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TL Gray

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Cruise Into Paradise
by TL Gray   

Last edited: Wednesday, June 20, 2001
Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

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Cruising, the best bang for your buck. Do it all, or do nothing.

(c) 2000 T. L. Gray

There’s no doubt about it, taking a cruise is the way to get the best bang for your vacation buck. For starters, the fares aren’t as high as in recent years. There are more services and amenities available. And you go just about anywhere in the world worth visiting, from Alaska, to the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, the Far East, even Africa.

There are deluxe suites fit for a king, with balconies, sitting rooms, mini-bars, and stocked refrigerators. Or you can save a few bucks to use for other things and go with an ocean-view or inside cabin. Every room has a private bath and, after all, the plan is not to be stuck in your room the entire time. There’s too much to do on a cruise ship for anyone to be bored, including the kids.

Most ships are equipped with several saltwater pools, some with various slides, spa centers, complete gyms, sauna, whirlpool, massage parlor, running decks, libraries, shops, card rooms, various theme bars, dining rooms, café’s, discos, casinos, Las-Vegas type shows, skeet shooting—the list is endless. Kiddy clubs abound--with supervised activities of course, can’t have the little buggers falling overboard--so the adults can relax Some of the newer ships now feature rock climbing, ice-skating, and 18 hole golf courses.

The beauty of a cruise vacation is you can do everything or—if you’re the lazy type--nothing. Off shore tours are available for purchase. Choose from a variety of party boats—where they liquor you up and play loud music—snorkeling, diving, swimming with the dolphins, or—if you’re feeling brave--with the sharks. Many cruise lines own private islands where they take their guests for a day of beach activities and lunch—and yes, more booze. Land tours include city/historical cites and shopping. You’ll want to sign up for these tours as soon as possible as many popular ones will sell out fast. These can be charged to your room or you can pay with cash/credit card.

The food is endless. You can eat every meal in the main dining room with tuxedoed waiters who are just dying to serve you, or hit one of the many buffets set up on deck. Bistros and quaint café’s add variety. Room service is available for those who forgot to apply sunscreen the day before. Go wild; try something you’ve never had before. If you don’t like what you choose, the waiters will be happy to bring you another entrée—at no extra cost. Choose from the exotic to the plain “steak and potato.”

There’s a doctor onboard in case you get a horrendous case of motion sickness—but really folks, even sissies can manage to cope, you can barely feel then ship moving— or sun poisoning.
Ladies, perhaps you just want to chill out by the pool, catch a few rays, and read a book while some hunk of a man wearing short shorts serves you fruit drinks. Then you can head out to the salon for a wash and set, manicure, facial, pedicure, or any other kind of maintenance to stay looking your very best. Guys can spend this valuable alone time working out in a fully equipped the gym, while the kids learn to make sail boats they’ll race later in the pool. There are activities for singles too, so grab a friend and make for the docks.

You can go casual in shorts and tank tops—but please, no bathing suits in the dining room—or dress to the nines in tuxedos (which are for rent from one of the onboard shops) and beaded evening gowns. There’s always a party somewhere on board. The “bon voyage” party. The Captain’s dinner. Formal night. The live music bars. Theme nights give you the opportunity to show off your creativity or just have fun.

What will you need to pack for fun in the sun? Shorts, tee shirts, swimsuit, casual and formal clothes for dining and special events. Do yourself a favor and coordinate pants/shirts to compliment more than one ensemble. Its saves room in the suitcase. Comfortable walking shoes. Sunscreen. Sunglasses. Camera. Oh, and don’t forget the clean underwear. Itineraries sent to you ahead of time by the cruise line will detail events and cuisine. So yes, guys, you can bring that wild tropical shirt the wife won’t let you wear at home or out in public. You’d also be well advised to take a cover-up or light sweater/ sweatshirt along. Air conditioning is prevalent throughout the ship and even in tropical climates the evening breeze can sometimes bring a chill—particularly after you’ve been in the sun all day. Leave the beach towels at home, these are provided for both swimming onboard and offshore tours.

You’ll also need either a passport or original/certified copy of your birth certificate, along with a valid photo ID. Don’t plan to bring back food or livestock—those customs guys really frown on that. You are allowed to purchase liquor in certain amounts at discount prices for transport home. Customs will also require you to disclose purchased items and the dollar amount before exiting the boat, so keep track of what you buy.

You can spend all day off the ship exploring your surroundings, or simply stay onboard and enjoy the daytime activities offered. You can sleep late or breakfast at seven sharp. There’s absolutely no event you must attend—other than the lifeboat drill—and enough to keep you busy until you drop from exhaustion. You can eat like a pig or choose heart smart foods. If you’re lazy, grab a lounge chair by the pool and stagnate. Then get a massage. There’s no need to give up your exercise regiment with running decks and aerobics classes. Stay in your swimsuit for the entire voyage. Wear your funkiest clothes. Go barefoot. Take golf lessons. Enter the talent show. Dance the night away.

Do it all or do nothing. But no matter which way you cut it—you simply can’t get a better value.

Web Site: TLGray on AuthorsDen

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