I love to travel whether it’s by plane, train or automobile. Okay, maybe not automobile, but regardless of my mode of travel, I love to go places. (If only my bank account, and job, afforded me the luxury to travel more often.)
Two-and-a-half years ago, I embarked on my first and only cruise. To date, it is one of the best vacations I have ever taken. It was a seven-day tour of the Western Caribbean with stops in Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico. I was with good girlfriends, met new people, and by the end of it, wished I could live on a cruise ship forever.
If you’re a family of four, a couple looking to relax or girlfriends looking for a fun getaway, a cruise ship has everything you could ever want in a great vacation.
It’s cruise season, here’s why you should find yourself aboard:
- Bang for your buck: Vacations can be quite pricey, especially for families and college students. By the time you add in air fare, gas, lodging, rental car, meals, attractions, etc. your credit card may be waving the white flag. If your travel dates are flexible you can usually find a 3-or 4-day cruise for under $300/person. Last-minute cruise deals are always available, so if you have the flexibility, check out some of the last-minute deals. The price of the cruise includes your meals, snacks and service (alcohol & sodas cost extra on most cruise lines), lodging and most on-board activities.
- Ultra convenient: There are U.S ports located on all coasts, so finding one with a cruise line near you should be easy. All cruise lines have shuttles that will pick you up from local airports for cruisers that fly in from other areas. Once on board, you’ll never need your purse or wallet; everything is done with your cruising ID card. It’s super easy!
- Top notch on-board activities: While on board, there are so many activities that you can participate in. The next day’s schedule is delivered each night, and it’s your chance to customize your cruise experience with all the stuff that makes your cruise your best vacation. From karaoke, to BINGO, to the Hairiest Man contest, your options are limitless. And for the kids, all cruise lines offer kids club activities for the youngest of guests to keep them busy during the days, too. From what I’ve heard you may only see your kids at bedtime because they’ll be having so much fun. And besides, hanging out with parents is such a cramp in the kid’s cruising lifestyle.
- Bring your appetite: You will not go hungry while cruising. There are buffets, restaurants, 24-hour pizza joints, dessert bars, room service and so much more. There is something for everyone, even the pickiest of eaters. The price of your cruise includes your food, though most ships have higher class restaurants for which you can pay extra.
- Nightlife fun: Night time on a cruise ship reminds me a lot of Vegas. There are dinner shows, casinos, dance clubs (of all genres), comedy clubs, karaoke bars, piano bars, cigar bars and more. Whatever you’re in the mood for, chances are you’ll find it on the ship. If you’re cruising with kids, no worries, the kids club plans nightly activities as well.
- Port of call: Most ports of call have touristy areas set up as soon as you disembark the ship. You’ll find shops, authentic food and excursion services galore. When leaving the ship, you can do whatever you’d like, just as long as you’re back by the stated return time. (I’ve heard that ships have been known to leave people, so don’t be late!) While in port there are so many options available, from zip-line tours, to swimming with dolphins and scuba diving there’s something for everyone. Excursions are extra and can be purchased through the cruise line.
Not all cruise lines are the same, so make sure you do your research before booking. The most popular cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney Cruise Line have great websites on which you can find all the information you would ever want. If you want personal reviews of cruising details, check out travel and cruising message boards where veteran cruisers love to tell their experiences.
Have you ever been cruising? What are your tips and tricks, your favorite cruise line, and your favorite must-do activities?
Greis (pronounced Grace) is a single, 30 something, Texas girl with an iPhone addiction. She loves her hometown Houston sports teams, Astros Baseball & Texans Football! When she’s not working as an inside sales analyst for a local manufacturing company, you can usually find her on the internet, watching trashy reality television or snuggling her niece, Audrey. In her spare time she enjoys a good chick flick, reading teenage vampire books (the sparkly kind) and dreaming about what life will be like when she finally wins the lottery. You can read more from Greis on her blog, Amazing Greis.
image credits Angie Lynch