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Cruising is the no-work vacation

People who are looking for a laid-back and fuss-free vacation can turn to cruising.

Cruising remains popular and that popularity continues to grow. Data from the Cruise Line International Association, Inc. market profile survey for 2011 found that cruising ranks second as the most popular vacation behind land-based nonresort vacations. Almost 71 percent of the total vacation market has an interest in cruising. Among past cruisers, survey respondents said they will most likely take another cruise over the next three years.

CLIA research indicates that cruisers tend to be middle-aged, predominantly married couples with a median income of $97,000. The higher household income may account for the ability to cruise amid a floundering economy.

What's behind the popularity of cruising? One of the main draws to cruising is its relative ease. From the moment a ship embarks, cruisers are aboard a floating hotel. All of their needs are met within the confines of the ship, and there's no hassle with baggage or layovers like there is for air travel. There's also no traffic on the open seas, and cruisers can customize their days and do as little or as much as they like.

The all-inclusive nature of cruising extends to meals. A popular factor of cruising is that one needn't look far for the next meal. Unlike other hotels and resorts, there's no traveling far for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and passengers don't have to carry around extra money for meal expenses. Cruise packages often include all-you-can-eat options. This can seem like a bargain, as the cost of meals on other vacations tends to be a significant. According to, vacationers spend upwards of $600 in food for a week-long vacation. In comparison, cruising costs on average $1,500 per person, which covers the accommodations, meals, some excursions, and onboard activities.

Travelers who are not interested in planning a day-to-day itinerary to keep busy often like the amenities of cruising. Most cruises have a cruise director who leads guests in various activities during the day. Most modern-day cruise ships offer ample entertainment options. From swimming pools to skating rinks to rock walls to surfing simulators, there are activities for most age groups. For an additional cost, cruisers can leave the ship and go on specialized excursions at ports of call. Still, cruisers who just want to sit on deck and relax can do just that.

Because most cruise ships travel in international waters, they are not governed by the rules of the land. For example, gambling is often legal aboard ships when they are out of port.

Cruising remains one of the most popular types of vacations. And since CLIA says that many people still book cruise vacations through a travel agent, cruising may be one of the easiest vacations to plan and enjoy. Simply pack a suitcase and set sail.