Got a vacation wish list?
As a single traveler, you may not have anything planned — except maybe the required appearance at an upcoming family reunion. Of course, it’s always fun to think about where you really want to go and how to get there.
Like on a cruise. It turns out that the vast majority of people recently surveyed about vacations who have never been on a cruise — 94 percent — said they’d like to try cruising.
It’s easy to see why. The 30 million people expected to cruise this year will tell you.
You can visit new places! As a third of those surveyed want to do (no packing or unpacking; safe for singles and older travelers, no navigating unfamiliar roads in foreign countries).
You can cruise from a port near home. On the East Coast, for example, Carnival’s Sunrise (now sailing after a $200 million renovation) will be cruising to Caribbean islands from New York City all summer. On the West Coast, Princess has six ships sailing from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle or Vancouver to Alaska, for a once in a lifetime adventure. Incidentally, this is Princess’ 50th Year in Alaska complete with new experiences onboard and onshore, with sailing bargains starting at less than $700.
You can trust someone else with vacation planning. The major cruise lines have great staff waiting to help you book your trip, but if you’re not sure where to begin, a travel agent who is a cruise expert can get you the best deal and de-stress the planning process. In fact, planning a cruise is one time you will want to consult a travel agent about the array of choices: ships that cater to different vacation styles and budgets, for families, couples or those traveling solo.
You can treat yourself well. Seabourn, for example, is designed for upscale adult travelers who prefer smaller ships, all suite staterooms, five-star service and access to ports that larger ships can’t reach. There won’t be many kids, if any, and the experience is all-inclusive with top shelf beverages and gourmet dining. A splurge on a total treat.
What type of cruise would interest you?
To choose the right cruise line, the right ship and the right itinerary for yourself, friends or family – and stay within your budget — ask yourself:
- Do I want an action-packed trip heavy on sightseeing and/or adventurous excursions?
- Do I want to kick back and relax?
- Does anyone in my group have special challenges?
- Do I want a large ship with lots of facilities or a more intimate experience?
- Do I need a ship with activities for the kids and grandkids? (Check out the Taking the Kids 2019 Family Cruise Guide for what different cruise lines offer families.)
Cruise lines say you can have that perfect vacation (or near perfect) — and bring kids — as there are morning-till-night organized activities on upscale lines like Princess and Holland America which both cater to multigenerational groups. families with programming designed to teach the kids as well as entertain them. Princess has programs in partnership with Animal Planet and special Discovery family tours. Holland America’s staff has been trained by professionals to work with kids who have special challenges.
Budget watchers should keep an eye on Carnival Cruise Line, which carries 800,000 kids a year and offers a new Zumbini music and dance program for ages 2 and up and Seuss at Sea family activities, as well as teen-pleasing hang-out spaces and programs, including special spa treatments.
Worried about your diet?
Forty-five percent of the women surveyed about cruises report that food and wine are important on vacation. You can eat all the pizza and burgers you want, or stay on a diet on a cruise ship these days, with everything from huge salad-laden buffets to specialty restaurants in partnership with celebrity chefs.
Cruise lines can cater to any dietary restriction and at the same time offer an opportunity for kids to try new foods as there is no charge for a second meal if they didn’t like their first pick. And with food available all day and evening, no worries if someone wasn’t hungry at meal time.
Enjoy a gourmet Guy Fiori burger (Carnival) take a cooking class (Holland America), indulge in premium wines and spirts at no extra cost (Seabourn) or maintain your vegan diet (all lines). Sample dishes on board from the local region; expect seafood in Alaska, for example.
Also expect everything from Broadway-style shows to cabarets to comedy, casinos to discos late into the night — depending on which cruise you choose.
Worried about your budget?
A cruise offers the way to sample different Caribbean islands, European cities or tropical adventures all in one trip, and do it affordably.
Carnival Cruise Line, for example, has departures from ports including Baltimore, New Orleans and Florida. Some three- and four-day options start at less than $200 a person. Holland America will have 20 cruises and three ships to choose from, starting in October, heading to the Mexican Riviera with rates from just $699.
That there are so many affordable options may be a surprise to the 41 percent of those surveyed who report price would keep them from cruising.
See you on board!