Cruise Liners All the Major Operators

With cruise lines, size sometimes matters inversely. The industry has, particularly in the past decade, become dominated by a group of big names, a sort of marine G8. These are: Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Star Cruises and PO Princess. There are endless shifts and machinations within the industry, and several previously independent lines are now owned by US corporation Carnival, whose fleet is literally the size of a small navy. The big ships on the big lines put on a good, solid performance pretty much what travellers have come to expect from cruising in recent years.

But that's not the only kind of cruise on offer. The smaller the line, often, the more intimate and original the vessels and routes. The evocatively named French Compagnie des Iles du Ponant operates two small ships, Le Ponant and Le Levant. Le Ponant cruises the Mediterranean and Caribbean while Le Levant ventures further afield into South America and the US Great Lakes. And whether the line is small or not, it often matters whether the ship is. Areas such as Alaska with a glut of narrow, hard to get to waterways demand more a diminutive ship for the most rewarding cruise experience. Some of these small scale, tailor made holidays are expensive, but not all a no frills option such as Windjammer might be the way to go if you need to keep costs down (quite possibly a better way to go than a cheap holiday on a big ship).

If you're concerned about safeguarding your calm and sanity, you may want to choose a line which has an adults only option: PO, for example, has two adult only cruisers. On the other hand, if you are taking the kids, you'll want a ship which caters for them it could be a long trip for all concerned if they're not sufficiently entertained. PO, again, is among the companies which have vessels with spaces and activities devoted to little people who are full of beans. But most of the large ships will cater for children with clubs and activities which will allow you and them to relax and have fun. These include Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and of course, Disney.