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Cruise Lifestyles

Cruise Lines – To Suit Your Style

If you book a cruise on one of Crystal Cruises’ deluxe vessels, you just might run into Regis Philbin or Walter Cronkite. Their accommodations might be top-drawer suites—while yours is a standard inside cabin—but you can rest assured that once you enter the ship's public areas, you will enjoy the same level of ambiance and service as the rich and famous.

No longer divided into the “classes” of old, modern cruise ships are sea-going democracies. Every passenger can expect the same amenities and choices. So, are all cruise lines alike? No, not at all. Some of the differences are subtle, but today’s cruise lines fall into three categories—Mainstream, Premium, and Luxury.


Cruise lines in this classification have a little something for everyone. 

  • The ships include those that are big, bigger, and the biggest afloat. They also carry the highest number of passengers per available space.
  • Ships’ décor runs the gamut from glitz and glitter to nautical kitsch.
  • Staterooms range from inside cabins for three and four to a variety of outside cabin configurations with or without balconies. Top-notch suites may, or may not, come with numerous extra amenities.
  • Enough activities are on their schedules to keep even the most hyperactive passenger content.
  • Entertainment tends to be high energy Las Vegas style production shows, lounges and discos for dancing, and piano bars for quieter pursuits.
  • Large spas with fully equipped gyms, exercise rooms, and jogging tracks are as common as the multiple swimming pools and hot tubs.
  • Dining is generally shipboard traditional with two assigned seatings in the main restaurant. However, mainstream cruise lines are experimenting with variations of open-seating dining and alternative restaurant options that allow passengers to dine when and with whom they please. Choice is the keyword and you’ll always find something to eat, either from 24-hour room service or a variety of locations. Food is often likened to banquet style fare.
  • Service is friendly but not necessarily polished or overwhelming.
  • Ideal for families, these cruise lines offer some of the most extensive programs for children and teens.

What won’t you find? Soft drinks & bottled water aren't complimentary.

Who’s on board? First-timers, repeat passengers, young and old alike. Mainstream cruise lines are ideal for singles, families, and groups—anyone who is looking for a fun and exhilarating vacation.


A more subdued atmosphere and refined style dominate cruise lines in this category.

  • Ships tend to be newer mid-size to large vessels that carry fewer passengers and are more spacious feeling.
  • Expect a glamorous subtle décor with toned-down colors and extensive art collections.
  • Staterooms range from inside cabins for three and four and outside cabins with or without balconies to suites with numerous amenities, including butlers on some lines.
  • In addition to traditional cruise activities, on board lectures are common. Port talks often include history and cultural topics in addition to the usual shopping advice.
  • Production shows are somewhat more sophisticated and gentlemen hosts on some sailings keep single ladies dancing the night away.
  • An exercise regime is a pleasure in the fully outfitted gyms and spas.
  • Shipboard custom reigns in main restaurants with traditional two seatings. High marks are afforded the quality cuisine and presentation. Many ships have upscale bistros or specialty restaurants and many command an additional charge. Plus, the option of a casual alternative is often available.
  • Attentive service is polished and unobtrusive.
  • Programs for children and teens are well run but not as comprehensive as those found on mainstream ships.

What won’t you find? The cruise staff doesn’t bombard you with noise—announcements are kept at a minimum.

Who’s on board? First-timers and experienced passengers who enjoy a more upscale experience in lower key surroundings. Premium lines attract families, singles, and groups; however, as a rule of thumb—the average age ratio will be higher on sailings longer than seven to ten days.


The air on these luxurious vessels is as rarified as the champagne and caviar.

  • Ships range from mega-yachts for only a hundred or so privileged guests to mid-size vessels, which, in this category are considered “large.” Space is so abundant that you might wonder where everyone has gone.
  • Tasteful and elegant surroundings might include such touches as authentic antiques and priceless art collections.
  • Spacious staterooms are often termed “all-suite.” On the newest ships, all suites feature an ocean view or balcony. Look for designer toiletries in the bath and extra touches such as fine linens and fresh cut flowers. Some lines include complimentary in suite bar set-ups for all categories and butlers attend to the needs of guests in exclusive top category suites.
  • Enrichment programs with celebrity and scholarly guest speakers and culinary classes augment traditional shipboard activities. Libraries are well stocked with books and videos.
  • Evening entertainment varies by ship size, from cabaret to stylish production shows.
  • Health clubs and spas are fully equipped and staffed with professionals that bring new meaning to indulgence. After jogging or a serious workout, guests can wind down with a swim or savor a relaxing soak in generous hot tubs.
  • Open seating is the norm and guests dine where and with whom they please during restaurant hours. Top international chefs are tapped for their culinary expertise in designing menus to please the palate, using the freshest high quality ingredients. Prepare to savor meals prepared à la minute and presented with flair. Complimentary wines accompany meals on most lines.
  • At this level, the service staffs anticipate their guests’ desires and it’s rare that a special request goes unfulfilled.
  • Adult-oriented, luxury cruise lines are usually inappropriate for children and teens. The lack of organized activities makes them undesirable for young families.

What won’t you find? Groveling for gratuities. If they aren’t included in the fare, they are quietly suggested.

Who’s on board? Well-heeled couples and singles accustomed to the best travel accommodations and service. Small groups and families gravitate to the larger vessels in this category. Traveling in style to far-flung corners of the globe is highly prized by fellow luxury-minded passengers.

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