by Marina Muhlfriedel


Cruising Away the Blues



The flirty kiss of a salty ocean breeze, seagulls gliding like kites on the wind, fancy Technicolor drinks with skewers of tropical fruit, endless blue seas, on-deck yoga, late night karaoke and what’s that… A wide sandy beach and a picturesque seaside resort growing closer by the moment? Too good to be true? Maybe not… Even though money’s tight and the economic forecast is less than sunny, we know the day will come when we’ll each own up to the break we need from the pressures of everyday life.

Sure, weekend staycations are all the rage, but for just a few bucks more than a couple of days at your local spa, a few nice meals out and a pair of concert tickets, you can hop onboard a wide variety of cruise ships offering a vast range of entertainment, amenities and destinations. If you can swing it, now’s the perfect time to wipe the cobwebs off your suitcase and get packing. Sea-bound bargains are ripe for the picking and might be just the thing to entice you into the kind of relaxation and adventure that will reinvigorate your life.

Recruit a few friends, your favorite beau, or even head out solo (yes, you will meet people) and start perusing the abundance of unbelievable cruise deals on the Internet. They are practically giving weekends away and even 4-7 day bargain tours are surprisingly affordable.

On the day of writing this article, a seven day Princess Cruise through Alaska was being offered at a mere $399 per person, double occupancy! Tag $200 on to each bill and you and your fellow traveler would have found yourselves with a gorgeous ocean view.

Four-day Carnival Cruises to Mexico were being booked for under $300 per person, with last minute south-of-the-border weekends dipping as low as $200! At that rate, you’d have cash leftover for a yummy spa treatment or two AND some glitzy souvenirs.

Once on board, your layers of stress will quickly fade away. Anything you desire will suddenly be only a few footsteps away. Almost embarrassingly plentiful meals, entertainment, and travel, down to the last detail, will have been arranged. For once, it’s you that gets to be taken care of. Ahhhhh, what a feeling.

Cruises attract a variety different crowds, so you’re sure to find a group of kindred spirits on-board and after a day or so of running into them by the pool, in a dance class or at the midnight buffet, they, like many of the staff, will seem like old friends.

While eleventh hour planning might be an advantage in the super-bargain cruise department, spur-of-the-moment flights can break the bank. The most economical way to cruise is to find ship leaving from a port you can drive to rather than fly. Besides Mexico and Alaska, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, New England and Canada are also offering great deals and depending on where you are starting from, would probably prove far more economical than a cruise launching thousands of miles from home.

Before booking, be sure to find out the fine-print details of what the advertised accommodations are like. If you’re the type who spends very little time inside, it may not seem to matter much that you’re in an inside cabin, but if you prefer a view, a little more space, or perhaps even an outside balcony area, explore how little you can get away with spending for an upgrade. A couple of hundred dollars could make a major difference in the trip.

Also be sure to ask about what sort of special events are planned for the cruise. Do you need to bring a fancy outfit, a costume maybe? What kind of gym do they have? Many offer yoga, Pilates and dance classes and you’ll need to bring appropriate attire. If you’re a vegetarian or keep kosher, you should also confirm the ship’s ability to accommodate your dietary restrictions.

Check what ports of call you’ll be visiting, and what land tour options the cruise line offers. Take time to learn a bit about each locale before you leave. It is often more pleasant (and easier on the credit card) to take a taxi to a popular area and wander on your own. There may also be a park, museum or historical site that would be more interesting to you than the larger group. Be sure to confirm the safety of where you are going and to get back to the ship on schedule. You wouldn’t want to be stranded at some gorgeous island paradise now, would you?

Here’s to smooth sailing ahead!

Check out www.vacationstogo.com and www.cruisemarketplace.com, two of the many discount travel sites offering amazing deals on all sorts of cruises.

And, for a crash course in cruise-ations visit www.cruisereviews.com and www.cruisemates.com.




© Melt Magazine 2009