'Love Boat' vs. party boat: Which cruise line is for you?

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Unpack once and your hotel transports you from glittering port to port. What's not to love about a cruise vacation?

Cruising grows in popularity year after year, and with the number and variety of ships that have come online in the past few years, it's a vacation option with so much to offer!

But with so many lines to choose from, which one will give you the amenities and vacation experience that will appeal to you? Let's take a look at some of the most popular cruise lines with cruisers from Arizona:

Princess - Because of the popular television series of the 70's, "The Love Boat," you couldn't even think about cruising without thinking of Princess. One of my personal favorite cruise lines, because of their pretty ships and great service, Princess appeals to a wide variety of age groups, including families and multi-generational groups. I also think they do the best job in Alaska.

Royal Caribbean - Another favorite of mine, Royal Caribbean has done a phenomenal job of positioning themselves as a cutting edge cruise line, appealing to a younger, more active crowd. A wide variety of ships - including two of the largest ships currently sailing - and activities make for an exciting cruise experience! Rock climbing? Ice skating? Zip lining? You can do all of these things without leaving the ship!

Carnival - Also known as "Vegas on the water." And I mean that in the nicest possible way! Carnival is known for - and loved for - their glitzy ship interiors. You might not know they also have larger cabins than the industry average. And while Carnival may still appeal to a singles crowd, their kids program is second to none.

Holland America - Another excellent cruise option, Holland America is known for their smaller ships and terrific service. Their ships tend to be more elegant than glitzy, and they appeal to a more mature cruise crowd. They also do an exceptional job in Alaska.

Celebrity - Sister line to Royal Caribbean, Celebrity is known for their smaller, beautiful ships - and their food. Great service and well-appointed cabins are also a big part of the appeal of this line.

Norwegian - The maverick of cruise lines, Norwegian was the first to shake up the dining options in the cruise world. Operating more like a resort hotel than a cruise ship, other cruise lines have adopted a version of NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" (eat when you want, where you want) for their own ships. Norwegian also offers big, innovative ships - inside cabins for singles built around a lounge area anyone? - and is the only year-around cruise line operating in Hawaii.

Cruising is one of my favorite ways to spend time with family and friends. It's relaxing and yet offers so many exciting opportunities! If you haven't yet hit the high seas, take a look at a cruise for your next vacation!

And now for the fun stuff…

Ireland with Friends
A Custom Tour by Brendan Worldwide Vacations exclusively for Travelation!

September 1 - September 10, 2011
$2299.00 per person, double occupancy
Air taxes are additional - currently $165.00 per person

I've got about 16 seats left! Join us for this unique travel experience combining lively cities, charming towns, historic sites and so much more!

Your rate includes round trip air from Phoenix, all hotels, fantastic sightseeing and so much more! Check out this terrific itinerary:

September 1 - Depart Phoenix 
We depart Phoenix on our overnight Trans-Atlantic flight on Continental Airlines.

September 2 - Arrive Dublin
Welcome to Dublin! Upon arrival we are met and transferred to our centrally located hotel. On our way to the hotel, we'll see Georgian Squares and Christ Church Cathedral as we begin our exploration of this beautiful city, including visits to the Trinity College Library (and the famous 8th century Book of Kells) and lovely St. Patrick's Cathedral. The rest of the day and evening are at leisure.
 
September 3 - Wicklow Excursion
Beautiful day! We'll travel into the Wicklow Mountains for a visit to the lovely Powerscourt Gardens, then we're off to the picturesque monastic site of Glendalough. St. Kevin's Kitchen, celtic crosses and one of Ireland's classic towers dot the landscape here. It's a special place! Then we're off to the sea town of Howth for dinner and an evening of entertainment at The Abbey Tavern. (IB, D)
 
September 4 - Dublin to Waterford
We depart Dublin and travel to medieval Kilkenny. Kilkenny is truly one of Ireland's loveliest cities, rising to prominence in the 13th century when the Irish Parliament met at Kilkenny Castle. We enjoy a tour of this beautiful city and then a guided tour of the Castle. Then we're off to charming Waterford, stopping at the new Waterford Crystal Visitors Centre before checking into our hotel in the heart of town. (IB, D)
 
 
September 5 - Waterford to Killarney
We depart Waterford for our jaunt to Killarney, one of my favorite towns in Ireland! Along the way, we'll visit the world-famous Blarney Castle. Kiss the stone to gain the Gift of Eloquence or just blow it a kiss and visit the Blarney Woollen Mills, home to some of the best shopping in Ireland! Our hotel for this evening is right in the heart of charming Killarney, gateway to the incomparable Ring of Kerry. (IB)
 
September 6 - Ring of Kerry  
The road that winds around the beautiful Iveragh Peninsula, better known as the Ring of Kerry, is one of the most magical places in Ireland. Mountains, valleys, lakes and sea blend into a breathtaking landscape. Even the names of the towns seem to whisper their beauty: Cahirciveen, Glenbeigh, Killorglin and Sneem. Stroll through Killarney Town where you'll find lively pubs and music. (IB)
 
September 7 - Killarney to Galway
A scenic day! This morning, we'll take a ferry across the Shannon estuary and enter County Clare to walk along the Cliffs of Moher, rising approximately 700 feet above the pounding Atlantic. We travel on through the starkly beautiful Burren, to lovely Galway, City of Tribes. We continue along the coast before we arrive at our hotel in time to "watch the sun go down on Galway Bay." (IB, D)
 
September 8 - Connemara Excursion
Today we tour Connemara, a wild land of rocky mountains, sparkling lakes and rushing rivers. We'll stop at Kylemore Abbey, a castellated neo-Gothic mansion, occupied today by the Irish Benedictine community of nuns who came from Ypres, Belgium after World War I. Travel on to the Connemara Marble Factory and learn of the origins and uses of "the gem of Ireland." Enjoy a relaxing dinner at our hotel. (IB, D)

September 9 - Galway to Bunratty
We depart for a scenic tour of Galway City, including the beautiful Galway Cathedral. Then we're off to Ardrahan for a visit to Rathbaun Farm. We meet an Irish farming family as they carry out their everyday chores, including herding sheep, before we head on to Bunratty. Our hotel is in the shadow of Bunratty Castle, where we'll have time to relax or do some last-minute shopping on our last day in Ireland. (IB)
 
September 10 - Depart Ireland   
We have an early morning transfer to the Shannon Airport for our morning flight back to Arizona. (IB)

Join us for a journey through many of my very favorite places in all of Ireland!


Sailing Alaska
It's one of my favorite cruise itineraries - and a great way to beat the heat!

Sail the Inside Passage out of Seattle and you can get some terrific rates for May and June! With stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia, it's one of the most popular ways to see Alaska!

The rates below are cruise only, based on two people sharing a stateroom:

Inside Staterooms - from $799.00 per person, double occupancy
Ocean View/Balcony Staterooms - from $1299.00 per person, double occupancy

Ocean View and Balcony staterooms for the same rate? Yes, indeed! There's a terrific sale going on with one cruise line, so if you've been thinking about seeing Alaska from your own balcony, this is the time to do it!!

Rates valid for May and June sailings out of Seattle. Port charges/Government taxes are additional. Add a round trip flight from Phoenix to Seattle, and you're on your way!


Springtime in the Caribbean
Seven night Eastern and Western itineraries are on sale for March and April! It's such a terrific time to sail here, so grab your calendars and your passports!

The rates below are cruise only, based on two people sharing a stateroom:

Inside Staterooms - from $499.00 per person, double occupancy
Ocean View Staterooms - from $649.00 per person, double occupancy
Balcony Staterooms - from $799.00 per person, double occupancy

The ports on these itineraries are some of the most popular in the Caribbean, including St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel and more! Add on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, your port city for these departures, and you've got a great vacation!

By air, land or sea, we've been planning your next great vacation for the past 10 years at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or if you're outside the Metro Phoenix area, call toll-free at 888-751-2032. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at rosanne@travelationonline.com. I look forward to hearing from you!