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A Look at the Fitness Areas and Gyms on Princess Cruises Ships

A Look at the Fitness Areas and Gyms on Princess Cruises Ships | Cruise basics |

Princess Cruises, made famous decades ago for having the ship featured in the TV series "Love Boat", now carries more than two million passengers yearly to more destinations than any other major cruise line.  

So, how can those passengers stick to their fitness regimens while onboard Princess Cruises' sailings?  

Princess Cruises' ships are known for their elegant design and luxury touches, but they don't have the activities onboard that other lines like Carnival Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have been packing into the areas on the top of their ships, like rock climbing, ziplines, ropes courses, waterslides, etc. 

So, when you are looking to stay fit onboard a Princess cruise, you'll pretty much have to stick to the workout basics: weights, jogging and classes.

Walter Christens insight:

For some people, being able to continue their fitness regimen while on vacation is important.  Princess Cruises has all of the basics you would need to keep it up.  I especially like the sounds of the swim-against-the-current lap pools offered on many of their ships.

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Tips for using repositioning cruises to find cheap cruises

Tips for using repositioning cruises to find cheap cruises | Cruise basics |

Are you familiar with repositioning cruises?

We certainly had not heard about them until last year when a fellow house sitter traveled from Panama to Portugal and taking a reposition cruise could be a new way of traveling for you!

After downsizing and selling up everything we owned we now travel the world house sitting and writing about our adventures on our baby boomer travel blog. Travel costs are our #1 expense item and we are always looking for travel hacks to maximize our travel dollar and finding discount cruises is one way we do it.


What are repositioning cruises?


Cruise companies reposition their cruise ships from continent to continent to commence the next season e.g. Europe to the Caribbean.

Walter Christens insight:

I have not personally been on a repositioning cruise but have met some people and have friends who have and love them. Recently I was talking to a gentleman from England on our Norwegian Jade cruise who just completed the transatlantic crossing on this ship. He was staying on for an additional 2 weeks in the Caribbean before going flying back home. He told me that the sea days were quite enjoyable but suggested booking the best room you can and try to stay in the middle of the ship.


My wife and I are considering a transatlantic cruise ourselves in the near future. For me the selection of the proper cruise ship (large please) and stateroom (balcony please) will be very important. I also think I would like to fly to Europe and start the cruise from there and ending somewhere in Florida.



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Holland America Koningsdam makes splash with fitness amenities

Holland America Koningsdam makes splash with fitness amenities | Cruise basics |

Sure, the newest Holland America ship, Koningsdam, charts a new course in entertainment and dining.  

With its revolutionary Music Walk venues that keep passengers singing and dancing well into the night, and restaurants like the Culinary Arts Center, Sel de Mer and Tamarind that serve up foods to suit a wide variety of tastes, travelers will thoroughly enjoy this cruise ship. 
Your health and fitness regimen doesn't take a back seat on Koningsdam, either. I took a cruise on Koningsdam and found several ways the ship works for
 travelers who like to stay fit. - See more at:

Walter Christens insight:

Holland America's Koningsdam makes it easy to keep up with your healthy regimen. Whether it is fitness classes, jogging track, healthy food options, or the spa, there are many options available.

One of the first thing I look for when cruising is the walking/jogging track.  I like to keep up with my walking habit. Usually the cruise ships I have been on have a sign that let me know how many times I have to circle the ship to make a mile.

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Cruise line dedication | Sticking to one brand

Are you cruise line dedicated? Do you find yourself taking cruises on only one brand because that’s the brand you started with and are happy with the brand? Does the thought of straying and trying another cruise line scare you? Maybe just a little bit? Don’t worry… you’re not alone. Many people start out with a cruise line and find themselves, shall we say, infatuated with the cruise line. If it was their introduction to cruising, they will probably always have a very strong tie to the cruise line and even to a particular ship. Why would they ever want to try out another cruise line when they are so happy right where they are. Is cruise line dedication and sticking to one brand a good or bad idea?
I’ve mentioned “Velveeta syndrome” before on my blog and I’ll mention it again. If left to his own devices, my husband would eat exactly how he ate in college. Give him a brick of Velveeta, macaroni, and a microwave, and he’d be set for lunch and dinner for at least a week (hopefully more!). Let’s just say that he wasn’t always as adventurous as he is now. I introduced sushi, Indian food, and vegetarianism to him among other things, including cruising. Now he is the one to suggest something different when I sometimes fall into a rut.
But if you are madly in love with your current cruise line, why would you want to try a new one? Perhaps it makes you realize that there are other options besides the first one you chose. You might decide your first cruise line was a great introduction to cruising, but your tastes have advanced to something new. Or the new cruise line might only reaffirm your love for your original cruise line and why you should never stray again. If you never try another cruise line, how will you ever really know that your first is your one and only?

Walter Christens insight:

My very first cruise was on Royal Caribbean's Song of America. Much of my cruising has been on Royal Caribbean to the point that I am a diamond member in the Crown and Anchor Society.  I have also been on a few of the other mainstream cruise lines. One issue see with dedication to one cruise line is that the food and entertainment are basically the same across all of the cruise ships.


This year I decided to try some of the other cruise lines and see how they stack up.  This past year I have taken a Norwegian Cruise lines Western Caribbean cruise and had a wonderful time.  Yes the feel and amenities were different, but different does not mean bad. Early next year, I will be taking a cruise on the MSC Divina. I cannot wait to see what the differences are from the other cruise I have taken.


There are many other cruise lines I have not experienced but I am ready and willing to try them all.

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Why not take a cruise this winter

Why not take a cruise this winter | Cruise basics |

When thinking about where you want to go to escape the winter blues, why not take a cruise? 

“Aside from the chance to escape to tropical destinations on a floating vacation, there are plenty of other enticements to cruise in December, January and February,” reports U.S. News and World Report’s Tanner Callais. 

One reason to consider a winter cruise is the price. 

Walter Christens insight:

I enjoy taking cruises during the winter months. Yes, the prices can be better and there are fewer children and college aged passengers. One of the benefits I also have seen is that cruising in the Caribbean, the temperatures are lower allowing for some excursions that would be unbearably hot during the summer months. In November I did a Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Jade and while still warm, it was comfortable.  I will be on the MSC Divina in February to the Eastern Caribbean.  Although I will forgo any snorkel trips (my passion), I have planned some excursions to see more of the islands we will be going to.

Of course if your dream cruise is to go to Alaska, you will have to wait until May. I do not know of any cruise line that does Alaska during the winter.

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Why do cruise ships float?

Why do cruise ships float? | Cruise basics |

Not everything that's heavy sinks right to the bottom of the ocean floor, and there's no greater proof than Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas—which happens to be the biggest cruise ship on Earth.
The world's largest cruise ship boasts an ice-skating rink, a movie theater, 10-story dry slide, and weighs no less than 227,000 tons. And that's without any of its 6,780 passengers.
We know that giant ocean liners don't sink, even with their rock climbing walls and nightclubs. But have you ever wondered why?
It's not magic or flying unicorns that keep the Harmony of the Seas plying the open waters. It's all about buoyancy: the power of a liquid to keep things afloat.
Colossal vessels stay above water by displacing an amount of water equal to their mass (the wide, U-shaped hull helps with this). As the ship moves forward and pushes water away, the water is ceaselessly trying to return to fill the space, with an energy that forces the ship upward.

Walter Christens insight:

I must admit, but I am love watching documentaries where the show how cruise ships are built and operated.  Many of these shows are on the Smithsonian channel.

Never really gave it much thought in the 25+ cruise I have been on how something so massive could stay afloat. Now I know.

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Ocean Cruise Basics: Controlling Expenses Made Easy

Ocean Cruise Basics: Controlling Expenses Made Easy | Cruise basics |
Cruise vacations while inclusive by nature, have their share of opportunities to spend more. Here are some tips for controlling expenses.
Walter Christens insight:

Cruising need not be expensive.  Plan what you will spend your money on and when onboard, track your bill.  I know I am a sucker for the t-shirts onboard and plan accordingly.  I usually end up with 2-4 new shirts per cruise.  Almost every t-shirt I own is from one of the Cruise lines.

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Maritime makeover: 5 cruise ship refurbishment trends

Maritime makeover: 5 cruise ship refurbishment trends | Cruise basics |

In an effort to sustain interest in their existing fleets, cruise lines are pouring millions of dollars into their older ships to have them stay on par with their newer ones. That means far more options for travelers across the board. Besides the usual basic maintenance and sprucing up, here are a few of the trending improvements rolling back onto the classic vessels.

Additional Dining Options

More Staterooms

Extra Cabin Comfort

New Water Slides

Better Entertainment


Walter Christens insight:

Seems that every few years all of the cruise lines revamp their existing cruise ships to appeal to a broader audience. It is normal now to have more dining options on even older ships.  I have also sailed 3 times on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. Twice before they modified the ship and the last time after they made the ship longer (cut it in half and added a section) to increase the number of cabins, larger pool deck area and provide a grand atrium.  I found it fascinating on how they accomplished this.



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The cruise ships with the best Wi-Fi

The cruise ships with the best Wi-Fi | Cruise basics |

What happened on cruise ships used to stay on cruise ships -- at least until the boat reached the next port.

One of the remaining Internet-free places on the planet, passengers could spend days wallowing in isolation unless they spent serious cash on a telegram or ship-to-shore call.
Then, in 1999 Norwegian Cruise Lines introduced the first on-board Internet café.
And nothing much changed.
Because, even though cruise lines have been rolling out connectivity at sea ever since, coverage has been frustratingly patchy, slow and expensive.
It's changing now though.
Over the last few years, cruise lines have been improving their satellite technology to boost connection speeds and working out ways to accommodate different budgets.
Walter Christens insight:

Year ago when I started cruising, one of the attractions was that I was able to disconnect and my job could not get hold of me on the ship. I still remember calling home to check in using the telephone in the cabin and the $19 charge for the three minute call.

In this day and age, it is almost impossible to disconnect entirely (and most people do not want to).  The speeds are getting much better on board and also more reliable. Cost is still a factor and for some the internet packages are still costly.  If you belong to a cruise line loyalty program, check to see if there is a discount available. I also like what Carnival and MSC have done for people who basically want social media access. The costs for these plans are very attractive and cover quite a few of the most popular social media applications.

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The 5 best cruises to take from Seattle

The 5 best cruises to take from Seattle | Cruise basics |

A visit to Seattle often means taking some time to enjoy Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, and the surrounding islands or peninsulas during a day trip. One of the easiest ways to do this is to hop onto one of the numerous ferries that operate in the region. You can walk onto any of them as a passenger, or take your vehicle for an interesting day trip, and spend less than $10 per person, it really is superb value for money. However, if you want to have more time to explore the local waterways of Seattle and take a pretty awesome vacation at the same time, then a cruise is definitely an option for you to consider.

There are quite a few tempting options out there when it comes to Seattle cruise departures, but some stand out more than others. These are our picks on the 5 best cruises to take from Seattle…

American Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line

Victoria Clipper

Princess Cruises

Holland America Line

Walter Christens insight:

Seattle and the surrounding area is a great place to start or finish a cruise.  I can see spending a few days (or more) exploring this destination.  Quite a few cruise lines that have departures from Seattle to Alaska, the Pacific coastline and even transpacific crossings. 

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SkyRide: The star of Carnival Vista's new family fun offerings

SkyRide: The star of Carnival Vista's new family fun offerings | Cruise basics |

After more than 18 months of hype and teaser photos and an inaugural positioning cruise, the Carnival Vista began a summer of European cruising with a 10-day tour beginning in Barcelona and ending in Spain.

One of the signature strengths of Carnival Cruise Line is its entertainment programs and Camp Oceans kids day camps, the best among family-oriented cruise lines in my humble opinion. The former specifically shines during sea days when boredom is near impossible with activities launching at least every half hour.

So my son and I wondered what would fill our time during the nine port days, an oddity for those used to the Caribbean sailings of the cruise line. Yes, we’d explore shore excursions in some and wander on our own in other ports. But the activities schedule is streamlined by about 80 percent during port days, so what would fill our time?

Walter Christens insight:

This new attraction on the Carnival Vista looks like a lot of fun.  That and the other offerings like the new Twister and Kaleid-O-Slide slides make me want to book a cruise of this new Carnival ship.

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Sailing in style: Understanding dress code do’s and don’ts

Sailing in style: Understanding dress code do’s and don’ts | Cruise basics |

You’re going on a cruise – Congratulations! It’s about time you got away from it all. However, unlike the movies, and old corny T.V. shows like “The Love Boat,” there is actually a dress code on a cruise line. It’s understandable to be ignorant of it all. After all, you’re on vacation. You don’t think you need anything but some shorts and a t-shirt.

Check The Cruise Line Before You Go

Believe it or not, different cruise lines have different dress codes. And, while there’s no guarantee that you’ll be stopped “at the gate” while you’re out there on the open ocean, it’s best to abide by each cruise line’s code, just in case.

If you’re confused about any particular cruise line company, or you don’t want to jump in before understanding how each company restricts dress, check with your travel agent.

Walter Christens insight:

My wife and I have been cruising for many years and it is

amazing how the dress code on many of the cruise lines have changed over the years.

In the early years I would rent a tuxedo and my wife would have a few fancy evening dresses to wear. Lately, I have relaxed what I wear on most cruises to a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt and my wife brings a dress and/or a nice dress pants suit.

I do agree with the author that tuxedo rentals on most cruise ships is an option (check if available) but usually not a great fit.

Most our cruisning has been on the large mainstream cruise lines,  we would have to re-evaluate what to bring on some of the other cruise lines. If you are in doubt it is always a great Idea to discuss dress code with your Cruiseable travel advocate.

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Tips for Cruising

Tips for Cruising | Cruise basics |

Cruising is an experience no one should miss out on. My family absolutely loves to cruise. It’s something we have done since I was little and although we don’t get to go as often now, I will never forget those memories. It is truly an amazing vacation for couples and families alike. Every cruise line and ship offers something different and unique. Be sure to research every line to make sure you find the ship that is right for you. If it’s your first cruise start smaller then work your way up to the bigger ships, that way you won’t be totally overwhelmed. There are Alaskan cruises, Caribbean cruises, European cruises, and more!

Your first cruise can be a bit intimidating. I have definitely learned some things along the way, and I hope others can learn from my mistakes and discoveries!

Walter Christens insight:

There are some very valuable tip for anyone going on a cruise (first timers or experienced).  I just returned from a 7 day Caribbean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.  I thought I would weigh in on some of the tips and tricks I use when cruising.

Get on board early - I try to always be on the ship as early as they will let us onboard. If you are flying in to the port, I recommend flying in a day early and staying in a hotel close to the port.  Not only will you insure you get on the ship on time but you will be more relaxed and rested. This is also a great time to do things like find out where your will be seated in the dining room and have it changed if it is not what you want. I usually spend the first hour or two aboard exploring the ship (and taking pictures) when it is not as crowded. Remember, you will not be able to get into your cabin until some time later after you board.

Bring comfortable shoes - There is usually a lot of walking aboard a cruise ship and then more when you are in port.  Comfortable shoes are a must.  Does not mean you need to bring a closet full though.  I usually being a pair of sneakers, a pair of black dress shoes, and a pair of flip flops.  My wife does something similar.

Chargers - I bring two chargers where you can interchange the cable. I then bring two USB cables (for Kindles, some tablets and cell phones) and two lightning cable for IOS devices such as iPhones and iPads.  Nothing worse than having a charge fail or breaking a cable.

Best tip here is to also make sure to put you phone in airplane mode once aboard.  No one like to get a surprise later when their cell phone bill arrives.  Roaming charges can add up.

 Communication - When my children were small we had a pair of two way radios.  I still have them but we do not use them anymore. Lately we have been using the old tried and true method of having a small pad of paper and pen and if someone is going out they can leave a note as to where they are going. On our last cruise we saw a family that placed a small white board on the front of their cabin door. when anyone left they left a message as to where they were going.  Seemed to work great for them.

First day cruise deals - It seems that most of the contemporary cruise lines offer reduced prices at most of their specialty restaurants for the first night. In addition, the spa usually has discounted treatments on the days the ship is in port.

Motion sickness - neither my wife or I seem to suffer from motion sickness.  Modern cruise ships are much more stable and do not rock as much.  If you are prone to motion sickness, try to book a cabin in the middle of the ship and on one of the lower decks. I cannot give much advice on the medications and patches available although I do know most require you use them before you are sick.

Pack for winter - Yes, it can get cool on a cruise ship even in the Caribbean.  A light sweater or sweatshirt should be packed just in case. A few years ago when I was on a Alaska cruise, I forgot to bring a hat and had to purchase one at the first port of call.  Living in Florida, there is not that much call for a knit hat but I do have a nice souvenir to remember the trip.

 Forgotten cruise essentials  - There are so may tips that can be put in here.  Here are a few.  I do not like to shower with the small bar of soap provided and have recently been bringing a full size bar.  At the end of the cruise I dispose of the bar. 

Travel size toiletries are great. my wife and I like to bring our own shampoo and conditioner.  Cannot find your brand in travel size?  Purchase a different brand and empty it out and fill with what you use. 

My wife always packs a small umbrella and swears that helps insure we wont get rained out. Not so sure how accurate this is but...  I do like the tip of bringing the really cheap dollar store ponchos.

I like to bring zip lock bags in quart and gallon sizes.  Great to place you phone in when going to the beach to keep the sand out and the larger size is great to place wet bathing suits for the tip home. We also bring a large trash bag and use it to store dirty laundry in the bottom of the closet.

On the Oasis of the Seas We did not need a night light as the bathroom had one built in. I do bring a small flashlight just in case I need to move about the cabin when my wife is sleeping.

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Packing for your cruise

Packing for your cruise | Cruise basics |

You don't need to overextend a credit card to fill your suitcases with brand-new cruise duds. Despite any anxiety you may have about what to bring on your trip, you more than likely already have almost everything you need. You will, however, have to know your cruise line's policy on cruise wear, and be considerate by adhering to each evening's dress code (ranging from casual to formal). Making a packing list in advance helps, as does reading up on some key packing strategies. Make the planning and packing stage of cruise preparation a family affair by enlisting everyone's help.

Packing for Adults

Cruise wear falls into three general categories: casual, informal, and formal. Cruise documents should include information indicating how many evenings fall into each of those categories, and the daily newsletter will tell you the dress code for each evening.

Packing for Children

Packing for babies and toddlers will be the parents' responsibility, but kids can help with their own packing. To make things easy, make stacks of clothing for children for every day of the cruise, including underwear and socks. Put each day's stack in a zip-top plastic bag and label them Monday, Tuesday, and so on. Once on board the ship, each child can easily unpack his or her own suitcase and slip the plastic bags into drawers. Every morning they will know what to wear. Obviously, this won't work for older kids and teens, but parents may want to keep an eye on what they've chosen to oversee the appropriateness of their wardrobes.

Packing Your Carry-On

Because you may not have access to your checked bags for a few hours after boarding (or the morning of disembarkation), it's important to pack a carry-on with what you might need both on the plane and on your first and last hours on board your cruise ship. Needless to say, you'll have time to put your last day's clothing aside on the evening before you dock, but it's just as important to have your toiletries and a few other things you might need to freshen up in case your bags don't arrive. It's not a bad idea to include a change of clothing for dinner on the first night.

Walter Christens insight:

Some really excellent advice here on what to pack for your cruise vacation.  I really liked the description of the difference between formal wear, casual wear, and informal wear.

In the many years of cruising my wife and I have done we have some tricks and hints that we use to minimize the amount of luggage needed.

- If you need to take medications on a regular basis, take more than you will need for the length of your cruise.  On a seven day cruise, I normally take 10 or 11 days worth.  Goes without saying that these should only be placed in your carry-on luggage. We also bring our own supplies of over the counter medications.  Very expensive on the ships and may not be available in the ports of call (besides, who wants to look for a pharmacy while on vacation).

- I always bring an extra belt. On one cruise we were on, the buckle broke on the belt I brought.  What fun it was trying to find a new belt in Roatan.

- Depending upon the cruise line, I have left home the suit for formal night and instead wore a pair of dress slacks and a dress shirt. Occasionally I add a sport jacket.

- Because we live in Florida and drive to most of the cruise ports, our carry-on has a lot less that what is detailed in the article. Cruise documents, passports, camera equipment, jewelry, Kindle, medications are the bare essentials. If we need to fly to the embarkation destination, I am sure the list would expand.

- Because I need to wear glasses, I always bring a extra pair. I also have one of those repair kits that come with a little screw driver and an assortment of screws.

- Travel size toiletries are a must to conserve space. If what we need or use is not available, we use the small airline approved bottles for shampoo and such.

- Plastic bags ( the zipper type) are very useful for many things such as keeping your toiletries organized, and prevent leakage if something breaks in your luggage.  We also take a large black plastic bag to use as a place to put dirty laundry.  We keep in the bottom of the hanging closet in the cabin. I liked the suggestion if you are travelling with small children to organize their clothing for the day and store in individual plastic bags.

- Be aware of the weight and size of your luggage especially if you need to travel by the  airlines.  When our family went on an Alaskan cruise, we were due for new luggage.  Before we bought new we weighed what we were contemplating purchasing (now, most luggage tells you how much they weigh).  We were fine going to the cruise but just barely made the weigh restrictions on the way home because of things that we purchased.  Also be aware that your luggage normally goes under the bed in your stateroom while you are on the cruise.  You may have to leave it open to fit it under.    

- When my children were teenagers and travelled with us more, we let them decide what they would bring in their carry-on (with veto rights). My son always tried to bring a large assortment of electronics to keep himself amused. He cut down what he would bring when he was reminded that he was responsible for carrying it around until we could get in the cabin.

- My wife takes exception to the suggestion that you use the laundry on the ship and wash clothes mid cruise.  It is her vacation also so that will not happen. In dire emergency, I think I would use the ships laundry service and have them clean what is needed for a fee. 


My wife and I are not experts in packing for a cruise and it seems that we still have unworn clothes when we disembark, but we are getting better. Also as indicated in the article, we also cross pack so that if one suitcase is delayed or lost, at least we have some of our clothes. Also remind yourself that you can wear some clothes more than once.  The other passengers will not notice or care if they did.

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These cruises you should book a year in advance

These cruises you should book a year in advance | Cruise basics |

Be aware, you might not be a fan of early booking, but there is no other way if you want to see certain destinations.

Travelers can be divided into few categories: those who plan ahead their vacation and those who prefer to book the last minute deals and always have their suitcases on the go. However when it comes to choosing a cruise, there are few tricks your should be aware of. Some of the destinations and times, like holiday seasons are not available for fast booking and the only way to catch such a cruise is by booking it in advance, like a year. No jokes here:


Holiday cruises

Cruises on new ships

Popular cruise ships


Short season itineraries

Expedition cruises


Walter Christens insight:

For the most part I agree with these suggestions that booking early for some cruises is a requirement.  A lot depends upon how flexible you are on dates and stateroom category.


I have cruised a few times for New Years Eve and did not find it that difficult to find a suitable cruise 2-3 months out.  I have also sailed on many of the popular cruise ships including Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas booking them 3-4 months from the sailing. When we did our Alaska cruise we did book 8 months out and although we wanted a balcony room, none were available even then.  Many cruise ships to Alaska are smaller ships that do not have as many balcony rooms.  Next time we go to Alaska (yes it is worth doing more than once) I will book at least one year in advance.

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6 things everyone gets wrong about cruise ships

6 things everyone gets wrong about cruise ships | Cruise basics |

As a longtime avoider of mega cruise ships, I had a lot of assumptions going into my first large-ship cruise. It would be crowded, I thought. I would be incapacitated by seasickness. My only dining choices would be sub-par buffets. Realizing I was floating on a raft of preconceptions before even leaving port, I spoke with some fellow cruise-ship avoiders to develop a list of common reasons people don’t cruise. Once onboard, I set out to prove each of these cruise ship myths right or wrong. Here’s what I found.


Walter Christens insight:

I get asked by friends and family about these myths all the time. While there are always exceptions, I firmly believe these are myths. Here is my take.

Rooms will feel tight - Yes the rooms are smaller and depending on which cabin category and cruise ship they can be pretty small.  My advice is to look at all of the information available on square footage and make your decision wisely.  Some people do not mind a small room as they are rarely in the room except to sleep. I prefer a slightly larger room with a balcony if possible.
It's crowded - While it may look crowded when embarking on a cruise, I have found that once onboard, there are plenty of places to spread out. My suggestion is to take a good walk around the ship after boarding and find the quite out of the way places you may want to try later.
It's only buffets - This is far from true.  One of my rules on a cruise ship is that I partake of the dining room if it is open for service, and I do not have a early tour, I like being served and it makes my meal extra special.  There are occasions that the dining room is closed and usually happens when the ship is in port.
You'll get seasick - My whole family is lucky that we do not get seasick very easy.  I find that the larger cruise ship give the best chance of not getting seasick.  If you are prone to getting sick, take appropriate precautions and also be careful where you book your cabin.  Best place is lower on the ship in the middle. 
You'll have to talk to strangers - No one will make you talk to anyone you do not want to. When my wife and I cruise, we request a table for two for this reason.Actually we met some very good friends of ours on a cruise while waiting on line for a excursion.
You can only skim the surface of destinations - I have never felt this way.  I enjoy seeing a lot of different places while on a cruise.  Also since I do cruise often, I do sometimes go to the same ports.  Half the fun is finding something different to do on a return stop and to see how things change over the years.


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How Holland America is changing the Mexican Riviera – and itself

How Holland America is changing the Mexican Riviera – and itself | Cruise basics |

Sometimes, a good cruise is like a visit from an old friend. That’s the case for me this week as I cruise aboard Holland America Line’s gracious 1,916-guest Westerdam to the splendid Mexican Riviera on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
I’ve been cruising to the Mexican Riviera for over a decade now. I’ve also been sailing with Holland America for the past eleven years, having amassed two-star Mariner status with the line long before I’d ever begun writing about cruising and cruise ships as a career. Both line and destination have changed in the intervening years. Fortunately, that change has been for the better.
A decade ago, the Mexican Riviera was overloaded with cruise ships. It wasn’t uncommon to have three – sometimes four – ships calling on Puerto Vallarta on a single day. Prices were low, the weather was hot, and for many cruisers on the West Coast, a voyage to the Mexican Riviera was one of the most cost-effective cruises they could take.

Walter Christens insight:

My wife and I have just recently talked about taking a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.  She did this itinerary many years ago with friends before I had met her.  Nice to see that the cruise ships are coming back to this location.

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MSC Divina AquaCycle class is a cool cruise fitness challenge

MSC Divina AquaCycle class is a cool cruise fitness challenge | Cruise basics |

We all love our pool time when on a cruise. Some of us even enjoy getting in a daily workout while sailing -- all the better to warrant my massive increase in calorie consumption when I'm on vacation, I rationalize.


How about being able to do both at the same time? I'm talking about starting your day with a challenging workout while in the pool. On a cruise ship!


I know, it sounds crazy. Well, you do a get a few odd looks of interest when taking part in the AquaCycle class on MSC Divina. MSC Cruises' signature U.S.-based ship sails out of Miami on weeklong cruises to the Caribbean and offers AquaCycle classes, which are fun 45-minute sessions that replicate the shore side spin classes that you know from your health club back home. 


Except on MSC Divina, the spin studio is the aft adults-only Garden Pool. Special spin bikes are dropped into the pool by the instructor, who must artfully negotiate the sensitive and potentially explosive task of telling morning swimmers that they must leave the pool because a AquaCycle class will soon be starting.

Walter Christens insight:

This looks like it would be a lot of fun and a great way to get in a little exercise while cruising.  I recently booked my very first MSC cruise for early next year on the MSC Divina. My wife and I are going to give this a try. 

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A decade on, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance-class ships still dazzle

A decade on, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance-class ships still dazzle | Cruise basics |

On my last cruise, I met a couple who said they didn’t really want to sail with Royal Caribbean because the company’s ships were “too big.” And while Royal Caribbean certainly has some of the largest ships around, four of their smaller vessels are among my absolute favorites to cruise aboard.
Launched between 2001 and 2004, Royal Caribbean’s four Radiance-class cruise ships (Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas), carry just over 2,000 guests apiece. At 90,090 GRT (gross register tonnage), they’re almost mid-size by modern cruise-ship standards, yet they’re still plenty big, with a length of 293 meters and 12 passenger decks, most of which, are adorned with wall-to-wall glass windows.
These ships are so roomy and uncrowded that, for the most part, you’ll wonder where everyone is. You’ll still find that same amazing sense of grandeur that Royal Caribbean is known for when you walk into the multi-story atrium that soars all the way up to the pool deck, but throughout the ship, public spaces take on a more clubby, intimate tone.


Walter Christens insight:

Royal Caribbean's Radiance class ships are some of my favorites of their smaller ships. I have been on both the Jewel of the Seas (Western Caribbean)  and the Serenade of the Seas (Alaska).

I was always impressed on how even though these are small ships by todays standards, they always felt roomy. I loved the glass elevators that looked out over the water and the grandeur of the central atrium. 

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Cruising 101: Choosing an ocean cruise line

Cruising 101: Choosing an ocean cruise line | Cruise basics |

For cruising veterans, it may seem obvious how to choose the best cruise line for your vacation, but for newbies, it’s the crucial first step and begins by asking the right questions.

To start, ask: What is my budget and what is my traveling personality?

There are four main categories of cruise line quality increasing in cost in order of standard ones, premium ones, upscale ones and luxury ones, and in each category, there are a number of different lifestyles to be expected onboard each individual line.

Walter Christens insight:

There is definitely a cruise line for any type of travel personality. Understanding what you are looking for in a cruise vacation is the first step.  As a cruise veteran (first cruise in 1990 and 30 cruise to my credit) my style may be different from yours.  I like the large ships like the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas where the ship is as much a destination as the ports the ship goes to but this does not stop me from taking cruises on smaller ships. Living in Florida, much of my cruising has been to the Caribbean as I have quite a few ports within driving distance and I love the beach and snorkeling.

Using Cruiseable is a great way to find out what the different cruise lines offer and what may be important to you on a cruise (bliss filters). Here you can research the cruise lines and ports of call to find your perfect vacation.

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Read this before you book a cruise ship balcony room

Read this before you book a cruise ship balcony room | Cruise basics |

Deciding whether a balcony fits in your budget depends on how you value your time on the ship.

It’s hard to imagine a hotel charging extra for a room with windows, but when it comes to cruising, fresh ocean air comes at a premium: Typically, the coveted outdoor balcony space on a cruise costs at least $100 per person, per voyage more than an interior or porthole stateroom. But with budget and savings in mind, are cruise balconies actually worth the extra fee? We explore.

Walter Christens insight:

My wife and I prefer a balcony room on the cruises we take but we have also opted for porthole/window staterooms when either the balcony was cost prohibitive or not available. Having a balcony for us is like having a second room where if the other is sleeping, there was a nice place to sit and read.

I have noticed that on some older ships that do not have as many balcony rooms, they either book up fast or command much higher prices.

I have not had a interior stateroom on any of the cruise I have been on but may consider one on a Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class ship with the high-definition TV walls with a live feed of the ocean and ship’s ports.

My general rule is that the actual stateroom type does not matter as much to me as long as I get to go on a cruise

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Is going on a cruise the hippest thing in travel now

Is going on a cruise the hippest thing in travel now | Cruise basics |

A couple of years ago, when you heard people say they were going on a cruise you would normally picture retirees in straw hats, sandals and brightly colored and flowered shirts.

Nowadays cruise travel passengers include the young, middle aged and, of course the retirees.

But what has changed? Well for beginners, cruise ship companies have made it very attractive for passengers, and the younger, hipper crowds are starting to realize that maybe it makes sense to go on a cruise, see several different countries in one trip and eat, drink and party to their heart's content.
In addition to this, cruise companies have done extensive market research and turned out many new destinations, new activities, both on-ship and onshore, as well as created themed cruises, increased the length of cruise trips and are putting water slides, rock climbing and even bars operated with robotic tenders on new ships, all in an effort to facilitate the changing patterns of the cruise ships travel market.


Walter Christens insight:

I firmly believe there is a cruise that would appeal to anyone no matter what age group they happen to be in.  What I would be looking for in a cruise experience many not be what you are looking for. The bliss filters on can help you find that perfect cruise for you.

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Half Moon Cay a slice of heaven in the Bahamas

Half Moon Cay a slice of heaven in the Bahamas | Cruise basics |

Half Moon Cay is a slice of heaven just floating in the Caribbean. Half Moon Cay is one of the 700 islands that make up the archipelago of the Bahamas. Less than 100 miles from Nassau lies the private island Half Moon Cay, a tropical paradise for those cruising with Holland America Line. Our first taste of the Bahamas was with on our Holland America Line Eastern Caribbean cruise, which included a day at Half Moon Cay.

Holland America purchased the island in 1996 for a steal for only $6 million, and has since invested $15 million to create the private island paradise for passengers on the line’s Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings. Carnival ships sometimes visit as well, as Holland America is part of the Carnival Corp. The island wasn’t always called Half Moon Cay, for most of its existence the island was known as Little San Salvador Island.

Walter Christens insight:

I enjoy cruises that include a stop at a private Island.  I have been to many of them over the years.  The first being Royal Caribbean's Private island in Haiti called Labadee. It was soon after it opened and at that time there was very little there except some lounge chairs by the beach. Later this year I will be taking a Norwegian Cruise which will be making a stop at their newest Private Island off the coast of Belize called Harvest Caye


Most of the mainstream cruise lines have or soon will have private islands in the Bahamas or the Caribbean.

Holland America/Carnival - Half Moon Cay

Disney Cruise Line - Castaway Cay

Princess Cruise - Princess Cays

Royal Caribbean - Labadee and CoCo Cay

MSC - Ocean Cay (opening late 2017)

Norwegian Cruise Line - Great Stirrup Cay and opening late this year, Harvest Caye

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Good news for cruisers: Ships' on-board Internet service is improving and prices are falling

Good news for cruisers: Ships' on-board Internet service is improving and prices are falling | Cruise basics |

I had been looking forward to an upcoming cruise for weeks. But timing is everything, and mine wasn't good. I had a deadline looming as I boarded the ship. I knew I needed to get busy right away or I'd never make my deadline.

Then the on-board Internet crashed, and the prognosis wasn’t good. A shipboard tech in the computer room suggested I disembark and use land-based Internet. "We aren't scheduled to depart for hours," he said. "You probably can get a lot of work done."

As much as I hated leaving so quickly after I'd just arrived, I did so, made my deadline and re-boarded the ship.

I was disheartened. Would I spend the rest of the cruise worried about the Internet or being forced to live without it? Fortunately, no. The ship's connection soon returned, and there were no more problems.

“In our increasingly connected world, it has become incredibly important for travelers to stay connected,” said Thomas P. Ostebo, president and chief executive of Cruise Lines International Assn.

Walter Christens insight:

When I started cruising many years ago, on of the attractions was that my employer could not contact me while I was on a cruise.  I worked in a 24X7 environment and the disconnect time was important to me.

Things change and disconnecting entirely is not a option for many (me included).  It is nice to see that the prices for connectivity are coming down.  I can only hope that at some point internet connectivity will be included in the cruise fare.  One less thing to think about.

Later this year I will be on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas with my family.  My children were ecstatic that we would getting Voom Wi-Fi for the entire cruise.  We are Crown and Anchor members and get a nice discount. 

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Norwegian Cruise Line details Harvest Caye features

Norwegian Cruise Line details Harvest Caye features | Cruise basics |

For the first time since the project’s announcement in 2014, Norwegian Cruise Line this week issued new details on the $100 million Harvest Caye private island development in Belize. Originally scheduled to open in February, the project’s debut was recently re-scheduled to November.

Scheduled to open in November and located on two adjoining islands off shore from Placencia, a small former fishing village, the development will include Belize’s first cruise ship pier, a marina facility for mainland excursions, a seven-acre beach, restaurants and eco-tourism and adventure activity centers, said Norwegian officials in a statement.

Harvest Caye’s beach area will feature 11 enclosed, air-conditioned villas with lounge and dining areas, restrooms, indoor and outdoor showers, hammocks, and exclusive dining and beverage options. A 15,000-square-foot pool in a landscaped area will feature a swim-up bar with stools and lounge tables and 15 canopy pool cabanas available for rent.

Walter Christens insight:

I have always liked cruise ports of call to Belize.  It is a beautiful region in the Western Caribbean. The features and ammenities detailed by Norwegian Cruise Lines for Harvest Caye sound fantastic and provide plenty of activities to keep you busy for a day. It is also nice that they will have a cruise pier.  Some people do not like tendering in to port on small boats (I actually like it).

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Sailing this year? Here are 5 top cruise trends to look for in 2016

Sailing this year? Here are 5 top cruise trends to look for in 2016 | Cruise basics |

The cruise industry is chugging ahead in this new year, with an estimated 24 million passengers setting sail.

That's a significant jump from the 15 million passengers a decade ago, according to Cruise Lines International Assn.

Twenty-seven new ocean, river and small ships will hit the water this year. And it's no surprise that while the Caribbean is by far the top destination for cruisers, Australia and Asia are heating up

1. US river cruises - River cruising has exploded in Europe over the last few years, and now American rivers get their turn.

2. Cuba by ship - With the thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations and reopening of embassies, Americans have been flocking to the island nation

3. All inclusive please - Regent Seven Seas Cruises has led the way for years with all-inclusive sailings, and more lines are following suit.

4. Make room for families - Family cabins, such as Royal Caribbean's family junior suite, are always in high demand.

5. Better Wi-Fi - Cruise lines will be upgrading and perfecting their Wi-Fi, but it won't necessarily be free

Walter Christens insight:

2016 looks to be a banner year for people to cruise. Here is my take.

1. I am very intrigued about a US river cruise. Really have to look into a Viking River Cruise on the Mississippi river for 2017.

2.  Although I would love to cruise to Cuba to experience the culture, I do not see it in my plans for a little while. Maybe next year.

3. I really like what Regent Seven Seas is doing with their all inclusive cruises. One of the reasons I love to cruise is not having to make many money spending decisions while on board. This would make for a even better experience.

4. In the past when we cruises with my children we booked adjoining rooms which worked out well.  On my last cruise, my wife an I were booked into a junior suite that had a king size bed, a pull out couch and a separate small room with bunk beds.  Room slept 6 even though it was just the 2 of us.  Great room and would be great for families with children. There was a lot of extra space and storage areas as well.

5. Great to see that the cruise lines have recognized the importance of high speed internet access.  In this day and age, it is hard to disconnect for more than a few days (although I do like being disconnected). Pricing also seems to be getting better.

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