Choose your perfect cruise

How to find the trip that floats your boat
msnbc Travel

By Adam McCulloch

updated 11:19 a.m. ET Sept. 26, 2008
“Cruise ships used to be for the newlywed or nearly dead,” quips Carolyn Spencer-Brown, Editor in Chief of Cruisecritic.com, an authority on the cruise ship industry. For years these floating clichés offered bingo, buffets and boredom in the form of shore excursions adhering to a well-trampled tourist trail. Now there’s a cruise to suit every demographic, from intellectuals to adrenaline junkies, princes to paupers and everyone in between.

There are cruises catering to those with religious and academic interests, for single travelers and families, gay travelers, wandering gourmands, adventurers and more.

In part, the renaissance of cruise vacations has been the result of vastly better boats. “Ships have become bigger and more contemporary,” says Spencer- Brown, “they have the same features as land resorts like fitness centers, movie theaters, great shopping and kids clubs.” An impressive 12.5 million people took a cruise in 2008—according to a report issued by the industry’s regulatory body Cruise Lines International Association (C.L.I.A.)—and a whopping 51 million Americans indicated that they were intending to take a cruise in the next three years. The big dilemma: which one to choose.

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