If you've never traveled by ship, you're missing a treat. As a pre-baby
boomer, I can remember the waning days of ocean liners when the Queen
Mary, Queen Elizabeth, France, Bremen, Michelangelo, Raffaelo, Cristo-
foro Columbo, Rotterdam, Constitution, Independence, and a dozen others
lined up like cars in parking slots on the West Side of Manhattan every
week. Those days are gone; the Queen Mary is now a hotel, the France is
a Norwegian cruise ship, the Mikhail Lermontov sank off New Zealand a
few years after carrying me to Bremerhaven, and most of the other great
liners have been recycled into cars or razor blades. However, you can still
travel by ship—and you should, if you've never had the opportunity.
Most of today's passenger ships are cruisers, not ocean liners. A cruise dif-
fers from an ocean passage in being a circular tour instead of a point-to-
point crossing. The travel experience becomes the purpose of the trip,
rather than merely being an enjoyable means to an end.
The word "cruise" is typically associated with the Caribbean, if only
because so many cruise itineraries focus on that warm and sunny region.
However, you can find cruises to just about anywhere: the Baltic in sum-
mer, the Mediterranean in spring, the Panama Canal, Alaska, the South
Pacific, Antarctica, or around the world.
What's more, cruises come in an amazing variety of price ranges:
from cheap three-day trips for the mass market to cruises that last several
months and cost $20,000 or more. Theme cruises are increasingly popular,
too: look hard enough, and you'll find cruises for jazz fans, chamber musi-
cians, wildlife enthusiasts, and the corporate incentive market.
Rather than try to list all cruise lines here (and leave something else
out of the book), I'll point you to Web sites that have everything you need
to know about cruise lines and their ships:
Linda Coffman serves up a veritable midnight buffet of articles and
Web links for cruise fans, including pointers to other cruising guides.
Fielding's Cruise Finder
The quantity of information here is enormous. Select a cruise line,
then examine capsule reports in 16 categories, such as "who should
go," "who should not go," "bill of fare," and "gimmicks." You can
also read reviews of individual ships and search for a cruise by
region, rating level, and "best" lists.
The Industry of Cruising
The title sounds like a Fortune article, but Arthur Frommer's guide
to cruising has everything from "outspoken appraisals" of 81 ships
to advice on cargo liners.
Passenger/car ferries are today's counterparts to the second-tier, bread-
and-butter ocean liners of a generation ago. Most are comfortable, and the
better European ships often have luxury touches, such as cabins with beds
(rather than the usual bunks) and white-tablecloth restaurants.
Spirit of Tasmania
Book anything from a hostel berth to a suite, and pick from three
restaurants during the overnight crossing between Melbourne and
Alaska Marine Highway System
Ferries connect Alaska's coastal communities with each other and
the Lower 48. Accommodations range from cabins to compartments
with airline seating, and the public spaces tend to be crowded in
Many of these vessels are on short-haul routes, but dayrooms and
overnight cabins are available on the Inside Passage cruise.
Lake Michigan Carferry
http ://www. ssbadger.com
The SS Badger doesn't really belong in these listings, because the
crossing from Manitowoc to Ludington takes only a few hours and
there are no cabins. Still, by Midwestern standards, it's a worthy
rival to the QE2. (For a history of Lake Michigan ferries, see
Two 1200-passenger car ferries, the Caribou and Smallwood, run
between Newfoundland ports and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Cabins and dormitory sleepers are available on both ships, with
"daynighter" seats being a cheaper option on the Smallwood.
Overnight "ferryliners" are legion in Europe. Routes include:
• Denmark to the Faroes, Norway, Iceland, and Shetlands
• England to Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Spain
• Ireland to France
• Italy to Greece
• Norwegian North Cape
• Spain (mainland) to the Balearics and Canarie
and too many other routes to mention here.
For the Web's most complete set of links to European ferry sites, see:
This entry page leads to collections of ferry links for the English
Channel and Irish Sea, Northern Europe, and Southern Europe.
My personal recommendations for European ferry journeys include:
Book a cabin or couchette from Harwich or Newcastle, England, to
one of this first-rate Danish company's Scandinavian or German
destinations. (The line also runs a convenient overnight ferry
between Copenhagen and Oslo.) Minicruises are available, and the
Harwich office's ship/land holiday packages are fantastic deals.
The M/F Norrona's weekly sailings include stops in Denmark, the
Faroe Islands, the Shetlands, Western Norway, and Eastern Iceland.
If you have just a week, sail from Hanstholm to Torshavn. Spend
two nights in the Faroes, then rejoin the ship for the round-trip to
Iceland and the return to Denmark.
Today, only one ship qualifies as a transoceanic passenger liner: the
Queen Elizabeth 2. During the winter, the 30-year-old QE2 sails around
the world, but it returns to the North Atlantic route in April for a series of
15 or more six-day crossings between Southhampton, England, and
New York. Bring your tuxedo or cocktail dress and a few thousand dol-
lars for a stateroom. The ship is owned and operated by Cunard Line.
Freighter travel has declined in popularity over the last few decades, not for
lack of passengers, but rather because of a dwindling number of ships that
offer passenger accommodations. This doesn't mean you can't travel by
freighter; it just means you have to plan ahead by visiting Web sites like these:
Internet Guide to Freighter Travel
R. F. Ahem is an inveterate freighter traveler. His site tells where to
find a freighter agent, how to arrange a trip, and what to expect on
Freighter World Cruises
Use the "Destinations" page to select routes from an interactive
Maris offers an FAQ, a monthly newsletter by subscription, and
descriptions of freighter trips that can be reserved by calling the
agency's toll-free number in New York.
TravLTips Freighter Cruise & Travel
Click the "Freighter Directory" button for listings of shipping lines,
some with Web links.
The Cruise People Ltd.
This Canadian agency has offices in Toronto and London, and its
home page has links to many freighter companies that carry
Finally, I can't resist plugging what may be the only remaining U.S.-
flag cruise line:
American Hawaii Cruises
In the late 1960s, I traveled the American Export Lines route
between Italy and New York on the SS Independence. Today, this
refurbished 1951-vintage ocean liner is owned by American Hawaii
Cruises, which offers seven-day cruises between Oahu, Kauai.
Maui, and Hawaii year-round.
Barges and Canal Boats
In Britain and Continental Europe, converted freight barges offer cruises
on nineteenth-century canals. At night, when the barges are moored, pas-
sengers can explore local villages and towpaths.
Boat rentals are also available in many places, with vessels ranging
from modem fiberglass cabin cruisers to refitted wooden narrow boats
Many companies offer cruises and rentals; here are a few URLs to
whet your interest:
Abercrombie & Kent
Three barges carry from 6 to 24 passengers on French canals In
addition to three- and six-day cruises, family charters are available.
Afloat in France
"Luxury" is the keyword here. Amenities include candlelit dinners
tine wines, an air-conditioned minivan for local sightseeing and a'
tirst-class TGV train ticket for your return to Paris.
Crown Blue Line
Select from more than 400 modem boats that you pilot yourself in
France or Holland.
Six- to 12-passenger barges cruise through the countryside of
England, France, Holland, and Ireland. Cruises include guided tours
of local historic and cultural sights.
Fielding's CruiseFinder tells where to rent U-drive boats in Britain
France, and Holland.
This U.S. agency represents river cruise lines in the United States
Austria, France, Germany, Egypt, and Russia.
Delta Queen Steamboat Company
Cruise the Mississippi, the Ohio, and nine other rivers aboard the
Delta Queen, American Queen, and River Queen.
KD River Cruises
Cruise the Rhine, Elbe, Moselle, Danube, and other rivers in
France, Germany, Austria, and Hungary.
Peter Deilmann EuropAmerica Cruises
More than 180 European river itineraries on five deluxe boats are
available from this German firm. The Web site has timetables,
deckplans, and sample daily programs.
http ://rivercruises .corn
Tour seven regions in the American South aboard the R/B River
Explorer, which is pushed by a towboat and looks like a steamboat
Other Boat Charters
Houseboats, sailboats, and motor yachts are available from thousands of
charter firms, and the easiest way to find a charter is to check the tourism
sites listed in the "Destinations" section. Here are a few listings just to
whet your boating appetite:
Houseboat Rental Directory
The Houseboating Guide's rental listings include firms in 37 states
and 7 Canadian provinces.
Caribbean On-Line: Sailing, Yachting, & Boat Charters
The six companies here offer bareboats and crewed yachts
throughout the Caribbean.
Charter Yachts in Greece
Motor yachts, motor sailers, and sailing yachts are available bare or
with crews. Click on the boat photos for specifications and charter
World Wide Sail
Click the interactive map for links to charter services on five
continents plus the Caribbean.