Think all cruises are made up of hack comedians, chintzy buffets and sluggish tourists in stretch pants? Well, think again. Thanks to the proliferation of specialty companies out there, you can take to the high seas in any manner you please.
Regent Seven Seas Navigator, New York to Montreal
Starting from $7,199 for 10 nights, trips run Sept. and Oct.
Cruise the Northeast in an “elegant casual” environment. The finer things in life are the emphasis here, and activities include everything from a “James Bond Martini Night” to an art tour of Gloucester, Mass., to whale watching in Saguenay, Canada.
• Who’s it for: You deplore the tacky and thrill at indulging in the finer things. You travel only if maximum comfort can be assured.
• What to expect: A fully equipped spa, butler service, on-board fine dining, walking tours and much more.
Ecoventura, Galapagos Islands
From $3,300 for 8 days, trips run year-round, high season is April-May and Sept.-Oct.
Get up close and personal with the unique natural sights of the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago 600 miles west of Ecuador. You’ll have the opportunity to view the glorious biodiversity on these islands that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution, including exotic birds, lizards, sea lions and more.
• Who’s it for: You’re comfortable off the beaten path and can’t wait to get in the water.
• What to expect: Daily activities include scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking, birding and guided nature tours.
Island Windjammers, the Grenadines
High season (Dec.-May), $1,999 per week; low season, $1,799 per week
This small-ship cruise — with only 12 passengers — puts the emphasis on sailing rather than traditional amenities. The tour makes stops at several islands in this Caribbean chain.
• Who’s it for: You’d like to pretend you’re an old-timey ship’s captain in an atmosphere of informal luxury.
• What to expect: Relaxation. There are no forced activities, though the captain holds a daily briefing on what is available — from picnic lunches to dives. The spirits flow freely — complimentary rum punch and locally brewed beer are available — and you’ll have the chance to take the helm, if you like.
Carnival Cruise Lines, Eastern Caribbean
From $579 for 8 days, trips run year-round and leave from New York City
Carnival’s large ships attract a younger, party-minded crowd and offer plenty of drinking and dancing into the early morning. This tour makes stops at Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas.
• Who’s it for: You’re looking to lounge by the pool or on the beach during the day and get slightly rowdy at night.
• What to expect: The ship is equipped with a piano bar, a casino, and several bars and lounges. Off-ship activities include horseback riding, snorkeling and shopping.