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With so many cruise lines to choose from, it is not always easy to find the right ship for you. To make it a little easier, the cruise line industry has arranged its members into a generally agreed hierarchy of categories, not to demonstrate worst to best, but to show the different types of services on offer.

If you are a fun, party person in your early twenties there is very little point in opting for a luxury boutique cruise across the Atlantic where the entertainment is likely to be arias from the operas. On the other hand, if you are a retired army general with a taste for a warm leather chair in a secluded library, it would be pointless to opt for a cruise aboard one of Carnival’s fun ships.

Here are some of the established categories and their member cruise lines sailing the high seas today:

Contemporary Cruises
These include value cruises on generally large liners offering a wide range of recreational facilities in a casual environment. The average cost is between about $100 to $200 per passenger/night.

Carnival Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean International

Premium Cruises
These include upscale cruises offering more space and comfort in a semiformal environment. The average cost is between about $200 to $400 per passenger/night.

Celebrity Cruises
Holland America Line
Orient Lines
Princess Cruises

Luxury Cruises
These include quality cruises offering more space, comfort and luxury as well as more choices in dining and entertainment. The average cost is between about $400 to $1,100 per passenger/night.

Crystal Cruises
Cunard Line
Regent Seven Seas
Windstar Cruises

Exclusive Boutique Luxury Cruises

These include the finest of the quality cruises offering personalized service in a formal, private yacht-like environment. The average cost is between about $800 to $1,200 per passenger/night.

Seabourn Cruise Line
Silversea Cruises

Specialty Cruises
These include special interest cruises such as exploration cruises to unusual destinations like the Antarctic and the Amazon. Also cruises on sail ships or sail-assisted ships island hopping around the Caribbean or the South Pacific and making epic journeys from yesteryear across the oceans. Also riverboat cruises on the rivers of the USA and the waterways of Europe.

Fathom Expeditions
Lindblad Expeditions
Windstar Cruises
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
Star Clippers
Amadeus Waterways
Viking River Cruises
Victoria Cruises

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