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Cruising in Style!

Enrichment programs, an ATV adventure or an upscale getaway. Which one to choose?

Even though it’s summer, school vacations and holidays will soon be upon us.  And while life may have calmed down a bit (if you’re lucky) perhaps you may be saying to yourself, “that was a great family reunion, we need to do that again and not wait so long.” Or, “this was a wonderful trip, we should do this more often.”  Over the next several months, perhaps you might be thinking of planning a trip, short or long, and doing something different.  Keeping in mind the ages of your children, whether you’d be traveling with friends or grandparents, a group or exploring a new destination as a solo traveler, there are many unique opportunities out there in the world of travel. 

Does ziplining, surf simulators, rock climbing, comedy shows and live broadway style entertainment peak your interest? Or is an ATV expedition, flightseeing and a crab feast or a jeep and canoe safari what you had in mind?

Looking for an intimate upscale ambiance while being pampered at a spa, relaxing in the sun reading a book, while others enjoy the casino or take in a cooking class? Is an educational lecture, computer class, dance workshop or painting pottery something that grabs your attention? How about playing bridge, learning a language or taking yoga?

Always wanted to visit Asia but are nervous about the language barrier? Curious about Alaska or Paris but not sure how to go about planning the trip?  If you haven’t guessed by now, a cruise is one of the best ways to see the world.  Visiting an exotic destination is easy through cruising.  Itineraries offer adventures at major cities and picturesque villages, all of which are highlights.  The research on the best places to visit is done for you and even the excursions are planned down to the last logistical detail.

Yes, a cruise is a fantastic vacation!  Cruise ships leave from various departure ports around the world.  But keep in mind, you can board cruise ships at three major passenger cruise ship terminals in New York and New Jersey; The Manhattan Cruise Terminal, only a few blocks west of Times Square in the heart of Manhattan.  The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, at Brown Street and Imlay Street in Brooklyn and the Cape Liberty Port located in Bayonne, seven miles from NYC and three miles from Newark Liberty International Airport.  Several cruise lines depart from these ports including Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean.

And don’t think that taking a cruise will break your bank.  There are cruises for every budget. Carnival cruise lines appeals to travelers of all ages who want to have a fun time without going bankrupt. Carnival’s fleet of 25 ships sail to Alaska, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, New England, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, South America, Tahiti and the Fiji Islands as well as 15-night transatlantic sailings. They even offer two-day cruises to Nowhere! Just enjoy sailing and the time onboard. Carnival keeps it going with pool and deck parties, karaoke, a comedy brunch show and your favorite board games that come to life in a hilarious game show where you are the contestant.  Not to mention a variety of dining options, spa and fitness services and a whole lot more. No doubt, an unforgettable vacation.

It’s a sure bet for teens and tweens onboard any of Royal Caribbean’s fleet.  From ziplining on the ship, rock climbing, mini-golf and a sports court offering various age level tournaments to ice skating, two 40-foot long surf simulators, volleyball and a state-of-the-art fitness center, there are many activities to keep the adrenaline pumping. Scuba diving training onboard is even available giving students the opportunity to reach full certification in the Caribbean waters.  And after an active day, teens can relax in a spa designed specifically for adolescents and socialize with others at teen only lounges, pool parties and teen dinners. 

Norwegian also caters to teens with interactive sports, themed events and pool parties and a teen lounge with events designed to meet others from around the world.  Another excellent cruise line with a fleet of 11 ships, Norwegian offers a different cruise experience than the others with their “Freestyle Cruising.”  This includes a much more relaxed and casual atmosphere.  No fixed dining times, relaxed attire, more dining options, lounges, bars and entertainment activities, internet cafes onboard and cell phone service available on all ships. A guest friendly disembarkation system allows guests to depart the ship at their leisure rather than on a schedule.  All very nice options on luxurious cruises.

And if you’re traveling with smaller children, the magnificent designs and innovation Disney Cruise Lines offers on all its ships will truly make your vacation magical.  It’s all about relaxing time for Mom and Dad and imaginative activities for children of all ages. With lively deck parties, character greetings, digital 3-D shows and themed dinners, you’ll not want to leave the ship!  But if you can tug your little ones away from Mickey, Disney’s excursions are a must. How about creating your own sailing experience on a private yacht in the Cayman Islands or be a dog musher for the day in Alaska or be entertained at a Garden Tea party with your favorite Disney characters in St. John, New Brunswick?  Wherever you sail with Disney, it’s certainly a unique paradise.

I might add that Norwegian is another excellent choice for smaller children.  They have teamed up with Nickelodeon to create a family friendly experience.  Hang out with SpongeBob SquarePants, sing, dance and party with Dora the Explorer and get slimed during the Splash Mob games. 

So when the kids are grown, perhaps it’s time for some elegance and interesting learning experiences.  Holland America or Cunard Cruise Lines are excellent choices for mature adults.  Holland America’s 15 mid-sized ships offer 500 sailings per year visiting seven continents including the Amazon and Antarctica.  Innovative programs such a Culinary Arts Center with cooking demonstrations are available as well as a Digital Workshop powered by Windows.  With a long history of tradition, afternoon tea is served along with a “chime ringing” to announce dinner.  In addition, each Holland America ship hosts a gathering for solo travelers early during the cruise. And there are plenty of things for solo travelers to do that make it fun and easy to meet fellow cruisers. On most cruises of 30 days or longer, dance partners are offered for single ladies.

Elegance, luxury and superior service defines the Cunard Cruise Line consisting of three ships in its fleet.  What sets Cunard apart is its legendary White Star Service.  Each member of the crew is meticulously trained to provide a level of attentive British hospitality that will exceed all expectations.  The Queen Mary 2 is the flagship of the fleet and features the first planetarium at sea offering a Science at Sea program. Jump into a discussion about ancient history, current events or oceanography.  Or enjoy afternoon tea served by white gloved stewards.  Dance the night away to the orchestra in the Queens Room or get caught up in conversation in the Yacht Club.  A voyage with Cunard is a magnificent celebration.

And for those looking for a new learning experience, Princess distinguishes itself with their Princess Scholarship@Sea Program, an enrichment program that offers about 20 courses per sailing.  Join a performance choir and take center stage with other passengers performing to a delighted audience.  Or learn the secrets of creating a gourmet meal, create beautiful cards or a keepsake journal, enjoy computer classes and pottery painting.  Listen to stimulating speakers present topics about maritime history, theater, art history, politics, science and more. And one of the highlights of Princess cruises is their very own “Movies Under the Stars,” where you’ll enjoy watching the latest movies on huge poolside screens with complimentary blankets and popcorn.

More enrichment programs are offered on Celebrity Cruise Lines.  Celebrity has partnered with Rosetta Stone letting passengers study foreign languages during their cruises. Some Celebrity ships feature the Hot Glass Experience, a live demonstration of museum-quality glass-blowing by experts from the Corning Glass Museum. And one of the most impressive programs features Smithsonian experts who present enrichment lectures on every Bermuda, Holy Land, Mediterranean, Panama Canal, Antarctica and Transatlantic cruise.   Sail to the Mediterranean and you’ll hear archeologists or art history expert’s focus on art, architecture or the history of the region.  During sailings to Bermuda, hear marine biologists, naturalist, astronomers or aviation expert’s talk about the mysteries of the sea and sky.  There are many topics that spark any interest.

The variety of offerings for a cruise vacation makes it easy to figure out the best type of cruise for YOU.  Travel boards are available all over the internet adding another resource to gather more information. Relax, regroup, refresh and try something different if you haven’t already.  Take that Alaskan cruise, go to the Caribbean or go on an adventure to Europe.  It’s all a unique experience and I know you won’t be disappointed!  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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