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7 super-extravagant U.S. cruises

7 super-extravagant U.S. cruises
Courtesy Royal Caribbean/CNN
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Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 11:06pm

(CNN) -- For not-so-intrepid travelers, cruises are perfect.

Outside of getting yourself to the departure port, you don't need to plan anything to have a successful trip.

To make that ocean-going vacation as effortless as possible, we've assembled a list of the cushiest cruises departing from the United States.

Linblad Expeditions, Alaska cruise

With 340,000 miles of some of the Western Hemisphere's most awe-inspiring coastline, you'll realize why the U.S. government dished out $7.2 million to take Alaska off Russia's hands.

True, the scenery had little to do with the controversial purchase then known as "Seward's Folly," but it's now one of the country's greatest assets.

One of the most engaging ways to explore this national treasure is with Lindblad Expeditions and its partner, National Geographic.

Experts in marine biology, geology and botany take travelers out into the ocean on smaller crafts and provide an intimate look at glaciers, grizzly and marine life.

An underwater hydrophone allows guests to listen to the songs of whales, orcas and dolphins.

Linblad Expeditions; +1 800 397 3348; starts at $5,990

Celebrity Cruises, Immersive Wine Cruise

If you want to do the wild West Coast without walking on an ice floe, Celebrity's Immersive Wine Cruises take you to British Columbia, Seattle, San Francisco, Monterey and San Diego, and visit some of the finest wineries in the Pacific Northwest.

The tasting doesn't end when cruisers leave dry land -- sommeliers are available to help passengers choose from about 500 selections of wine on board.

Celebrity Cruises; +1 888 245 4254; starts at $800

Azamara Club Cruises, Panama Canal Cruise

Azamara Club Cruises offers a trip that departs from one U.S. coast and arrives on the other, by passing through the Panama Canal.

Along the way, the ship hits 26 ports in 12 countries, including Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, Colombia and Jamaica.

At each destination, Azamara provides longer, more immersive excursions than most other cruise lines.

The most memorable part of the trip is coasting through 58 miles of waterway that wouldn't exist if tens of thousands of workers hadn't risked or given their lives to build it.

Azamara Club Cruises; +1 877 999 9553, call for pricing

Cunard, Queen Mary 2, transatlantic cruise

In 2004, the Queen Mary 2 became the first transatlantic passenger liner built in 35 years.

Its classic design and decoration embody an adoration of world travel that predates even her predecessor, the half-sized Queen Elizabeth 2, which reigned from 1969 to 2008.

While the eastbound cruise departing from New York City only makes a stop at Southampton, UK, before arriving at Hamburg, Germany, the majestic ship's spa, theater, library, ballroom and planetarium keep you stuffed with things to eat, see and do throughout the nine-day cruise.

Cunard; +1 800 728 6273; from $1,600

American Queen Steamboat Company Mississippi River Cruise

You don't even have to leave the country for some of the world's most luxurious boating excursions.

Each five- to 10-day trip on this Victorian-decorated vessel recalls antebellum heydays, complete with large orchestra music, stops at historic cities, southern family cooking and lectures from an onboard "riverlorian."

Various themed trips are offered.

"Southern Culture" is a match for the history buff; "Fall Foliage" is good for those who want nothing more than to sit in a rocking chair and be mesmerized by natural beauty.

American Queen Steamboat Company; +1 800 749 5280; from $950

Royal Caribbean, Oasis of the Seas

If you want to cruise purely to enjoy a massive adult wonderland, Royal Caribbean has made a seafaring behemoth of activity for you.

The 225,282-ton Oasis of the Seas is so gargantuan it contains 25 restaurants, 2,394 crew members and seven themed "neighborhoods."

There's Central Park (a garden lined with restaurants, bars and shops), The Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Boardwalk (theater, pool and rock climbing), Royal Promenade, Youth Zone and Entertainment place.

There's also a zip line, water park, casino, theater, mini-golf course, ice skating rink and basketball court.

Travelers can choose trips to the Bahamas or Caribbean, but what's the difference when you're on the world's greatest mobile theme park?

Royal Caribbean; +1 866 562 7625; from $369

Royal Caribbean, Quantum of the Seas

Come November 2014, Royal Caribbean will be unveiling a boat even grander than the Oasis -- the Quantum of the Seas.

In addition to many of the fun features found on Oasis, Quantum will have a surf wave simulator, a skydive simulator and bumper cars.

But the grandest, and possibly weirdest addition is a glass-walled observation capsule that sits on the end of a 135-foot arm, which juts occupants past the edge of the ship so that they can hang 300 feet above sea level.

Royal Caribbean; +1 866 562 7625; from $839

 

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