The 411 on Cruising
This week, I got the chance to explore the wide world of cruising. And trust me, these days, while the best known cruise lines attract millions of vacationers, there are several luxury liners who are ready to give families the experience of a lifetime. So get ready for the 411 on the travel opportunities awaiting you on the open sea...
1. Luxury Cruising with Windstar: While I'm a cruising veteran (I've hit Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL to name a few), even lifetime cruisers can be introduced to something new and exciting. That's why I was excited to meet the reps from Windstar, a cruise line offering a one of a kind luxury experience with top of the line food, incredible service, gorgeous staterooms, watersports and ports of call like Costa Rica, Barbados, Rome, Barcelona, Nice and many more. The Windstar ships are much smaller and can accommodate approximately 300 guests (can anyone say, Role Mommy Retreat?) Plus, if you're expecting, the Windstar also offers "Babymoon" getaways - the chance to set out on one last romantic adventure before your new arrival.
2. Kids Sail Free on MSC! While I had never heard of MSC cruises, I discovered this cruise liner is a hidden gem that offers top of the line sailings to the Caribbean, Bermuda and Europe. Since they are owned by a family from Italy, they are committed to high end service and offer Italian style dining options on all of their ships. Plus they offer special group rates if you're booking eight staterooms or more; a Balinese spa and private butler if you're traveling with more than 100 guests, and theme weeks like All-Star Baseball cruising.Also , they've got great gaming options for the kids too including miniature golf, swimming, tennis, basketball, volleyball, an Internet Cafe, and an outdoor cinema!
3. Costa Cruises - If my kids were meeting with the reps from Costa Cruises, they would have had them at playstations. For me it was the mouthwatering descriptions of the incredible food that's served on board. Or perhaps it was the outdoor restaurants and pool bars that serve everything from steak to seafood to sushi. And let's not forget the locations - the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and now...cruises that leave out of New York and hit New England and Quebec! While Costa Cruises is best known as a European luxury liner, they cater to families from dozens of countries and as they say, when you put two kids in front of a playstation, those language barriers instantly disappear. Oh and did I mention the incredibly reasonable prices?
4. Sailing to Europe is Less Expensive on a Cruise - According to Bob Shirak, Executive Vice President and CMO of the Cruise Line International Association, traveling to destinations like Italy, France and Spain is actually less expensive than booking hotels in those cities. While you still may go for pasta in Rome, the rest of your food is taken care of onboard, plus you can arrange all your land excursions on the ship and then return in the evenings to dine, dance, and relax!
5. Prone to Seasickness? Try a Riverboat Cruise! - While most ships these days are like floating hotels (you barely feel like you're actually at sea), if you're afraid you might lose the midnight buffet aboard a rocking cruise ship, there are patches or bands for cruisers with weak stomachs. Or, according to Bob at C.L.I.A., why not try the latest travel option....Riverboat Cruising! Today, there are boats that can literally take you through the rivers of Europe and dock right on land. Which means, the moment they set down that anchor, you can walk off the ship, hit a bistro, shop or sightsee.