Start making plans now for summer cruising (Part 1)


| Bobmetnews@aol.com |

Photos by Bob & Sandy Nesoff
Photos by Bob & Sandy Nesoff

There was an old ribald limerick that told you what not to do in the summer when it was “…hot and sweaty…” but rather wait until the “…frost is on the punkin…”

The same holds true for planning summer trips.  The interesting and fun trips sell out fast and prices go up as well.  If you are thinking of some quality down time this summer, now is the time to begin doing research and confirming plans.

An added bonus is that you may save a considerable amount of money by doing so in winter because suppliers are anxious to confirm as many bookings as possible.  As time draws closer and they aren’t in dire need of filling rooms and cabins, prices are…well, pricier.  If huge discounts suddenly show up at a late date it’s most likely for less than top of the line offerings.

Amongst the better choices for vacations are all-inclusive resorts, such as Sandals, where you know precisely what your costs will be and you don’t have to add gratuities or other expenses.

Perhaps one step better than such clubs is a cruise to almost anywhere.  Your hotel room travels with you and there is no need to pack and unpack; all meals are included (except certain premium restaurants on board), entertainment is free, and relaxation and enjoyment are incomparable.

There are more ships and cruise lines out there than arrived off the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.  Accommodations are a darn sight better as well.

While the hottest spots on the majority of itineraries are the Caribbean Islands, smaller cruise lines have opened up a new world of adventure and memorable vacations.  Uniworld sails the Danube in Eastern Europe and offers trips to Vietnam and magical Cambodia, Disney invites the whole family to enjoy quality time together and even caters to couples, Celebrity runs the gamut from exciting trips to glaciers in Alaska to the Caribbean and Europe and Royal Caribbean International offers new ships and upgraded accommodations.

The focus this week will be on Disney and Celebrity and we’ll visit Uniworld and Royal Caribbean next week.

Just the mention of the name “Disney” conjures up images of hordes of children running from attraction to attraction.  That may be true at theme parks but on board any of the company’s fleet of ships…well that’s another story.

You can’t escape the fact that there could be somewhere in the vicinity of a thousand children on board any Disney luxury liner.  But anyone cruising one of those ships has come away amazed at the fact that the little ones are never underfoot.  Programs designed to keep the youngsters interested, happy and occupied are arguably the finest in the leisure industry.

Mom and dad can’t enjoy themselves if they have to entertain or keep an eye on the children for a week.  Those traveling without children would not have a quality cruise if that were the case.  Disney has such a comprehensive program for the younger set that they are almost invisible.

There is adult time as well.  Late shows are designed for a more mature audience although don’t expect the likes of x-rated Andrew Dice Clay performances.  One thing that is missing on Disney ships is a casino.  A Disney executive says the line decided to forego the substantial income a casino produces in order not to have parents sitting at a slot machine or card table to the exclusion of their children.  That’s got to earn major points on the “consideration chart.”

Disney has expanded to Europe and now sails out of New York in addition to its numerous Florida sailings.  Its Caribbean itinerary is comprehensive and ends with a day at its fabulous private island, Castaway Cay with swimming, water sports and sting ray feedings.  For information go to disneycruise.disney.go.com.

Celebrity Cruise Lines has also added the New York/New Jersey area to its sailing itinerary, leaving from the Bayonne docks, an easy connection from New York.

While there are nowhere near the number of children onboard a Celebrity ship, that doesn’t mean the line does not provide for them.  They are a strong focus for specialized activities.

Accommodations on board any Celebrity luxury liner are always top shelf.  Entertainment, decidedly more adult oriented (although not x-rated) offers top of the line singers, dancers and comedians who could easily-and many have-appeared on Broadway.

With a comprehensive set of itineraries that include the top Caribbean destinations as well as Alaska, Europe, South Pacific, Canada and New England (depending on departure point) Celebrity has been making waves in the cruise vacation milieu.  There are more destination opportunities.  For further information go to www.celebritycruises.com.

Cabins belie the old adage that cabin comfort is secondary to activities.  The thought then was that you only spend a few hours, mostly sleeping, in your cabin so why worry about space and comfort.  Celebrity does not subscribe to that line of thinking.

All cabins, inside and outside, are both roomy and comfortable.  Of course the pricier cabins offer more amenities, but even the lower cost inside cabins does not skimp on space and comfort.

Celebrity has introduced interesting new amenities that include a grass patio, putting green, and huge umbrella-like cabanas on the sunny decks.  There are even huge Adirondack chairs that draw passengers for a photo op.  Sit down on one and you look like Lily Tomlin in her huge rocker.

These ships certainly are not your grandmother’s cruise liners.  But although they have grown to become huge floating resorts, the better lines still provide excellent personal service and offer comfort beyond expectations.