There are three sizes - Small, Midsize and Large.
Choose a large ship if you prefer huge facilities and entertainment and of course to mix with lots of people.
Choose a midsize ship for some entertainment and a smaller choice of facilities.
Choose a smaller ship if you prefer quiet holidays with little or no entertainment.
The Passenger Space Ratio (PSR) will determine the space that you will have on the ship and how crowded it will be.
To calculate the ratio you divide the gross tons by the number of passengers. Of course the higher rate the better but at a cost.
Standard - The budget entry level cruise with a value for money policy.
Superior - Still with a high density ratio but with a greater attention to services and cuisine.
Premier - A higher service quality with a fuller range of facilities.
Deluxe - With a good density ratio (around 35), you will find a more personal touch.
Ultra deluxe - The best of the best but at a cost. The density ratio will be around 50.
Carnival Line's large modern ships provide ideal venues for conference and incentive groups. They are "floating hotels" that cater for the organiser's greatest needs, while cruising in exotic climates. There is a wide choice of venues for meetings and presentations and organisers can use one TV channel to broadcast to delegates in their own cabins.
Celebrity Cruises Century series vessels, Century and Galaxy, feature a cinema and conference centre complete with audio/visual support, multi-lingual translation services, speaker support facilities and interactive audience keypads. Meeting rooms feature video monitors and public address systems. The television studio can transmit customised programmes into staterooms.
Italian based Costa Cruises is Europe's most modern cruise line, with over fifty years experience. Fine food, warm hospitality and service which really shines are among the hallmarks of a Costa Cruise. All ships have excellent conference facilities to cater for groups of all sizes from four to one-hundred, including conference theatres and private meeting rooms. Costa also operate many cruises from Spain.
The 6-star Crystal Cruise vessels offer a superb reward opportunity for top performers. Ships feature sophisticated meeting facilities and business centres, a range of cocktail venues and dining opportunities, consistently high quality guest accommodation and a choice of six and seven day sailings.
Cunard Line's fleet caters for the needs of almost any incentive group, with ready made or tailor-made programmes and charters world-wide. The company has had a dedicated MC&I manager for the past five years and prides itself on being able to arrange most requests.
Fred Olsen Cruise Line is a long-established cruise ship operator with both long and short-haul itineraries. The Black Watch is ideally suited to the incentive market with a range of conference facilities on board and can also be chartered by companies. She sails from Dover,Kent.
P&O Cruises superliners, Oriana and Arcadia offer cruises from Southampton of three to eight nights and longer. Both are available for private charter. P&O can accommodate up to six hundred and sixty delegates in meeting rooms depending on the ship.
Royal Caribbean International super liners all feature extensive conference facilities - designed to accommodate business conferences, executive retreats and corporate cruise incentives. Onboard there is a dedicated on-site convention services co-ordinator. There is also a conference and incentive sales manger at the UK head office.
Seabourn Cruise Line is regarded as one of the most celebrated cruise lines in the world. Positioned at the top end of the luxury market, Seabourn's three sister ships carry a maximum of 200 guests in 100 suites. A standard of service and cuisine that is second to none will ensure that your event is a complete success.
Disney offer a fantastic selection of activities with something for everyone aboard Disney's two cruise ships, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Sporting activities include watersports, cycles, kayaks and biking. The 975 seat Walt Disney theatre (offering three Broadway style musicals), three themed nightclubs and a piano bar and dance offer unprecedented shipboard entertainment, whilst the unique rotation dining system across three themed restaurants offers guests foodof the highest quality.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines offers themed and special interest cruises on its ship Black Watch. Aimed at tying in the theme subject with the cruise destination, these cruises provide the opportunity for passengers to listen to experts talking on, or demonstrating, their given subjects. Always extremely popular are Eastern Mediterranean cruises with an Archaeology and Ancient History theme, Baltic Cruises and Caribbean or Canary Island cruises with a Gardening or Golf theme.
Of almost sixty cruises to be operated by P&O Cruises three ships, Arcadia, Oriana and Ventura during season, more than half will have themes, the largest selection for the British cruise market. In all, there are eighteen different themes, dominated by Classical Music, Antiques and Bridge as the big "passenger pleasers" and supported by a varied programme which includes football, motoring, maritime and an Archers cruise, especially for fans of the BBC Radio 4 programme.
Celebrity Cruises offer the chance to cruise and stay through their Stay Longer programme. Guests can extend their holidays before or after a cruise staying at a choice of hotels and resorts in Florida, The Caribbean, New York and Canada. Car hire is also freely available.
Costa cruise line offer from December to April, when Costa Atlantica and Costa Victoria are based in Fort Lauderdale, cruises on both ships can be combined with a stay in Florida. Costa offers a choice of four hotels, three in Fort Lauderdale, and one in Orlando which is situated very close to Walt Disney World Resort.
The Walt Disney Travel Company offers the new 9-night cruise on board the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder, combined with two nights at Walt Disney World Resort. They also operate a seven-night package including three/four nights at sea and three/four nights on land. Many other operators offer other cruise and stay options with Disney Cruise Line. Cruises feature outstanding Disney differences at every point and combine visits to Nassau and Disney's private Caribbean island: Castaway Cay.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines offers Cruise-and-Stay packages in six destinations tied in with its fly/cruise holidays. Black Prince's 69-night "Around Africa" cruise from January to March offers land stays in Cape Town and Mombassa, Black Watch's "Grand Mediterranean" 54-night cruise from March to May offers stays in Rome, Athens, Larnaca/Limassol and Malaga.
P&O Cruises offers a variety of twelve itineraries, six each on Arcadia and Oriana, encompassing ports in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Sicily and Corsica. An ideal introduction to cruising, Cruise-and-Stay's vary from seven to nine-days and include a one or two-night hotel stay in Athens, Florence or Rome.
Royal Caribbean International offers guests a chance to Cruise-and-Stay through its Cruise Combo programme. Packages are available at most destinations, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, and a stay can be arranged prior to, or following, a cruise. In addition to cruise combinations Royal Caribbean also offer two centre holidays in Florida, and the Caribbean, at a choice of resorts.
River vessels are smaller than ocean cruise ships. Most vessels on a River Cruise carry around 150 passengers rising to 300 on the Russian Neva waterways and lakes. River Cruises travel by day and stop at night - the opposite to most ocean cruises. River passengers consider themselves to be on a journey, rather than on a cruise. River cruises are more educational than indulgent. Passengers can sightsee from the comfort of the ship. Rivers are nations thoroughfares. You see a completely different aspect of a country from a river. Every river has its own character, with perhaps the best example being the Nile where life hasn't changed for thousands of years.
The Yangtse is the world's third longest river. Most cruises will visit the River Gorges area. The Lesser Three Gorges (or Three Small Gorges) where the Yangtse joins the Danin is one of the most scenic points of the river and can be reached on a separate small boat from Wushan. Other interesting ports of call and excursions could include Yichang, at the entrance of the Xilinmg gorge in western Hubei province, Fengdu which houses more than 700 temples and is known as Ghost City and Yeuyang in the northern Huan province where the Yangtse river and the Donging lake merge.
The Mississippi stretches through the heartland of America from Minneapolis St Paul in the North down through St Louis and Memphis to New Orleans in the South.
The Neva and Volga inland rivers, waterways and lakes of Russia, offer a journey linking St Petersburg with Moscow and vice versa. The deeper rivers of Russia mean that ships tend to be larger than on Western European rivers. Ships carrying 200 to 300 people are common as are five deck ships all offering an excellent quality alternative to local hotels.
The Danube, in September 1992 a new canal was opened linking Bamberg and Kelheim. This link meant that for the first time, ships that cruised the Rhine could also travel to the Danube. Prior to 1992 only a few older ships had set sail on the Danube.
The Elbe - The dramatic political transformation of Eastern Europe over the past few years has had a significant impact on the popularity of cruises on the Elbe. The Elbe river starts in the giant mountains of Bohemia and flows through the Czech lowlands into Germany cutting through the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, which it has eroded over the millennia into fantastic rock formations. Ports of call include Dresden, a glorious treasure of art, Meissen, one of the world's renowned names in porcelain and Wittenberg where Martin Luther founded the Protestant Reformation. Extended stays are highly recommended in Berlin and Prague prior to, or following, the Elbe cruise.
Seine - Cruising the Seine provides two or more days to explore the fascinating city of Paris. The river journey includes visits to Giverney with Monet's stone farmhouse and its world famous gardens, Les Andelys, Rouen with its famous Cathedral and Honfleur. The river cruise along the Seine takes eight days as the ship meanders the river passing meadows, forests and streams.
Rhone - A River cruise journey on the Rhone includes stops at the most famous wine-growing areas of France and the colourful history of the Rhone Valley with its many fine examples of Romanesque architecture.
The cruise covers the tranquil region of the Soane and Rhone before entering the unspoilt orchard of Drome and cruising onwards past lavender-scented hills to Provence where the history and landscapes inspired such artists as Cezanne, Chagall and Van Gogh.
The Po - A river cruise on the Po provides two days to explore the world famous city of Venice. The eight-day river journey offers art, history and culture of the region against the backdrop of scenic rolling countryside. The great triangular plain of Lombardy lying between the northern Alps and the Apennines is drained by the river Po which flows from west to east rising in the Ligurian Alps near the French frontier and flowing across a Delta into the Gulf of Venice.
Cruising is, in many ways, an excellent option for the disabled because it takes people to a variety of destinations without the worry of transferring baggage and checking into and out of a succession of hotels. Modern medical facilities mean passengers can rest assured that professional help is at hand for ongoing health problems or any emergencies arise. And - rather more enjoyably - futuristic health treatments, now available on so many ships, enable passengers of all fitness levels to enjoy relaxing and beneficial treatments like massage, Reiki and thalassotherapy.
Crystal Cruises, spacious Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony were designed to be accessible for the physically challenged. They are renowned for their special facilities, which include ramp access to most decks and public areas, lifts which can accommodate standard wheelchairs, selected staterooms offering extra wide doors with accessible bathrooms and wheel-in closets.
For the hard of hearing the Hollywood Theatres are equipped with a StarsSound Infrared Hearing System; and selected TV programmes offer closed-captioned programming.
Disney Cruise Line offers a thorough selection of facilities for guests with disabilities on all itineraries and across both ships: Disney Wonder and Disney Magic. A number of wheelchair accessible staterooms are available in most stateroom categories as well as a well equipped on-board medical centre.
Fred Olsen Cruises vessels each have a limited number of cabins specially adapted for disabled passengers; however passengers with a severe disability must be accompanied by an able-bodied companion. All public rooms and decks are accessible by wheelchair. Ports of call where tenders are used to go ashore may not be accessible to wheelchairs or severely disabled passengers.
All of P&O's ships have cabins which are accessible for a standard size non-motorised wheelchair. Additionally Arcadia, Aurora and Oriana have some cabins specially designed for non-ambulant passengers; facilities include wider doorways and ample grab rails.
Royal Caribbean International can also accommodate most special diets and oxygen therapy (liquid oxygen, compressed gas oxygen or oxygen concentrator), continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis only. Royal Caribbean International provides specially configured staterooms, wide corridors, functional bathroom facilities and special devices to aid the hearing and visually impaired. Any special conditions requiring medical treatment or attention must be reported to reservations in writing at the time of booking.