The 10 Big Trends in Cruise Ship Vacations

The use of more American ports, additional costs while at sea, the growth of discounters, and more

9. A rush to the Antarctica

In a spurt of new activity, a handful of cruise lines (including Holland America, Orient, and Society Expeditions) now take hardy adventurers to that frigid continent during its relatively "warm" time of late December, January and February; and for the first time, they include larger vessels normally carrying from 400 to 800 passengers apiece. Use of so large a ship drops the cost to starting at around $5,500-plus-airfare per person for a two-week Antarctic expedition. Note, though, that environmentalists have decried the introduction of that many people to a largely untouched and undisturbed terrain.

10. All (not) inclusive cruises

In the past, cruisers could be reasonably sure that nearly everything onboard (except drinks) was included in a "one-time" price. Not so anymore. Some cruisers now pay one price for their cruise and port fees, which includes accommodations and standard dining, and then they are charged extra for other optionals onboard. Eating in certain upscale restaurants onboard costs extra on some cruises. Also, many of the trendy new activities on cruises, such as the rock-climbing wall or miniature golf, often incur a fee. So, before booking, ask questions about what is, and what isn't, included in the "one-time" price.

What makes cruising so popular? No daily packing and unpacking, one price for everything, multiple destinations, remarkable value. But there can be too much of a good thing. That's why cruiselines have taken a once-simple activity and added a multitude of complex options, alternatives, and formats. In the process, they've now created a custom-cruise for everyone, and I find that good news.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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