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Affordable vacation ideas in the year ahead include four cruise options: Here's what to know

For many people, affordable cruises are vacation and travel options that are right for them; here are four to consider for the year ahead and what to know about them.

Many people think a cruise is just a tropical getaway to the Caribbean — which can yield value, great weather and a good time for all. 

Yet cruises can be affordable and enjoyable vacation travel options to a variety of other destinations as well. 

For those so inclined, here are four alternative cruise options to consider, especially as people look ahead to spring and summer vacation ideas. 

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These are quite different than taking mega-ships to the islands of the Caribbean.

A global corporation, Viking is widely known for its leisurely river cruises.

There is also a fleet of ocean cruise ships that sail to enriching itineraries that include The British Isles; Canada and New England; the British Isles; and Venice, the Adriatic and Greece, according to the company. 

These vessels are designed for about 950 guests per sailing, which can be a welcome change for those who might feel overwhelmed by thousands of passengers on a cruise ship.

On board, there is no casino, all guests must be 18 or over, and there’s an abundance of value included in the cruise fare, such as free Wi-Fi, an included excursion in every port of call, wine-pairings at lunch and dinner (which are included), and lots of extras.

VIKING ANNOUNCES 136-DAY, 27-COUNTRY WORLD CRUISE

The extras include complimentary high tea daily, specialty dining restaurants that are free, and education lectures given on board by a historian. 

Viking's ocean service can also accommodate special dietary needs

One standout of the fleet is the Viking Neptune, christened earlier this year. It offers a variety of itineraries in 2024 and 2025, which can be booked now for best pricing and cabin selection. 

All cabins on Viking ocean ships have verandas.

Viking, based in Switzerland, launched in 1997 as Viking River Cruises and operates river vessels and ocean ships. It expanded into the American market in 2000, establishing a sales and marketing office in Los Angeles, California, according to its website.

Said Colleen McDaniel, spokesperson with Cruise Critic, "Viking’s ocean ships are truly spectacular vessels, and they sail some phenomenal itineraries – from the Mediterranean to Norway’s fjords. The ships themselves are beautiful and they’re all pretty much exactly the same."

She added, "So if you’ve taken a cruise on one ship with the line, you know exactly what to expect on the next. If you’re looking for a smaller-ship experience, with more luxurious offerings and thoughtful inclusions, this is a great line to try."

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America is the only cruise ship that sails round-trip from Honolulu year-round and is the only U.S. flagged cruise ship, according to the company.

Pride of America visits four Hawaiian Islands and five ports in seven days for those who would like to vacation in paradise. 

This cruise option is ideal for a honeymoon or a memory-making family vacation. 

No passport is needed for this cruise.

NEED YOUR PASSPORT EXPEDITED? THERE ARE OPTIONS BUT THEY'LL COST YOU

In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a Military Appreciation Program, according to its website, which was introduced last year. 

All active and retired military veterans and their spouses receive a 10% discount on their cruise fare. This Military Appreciation Program offer can be combined with the cruise line’s Free At Sea offer. 

The choice of perks occasionally changes, according to The Points Guy.

Yet Norwegian typically offers the following five: a free drinks package, free specialty dining, free shore excursions, free Wi-Fi and free third and fourth guests in a cabin. 

Occasionally, said The Points Guy, free airfare or a 50% air credit for the second person in a cabin is also a Free at Sea option.

Said McDaniel with Cruise Critic, "Norwegian’s Pride of America Hawaii cruise is unique in that it’s a round-Hawaii cruise that leaves from Hawaii. For travelers who are looking to experience the wide range of experiences Hawaii has to offer, this cruise is a convenient way to do so — no planes or packing and unpacking needed."

She also said, "You can see a lot of Hawaii in a short time because you're leaving from Hawaii rather than the West Coast of the U.S."

Regarding passports, she noted, "While we always recommend all cruise guests sail with passports, U.S. guests don't need them for this itinerary, as this starts and finishes in the U.S. without stopping in another country. The ship was also recently renovated, so that’s an added perk."

Lisa M. Lee, a travel adviser with Avenue Travel Group in Bernardsville, New Jersey, told FOX Business, "The best thing about the Pride of America is it’s the only one that’s fully inclusively around the island without having to come from the mainland."

She added, "It also gives you a way to see the islands without having to fly between them or having to unpack multiple times."

She also noted that "it’s the only cruise that's as close to all-inclusive as you can get in the Hawaiian islands. And yes, the military discounts are good."

River cruise company AmaWaterways, based in California, is a pacesetter in the river cruise industry, as it's raised the bar on vacation experiences along the Danube and other rivers in Europe and throughout the world. 

With a wellness host on board, a pool, exercise classes, a fleet of bicycles and excursions with a range of fitness levels, according to the company, guests get a front-row seat to history, culture and foodie experiences from these luxury river ships. 

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One ship, the AmaSonata, boasts several itineraries along the Danube and visits cities including Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; Weissenkirchen, Austria; Linz, Austria: and Passau, Germany. 

With AmaWaterways, there’s a complimentary excursion included in each port, an included gourmet dining experience at the line’s signature restaurant, The Chef’s Table, and complimentary unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner.

Also, each day guests are treated to free "sip & sail" cocktail hour with beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks.

Said Daniel about this cruise line, "AmaWaterways is known for its active adventures – so for travelers looking to really explore the beauty of Europe, this is a perfect line to do it with. The ships have great wellness options on board, and you’re able to borrow bikes or take other active excursions once you’re on land."

She also said, "The Danube is also a fantastic river to cruise. For those who haven’t cruised Europe before, it’s a popular starting point. It’s also an itinerary where you can pack a lot in at once, so you’re able to really experience a number of European destinations, from Vienna and Budapest, to the Wauchau Valley."

She added, "It's a beautiful balance of history, culture and modernity."

Celebrity Cruises’ Alaska season returns in May 2024, but planning now is the best way to secure the ship, cabin and Alaskan itinerary of your choice.

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There are three Celebrity ships offering Alaska sailings in 2024: Celebrity Edge, which will sail round-trip from Seattle; Celebrity Solstice, which will sail round-trip from Vancouver, Canada; and Celebrity Summit, which also sails round-trip from Vancouver.

The round-trip excursion from Seattle takes guests on 7-night itineraries to the pristine Endicott Arm Fjord and Dawes Glacier, complete with views and waterfalls, with stops in Victoria, British Columbia and Ketchikan. 

Also, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Solstice combined offer 57 sailings and an array of itineraries lasting 6-8 nights from May to September 2024.

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All itineraries feature the unspoiled beauty of Alaska, offering a summertime escape for multi-generational trips during the summer vacation months. 

Celebrity Cruises is a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle.

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