This week, we are reminiscing about some of our favorite cruises, and offering some helpful travel tips for your next cruise. Life aboard a cruise ship can feel like vacationing in a floating hotel, experiencing different cities and towns from the comfort of your cabin, or from the deck of your ship. Cruise ships offer countless entertainment options, from casinos and comedy shows to bingo and swimming. The food is endless, drinks are plentiful, and the amenities are superb. Also, there are a variety of ports from which to travel, giving you many travel origination spots and destinations.
Cruise travel tips:
Have you thought about going on a cruise and were not sure which cruise line to try? Here are some tips and reviews of the various cruise lines, based on experiences from Media Works cruisers:
Disney – Typically one of the highest priced, Disney cruises feature the best entertainment and the most family-friendly atmosphere of all cruise lines. While the image of a Disney cruise may make you shudder, as you imagine small children running wild and characters following your every move, but we are here to assure you that Disney cruises offer that BUT much, much more.
- Activities for Kids: There are plenty of small kids, such as my 3 year old niece that came with us. But there are pools, food and an entire activity area just for the little ones.
- Activities for Adults: For those seeking relaxation in the sun, take a dip in Quiet Cove Pool (adults only), have a drink at Sessions (their piano bar), or enjoy an adult meal at Palo.
- Excursions: My two younger brothers, 21 and 22 respectively, were also on this particular cruise with us. They are not really into sunning by the pool, or running after children. For them, a Disney cruise offered excursions that were right up their alley. Off-roading in a jeep to remote parts of Grand Cayman Island and exploring Cozumel via four wheelers was more their style.
- Food: Another aspect of any cruise ship is the food. And of course the Disney cruise does not disappoint. Disney combines fine dining and entertainment, effortlessly. As you dine, the black and white walls slowly become alive with color through The Animator’s Palette.
- Castaway Cay: One of the most extravagant splurges that Disney made when creating their cruise line was the purchase of their very own island. Castaway Cay is a beautiful island that has so much to offer. There is a family beach, a teen beach and an adult only beach. There are play areas for children and cabanas for families or adults that can be rented for true seclusion and relaxation. There are activities for everyone, from open air massages with a view of the ocean to swimming with the sting rays.
- The Disney Touch: There are thousands of unique touches on the Disney Magic, because that is the Disney way. If you are considering a cruise and think your children are too old or that you will not be able to relax, Disney’s cruises will make you reconsider. Enjoy a fun-filled vacation where the magic extends to all ages.
Royal Caribbean – With moderate pricing and a family-friendly atmosphere, you can’t go wrong with Royal Caribbean. The Oasis, Freedom and Voyager include many family-based activities, such as climbing walls, ice skating rinks and characters from the DreamWorks films. Food selection in the dining room is sometimes limited; however they offer restaurant alternatives. And, when you’re not eating, Royal Caribbean’s entertainment is incredible!
- Oasis of the Seas: This is the Grand Daddy of all ships! It is one of the largest ships sailing – next to its sister ship, the Allure of the Seas, which is 6” longer! It is truly a floating city. Not once during the seven night cruise did I feel like I was on a ship. I highly recommend the Western Caribbean itinerary – sea days and port days are spread out evenly throughout the week so you can avoid too many days at sea.
- Perfect cabin views: We stayed on the Central Park level, mid ship – the MOST perfect location. We were in cabins 8550 & 8552, balcony staterooms. We were a short distance from Park Café for morning coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and frittatas, bagels made to order and every kind of fruit imaginable! As big as the ship is, being centrally located made the ship easy to navigate.
- For the Kids: Yes, we brought our kids with us on the cruise – Royal Caribbean is extremely kid-friendly and there are so many activities for them! Activities included cupcake decorating classes, flow rider, the arcade, swimming at the pools, ice skating, the Ice Skating Show (make sure to have your kids sit in 1 of the 4 “For Children Only” seats – they will get to be a part of the show!), the Aqua Theatre and 3D movies currently in theatres.
- Bermuda: I recently sailed from Baltimore to Bermuda on Enchantment of the Seas, and once we arrived in King’s Wharf, we were able to leave the ship to explore the island and return whenever we pleased. Bermuda is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches which are often featured in the movies. What they say about the pink beaches and the blue water is true. I spent the day at Horseshoe Bay, which had many coves and grottoes, offering a good deal of privacy and beautiful scenery.
- Labadee: If you stop in Labadee, RC’s private island in Haiti, make sure you take a ride on the Dragon Coaster and slide down the new Aqua Slide.
- Cozumel: In Cozumel, we visited Mr. Sancho’s – for 1 fee you can eat, drink, play volleyball and chill in Bali beds or swim up to the bar in one of their pools.
Carnival – Carnival has the lowest prices and the youngest average age of travelers. Several of their newly re-furbished ships will be setting sail soon, which now include a water park for the kids, more of a party crowd, and more modern décor with neon and “loud” colors. Carnival’s inside staterooms are larger than Royal Caribbean and Princess, so there’s plenty of room to relax inside your cabin.
Princess – Princess has moderate prices and typically has the oldest group of travelers with few children aboard. There are limited family activities, but excellent food in the dining room. The décor aboard Princess’ ships is very formal and upscale, creating a much quieter, more laid-back atmosphere.
Norwegian – Norwegian’s pricing is moderate to low, and their ships have always featured flexible dining options, which are ideal for all ages. While this used to be an exclusive feature of Norwegian’s cruises, most of the cruise lines offer this option now, so we don’t consider it unique to the line any longer.
Celebrity – Celebrity cruises are typically higher-priced. They are not as family-friendly, catering to more of an upscale, mature crowd.
Cruises offer something for everyone, and with these simple tips, you can find a relaxing, enjoyable vacation that suits your vacation style.