Dreaming of a Cruise Vacation? A Tropical Getaway is Closer than you Think
By Brandon Strain
When the weather outside makes you want to pull the covers back over your head in the morning, it's time to think about getting away. How does a week with first-class service, fine dining and exotic locales sound? It sounds just like a cruise to a tropical getaway.
Some people spend months planning their vacations - where to stay, where to dine, sites to see. One advantage of a cruise vacation is that all the planning is done for you. You pick the area of the ocean that you want to visit and then you let the cruise line work out the details for you. And even better, the cost of many cruises - which includes food and accommodations - is less than you would pay for many accommodations on dry land. The biggest decision you need to make is deciding where to go and how many days you want to be at sea. Will it be the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, the Mediterranean or a river cruise in Europe? Once you are on board, you will need to decide which of the many onboard restaurants to frequent and which of the nightclubs to check out, but that's where the decision making ends.
You can cruise to the Bahamas for three, four or even seven nights, depending on where you board. Ships leave regularly from New York City, Baltimore and Miami. Pick the port closest to where you live and head for the sun and fun.
You can take a three-night cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas at prices starting at just $215 (per person and based on double occupancy). You will leave Miami and travel to CocoCay, Nassau. CocoCay is an island reserved just for Royal Caribbean guests. You will not find any shops, but you will have your choice of water activities - snorkeling, wave runners or just relaxing in a hammock by the beach.
If you are looking for more time away, consider a seven-night cruise at prices starting at $399 per person. Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jewel leaves New York and stops in Port Canaveral for a day of sight-seeing in Orlando, Florida, before continuing on to Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.
Choose from cruises to the Western Caribbean, the home of Jamaica; the Eastern Caribbean, home of St. Thomas; or the Southern Caribbean, home of the saints: St. Croix, St. John's and St. George's. A five-night cruise to the Western Caribbean starts in Miami and heads south to Ocho Rios in Jamaica and Grand Cayman Islands - all at prices starting at $269 a person. Travel is aboard the revitalized Celebrity Century with its 314 new private verandas, 14 new Sky Suites and 174 new concierge class staterooms.
A seven night cruise to the Western Caribbean leaves Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and includes stops in Key West, Florida, Ocho Rios, Georgetown and Cozumel, Mexico. Prices start at $599 a person.
If you are interested in the Eastern Caribbean, take a seven-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. Leaving from Miami, the ship travels to Philipsburg in St. Maarten, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Labadee, a private island in Haiti that is leased to the cruise line. The island is completely populated by tourists and those who are there to serve them. It is guarded by a private security force. The per-person price for this seven-night getaway starts around $600 per person.
Another option in the Eastern Caribbean is a seven-night adventure that leaves Ft. Lauderdale for stops in Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, rated as the best private island by Porthole Cruise Magazine. With just 2 percent of the island developed, this 55-acre spot is home to an international bird sanctuary. You will be traveling aboard Holland America's Eurodam at prices starting around $600 per person.
Whether you leave out of Los Angeles or San Diego, you will want a seven-day cruise to Mexico. Starting around $500 a person, you can stay aboard Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess. The trip features stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. It offers 740 staterooms with balconies, a casino and 24-hour dining. And for something unique, the Sapphire Princess is home to the Hearts and Minds wedding chapel - the cruise industry's only wedding-at-sea program. If you want to have a ship's captain perform your wedding ceremony, this is the ship for you.
Prefer the Mexican Riviera? Take a seven-night cruise aboard Holland America Line's Oosterdam. Starting from San Diego, you will visit Mexico's best ports of call: Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. When you first go onboard, take a look at the ship's centerpiece: a magnificent Waterford crystal globe displayed in a three-story atrium. You will never forget it.
So if you've been thinking that cruises are just too expensive, think again. All inclusive packages can be found at prices to fit any traveler's budget. Find your dream cruise now and bon voyage!
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.