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Ok, let's face it: travelling by cruise ship is probably one of the last modes of transport that the majority of travellers would choose. Cruises are usually thought of as something for older people, honeymooners and with activities that doesn't include more than eating, drinking and basic entertainment. While this might be true for lots of regular cruises throughout the world, there are however some major advantages as well, like visiting places you wouldn't be visiting otherwise in a relatively comfortable and cheap way. Also, nowadays, you can choose from a plethora of cruises, ranging from basic to luxurious, and there are even cruises for younger people as well.
Apart from regular cruises, there are also other ways of getting around by ship. Although these are beyond the scope of this article, these include for example river cruises (especially in Europe, North America, Egypt, Brazil and Egypt) and travelling by cargo ships, which is an adventurous way of travelling across oceans as an alternative to just flying. Few real passenger services across oceans exist any longer, but occasionally there are some ships travelling across the Atlantic Ocean, reliving the days of the mid-twentieth century.
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The first region that comes into mind when thinking of a cruise, is of course the Caribbean. The Caribbean has the widest choice of cruises and it's not difficult to see why. The weather generally is fantastic, with temperatures around 30 °C during the day and with balmy nights. Note that the cruise season generally coincides with the dry and sunny time from late November to early June. There are cruises outside of these months, but not that many, especially not in August and September, the worst months for cruises in the Caribbean. Outside of the Caribbean, there are also lots of options and there are cruises basically anywhere where there open waters and ports big enough to welcome cruise ships. These areas include Alaska, Scandinavia, much of Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific islands and parts of North America. Even the (sub)polar regions are places for (more adeventurous) cruise ship travellers, though these range from luxurious to expedition-style cruises.
The Caribbean and the coastal regions of Central America and the north of South America are amongst the best places to enjoy a cruise. Ranging from several days to a few weeks, lots of cruise liners operate from Florida and go to destinations within the Caribbean Sea. Some of the main islands that are visiting on a regular basis are Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel (Mexico), Aruba, Curacao, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, Sint Maarten, St. Thomas (one of the US Virgin Islands, and Nassau, Bahamas. The main gateway usually is Fort Lauderdale, from where there are even simple overnight packages to the nearest of the Bahamas islands. Generally, cruises take about 1-2 weeks and, the shorter ones mostly sticking to the western part of the Caribbean, while the longer ones also visit some of the eastern islands, like St. Lucia and Guadeloupe.
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Many of the main ports across the Caribbean are very touristy and are catering to the biggest of the biggest cruise ships as well. It depends on the size of the ship, which ports you can enter of course, so if you want to visit some of the smaller and more 'off the beaten track' islands, you might choose for a smaller ship as well. Also note that travelling across the Caribbean by cruiseship is a relatively affordable way of visiting some of the nicest tropical islands and beaches in the world and usually cheaper than taking planes or some of the regular passenger services, also covered in the Caribbean Ferries article. There is even a chance to visit countries like Haiti in relative comfort.
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There are literally hundreds of companies offering cruises, but like with any market, there are a couple of big ones, that dominate the market, but as a result also offer the widest choice against very competible prices. Try Carnival Cruises for example, which owns Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises and Seabourn Cruises. If you can't find it here, you are probably looking for something totally off the beaten track regarding cruises. Others include:
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