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Use these tips from cruise experts to learn more about finding the perfect cruise match:
Go Surfing: Visit Websites that offer unbiased reviews of cruise lines, cruise ships and cruise itineraries. A good site to view cruise line and ship profiles is Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) at www.cruising.org.
Visit individual cruise line Websites. Order cruise catalogs and free promotional DVDs. Note the age of passengers in photographs and the type of activities onboard ship. For instance, Crystal Cruises promotes enrichment lectures and learning opportunities while Carnival promotes non-stop, high energy activities like pool games and competitions.
Check the newsstand for cruise magazines like Porthole and Cruise Travel. Scan the Sunday travel section of major newspapers, such as the New York Times, Atlanta News Journal, or Los Angeles Times for cruise news and special deals.
Visit local travel agencies and collect an armload of cruise line brochures. The majority of cruises are currently booked through travel agents. An experienced travel agent knows the cruise market and understands your cruise style can help find the right cruise match for you and your budget.
Word of mouth is powerful. Ask for recommendations from satisfied cruisers. Find out what they liked best about their cruise line experiences and what they would do differently on future cruises. Check out cruise forums on the Internet and learn about the pleasures and pitfalls of cruises, cruise lines and cruise ships from veteran cruisers. Cruise Reviews Online (www.cruisereviewsonline), Cruise Mates (www.cruisemates.com) and Cruise Critics (www.cruisecritics.com) are leading Internet cruise forums.