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Cruising as a vacation destination
My first cruise was made in the late '70's, a weekend Costa Caribbean cruise, which only made me want to go again. This was an old ship and not one I would have recommended later on after experiencing the differences between the cruise ships and cruise lines; however, for a first time cruiser with nothing to compare it to, it was heaven! My husband and I won the best costume for the masquerade event, which was hilarious.
If you have never been on a cruise it is probably a good idea to go on a short cruise first to get your sea legs and make sure cruising is for you. And, it is best to start out with the lower priced cruises first because you do not want to start driving a Rolls and then be forced to drive a basic compact, would you?
Now is definitely the time to purchase a cruise, whether it is for your first cruise or number two hundred! Right now, if you search through the cruise line companies you can find certain cruises for 80% off the brochure rate. And, if you live in Florida you can get their resident rates, which are normally lower. Last minute cruises are great bargains, year 'round.
I have been on several cruises and I have been on a few that had rough seas, yet I have never gotten sea sick. However, if you are prone to seasickness, be sure and ask your doctor about a preventative before you sail. Then, do not think of being sea sick and you won't be!
If you are on a tight budget, cruising is definitely the best way vacation option to help you meet your budgeted amount. The misconception about cruising is that it is expensive, which it can be if you are doing an around the world or Atlantic crossing. However, if you shop around and find a cruise that sails out of a port you can drive to, it could wind up being the best bargain vacation you have ever taken. Remember that your cruise price includes room, board and taxes. And, they give you a recommended tipping schedule so that you can go ahead and include that figure in your budget. The incidentals and optional expenses are tours, gambling, alcoholic beverages, transportation to go inland, which isn't necessary, beach rentals and other activities inland if you choose to do so. On several cruises we joined our dinner companions or others we met out by the pool and rented an SUV when we arrived in port and negotiated a great deal for our own private tour. It was considerably less expensive and we could choose our own sightseeing and shopping excursions.
Do not spend money on a new wardrobe either! Especially shoes! You want comfortable clothes and shoes and you do not want to over pack! The cabins are small, so you do not what to have more than one suitcase each to contend with. If you drive you might be better off taking hanging bags so you can hang your clothes directly in the closet and not waste time unpacking and storing a suitcase. Also, remember what a hassle it is to unpack when you get home?!? The less you take the less you have to carry back in and unpack.
If shopping in the islands is your thing, don't forget to pack light and pack an empty duffle bag to carry your purchases back in! On that note, be sure and read what the limits are on purchases and what the tariffs are if you go over that limit. I highly recommend staying under the limits. And, do NOT, under any circumstance, try to bring in contraband (illegal drugs)! Believe me, sales of illegal drugs are in every country, more in some areas than others, so avoid being caught up in these activities. Some are undercover agents! And, if you try to bring them back into the US, you will be caught! I've seen some travelers being taken for strip searches and I did not see them again afterwards, which is a pretty good sign that they were busted!
Stay safe when you travel. Use traveler's checks. Carry only one or two credit cards and make sure you never leave them in your room. Do not carry valuables with you on vacation; leave them locked up at home! Buy inexpensive costume jewelry. And, carry a hidden neck or waist band money carrier to put your cash, traveler's checks, credit cards and cell phone in. Do not carry a shoulder bag or a wallet sticking out of your rear pocket! I can assure you if you do, you will be a victim! The cruise lines offer advice on how to stay safe, please read and heed their advice!
If you have any questions about cruising, please post your questions here and I or someone will try to answer it. Happy Cruisin'!