Sailing Away Has Never Been More Affordable
Cruising was once a travel option reserved for the wealthy and well-to-do. But due to the massive growth this industy has seen in recent decades, cruising has become much more accessible. Should you consider a cruise for your next vacation? Here are ten reasons to go for it:
1. Wake Up Each Morning in a Different Port
Hotel-based vacations cannot compete in this area. On a cruise, your "hotel" floats from place to place allowing you to see many points of interest on a single trip. There's nothing quite like going to sleep in Antigua and waking up in St. Thomas. Just one cruise will leave you feeling like an experienced traveller.
2. First-Class Food
Cruising is perhaps best known for the food. And believe me, the food has a well-deserved reputation. From 'round-the-clock buffets to elegant dining halls to specialty restaurants, your options are overwhelming. But be watchful for cruise lines that seem to be cutting corners in the food department -- I was personally underwhelmed on a recent Norwegian cruise. Read other travellers' cruise reviews ahead of time to know what to expect. I can personally vouch for Disney and Princess cruises!
3. Plenty of Fun in the Sun
Most cruises set sail to tropical destinations, where warm sunny weather is the rule. Just make sure to bring lots of sunscreen. In addition to the ship's pool(s) and sun deck, you'll have opportunities to take in breath-taking beaches at your stops. Several of the major cruise lines operate their own private islands, which are geared almost exclusively to beach activities. Have no fear--sun-phobics will have plenty to do if they remain onboard or choose try out non-beach excursions.
4. Great Entertainment
Vegas-style shows, comedians of all kinds, game shows, music and dancing, you name it. Cruise ships offer it. A highlight aboard the Norwegian Dawn is the Cirque du Soleil-style dancing and acrobatics show, while the Disney Magic offers up a different comedian every night working a different genre, from straight stand-up to juggling to ventriloquism. Every night there is something to suit anyone's tastes. You'll get a daily newsletter delivered to your cabin each day listing times and locations of every show.
5. Meet New People
Most cruises still follow the traditional dinner dining schedule, meaning your party is assigned a table at a specific time every night. Unless your party takes up an entire table, you will be seated with other travellers. Many new friendships are formed in this way. Do not worry, though, if you are a more private person. Some cruise lines have broken out of the traditional dining mold and allow parties of any size to dine privately at the time of their choosing--even tables for two are available. Princess and Norwegian both offer this new style. However, many cruise-goers find they enjoy the company of their fellow travellers. Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and others remain traditional.
6. See Exotic Wildlife
Whether it's whales and seals in Alaska or stingrays and tropical birds in the Caribbean, one highlight of many people's cruises is the interaction with local wildlife. On my last cruise, I had the pleasure of swimming amongst beautiful tropical fish. These experiences will leave a long-lasting impression of your trip!
7. Shopping Deals Abound
When you're out of your home country, taxes no longer apply--that is, up to a certain point. Cruise travellers find great deals on jewely, alcohol, designer accessories, and more. Once aboard your cruise, you will be provided with information about limitations that apply. You're likely to find that your cruise ship lists recommended vendors and offers greater buyer protections when you shop at these establishments. Attend the onboard shopping seminars if you have any questions.
8. Enjoy 5-Star Service
Expect nightly turn-down service and mints on the pillow. Expect a head waiter, assistant waiter, and possibly a sommelier to attend to your every need at dinner. Expect random cruise staff to greet you and offer assistance for anything you may need. As Celebrity Cruise Line says, expect to be treated like royalty. This is part of the cruise experience.
9. No Flying (Maybe)
Most metropolitan areas near the coast are within driving distance to ports where cruise ships sail out from. If you hate to fly but are lucky enough to live near a cruise port, you're set! However, if you do have to fly to your cruise, consider making your own flight arrangements rather than selecting a package deal through the cruise line. This can save you hundreds of dollars. Just be sure to give yourself ample time to account for the chance that your flight is delayed.
10. Because You Deserve It!
This is what it ultimately comes down to. You work hard all year long, don't you deserve a little indulgence? With prices dropping the way they have, the deals are out there. So take a week off to recharge and rejuvenate--you'll be glad you did!
There are more reasons to cruise than these ten, of course. Gaming in the onboard casino, exotic spa treatments, karaoke competitions, champagne art auctions, wine and martini tasting, midnight chocolate dessert buffets, sunsets from your balcony, and afternoon tea are some more ways to pass the time while you travel. You'll have an unforgettable time. Happy cruising!
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