There are many ways you can get around by water. It doesn’t have to be on the largest boat either. Sailing yachts and riverboat tours provide a more intimate experience and allow you to see places you may not be able to visit by land. If your destination is near water, there’s probably a “boat” that ports there. Visiting different destinations will sometimes give you the opportunity to see where you might want to visit again for a longer stay.
The first cruise my husband and I took was to Catalina Island. We lived in California and just wanted to see if we could be on a boat for a few days. Our port was Long Beach, so we were close to home. It was our first of many cruises.
We had an inside cabin. Both inside cabins (with no view) and outside cabins (with an ocean view) have the same room comforts. You can save yourself money by booking inside. An average room size is 190 square-feet … just enough. Outside cabins are a little more expensive but provide natural light, even through a port hole. Outside with balconies usually has a small veranda to enjoy your morning coffee or an evening glass of wine. Either watching as you leave or enter a port is a wonderful, scenic experience all by itself.
We reviewed cruise lines before we booked our first seven-day cruise on Princess Cruises, departing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. We went a little earlier and spent a few days at the Epcot Theme Park and the Kennedy Space Center. The land excursions are well worth our time.
If it is your first cruise, you might be overwhelmed by the beauty of the ship’s entry. Each cruise line will have your first view of the main floor where you are likely to see coffee bars, cocktail bars, boutiques, restaurants and a lot of staff scurrying around to be sure you are their “only guest.”
The ships cruise at night. Our destination was the Nassau, Bahamas. We would enjoy room service so we could watch the breathtaking view from the balcony. It was like another world. We arrived in Nassau our first day and had our first snorkeling experience, returning back to the ship for a mouth-watering dinner followed by dancing and entertainment.
The morning we said “Good Morning Grand Cayman,” we had never seen such beautiful blue water and white sandy beaches. We took an underwater excursion stopping at various spots to dive and snorkel. Each night as we prepared for dinner it was more than expected — it was an experience. One evening with dramatic presentation, flaming cherries jubilee was served table-side. First-class talent were the evening floor shows held in the main lounge. Entertainment was announced each day in the ship’s newsletter. They told you what the day’s attire would be and the basic agenda for the week. A cruise will have one to two formal nights, depending on the length of your cruise. Ladies, even if the men don’t want to, it is so much fun. Watch out for the paparazzi, they are everywhere, snapping every moment of your cruise. Of course, all of those moments are displayed on endless photo boards and are available for purchase. After our cruise to Grand Cayman, we returned to the island many times.
Our next port was Cozumel where we toured Xel-Ha Lagoon nearby Tulum. We enjoyed our last day on the ship at sea. There were amazing blended fruit drinks offered daily, not to be missed. Dinner just wasn’t about eating it was about an experience. The last evening was for sure the grand finale — an entourage of staff carrying flaming pineapples filled with ice cream and topped with sparklers. Who ever heard of having food available non-stop?
We took a Mediterranean cruise on Costa, who offers all-inclusive packages with children traveling for free. A great cruise line if you are looking for a family cruise. We visited the island of Montenegro in the Balkan region on the Adriatic Sea. A beautiful coastline and amazing historic, quaint town. We weren’t there long enough so it is definitely on our list for a return trip. On this cruise we stopped in Athens and the Greek Islands. Our layover was in Madrid, Spain. It was just for one day and one night so we toured during the day, and took in dinner and a Flamingo show. We walked around the Plaza Mayor which is a major public space and were right there when the mayor came out to get into his carriage.
We’ve cruised on the Royal Caribbean out of a port in Puerto Rico. This was a seven-night Southern Caribbean cruise. We arrived earlier to spend a few days in San Juan and took in the local culture. One of our excursions was a “cruise” down the Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft. It was a day’s journey. We could stop and swim to cool off and even saw a young woman doing her laundry against the rocks. We stopped along the way at a coffee plantation and a pineapple plantation. A true Piña Colada was made for our ride back up the river. There was a tour of the Bacardi Rum Plant, which was very interesting. There was a 100-year-old sugar mill still in operation that was a fun stop, too. It was an amazing pre-cruise experience.
There are themed cruises, family cruises, and specific destinations with a few places you haven’t been. Major ports inside the United States are in Florida, Texas, California, Washington, and along the Eastern seaboard. There are numerous cruise ports outside of the United States. Look into the Amalfi Coast by using Naples, Italy as your port (a popular holiday destination with sheer cliffs and a rugged shoreline). There are all-inclusive small cruise ships for retirees or 50+ porting all over the world. Smaller ships mean small groups of folks. Cruises vary in cost and destinations from the Caribbean to the Amazon.
During the off-season, it is less expensive. Just think about having a butler, maid and chef for five to seven days. It’s wonderful. Just change your clothes and enjoy an evening out with dinner and entertainment. There is shopping, dancing, restaurants to choose from, and cocktail lounges in abundance.
Viking River Cruises are probably most well-known for their variety of cruise experiences. They are happy to send you catalogs on a regular basis to peak your interest. The Galveston Island, Texas cruise port is a tropical island in the Gulf of Mexico. A great overnight stay. This port’s destinations are the Western Caribbean on most of the main cruise lines. You can take a four-night cruise for less than $60 a night. You can’t hardly buy groceries for that. Thinking of where you want to go? Believe me, all the cruise lines have destinations and pricing online. Cruising is a plus since you don’t have to pack and unpack every other day. Packing is a skill you definitely need to learn. If you are taking advantage of a layover, remember to pack light.
• Cruising is an easy vacation requiring minimal hassle, planning or decision making.
• Daily change of scenery, always something to do, on or off the ship.
• You can experience a day of history and culture or just be lazy pool-side.
• As you think about your cruise, think about your final destination. You may want to stay on land a few nights.
• Want to get spoiled for a few days? Take a cruise.