Keep in mind that December through May is peak sailing season (especially for the Caribbean), so we're giving you a handy guide to selecting a hotel at sea for your journey.
How to narrow down the options? Pick your vacation personality and match it with the ships listed here. From mega-liners to intimate barge ships, we've got you covered, mate.
Lines For Food Lovers: Celebrity Reflection: Celebrity Reflection, the last in the line’s high-end Solstice-class series, is a ship for gourmands who enjoy specialty restaurants and celebrity chefs. The Reflection has both. While many dining options are thankfully included in the rate, expect a surcharge at trendy Qsine restaurant, where you order meals by iPad. Then there are wine tastings and culinary classes added to already packed days. Even keeping a fine figure is easier when staying in an AquaSpa class cabin, which gives you first dibs on rezzies at healthy restaurant Blu. The Reflection sails to the Eastern Caribbean this fall and winter starting at $549 per person.
The Spirited Sailor: Carnival Breeze: This line has been called “The Fun Ships” for good reason. They seem to attract young families, twenty-and-thirtysomethings who like a live atmosphere. It starts from Club 02, the hangout for 15 to 17 year-olds and travels all the way to Liquid, the nightly disco for grown-ups. In between dancing, there’s noshing available from Guy Fieri’s own Guy's Burger Joint, authentic BBQ at Fat Jimmy's C-Side, and a Mexican cantina. Cabins are more spacious than most, which ensures a good sleep before another day of unabashed fun at sea. The Breeze has six and eight-day, eastern and southern Caribbean sailings departing from Miami starting at $299 per person.
The Affordable Voyage: Norwegian Breakaway The latest addition to the NCL line is a 4,000-passenger ship which sails from New York. There's top-tier entertainment and dining that won’t break the bank. Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian's presents seafood spot, Ocean Blue and sweet treats can be had from Buddy "The Cake Boss" Valastro. There’s also loads of included entertainment since NCL’s has partnered with Nickelodeon. NCL is also the first to provide singles cabins without a hefty singles surcharge. The ship offers seven-night Miami/Bahamas voyages starting from $499 per person.
The Family-Friendly Ship: Disney Dream: In 2011, Disney debuted its first new ship in over a decade and made Jennifer Hudson her godmother. Now, the 4,000-passenger Dream joins sisters Wonder and Magic in creating truly memorable voyages with character breakfasts, a captain’s night with Mickey in dapper whites, first-run Disney films shown in the theater and Broadway-style productions. There's also the first aqua roller coaster. Of course, the adults-only areas are plentiful for Disney-lovers who don’t need 24/7 child interaction. Most cabins have an extra half-bath, a godsend when everyone’s trying to get ready. The Dream sails three-, four-, and five-night cruises out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas. Disney also introduced the Fantasy ship last year and excursions include visiting a Venetian mask-making shop and making your own pizza in Rome. Doubles from $1,658 per person for a four-night Caribbean sailing.
An All-Inclusive Journey: Silversea: Silversea's flagship, the year-old 540-passenger Silver Spirit, was a step up in size for this fleet of intimate, luxury ships. This winter, the ship -- which remains small by fleet standards -- is sailing seven- to 16-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises out of Barbados and Fort Lauderdale. Onboard, you'll find the line's tasteful opulence, with cabins made up entirely of suites, and all come with butler service, Pratesi sheets, Bulgari products, and down duvets, as well as nice touches like binoculars (the better to admire far off beaches as you sail through the Caribbean) and personalized stationary on which to brag to your shivering friends back home about your fabulous, decadent vacation filled with dining choice like Le Champagne, a Relais & Chateaux restaurant and an Asian-fusion outlet with sushi bar. Doubles from $4,124 per person for seven-night sailings.
The Small Ship Experience: Aqua Expeditions: Amazon & Mekong: Looking for a chance to explore the world’s largest river in a luxurious and intimate setting? The Aria and Aqua ships only take a maximum of 25-35 guests in spacious suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors, and private bathrooms. From next year, Aqua is heading across the world to the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. All-inclusive rates begin from $2,835 per person on the MS Aria for a three-day sailing. (written by contributing editorJasonD.)
What's Coming Next?
*Princess Cruise Line's new ship, the Royal Princess will depart from Ft. Lauderdale and sail to the Eastern Caribbean through April 20, 2014.
*The Norwegian Getaway will debut from Miami in January 2014, the ship is the official line of the Miami Dolphins, and their cheerleaders are the godmothers.
*Royal Caribbean will launch its Quantum of the Seas ship in Fall 2014, the first of two new ships and a new Quantum class for the line.
[Photos: Celebrity Cruise Lines, Carnival Breeze, Norwegian Breakaway, Disney, Aqua Expeditions, Silvesea Cruises and Princess Cruise Lines]