Top Valentine's Cruises for 2011

Okay, guys, it’s that time of year again, when you are expected to shell out a significant amount of cash (or plastic) for your sweetie. The question, as always, is what to buy with that cash. Cards, chocolate, flowers and a romantic dinner are all great, if a little boring. Now imagine all of those things then add in a clear star-lit night with soft sea breezes whispering through your girl’s hair, cuddling with her in a chair gazing out across miles and miles of open ocean. Put it all together and you have a winner, in huge sparkly “I Love You” capital letters.

What you just imagined is a Valentine’s cruise. Whether you go out for the night, for the weekend or longer, you have a sure bet for a Valentine’s hit with a cruise. This year Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday, making that cruise the perfect gift.

Lunch and Dinner Cruises

If you are on a budget (and who among us, isn’t?) or you have little ones who you just cannot leave for a weekend, a dinner cruise presents a perfect option. Spirit cruises depart daily (and several times a day at that) from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, New Jersey, Norfolk, and Washington DC. Dinner cruises start at $129 for the smaller ports and $129 for New York, and include a huge buffet, DJ entertainment, dancing, a ½ dozen roses, bottle of champagne or premium open bar (depends on the ship), two keepsake champagne flutes and a private table for two. If you are cruising in New York, try the Bateaux. This European-inspired, all-glass vessel offers the most unique dining experience of all of Spirits’ cruises. The cruise includes the same as the others, except with plated dinners rather than a buffet and completely unobstructed views of the New York skyline, starting at $189.

If you live in Sydney, Australia, or will be visiting, try a lunch or dinner cruise around Sydney Harbor with Vagabond Cruises. Three-hour lunch cruises include a buffet lunch, single rose for the ladies, heart chocolate, and live jazz. Prices begin at $80. The four-hour dinner cruise includes a Brazilian latino music, buffet, single roses for the lady, and heart chocolate. Cost for the dinner cruise is $85 per adult.

In California, Delta Discovery Cruises in Pittsburg, California offers a Valentine's Day champagne brunch cruise on Sunday, February 13 and a Valentine's Day sunset cruise on Monday, February 14.  The champagne brunch cruise is $59 per person and offers 3-hour cruises around the delta and bay area with live jazz entertainment.  The dinner cruise costs $65 per person and offers live entertainment, a 3-course meal and a 2.5 hour cruise.

Weekend Cruises

Three and four day weekend cruises are a dime a dozen these days. The following cruises are in the most romantic locations on the most romantic day of the year. Cruise lines go the extra mile decorating their ships for Valentine’s day. The entire ship is often decorated in red, pink and white, with hearts, and some cruises even offer complimentary bottles of champagne or champagne glasses.

Cunard Lines' luxury liner Queen Victoria sails from Los Angeles on February 13th. Their 4-night Sampler Mexico Cruise spends two days at sea, one on Valentine's Day, and stops in Ensenada, "Be treated like royalty with rejuvenating spa treatments, gourmet cuisine, traditional English high tea, ballroom dancing, elegant accommodations and so much more," says Cruise Specialists. Couples receive $300 shipboard credit. Cruises start at $699 per person for an interior cabin, and $999 for a balcony cabin..

Nearly all major cruise lines - Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Disney - offer weekend cruises on Valentine's weekend.  You can be sure they all offer romance, roses and a weekend to remember.

Week-Long Cruises (and Longer)

American Safari Cruises offer yacht cruises - an emerging style of cruising for those folks who don't mind shelling out significantly more cash for a significantly better cruise experience.  Aboard yachts rather than huge floating cities, American Safari brings their passengers up close and personal in four different locations on the US West Coast.  For Valentine's Day, try the 7-day Eastbound Hawaii Seascapes cruise.  Departing February 13th, the itinerary includes stops on the Big Island to see historical sites, a stop at Black Sands Beach with excursion to find lava flows into the ocean, whale watching, night snorkeling on Molokini, and a full day on Moloka'i to experience traditional Hawaiian life.  Cruises start $5,695.

Royal Caribbean's 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise aboard Adventure of the Seas departs San Juan, Puerto Rico on the 13th.  The ship is at sea on the 14th, then makes stops in Curacao, Aruba, Dominica, and St. Thomas.  This ship features an ice skating rink, golf and rock-climbing wall.  Interior staterooms start at $649.  Add a romance package for $100 to $700 more.  These packages are perfect for Valentine's Day and may include champagne, roses, canapes, petit four, keepsakes, and breakfast in bed.

Though Norwegian Cruise Lines offers over thirty cruises around Valentine's Day, three stand out as exotic and romantic.  The first departs Los Angeles for a 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise.  Ports of call include Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.  Cruises start at $429 for inside stateroom; upgrade to a balcony stateroom for an additional $320.  If you seek something more exotic, try the 9-day Canary Islands and Morocco trip.  With stops in Funchal, Casablanca, Granada, Las Palmas and Agadir, prices start at $499.  However, the ultimate in romantic cruises from Norwegian is their 12-day Mediterranean cruise.  Ports of call include Rome, Athens, Alexandria and Barcelona.  Inside staterooms start at $799 though balcony rooms cost only $1,349.

And Longer Yet

Several cruise lines offer 26 and 30 day cruises in Asia, around South America, and in Australia. Information about those can be found on the websites. Those longer cruises to exotic locations are not included here because, well, they simply are not affordable to most couples. If you are fortunate enough to go on one of those cruises for Valentine’s Day, please send us all a postcard!

Princess Cruise Lines embarks February 8th for a 39-day Australia and South Asia adventure and a 23-day Australia/China cruise.  Both ships are in port on Valentine's Day in Darwin, Australia.  Holland America's 28-day Panama Canal trip is in port in Acapulco on Valentine's Day, while their 33-day South America voyage is in Wilhelm Archipelago, and their 29-day Grand World Voyage is in Fjordland National Park in New Zealand.

A little planning goes a long way for Valentine’s Day. Choosing a cruise, and surprising her with it, is a one of the best ways to show her how much you truly cherish her and everything she brings to your life. On Valentine’s Day this year, just make sure your significant other feels appreciated and loved. The memories you make will last as long as your love.

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