By Mike Coleman
From world class cuisine to a host of seemingly endless activities, it’s easy to see why millions of travelers and significant numbers of Naples-area residents are repeat cruise ship guests.
This week, as we conclude our three-part series exploring the best way to plan and make the most of your first – or 10th – cruise vacation, we’ll take an in-depth look at life onboard today’s mega-liners and their intimate counterparts.
The price of your cruise fare includes all meals and in-between snacks, your stateroom, activities, parties (at least one hosted by the captain), entertainment, plus your voyage to some of the most enchanting and culturally-enriching ports in the world.
You won’t have to worry about making dinner or nightclub reservations, running to make flight connections as you travel from one destination to another, or packing and unpacking. You can lie back and be completely pampered. Or, go non-stop. Dine like never before. Enjoy one great show after another.
What to do?
Your cruise vacation will include an amazing array of shore excursions to choose from in each port, although each will cost extra. From golf and scuba diving to walking tours and shopping, even private helicopter rides to secluded dining venues are part of the mix.
Perhaps you’d like to get married at sea or renew your wedding vows. You may decide to join your spouse for a massage, make new friends, build your own Web site, learn a new language or rub elbows with a master chef during any one of the numerous classes offered onboard.
Enjoy a mouth-watering four-or five-course dinner, then leave the table without getting a bill. Take a pilates or spinning class, try a new diet or fitness program or relax in a steamy whirlpool.
We’re just getting started
You can participate in a host of onboard games, from trivia to bingo and backgammon to cards. Observe fabulous onboard art collections, enjoy an art auction, or both. Take in a guest speaker from the world of entertainment, politics, finance, cooking or sports, not to mention the many distinguished lecturers who will bring to life the port of call you are about to visit.
Lounge by the pool. Get a haircut. Read a good book or take a movie, on DVD or VHS tape, back to your cabin from often well-stocked libraries. Some ships even have movie theaters playing first-run Hollywood feature films.
Participate in wine tasting seminars and cooking classes. Tackle the rock climbing wall with friends or enjoy a game of basketball, tennis or volleyball with fellow passengers.
Walk the top deck. Get your nails done. People watch. Sip tea. Sleep.
At night, enjoy a host of bars and lounges, take in a production show or dance till you drop. The casino will be open late and so too will the galley (the ship’s kitchen).
Can’t wait to get home to tell all your friends how great the cruise has been? Why wait? Send an e-mail daily from the ship’s Internet cafe at a nominal fee.
How in the world will you keep track of all that’s happening onboard? Easy. Each night your cabin steward will slip a newsletter under your door, complete with the next day’s onboard activities. You can even tune in to your in-cabin television for more, including, in most cases, CNN.
And, while most people take a cruise in order to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit, there are instances, even on vacation, when you may be feeling under the weather. Thus, onboard doctors provide excellent first response and emergency care to passengers until they can be transferred to a shoreside medical facility, if needed.
It’s not talked about much. Nor will you see the doctor’s onboard office featured in any of your cruise brochures. But, like the great food, entertainment and host of amenities you’ve now come to expect from your cruise vacation, you can sail to Antwerp or Zadar with peace of mind.
The cruise lines, indeed, have you covered from A to Z.