Cruise ships provide a total vacation experience. Once aboard the vessel, dining, sleeping and entertainment options are planned out in entirety. For a cruise vacationer, sometimes the most important planning lies in choosing the ship itself. There are some two dozen different cruise lines serving the States. Like hotels and restaurants, cruises are graded by star, indicating ships’ relative luxuries.

Five star: Five-star cruises are not necessarily the best — but they are usually the most exclusive, and, resultingly, expensive. Five-star lines — such as Crystal and Princess — cater to the most discriminating passengers.
Four star: These ships’ amenities will all be slightly less — including the price. Rooms tend to be a bit smaller, but there is usually more attention to shipboard activities and the clientele trends younger.

Three star: Meet the bread and butter of the cruise industry. Passengers can expect a fairly good value for the cost.

Two star: These “economy” lines are generally more sparse in every way from the above cruises — meaning they are less expensive, smaller and more crowded.