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In your opinion, which cruise lines have the most interesting and unusual itineraries?

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3 minutes ago, islandwoman said:

In your opinion, which cruise lines have the most interesting and unusual itineraries?

The World of ResidenSea, but it's not really a cruise line.

 

I'm not sure there's any one cruise line that has THE most interesting and unusual itineraries.

 

 

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I agree with Shmoo. I don't think any one line has cornered the line on interesting itineraries everywhere in the world.

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I guess that depends on what you personally consider interesting.  

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In addition to iteneraries, make sure you consider the # of hours in port, hours of the day (eg getting there morning, noon or even night) and whether the ship ports or tenders.  Way too many sad stories by cruisers who did not research & had little time for excursions or found out there is little to do in port between 5pm & midnight.

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Each cruise line has itineraries that they think people will be interested in.  So who can say one cruise line has more interesting itineraries than another cruise line?  It is subjective as well have different opinions as to what we want to see and do.

 

And we also check to see the length of time we spend in the ports.

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Posted (edited)

Perhaps I should explain further.  Most cruise lines sail the Caribbean and the Med; many sail Alaska.  It seems that many do the same ports over and over.  Maybe that is what most people are interested in or maybe there are other reasons.  But that's beside the point.

 

I'm looking for a new favorite cruise line.  I got hooked on Princess years ago when I sailed the old Royal down the Amazon and the Ocean Princess around Africa.  But Princess sold both of those small ships and is moving to larger ships and more common itineraries.  I don't want to go to St. Thomas or Montenegro any more 😵  I want to see something different.  And yes, I understand about time in port.  I'm retired, so I have time, but backpacking around the world isn't an option for me at my age.  I'd rather explore the world in relative comfort, hence cruises. 

Edited by islandwoman

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Would love to do a NatGeo cruise with Lindblad one day if I could. I know its not one of the mainstream cruise lines but they do offer unique destinations.

 

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As someone who cruises primarily for itineraries, I will say that of the mass market lines, I believe Holland America has the most interesting itineraries -- and by that I mean diverse ports and diverse schedules. Not the same, recycled 7-day, 10-day 11-day and 14-day itineraries with same ports of call over and over.

 

HAL seems to visit all parts of the globe and has an exceptional number of longer itineraries of all lengths (from just beyond two weeks up to 40-50 days or even more and many options in between).

 

For example, HAL offers what's called a "Voyage of the Vikings" that is round/trip from the US to Greenland, Iceland, some Scandinavian ports, and then back again via a different route. I think it's pretty unique.

 

One has to spend some time understanding their fleet however. They have larger, newer ships (still smaller than many mass market lines offer) but these often have the less interesting itineraries. Then they have a number of older, smaller ships that do the longer trips. Some of them get unfavorable reviews on physical conditions onboard, so you need to read carefully between the lines to figure out if the complaints are really legitimate or if they are just from those who aren't comfortable sailing on anything but the larger, newer ships....

 

I have compared HAL against not just Celebrity and Princess, but also Oceania and Viking, and they do pretty well in terms of itineraries. Azamara is about the only other (non-luxury) line I would say has some equally interesting itineraries but generally at a higher per diem than HAL.

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Lindblad and Hurtigruten do some fantastic itineraries.  So does Viking, Windstar, and Azamara.  Part of the reason I am drawn to smaller ships is the ports they are able to visit.

 

Of the main cruise lines, Holland America seems to have more interesting itineraries.  I won't cruise the Carribean again unless it's a theme cruise I'm interested in. I go back to specific islands I like and stay in a hotel.

 

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We also sailed almost exclusively with Princess for 35+ years, but our 2015 World Cruise with them will be our last. In looking for a new cruise line we researched all Luxury, Premium and even considered HAL & Celebrity. We quickly discounted the luxury brands, as most ships were too small for our preference and also HAL/Celebrity, as being mainstream lines they have similar issues as Princess.

 

We considered ship size (750-1250 being our preference), length of cruises (don't even consider 7 days or less), number of ports, length of time in port, number of overnights (next cruise has 9 overnights), itineraries (done Caribbean once, couldn't pay us to return), food quality, no amusement park activities, quality enrichment lectures rather than shopping hosts/art auctions, no photogs, no kids, etc.

 

For a shortlist we got to Oceania & Viking, eventually opting for Viking - being smaller ships they get into smaller & more interesting ports, where the mega ships can't even anchor, and the time in most ports is excellent. They only have 2 Caribbean itineraries, one which remains in the Caribbean for 5 months and the other uses San Juan as turnaround port to cruise the Amazon. Lots of itinerary options to South America, SE Asia, South Pacific, Australia/New Zealand (next cruise has 15 ports, including 2 overnights), Northern Europe, Africa/Indian Ocean, etc.

 

Yes, the sticker price for Premium/Luxury lines is higher, but when comparing what is included, we find the total cost to be virtually identical to what we paid on Princess. 

 

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We've started looking at lines with small ships, and find that they often visit unusual places. We were thinking about booking one this summer which goes round the British Isles, including some of the small islands such as the Scilly Isles, and then crossing to France and sailing up the Seine.

We notice that Marella often includes different places in their fly cruises- some are adult only; some small ships go to less visited ports when they are being moved for a season.

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Some of smaller expedition lines have wonderful itineraries, just outside my limited budget.

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20 hours ago, MicCanberra said:

Fred Olsen.

Yes, another small cruise line with unusual itineraries. All the cruises visiting Iceland seemed to add Norway or Scottish islands, but good old Fred did just Iceland. They also sail up river to places, including Seville from Cadiz.

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HAL seems to have interesting itineraries with a few smaller ships , at affordable rates . Especially Spring thru Fall.

 

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Aranui would certainly be more of an unusual itinerary and being an operating freight ship a unique experience. There are also Northwest Passage cruises though I don't know which line operate these which would also count as a more unique itinerary.

 

A good way to diversify your travel experience is to perhaps pick a location you want to explore and then find a cruise line that caters to that area rather than looking for the cruise line first. 

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Thank you everyone for the interesting ideas and thoughtful details. Now I have somewhere to start with my research 😊

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