After room service delivers early breakfast on the balcony, he heads to the boxing ring for a workout, she to Pilates. They meet for a hiking trip in a rainforest, come back for lunch in the main restaurant and go shopping or golfing in the afternoon. Later they will lie by the pool and decide where to have drinks and dinner. The evening may end with an ice show, a theatrical production or a poker tournament in the casino. Their cruise is light years away from traditional deck chairs and bingo.
Cincinnatians have been quick to discover today’s world of cruising, with family groups, couples, friends and singles booking everything from overnight getaways to world cruises.
“People think you’re confined on a ship every day,” Joan Thompson of Indian Hill says. “On most cruises you’re constantly going to new destinations, and sometimes the ship will stay in port overnight so you can sample the nightlife.”
Cincinnati Goes to Sea

Cincinnatians are more apt to take premium and upscale cruises these days, according to the manager of Carefree Travel, Michael Geraci.
 
“We’re not seeing so much concern about discounted pricing.” He finds that the mature market often books after the holidays to avoid the large numbers of families with children on board.

On the other hand, Cindy Moore, a veteran agent with Provident Travel, says multi-generational cruising with grandparents, parents and children traveling together is a strong trend here, as are groups of friends planning a cruise. Moore sees great interest in cruising Europe right into early November: “They’re booking their cruises way ahead now, since some of them found they couldn’t get the cruises they wanted this year.”

Once Cincinnatians find the right cruise line for their needs, they tend to be loyal, choosing different ships and destinations from the same line and capitalizing on the credits and special offers each company offers to past passengers.

Joan and her husband Gary have booked a nine-day Asian itinerary for 2008 on the luxury line Silversea and they’re considering Baltic cruising that includes one or two nights on the ship in St. Petersburg. “St. Petersburg is very interesting, but not particularly safe,” Gary Thompson comments. “It’s perfect to be able to use the ship as a base.”
 
George and Kathy Wilkinson, formerly of Oakley and recently moved to Anderson, found their match with Regent Seven Seas. They feel the size, around 700 passengers, is perfect, providing a luxury experience but large enough for plenty of onboard activities. “You can see lots of different places without uprooting yourself,” Wilkinson points out.

The couple also takes short cruises on Royal Caribbean, planning a Leap Year cruise next year along with a possible Regent itinerary in Asia.
The more you cruise, the harder it becomes to choose among the thousands of ships and destinations, but as a cruise writer and editor for more than 20 years, here is my own wish list for 2008 below.

Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Xpedition’s Galapagos cruise was one of the most moving experiences of my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The 100-passenger ship is elegant and the trusting, colorful creatures of the islands are beyond description. Time spent in Quito, Ecuador, a city drowned in roses, is an unexpected bonus. There are seven 13-day cruises offered year-round from $2,399 per person, double occupancy.

COSTA CRUISES
Costa’s new 3,000-passenger Serena features spa staterooms and their own gourmet restaurant, a package of complimentary spa treatments and fitness classes, plus private elevator access up a waterfall to the 20,500-square-foot spa. This very European ship sails out of Venice on seven-night cruises starting in April (fewer tourists, cooler weather) in 2008, calling in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia with prices from $857.

OCEANIA
Oceania has racked up so many prestigious awards for its cruises that it’s hard to get a booking. However, there is space on a spectacular 15-day Australia/New Zealand itinerary departing January 9 (summertime down under) on the 684-passenger Nautica, and if you book by the end of 2007 with two-for-one fares and free airfare, the price is $5,699.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
Even after a dozen trips to Alaska, I was greatly impressed with Holland America Line’s seven-day cruise roundtrip from Seattle on the 1,918-passenger Westerdam. It visits Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Vancouver Island, and this late in the season you find the most spectacular glacier calving and wonderful bargains in Alaskan arts and goods. Fares are from $979 per person.

CARNIVAL
Carnival is the most popular cruise line in the world and perhaps the most changed, trading in its fraternity-party-at-sea image for a sophisticated version of Las Vegas and wonderful programs for children. The 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor debuts next July and the 12-day summer itinerary roundtrip from London (Dover) is a beauty. It visits Copenhagen, Berlin, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (overnight), Tallinn and Amsterdam, priced from $2,749.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Norwegian Cruise Line ships can be spotted anywhere with their colorful hull art, and the 2,400-passenger Norwegian Gem is their very latest, featuring signature Freestyle Cruising that allows you to choose when and where you dine among 10 restaurants. The Gem’s winter 10- and 11-day Southern Caribbean cruises sail roundtrip from New York. Enjoy the warmth of St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten and Tortola. The February 6 cruise starts at $949.

REGENT SEVEN SEAS

World cruising is seeing a huge rebirth, and Regent Seven Seas concocts extraordinary experiences on the ship and exclusive ones (like a private banquet in a classical temple) on shore. On January 6, the 700-guest all-suite Regent Seven Seas Voyager departs from San Francisco on a 115-night sailing trip to 51 ports in 26 countries. Priced from $5,995.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN

Royal Caribbean’s new 3,643-passenger Liberty of the Seas really is the destination. It’s one of the two largest ships in the world and it’s crammed with activities from a full-size boxing ring and Wave Runner surfer to shopping and snacking along the Royal Promenade. I’d take one of the January through April seven-day roundtrip cruises from Miami visiting Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, priced from $1,199. Save cash for their private beach at Labadee, Haiti, where artists sell their work at prices far lower than gallery rates.
 
After room service delivers early breakfast on the balcony, he heads to the boxing ring for a workout, she to Pilates. They meet for a hiking trip in a rainforest, come back for lunch in the main restaurant and go shopping or golfing in the afternoon. Later they will lie by the pool and decide where to have drinks and dinner. The evening may end with an ice show, a theatrical production or a poker tournament in the casino. Their cruise is light years away from traditional deck chairs and bingo.
Cincinnatians have been quick to discover today’s world of cruising, with family groups, couples, friends and singles booking everything from overnight getaways to world cruises.
“People think you’re confined on a ship every day,” Joan Thompson of Indian Hill says. “On most cruises you’re constantly going to new destinations, and sometimes the ship will stay in port overnight so you can sample the nightlife.”
Joan and her husband Gary have booked a nine-day Asian itinerary for 2008 on the luxury line Silversea and they’re considering Baltic cruising that includes one or two nights on the ship in St. Petersburg. “St. Petersburg is very interesting, but not particularly safe,” Gary Thompson comments. “It’s perfect to be able to use the ship as a base.”
George and Kathy Wilkinson, formerly of Oakley and recently moved to Anderson, found their match with Regent Seven Seas. They feel the size, around 700 passengers, is perfect, providing a luxury experience but large enough for plenty of onboard activities. “You can see lots of different places without uprooting yourself,” Wilkinson points out.

The couple also takes short cruises on Royal Caribbean, planning a Leap Year cruise next year along with a possible Regent itinerary in Asia.
The more you cruise, the harder it becomes to choose among the thousands of ships and destinations, but as a cruise writer and editor for more than 20 years, here is my own wish list for 2008 below.

Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Xpedition’s Galapagos cruise was one of the most moving experiences of my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The 100-passenger ship is elegant and the trusting, colorful creatures of the islands are beyond description. Time spent in Quito, Ecuador, a city drowned in roses, is an unexpected bonus. There are seven 13-day cruises offered year-round from $2,399 per person, double occupancy.

COSTA CRUISES
Costa’s new 3,000-passenger Serena features spa staterooms and their own gourmet restaurant, a package of complimentary spa treatments and fitness classes, plus private elevator access up a waterfall to the 20,500-square-foot spa. This very European ship sails out of Venice on seven-night cruises starting in April (fewer tourists, cooler weather) in 2008, calling in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia with prices from $857.

OCEANIA
Oceania has racked up so many prestigious awards for its cruises that it’s hard to get a booking. However, there is space on a spectacular 15-day Australia/New Zealand itinerary departing January 9 (summertime down under) on the 684-passenger Nautica, and if you book by the end of 2007 with two-for-one fares and free airfare, the price is $5,699.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE
Even after a dozen trips to Alaska, I was greatly impressed with Holland America Line’s seven-day cruise roundtrip from Seattle on the 1,918-passenger Westerdam. It visits Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Vancouver Island, and this late in the season you find the most spectacular glacier calving and wonderful bargains in Alaskan arts and goods. Fares are from $979 per person.

CARNIVAL

Carnival is the most popular cruise line in the world and perhaps the most changed, trading in its fraternity-party-at-sea image for a sophisticated version of Las Vegas and wonderful programs for children. The 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor debuts next July and the 12-day summer itinerary roundtrip from London (Dover) is a beauty. It visits Copenhagen, Berlin, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (overnight), Tallinn and Amsterdam, priced from $2,749.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Norwegian Cruise Line ships can be spotted anywhere with their colorful hull art, and the 2,400-passenger Norwegian Gem is their very latest, featuring signature Freestyle Cruising that allows you to choose when and where you dine among 10 restaurants. The Gem’s winter 10- and 11-day Southern Caribbean cruises sail roundtrip from New York. Enjoy the warmth of St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten and Tortola. The February 6 cruise starts at $949. 

REGENT SEVEN SEAS
World cruising is seeing a huge rebirth, and Regent Seven Seas concocts extraordinary experiences on the ship and exclusive ones (like a private banquet in a classical temple) on shore. On January 6, the 700-guest all-suite Regent Seven Seas Voyager departs from San Francisco on a 115-night sailing trip to 51 ports in 26 countries. Priced from $5,995.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN
Royal Caribbean’s new 3,643-passenger Liberty of the Seas really is the destination. It’s one of the two largest ships in the world and it’s crammed with activities from a full-size boxing ring and Wave Runner surfer to shopping and snacking along the Royal Promenade. I’d take one of the January through April seven-day roundtrip cruises from Miami visiting Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, priced from $1,199. Save cash for their private beach at Labadee, Haiti, where artists sell their work at prices far lower than gallery rates.

NORWEGIAN COSTAL VOYAGE
Hurtigruten (Norwegian Coastal Voyage) tried a brilliant idea in 2007 and is repeating it in 2008. The new 320-passenger Fram sails a pole-to-pole vertical world cruise September 23-November 27 from Reykjavik, Iceland to Ushuaia, Argentina. It sails from the Baltic and North Sea to the Mediterranean, South America and the Antarctic, priced from $16,799. For a shorter trip, try the Fram’s amazing 8-day Greenland cruises in summer. ■

Hurtigruten (Norwegian Coastal Voyage) tried a brilliant idea in 2007 and is repeating it in 2008. The new 320-passenger Fram sails a pole-to-pole vertical world cruise September 23-November 27 from Reykjavik, Iceland to Ushuaia, Argentina. It sails from the Baltic and North Sea to the Mediterranean, South America and the Antarctic, priced from $16,799. For a shorter trip, try the Fram’s amazing 8-day Greenland cruises in summer.