Army

September 13, 2013

Take a wallet-friendly cruise next vacation, military rates available

Gourmet dinners are served in the main dining room on most cruise ships but a variety of other dining options are available to choose from such as buffets, late night snack bars or 24 hour room service. A duet of broiled Maine lobster tail, grilled jumbo shrimp, roasted broccoli roses and Yukon gold mashed potatoes (pictured) is offered as a dinner option on the formal evening of your cruise.

 

In the midst of everyday life, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of relaxation. Whether it is to celebrate the return from a lengthy deployment, the highly anticipated annual vacation or just a last-minute getaway, the desire to “take a personal time out” or “catch some rays” is common — and it’s no different in the military community.

A cruise is just the adventure sure to meet everyone’s needs. This includes single and young vacationers in search of a social, party-like scene or those seeking a Family-friendly environment packed with activities for all ages.

To begin, consult a travel agent or do your own research online. Each cruise line, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney have their own website where one can view the upcoming cruises, and what is offered on each ship. Websites like www.cruisecritic.com allow the potential traveler to read personal reviews, explore the ports-of-call and view frequent cruisers’ photos from their cruises. These sites can be found with a simple Internet search.

While there is a big misconception that cruising comes with a hefty price tag, many are actually very affordable — especially for those in uniform.

Various factors determine cruise rates, including the point of origin and ports-of-call, the cruise line, cruise length and sightseeing destinations.

But according to www.cruisedeals.com and other military cruise deal websites, many cruise lines offer military specials like onboard credits or discounted rates for active and retired military personnel.

Catalina Island, Calif., is one of two stops along the four day Baja Mexico cruise out of Los Angeles. At each stop, passengers are able to leave the ship and explore the port, go shopping, or participate in some of the many excursions offered.

In many cases, specific military rates are not available online. To take advantage of these programs, make a direct call to your preferred cruise line.

Decide where to go and what to see. Do you prefer fruity drinks with umbrellas in the Bahamas, hanging out with Mickey and Minnie on a Disney cruise, or a cooler climate and ice-blue glaciers in Alaska?

Cruises travel all around the world and stop in different ports along the route, so travelers are guaranteed to find one that suits their desires. Keeping convenience and comfort a priority, one can visit multiple countries and only unpack once.

Remember to check your specific cruise line’s identification guidelines. Traveling will likely require a passport or visa. Consider the processing time to order the required documents, if needed, or ensure your current identification is still valid.

Each ship has a variety of staterooms to choose from, with a range of amenities such as flat screen televisions and miniature refrigerators. Some rooms have a balcony to relax in your own personal space. Booking a cruise in advance will provide better availability.

Once onboard, find your stateroom, drop luggage off, and become familiar with the ship because there is a lot to see and do.

The main pool area on the Lido Deck on Carnival cruise ships is definitely the place to be. Music is always playing while children splash in the water or dance on the open activity floor and adults relax in the hot tub or sunbathe on the lounge chairs.

Many dining options are available from three-course dining to endless buffets. Food is included in the ticket price, as well as coffee, tea and water. Alcohol and soda can be purchased onboard.

Throughout the day, cruise lines offer a variety of entertainment to include stage shows, comedy shows, dance clubs, lounges, casinos, piano bars, and games like bingo and shuffleboard.

Many ships are equipped with multiple pools and hot tubs, fitness centers and spas so travelers can get the full relaxation experience.

Youth programs are available for children of all ages. Each cruise line has their own child-friendly programs but they all include fun contests, shows, activities, crafts and more. The best part is that young travelers are completely supervised, allowing mom and dad some down time as well.

From sightseeing and nature tours to parasailing and more, the best of each cruise destination can be experienced with shore excursions. Available for purchase at the ship’s guest services, they are organized by interest and activity levels to help travelers choose the best ones for them. Advance purchase is recommended for the best selection and availability.

First-time cruisers should check out their cruise line’s website and review the frequently asked questions. Helpful hints and tips can also be found at www.cruisecritic.com and by searching for “First-Time Cruising Basics.”

Whether you and your Family or friends are seeking to lie around by the pool all day or party the night away, each cruise has something for everyone. Put your feet up, let the world of work and chores slip away with the sunset, and experience the popular cruise life.

If the Internet is not providing adequate answers to your questions, contact a local travel agent for assistance in getting the most information and best rates.




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