experience it like a pro. After all, who wouldn't want to spend more time at sea?


Exploring Senegal's Vibrant Countryside by River Cruise

A luxurious week-long voyage on the Bou el Mogdad from Saint-Louis to the trading town of Podor.

Cruise Etiquette: How and Why to Book with a Cruise Specialist

A trusted travel agent can secure onboard perks and provide vital support should the unexpected happen.

The World's Largest Cruise Ship Is Coming in January—Here's What It's Like Inside

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas will weigh over a quarter million tons and hold up to nearly 10,000 passengers and crew.

The Best New Cruise Ships and Itineraries for 2024

Sail Australia's remote Kimberley, or hop on board the 249th ship from legacy line Cunard.

Seeing a Beloved Slice of Southeast Asia Anew on an Oceania Cruise

Writer Ashlea Halpern learns to appreciate life at sea—and the fresh perspective it gives her on a region she once called home.

The Magic of a River Safari Through Zimbabwe

CroisiEurope's new RV Zimbabwean Dream luxury houseboat itinerary includes land and river experiences through Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana.

Oceania's Latest Ship Has Roomier Cabins, Elevated Design, and a Can't-Miss Cocktail Bar

Plus, new restaurants and updated menus that further cement its status as a leading cruise line for epicureans.

Hurtigruten's New Itineraries Deliver Fjord-to-Fork Cuisine and Coastal Living Like Never Before

Two new cruise itineraries from Hurtigruten highlight Norway's landscape, culture, and cuisine. 

Amsterdam Took a Major Step Toward Banning Cruises—What It Means for Upcoming Voyages

Amsterdam's city council approved a plan to move the cruise terminal out of the city, but changes have yet to be fully enacted.

Sailing Through Indonesia's Komodo National Park 

Cruising around the starkly beautiful islands that make up Indonesia's Komodo National Park, Sunil Badami discovers there's so much more to the region than just the famous dragons.

On an Amazon River Cruise, Slowing Down to the Beat of Nature's Ever-Changing Rhythm

An intimate expedition cruise in the Peruvian Amazon is an unparalleled way to experience one of the planet's most dynamic ecosystems.

This Three-Year Cruise Visits 148 Countries on All Seven Continents

Tour the Great Wall, Pyramids of Giza, Machu Picchu, and the Taj Mahal on one epic itinerary.

Cruise Etiquette: Is There Any Request Too Over-the-Top for a Personal Butler on My Ship?

 From special dishes to the dining room to golfing on the Great Wall of China, these onboard magicians can fulfill nearly any request.

A First Look at Seabourn's New Expedition Voyage Through the Kimberley, Australia

In 2024, the cruise line will set sail to this rugged region, home to some of the most unique land formations and wildlife on Earth.

Cruise Ship Etiquette: Are Passengers Allowed to Order Dishes That Aren't on the Menu?

The answer can depend on which cruise line you're sailing with.

Journeying to South Georgia Island, the Wildest Place on Earth

Writer Sebastian Modak discovers that the South Atlantic island is the real prize of an Antarctic expedition.

8 Best Cruises to Jamaica for Every Type of Traveler 

Sail toward reef-lined sandy beaches, soaring mountains, tropical rainforests, and rum cocktails you’ll be daydreaming about for months.

6 Best Galapagos Cruises For Every Kind of Traveler

These voyages make for truly once-in-a-lifetime vacations with unforgettable wildlife encounters.
Women Who Travel

After Loss, Helping My Mother-in-Law Find Joy Again on a Broadway Cruise

The lively sailing allowed us both to rediscover our passions—and proved that the show really does go on.

Cruise Etiquette: The Areas on Ships Where Passengers Should Never Go

It can be tempting to peek behind the scenes on a ship, but there are several reasons why passengers shouldn't.