My aunt just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas. She regularly takes off for the high seas and loves it. Her enthusiasm for this form of travel is so infectious that she inspired my TT.
According to the travel site Expedia, here are 13 things you should know about vacationing on a cruise ship.
1) "The best value in travel." It's easy to budget for a cruise because meals and shipboard entertainment is included in the price. Beware, though: the price of soft drinks, specialty coffees and booze will come out of your pocket.
2) Stay local or see the world. Cruises offer you the opportunity to travel up and down the east coast -- from New York to Halifax with ports of call in Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport -- or go as far away as Africa and Antarctica. The most popular cruise destination is the Bahamas.
3) You can swim while on the sea. Most ships have multiple pools and water slides.
4) Sail away in a spa. Full-service spas are cruise staples.
5) Get healthy. Weight training, acupuncture, pilates ... most cruises offer several fitness classes.
6) Casinos. Cruises that take you to international waters can provide slot machines and table games.
7) Get educated. Specialty cruises offer courses in everything from finance to film appreciation to wine tasting.
8) A variety of cabin choices. The size of your perfect cabin depends on how much time you plan to spend there, and how much you wish to spend.
• If you're taking a short cruise and/or you're looking forward to spending a lot of time on deck, an affordable inside cabin makes sense.
• Balcony cabins cost more but give you a better view and offer you the option of room service on your own private veranda.
• Suites are the luxury option, giving you at least 350 sq. ft (sometimes up to 2,500 sq. ft) and high end amenities like a private whirlpool.
9) 24/7 dining. A cruise is not the place to diet! Food is readily available, and most of it is included in the price of your trip. In addition to formal dining and room service, most ships have poolside grills, ondeck coffee bars and casual buffets.
10) A chance to "put on the ritz." While there are usually informal jeans/t-shirt options available, most ships have elegant dining rooms where formal attire is appropriate. Photographers are available to capture you at your glam best.
11) You can bring the kids. Most ships allow children as young as 3 years old. Babysitting is available, either in your cabin or in a group setting.
12) On-ship health and safety. Every ship has a doctor and a small medical center in case of emergency or minor problems (usually sea sickness). For more complicated issues, there's always a plan for getting patients to a nearby port of call.
13) Stay connected. It's easy to make cabin-to-cabin calls and most ships have internet cafes with wi-fi. You can often enjoy good cell phone reception on board, but beware of the roaming charges from your carrier.