CRUISE CONTROL: THE LOWDOWN ON LUXURY SHIP CRUISES- BY SHAYLEN ANITA

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There is something magical about a cruise at sea. No airports, frantic stress-filled flights, no “take a chance hotels.” Just get on the boat and go! A luxury cruise can be anything from a few nights from Vancouver up to Alaska on a budget for a long weekend getaway, or one or two weeks around the Caribbean or the along the California Coast for a few thousand dollars. Want to tick the bucket list and may do a world cruise to celebrate retirement? How about a trip around the world that takes about four months for $100,000. It’s a trip where other passengers get off, but you remain on board for the entire cruise season, visiting dozens of countries. Cruise liners operate in virtually every region in the world, The America’s, Europe’s Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Asia,

Africa and even as far south as Antarctica. Although an around-the-world cruise can cost more, you will be able to move into your cabin and use it as a home base instead of dealing with crowded airports, flight delays, baggage restrictions, and other travel problems that can ruin a trip.

Modern ships can run up to 20 stories high with multiple restaurants, entertainment venues, nightclubs, art classes, fitness studios, spas, numerous swimming pools, movie theatres, gyms, and endless onboard activities for every age group. With meals, entertainment, and accommodations wrapped into one all-inclusive rate, cruising can offer a convenient vacation option. Many cruises today offer to stimulate onboard enrichment programs, unique culinary experiences, and immersive shore excursions, luring travelers of all ages and interests. Best of all, you can unpack once, and experience the sights and sounds of a variety of destinations without having to figure out how to get from one port to the next. Many people who experience a cruise say it’s one of the best vacation experiences they have ever had!

Things You Should Know Before Booking Your Cruise

Booking: If you book 18 months ahead of the sail date, you can usually take advantage of “early bird” rates, choose from a wide selection of stateroom  accommodation, and rest assured that you won’t miss out, especially if it’s a holiday sailing or a unique itinerary.

If you decide to take a gamble and reserve your cruise 30 to 60 days ahead of the departure date, you may be able to take advantage of a last-minute discount or special promotional offer. But, you may end up with a not-so-perfect cabin location or find your desired itinerary is sold out.

Cabin locations: You can book a room on the “residential” decks, or those without public areas or entertainment venues located directly above or below. You don’t want to hear the noise of the onboard nightclub below for weeks on end!

Dietary Needs: Modern Cruise ship can cater to your diet. Low salt, no salt, gluten-free, vegetarian, and even vegan cuisine is available. If you’re watching your sodium intake, you should inform the wait staff on the first night of your cruise.

Arrive the day ahead of your curies: It’s a good idea to arrive at the port your cruise liner is departing from a day ahead of sailing. It will alleviate any stress in case of a plane delay and you can even add on an additional sightseeing day to your itinerary.

Book the shore excursion early. Many land excursions and sightseeing trips are subject to capacity, and the cruise line is not responsible for booking these. Book your tours online before you leave home to avoid disappointment.

Health issues. Cruise tour travel agents recommend that if you can, – avoid touching the ship railings. If you need to hold on to a railing, wash your hands as soon as possible. Proper hygiene is one of the best ways to avoid contagious ship wide illnesses, such as norovirus.

Time your trip: Travel operators also advise if you like to save money, plan your cruise during what the industry calls the “shoulder season.” This includes spring and fall, plus the very end of summer as well as the first week of December. Sometimes high rates can be found right after New Year’s Day, too.

Cruise Line Rankings. U.S. News ranks the Best Cruise Lines rankings, which identify the best cruise lines for a variety of traveler types in a range of regions.*

Best Cruise Lines for the Money

  1. Royal Caribbean International
  2. Celebrity Cruises
  3. Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Cruise Lines for Families

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Royal Caribbean International
  3. Carnival Cruise Line

Best Cruise Lines for Couples

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Crystal Cruises

Best Cruise Lines in the Caribbean

  1. Disney Cruise Line
  2. Royal Caribbean International
  3. Seabourn Cruise Line

Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean

  1. Seabourn Cruise Line
  2. Crystal Cruises
  3. Viking Ocean Cruises

Best Luxury Cruise Lines

  1. Viking Ocean Cruises
  2. Seabourn Cruise Line
  3. Crystal Cruises

*Sources Travel USnews.com