Navigate the world’s oceans and rivers with this A to Z guide.
A: ALL-INCLUSIVE accommodation, food and entertainment is paid in advance so cruise passengers know how much they have spent on big-bill items before leaving home.
B: BIG SHIPS, some with 3000-plus passengers, are akin to floating resorts with rock climbing, ice skating, golf practice nets and Nordic walking circuits among a myriad onboard activities.
C: CABINS, usually called suites, are surprisingly roomy with ensuite facilities.
D: DESTINATIONS are major attractions with ports of call that span the world. Cruise ships usually arrive in port early morning and leave at night, leaving ample time to explore on shore during the day.
E: EXPEDITION ships take passengers to remote places such as the Galapagos Islands for its Darwinian wildlife and Borneo for orang-utan sightings.
F: FOOD is an important focus on a cruise holiday, from relaxed breakfasts to sumptuous lunch buffets and gourmet dinners, with all manner of snacks in between.
G: GETTING to know other passengers comes with bonding in the bar, at dinner, even during scheduled activities such as dance classes.
H: HOW long is a cruise? A week or two is usual, though world cruises can last 100-plus days. Cruises of a few days test the waters before longer voyages.
I: INTER-GENERATIONAL holidays have grandparents, parents, and the kids travelling together on a large cruise ship with activities to suit all ages.
J: JUNIORS of toddler age can attend the onboard creche, while activities for older kids range from games around the pool to teenage discos.
K: KNOWING the time it takes to get to a cruise departure port is essential. Allow extra time for flight delays, travel from the airport, and customs and luggage checks.
L: LUGGAGE is restricted on long-haul flights but will suffice for any cruise because there are laundries and fashion shops aboard.
M: MORE ports are attracting cruise ships and that makes decisions on which to book even more difficult.
N: NEVER forget a birthday or anniversary while cruising - the entertainment crew ensure it is made a memorable occasion.
O: OPENING the world up to timid travellers is a bonus of today's cruise boom as many passengers take their first overseas trip by sea and that rich experience fires their taste for future travel.
P: PASSENGERS can please themselves by doing as little or as much as they want on a cruise ship. For some it is a holiday lazing around the pool with beer in hand, for others shore excursions are a highlight.
Q: QUEUE jumping is unnecessary on cruise ships as there is invariably room in the dining rooms, in the theatres, even at special events such as cocktail parties.
R: RIVER cruises navigate inland waterways for an insight into rural life as well as anchoring at ports close to the big-city action.
S: SHOWS on cruise ships ranges from Broadway-style productions to classical music concerts. Karaoke, trivia, bingo and talent shows all add to the fun mix.
T: TIPPING etiquette worries many Australians so some cruise lines now include tipping in the all-inclusive fare.
U: UNPACK once, with no repacking until disembarkation, is a big attraction of cruising holidays.
V: VALUE for money adds to the appeal of a cruise with on-board activities and entertainment all part of the package.
W: WORLDWIDE, new ports are opening at a rapid rate of knots from South America to Papua New Guinea to Russia, Croatia, South East Asia and South Africa.
X: (E)XPENSE depends on the cruise ship so check what is included before booking. Some focus on luxury and serve the finest champagne and caviar in that all-inclusive fare, others allow passengers to decide their indulgences and pay as they go. Shore excursions are usually extra.
Y: YACHT-STYLE ships with a distinctive clipper design, billowing sails and powerful engines offer a very different experience.
Z: ZODIAC "rubber ducky" dinghies on expedition cruises ferry passengers to remote landings that are otherwise inaccessible.