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Parents Planning This Summer's Vacation Should Say 'Yes!' To Cruising

Choosing the right family vacation to keep both parents and kids happy can be a challenge. For those parents seeking an alternative to the traditional summer road trip or week by the seashore, a cruise might be just the solution. In fact, a cruise was the top vacation choice for the “perfect summer trip” in a National Geographic Kids survey that polled 401 children ages eight to 14.

For summer 2008, destinations include popular ports in the Caribbean and Mediterranean as well as lesser-known destinations in Scandinavia, Russia and Iceland. Cruises appeal to children because most major cruise line ships combine facilities and amenities for toddlers, young children and teenagers with a comprehensive program of supervised, age-appropriate activities, plus the excitement of traveling from port to port on the high seas.

Moreover, cruises uniquely provide both family “together-time” and “alone-time.” In addition to organized activities, kids can enjoy Internet access, water parks and video jukeboxes in dedicated private clubs. Meanwhile, parents can stretch out on adults-only sundecks and in relaxing hot tubs, or take in a couples' massage or enrichment class. On summer nights, babysitting services let grown-ups “paint the town,” including dining, dancing and moonlit walks on deck.

Following is a sampling of sailings offered by the major cruise lines that are perfect for summer family vacations:

Carnival Cruise Lines will debut new four and five-day cruises from Port Canaveral. Four-day cruises call at Nassau and Freeport or Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Five-day cruises sail to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau. Seven-day cruises are available at many different Caribbean destinations.

In late summer, Celebrity Cruises' Century embarks on a new series of 10-night Balearic Islands cruises roundtrip from Barcelona, Spain. Ports of call include Marseille and Villefranche (for Nice) in France; Livorno (for Florence and Pisa) and Civitavecchia (for Rome) in Italy; and Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Valencia, Spain. Celebrity Cruise Lines also cruise to Caribbean, Mexico, exotic, Alaska, and Europe.

Crystal Cruises' Crystal Symphony departs Civitavecchia, Italy, for a 12-day Western European golf-themed cruise that showcases play at Golf Club Dell'Ugolino (Florence), Monte Carlo Golf Club (Monte Carlo), Ste. Maxime Golf Club (St. Tropez), and Réal Club de Golf el Prat (Barcelona).

Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 will make 20 transatlantic crossings between Southampton, England, and her new home port of Brooklyn, NY. The 2006 transatlantic season includes four new crossings between Brooklyn and Hamburg, Germany, and concludes with a November 18 voyage from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale.

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic embarks on alternate Western Caribbean itineraries every fourth week. The itinerary features a new port of call, Costa Maya, Cozumel, two sea days and two visits to Castaway Cay, Disney's popular private island.

Holland America Line has debuted a new 20-day Eastern and Western Mediterranean sailing aboard its brand new 1,918-passenger Noordam . The comprehensive itinerary offers the perfect mix of chic resorts like Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Monte Carlo; magical Greek isles and lesser-known ports like Valletta, Malta, and Kusadasi, Turkey.

Families can discover the Eastern Mediterranean together this summer on seven-night roundtrip sailings from Venice on MSC Cruises' new MSC Musica . While exploring the cradle of civilization, families can enjoy miniature golf, a virtual reality arcade/game room, Children's Club, tennis, swimming and fine Italian hospitality, cuisine and ambiance onboard the line's newest ship.

Midway between Norway and the North Pole lies Spitsbergen, land of the Midnight Sun. In summer, Norwegian Coastal Voyage's Nordstjernen and Polar Star cruise amid cliff-lined fjords and massive glaciers. Zodiac expedition boats are used for shore landings to view the abundant wildlife, including reindeer, Arctic foxes, seals and walruses.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jewel sails a seven-day Western Mediterranean itinerary from May through August that offers passengers the opportunity to experience the Mediterranean staples of Spain, France and Italy and their Rivieras. Sailing roundtrip from Barcelona, the itinerary calls at Italy's Messina, Naples, Rome and Florence and France's Villefranche.

Scandinavian Splendors aboard Oceania Cruises' Regatta and Insignia is a 14-day voyage between Stockholm and London. Ports include Stockholm (overnight), Tallinn, St. Petersburg (three days), Helsinki, Gdansk, Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bruges and London.

Orient Line's flagship Marco Polo will offer its first-ever circumnavigation of Iceland on a new itinerary from Copenhagen to Stockholm. The 22-day cruise-tour will visit five ports in Iceland – Husavik, Isafjördhur, Reykjavik, Akureyri and Seydhisfjördhur – in addition to calls in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Princess Cruises' new Crown Princess , which launches in June, will offer 10 departures of an Eastern Caribbean itinerary that calls at Bermuda (West End), San Juan, St. Thomas and a new port of call for Princess, Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands, from June 14 through October 18.

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' all-suite Seven Seas Voyager on seven-night voyages between Stockholm and Copenhagen. The cruise visits Tallinn, St. Petersburg (two overnights), Helsinki and Visby. Guests can choose from free Economy Class air, $499 Business Class upgrade or $1,000 in savings.

Royal Caribbean International will deploy its largest-ever ship in Europe. From mid-July to mid-August, the 142,000-ton Voyager of the Seas sails on seven-night itineraries roundtrip from Barcelona. Ports of call include Marseille, France; Civitavecchia (for Rome), Italy; Naples, Italy; Valletta, Malta; and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Florence & Italian Yacht Havens on Seabourn Cruise Line's all-suite Seabourn Legend is a seven-day luxury cruise from Monte Carlo to Calvi, Corsica; Portovenere (for Cinque Terre); Portoferraio, Elba; Livorno (for Florence, Pisa, Lucca or Siena); Portofino; and Civitavecchia (for Rome). Five Saturday departures are offered between June and September.

Silversea Cruises' seven-night Baltic Discoveries cruise aboard the all-suite Silver Cloud sails from Stockholm to Copenhagen, calling at Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; and St. Petersburg, Russia (three days) – an exclusive Hermitage excursion features a tour of the Winter Palace, a champagne reception and classical music performance.

Swan Hellenic Cruises' Minerva II showcases the glacial and volcanic beauty of Iceland for the first time, departing Dover, England. The 14-night cruise calls at Lake Myvatn and Reykjavik, as well as ancient towns in Norway and the Faroe Islands. Onboard guest speakers bring the destinations to life.

Windstar Cruises offers seven-day cruises in the Western Mediterranean this summer aboard the 308-guest motor sailing yacht Wind Surf . An intimate sailing experience for families, Windstar offers open-seating dining and a casually elegant atmosphere with no ties or cocktail dresses required. Older children enjoy the line's complimentary water sports activities.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at toll-free 1-800-439-6804 if you have any questions about your perfect vacation in paradise.

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