Set sail on a cruise ship for a memorable vacation.
Cruising is big business, but it's also a way to save big bucks on a vacation. Choosing the right cruise line with a tailor-made itinerary is relatively easy. Cruising is a perfect way to visit exotic destinations, have each day planned in advance by experts, enjoy world-class cuisine around the clock and revel in exciting shipboard life. Best of all, you are sailing on a wide expanse of ocean without borders. Taste the salt breezes as they they lift you from the confines of shore to the giddy sensation of watching the sun dissolve into an endless aquamarine abyss.
A Floating Hotel
Pack that suitcase just once and board your ship, without having to pack up and move again each day. Although the scenes change, your stateroom is your hotel room for the duration of your time at sea. Cruising is especially attractive for travelers who want to budget in advance for a vacation. Whether you chose to book your cruise personally or engage the services of a cruise line or travel agent, you know the bottom line in advance. Included in the cruise rate are passage on the ship, port taxes, all meals on the ship, entertainment, onboard activities such as bridge games, yoga, exercise facilities, ports-of-call lectures, cooking demonstrations, stateroom and transportation from home city. Cocktails are not included in your cruise fare.
Cruising with Extra Currency
Plan to spend more money than the amount you've prepaid for your cruise. Put a little aside for some options. Whenever the ship pulls into port, you can choose one of several shore excursions. These may include guided visits to historic sights, nighttime shows with dinner, hikes with lunch or just shopping with a local resident. These are arranged and paid for in advance onboard before you leave, but tipping the guide is not included. Souvenirs and other purchases are also not included. Credit cards are acceptable for onboard payment but not for tips. American dollars are welcome most everywhere.
Tipping the ship's personnel is more that a gratuity for services performed; it's their main source of income. When passengers come onboard, the purser (cashier) gives them a recommended tip schedule for room stewards, waiters, tour guides, and other personnel. The cruise line may say that tips aren't required, but they are.
Forget the Calories
Pamper yourself; you've earned it. Enthusiastic foodies can chow down from early morning coffee and muffins through midnight buffet and not have to shell out a dime. That's why cruising is ideal for adventurous gourmands as well as for kids who want hot dogs. Special requests are no problem. All cruise ships have numerous dining venues to choose, from a sandwich and beer on deck to white tablecloth service in the dining room. Your dining companions are your choice too.
Cruising can open magical doors to adventure or give you an opportunity to do nothing but grab a book and "veg out" in the fresh sea air.
Julia Hollister began as an Associated Press cub reporter in the late 1960s. She edited a California business newspaper and covered crime. She continues to write freelance articles about the California's job and career market, wines and agriculture for numerous publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas-Austin.
Cruise Ship image by Wimbledon from Fotolia.com