I am asked, quite often by readers, to name the best cruise ship on the planet.
My standard answer has been a simple refrain: The best cruise ship is the one that you are about to go on.
The somewhat coy reply has served me well over the years because choosing the best ship for your vacation experience truly depends on a host of variables.
Image Courtesy Matt Roseboom
A new Web site - www.cruisenewsweekly.com – has been launched to provide consumers with the latest cruise industry news and ship reviews. It features, among a host of options, hundreds of images, ship statistics and cruise news archives.
Is it a mass market, 24/7 experience that you seek or perhaps a laid back, luxury cruise that floats your boat? Is the ship the destination itself or do you want a vacation with lots of port calls and a host of shore excursions to choose from?
There are ships and brands for every imaginable taste.
Theme cruises are hot - from music icons to baseball greats - and let's not forget about the amazing culinary spreads at sea created today by some of the world's leading chefs.
Look also for wine seminars, chocolate tastings, book and even bridge club get-togethers. You might try your hand at pottery, learn to ballroom dance, participate in glass blowing or practice putting on real grass all at sea. Ice skating rinks, boxing rings, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, surf simulators and even rock climbing walls are common.
Most importantly, there's a ship to fit anyone's budget and today's deals are among the best in years.
The Caribbean remains the world's hottest destination in more ways than one. Alaska and Mediterranean port calls have not lost their luster, either, despite the belt-tightening times we now live in.
A host of new ships were just unveiled at the end of 2008 and there are a number of new builds - that's cruise jargon for new ships set to debut later this year including the world's largest cruise ship ever constructed: Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas with some 5,000-plus passengers.
With so much happening on the cruise front, especially in Florida where the world's leading cruise lines sail from our five main ports (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Port Canaveral and Jacksonville) how does one remotely keep pace with an ever-changing industry and the dizzying array of choices now before today's consumer?
A new online entry - www.cruisenewsweekly.com - may help. It features the latest cruise industry news and ship reviews complete with hundreds of images and individual ship statistics. There's even a cruise news archive featuring a wealth of information culled from the cruise lines themselves over the past five years plus an archive of my past Cruise Guide newspaper columns. Visitors can even book their next cruise through the easily navigable site.
Cruise aficionados also take note: the site also maintains a presence on the new social networking site, Twitter. By visiting twitter.com/cruiseguide one can follow along with the latest cruise news and periodical updates direct from a ship at sea.
As visitors to www.cruisenewsweekly.com stay on top of the latest cruise news and industry trends, the best cruise ship on the planet will no doubt also be revealed.
Cruise travel columnist Michael Coleman welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org