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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?


A Wave of Luxury Superyachts Offer a More Intimate Way to Cruise

Beloved hospitality brands like Ritz-Carlton and Aman are setting sail with new yachts where the five-star treatment travels from port to port.
News & Advice

These Fall Cruises Are Going to Alaska, Mexico, and More—And There’s Still Time to Book

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The Four Seasons Yacht Launching in 2025 Will Be an Ultra-Luxe, Invitation-Only Cruise Ship

The luxury ship will have a four-story penthouse and prioritize reservations for loyal hotel guests.

Cruise Etiquette: What’s the Dress Code These Days?

We break down the dress code expectations on today's ships.

Onboard the Crystal Symphony During Its Return to Service

The ship has been revamped, with fewer cabins and more suites.

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.

The Best New Cruises in the World: 2023 Hot List

This year's curated collection of the world’s best new cruises has something for everyone.

11 Best River Cruise Itineraries to Book in 2023 and 2024

These stunning river cruises will whisk you away to Vietnam, Egypt, Colombia, and more.

Why First-Time Cruisers Should Choose a River Voyage, According to Travel Specialists

Plus what to know before setting sail.

Exploring France's Enchanting Villages With My Father on a Seine River Cruise

A roundtrip sailing from Paris to Normandy on Viking's new Seine longship was the perfect place for some father-daughter bonding.

7 Best Wildlife Cruises Around the World

Admire eye-popping animals aboard these small-ship cruises, each designed with sustainability in mind.

What to Do When Rowdy Cruise Passengers Are Determined to Ruin Your Vacation

Three tactful strategies for dealing with fellow cruisers who've taken the party too far.

Discovering Centuries of Assam Culture on a Brahmaputra River Cruise in India

An &Beyond cruise through the state of Assam is an immersive lesson on the once inaccessible region.

Why More Cruises Are Staying in Ports Overnight

A growing number of cruise passengers want to experience destinations at all hours.