8 Cruise Myths!
By Jen Campbell of escape destinations travel
I honestly didn’t know cruises until I first cruised on an “All Girls Cruise” on board Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, with my mom and 2 sisters a few years back. Many of these misconceptions I thought were true (simply because I didn’t know better) but boy have I proved them wrong now.
I speak to many people about cruising (which I love) and they share why they won’t cruise, so I thought I’d dispel some of these most common cruise misconceptions.
1. It'd be Way Too Claustrophobic-
Today’s ships are amazing and have tons of rooms. They’re like mini floating cities, not like a herd of buffalo being shipped from one activity to the next. While the staterooms can be cozy, if you can afford a suite, they’re fabulous and worth a few extra dollars. They ships have great décor, awesome architecture and lots of space.
2. Boring & Nothing to Do-
Do you like to eat? If so there’s tons of food and great fruity drinks to partake in. There are practically 24/7 buffets and wonderful sit down restaurants and eateries.
Entertainment is a staple on the ships and there’s constantly activities going on, from shows to demonstrations, activities to join, things to do like ice skating at sea, mini golf, pools, boxing, surfing, relaxing poolside, hot tubs, dancing, clubbing, karaoke, bingo, fun meet and greets, cocktail receptions, and the list goes on and on.
3. Too Formal -
Many years ago the cruise attire was more formal, but not anymore. You can wear what you want and choose to not dress up on formal nights, or simply eat in a casual restaurant that evening. It’s up to you, you can choose! Don’t worry about packing a tux and tie, or prom dress, you can dress up or dress down.
4. I’ll get Seasick-
Hey, we’re not talking the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria! Many of the latest ships offer stabilizers that will keep the ship running smooth in rougher waters. They are built to last and keep you smooth sailing, regardless of the weather. If you’re still concerned, wear the patch (placed behind your ear, which is what I do each trip) or even get over the counter sea sick medicine (bonine) to take if you start to feel badly.
5. It’s Full of Only Old People-
Nah! I have been cruising for years and am in my early 40’s and can tell you the crowd is a good mix of old and young! Some cruise lines cater to the very young crowd, offering big names like Nickelodeon, the Smurfs and of course Disney Cruise Lines! There’s lots of millennial travelers with hip music, shorter theater shows and even mixology bars. There is something for all ages.
6. I’ll Gain Weight-
Wait a minute, what about self-control! If you’re worried about eating too much food, put the fork down. Only you can control how much you choose to eat. Seriously though, on the ships there are so many healthy options to choose from. Surprisingly, I eat healthier when I am on the ship than when I am land-locked. Don’t get me wrong, there’s steak and lobster and tons of yummy desserts, but also salads that are awesome and lean cuts of meat and fresh fish.
They always have a gym-offered for free, if you feel you MUST workout while on vacation! I prefer to take it easy and enjoy my vacation, so you won’t see me darken the gym doors while on a cruise vacation.
7. It's Too Tight and Regimented-
Think of Norwegian Freestyle Cruising. You can do what you want when you want to, eat when you want and do whatever you’d like, no schedule is necessary….you can truly relax!
8. It Costs Too Much Money-
This one always gets me! I thought it was too expensive, but think of all you get for one set price: a room, all you can eat, unlimited entertainment, seeing exotic locations all packaged into one rate. Many years ago (say 20) a short voyage on Monarch of the Seas, would set you back $2300 for two people to set sail on Royal Caribbean’s ship. Right now the comparable ship, Majesty of the Seas would cost you just $280 for nearly the same itinerary.
Think of how much it would cost you to spend a week at the beach in the Caribbean. You’d have to fly there, then shell out for food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, etc. These things can all add up very, very quickly…cruising is the most economical way to go! If you're budget conscious, you can even have the entire vacation paid off ahead of time (which is how I prefer to vacation)!
HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I NEED TO SPEND ON MY CRUISE?
So, how much cruise money will I need since I’ve pre-paid for my cruise, and airfare in advance? If you’re like me, you like to budget all your funds in advance and have a plan for when you arrive on vacation.
I personally just love to show up and not have to worry about any finances (so I can truly relax) therefore I make sure most everything is paid for as much as in advance as possible.
Here are a few things to consider:
It’s a place that many hear of and some have visited! We had the opportunity to check it out last fall
(September 2014). Our first experience was a wonderful local volksfest (super crowded)outside of
Stuttgart (that was quite wild)in Bad Cannstadt and then the actual Oktoberfest in Munich the next
week. Let me just say it’s quite an experience!
Some quick stats pulled off the internet say it’s the biggest Volks Fest in the world (I would believe it).
People from all over the world come to visit the festival that’s held for just 16 short days from the end of
September into the first weekend in October. It’s estimated that between 5-7 million people visit each
year! It covers 310,000 square meters and truly is a sight to see! Approximately 70% of the attendees
are from Bavaria, 15% from the rest of Germany and the remaining 15% from outside countries. It has a
HUGE reputation as the Biggest Beer Drinking Festival, however they do have activities for the whole
family. Tons of neat rides (including a super giant ferris wheel), lots of booths, fabulous German food,
drink, souvenirs, ag shows and so much to look at. I would think kids would love the fair type rides, all
the attractions and things to see and do.
The huge steins of beer are served in Mass, which is a giant mug, containing 1 liter of beer. They are so
heavy, it took 2 hands to lift the thing! It’s always served in a giant mug, so you can be sure it’s
completely filled to the top! They’ll cost you roughly $12 each. Keep in mind, don’t steal these babies, as
if you’re caught you’ll pay a hefty fine-they belong to the breweries. You can purchase them in a nearby
tent to take home with you.
It’s free to enter the Oktoberfest, and entering the tents are also free, however keep in mind you’ll have
to pay for your beer and it’s only served to those that have a seat! Once inside the tents, you’ll notice
the bright colors, the terrific German music, and the massive crowds. You can reserve a seat in the tent
ahead of time, but be prepared to pay about $70 per person for about 2 hours of a seat, 2 beers and ½ a
chicken. Otherwise, good luck finding the “free seats” that each tent has available. These seats come at
a premium and once we sat down, we were nearly fist-fought for our spot! The best time to nab one of
these freebie seats is during the week. We had 6 in our party, so it took a while to find a spot. Also, an
important tip to keep in mind (Mom found this out the hard way….) don’t order Wine! They only serve
Beer and will gladly tell you so!
The mood is festive, the crowds lively and oh so very entertaining! One of my favorite parts of
Oktoberfest in Munich was just people watching. The music was wonderful, and the people were
fascinating. It’s something to experience. I loved the wonderful costumes worn by so many, the
lederhosen and dirndls were really incredible and each one seemed unique and lovely. People took
their outfits seriously! I did feel a bit out of place in my jeans and t-shirt, but the cost of buying a
costume (which more than likely I’d only wear once) was a bit steep for my budget. Trust me, if you have
the outfit, you’ll want to wear it to this much anticipated event!
It apparently gets very lively in the evening however we only stayed for a few hours and then went on in
our travels before dark. So beware of the evening entertainment in advance. If that’s your thing, you
might have a fabulous evening!
Another one of my favorites was the delicious food! Entering the fest you could smell the sweet
cinnamon almonds, delicious rotisserie chicken, pretzels and French fries. Good food to be had there for
sure! We were invited to sit with a table of young German professionals who had driven in to enjoy the
festivities and really made us feel at home.
What an experience Oktoberfest in Bad Caanstadt and Munich was, you’ll want to check it out if you’ve
not yet had the opportunity to do so.
Is a gorgeous, mountainous region in Bavaria, Southern Germany. October of 2014 I was so blessed to spend a few days in this beautiful, idyllic town, at the Edelweiss Resort and Lodge, at the foot of the mountains. The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort was fantastic yet unfortunately is only available to certain service members with DOD privileges or those conducting TDY work in Europe. You can check out the resort here: www.edelweisslodgeandresort.com The entryway was expansive, full of rustic wood furniture and wood paneling with a pretty stone façade. What was most impressive was the absolutely breathtaking alpine views from all directions! The dining and ambiance was rustic, the view was phenomenal. You couldn’t pick a better, quieter, more serene location to rest and soak in the views.
We happened to be at the resort around Oktoberfest, and many buses happened to go there from the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort several times a day. (Their gift shop even had costumes from which you could rent or purchase to wear at Oktoberfest in Munich). There is always something happening in the local area around Garmisch-Partenkirchen to see and do.
From my beautiful balcony you could view the Zugspitze (Germany’s highest mountain-which towers at roughly 9,714 feet), watch the trains meander amongst the hills with their whistles blowing and hear the angelic cowbells as the cows returned home from their day spent at the nearby mountain meadow terrain. And let us not forget the many paragliders coming down from the massive mountain tops! The mountain air, well it truly was refreshing.
So, a little brief history: Garmisch (in the western location) and Partenkirchen (from the eastern location) were separate towns for many, many years. They still like to maintain their own separateness, yet they truly are one now. The history books say the mayors were forced by none other than Adolf Hitler to combine these towns together in 1935 in anticipation of the 1936 Winter Olympic Games. To this day, they remain as one, yet very separate in many ways.
During our brief but glorious visit, we had the pleasure of meandering downtown to have a cup of strong robust German coffee with a piece of warm kuchen (German cake), enjoy the breath taking views from all angles, shop, walk around and simply chill out in the fresh air and warm sunshine. The geraniums, petunias and bacopa spilled out of many containers, as vibrant color and scenery were all around us. Fresco-filled café’s, along cobble-stoned streets beckoned visitors and villagers to relax and enjoy the warm, beautiful fall day. Music filled the village, as a local band took a moment to perform a quick song for the crowd. It was beautiful, magical and like a dream come true, for me!
South of Garmisch, lies the Zugspitze near the neat little village of Grainau. This mountain actually straddles the border with Austria (another one of my favorite places to journey to). While I never made it to the top of the Zugspitze on this trip, perhaps on my next journey to Garmisch-Partenkirchen I will take the long hike to the tippy-top! Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a super popular spot for skiing, hiking, biking, snowboarding and easy, carefree outdoor living. They say that some of the very best skiing can be had in Germany here at the Garmisch Classic and the Zugspitze. Perhaps on my next trip I can check it out, anyone want to join me?
I have heard mention The King’s House on Schachen, which was a small castle built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, which also happens to be located in the serene mountains of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Their gardens are known to be stunning. An alpine botanical garden, it sounds so lovely. Wish I had more time to take it in as this was a place I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting.
It was a dream come true and a postcard perfect place to spend a very short 2 days!
My Cruise Spoiled Me Rotten!
Oh yeah, I am now spoiled rotten. Have you been to Bermuda, St. Thomas, St. Martin, Nassau, Bahamas, Freeport, Bahamas, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti? I have been, and to some of the locations (The Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti) twice now!
So I was blessed and now I am spoiled…at least that’s how I felt on my first cruise and when it ended, I experienced a quick crash back into reality. And let me just say that Reality Bites! After my very first cruise, I knew I needed to sail again – and very soon! The experience was like no other vacation I’d ever been on and I’d never felt so ‘spoiled’ on a vacation and I admit it, I love it and can’t wait to book my next one.
6 ways a Cruise can Spoil You Rotten:
1. Amazing Views- From any point on the ship! You can watch the sun rise or sun set and it’s glorious! St. Thomas is like a postcard, picture taking spots all over the place.
2. No Cleaning, Cooking or Endless Chores- Oh yeah, one of my favs! I can wake up whenever I like, and NOT make my bed or clean my room. I come back from a day of relaxation and my room has been freshened up and even some special surprises await me. If I want laundry done they will take care of it for me. My waiter or waitress remembers my water or tea with dinner.
3. Something for Everyone-Always something to do, 24/7! There’s something for the kids to do, the adults to do, different fun activities, contests, shows, classes. There’s no limit to what can be done on your ship!
4. Food- Did I mention that I don’t have to cook! I can try new meals, additional meals or something special! There’s food 24/7 and I don’t have to clean up after my family or myself! I can eat and then head out for a fun day with no worries.
5. Bring the Destinations to You- What better way can you see so many new destinations at one fabulous price? They bring the exotic locations to you! I have seen more places just by walking off my ship, and I don’t have to keep packing and un-packing. I do this once, then relax. Plus, it helps me see which destinations I may want to see and even explore on my own one day. As I said above, I’ve been to Bermuda, The Bahamas (Freeport and Nassau), The Caymans, Jamaica and Labadee Haiti. In a few months I will be headed to Key West and Cozumel. What’s not to love about all these new destinations to discover?
6. Sunshine – The wonderful sun! In all my days of cruising to wonderful ports, I can count on one hand how much it’s rained. Sunshine (for me) is a huge instant mood booster! It sure beats working inside at my desk all day. I say a rainy day at sea, beats any day in the office or at work! That’s why the wonderful sunshine feels so good on vacation!
So, exactly how does cruising spoil you? What’s your favorite way to be spoiled on a cruise ship? We’d love to get your thoughts!
WHY I TRAVEL-
I've traveled off and on since I was young. My step-dad was in the Army so we lived in NC, GA, Heidelberg, Germany for 4 glorious years, then Upstate NY (Watertown, NC) near Fort. Drum for 13 years. After my first solo trip to Germany in 1989-1990, I realized that my life has been made so much richer with traveling. I had this wanderlust that needed to be fulfilled many years ago! I intensely long for adventure, I need and want to explore brand new lands and cultures, I want to make strangers my best friends ... Traveling opened my eyes and yes even though it is a cliché, it’s true! I thrive on new experiences in new lands!
I've always had the heart of a wanderer. When we lived in Upstate NY and my step-dad would have the possibility of us moving to a new duty station, I would be excited, and quickly start to dream and research the new place, and set a goal of making it the best place to live. These dreams were dashed so many times, as the Army wanted him to stay put in Watertown, NY (Fort Drum).
If anyone was to ask me why I don’t settle in one place forever, I guess I’m really unable to articulate why I wander. I guess this wonderful Earth we live on is such an amazing, awe-inspiring place, marvelous place with such fascinating people and places I've not yet visited. To me, it almost seems a waste not to see every corner of it!. Oh, and I really do hate winter, I detest being cold. Anywhere far from the chill makes my heart happy. My goal was to always get away from it and move warmer. We settled in North Carolina (after also living again in GA, CA and MD) but I'm still wandering as much as possible. I can't quite explain it but I absolutely thrive on dreaming of my next great adventure in a foreign land.
Where are you inspired to travel to and why?
6 Big Travel Rip-offs to Avoid! These are some of my own tips and some I've found to help me in my travels. I hope they're helpful to you too!
Hey, it’s really fun to splurge from time to time, especially when you’re on vacation. However, the following “extras” are actually huge rip-offs that add up and may not be worth it in the end.
1. Save Your Money- Don’t get Charged for Excess Baggage-
Most of the time, you won’t wear everything that you pack anyway. When you’re preparing to leave for sweet vacation, you may think that you need 4 outfits for every day. In truth, though, most of your clothing will go un-worn and you’ll pay high fees for extra luggage. If you can wash your clothing at your hotel, this will help you pack less.
2. Don’t go into Unmarked Cabs-
Never, ever get into an unmarked cab. On top of being a rip-off, they’re also not safe. Unmarked cabs are infamous for charging extra high rates, taking longer-than-necessary routes, and giving you the wrong change back. Try to travel in pairs, avoid going alone in a cab ride, if possible.
3. Tourist Dining-
When traveling, eat like a local instead of like a tourist. Tourist-heavy areas come with high prices. Talk to locals to find out where the best restaurants and eateries are that offer a bit of a local flair.
4. Avoid Airline Clubs-
The idea of an airport’s airline club can often be a lot nicer than the actual club itself. Members-only airline clubs are often just as loud and crowded as the rest of the airport. Unless you’ve had a great experience in the past and travel all the time, these clubs don’t offer a great return on your investment.
5. High Taxes on Alcohol-
Some countries carry extremely high tax on alcohol, which is a good reason to skip over cocktails when dining out. One drink can cost more than $15 (watch out on the cruise ships for these pricy drinks)! To keep costs down, try to stick with water (if it’s safe depending upon which country you are in) or order a virgin drink. I personally suggest a smoothie or fruit juice which will keep you healthy and full of energy while you are traveling and seeing the world!
6. Avoid Pricy Hotel Rooms in Major Cities-
By staying smack in the center of an exciting, thriving city, you’ll likely pay big bucks for a tiny room. Hey, why not instead, consider staying a few short blocks away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds or on the outskirts of the city. Lodging rates will very likely go down and the room space will also possibly expand.
What rip-offs have you been able to avoid on your travels, share them below!
Here we are on our 2nd trip to Jamaica (other stops included Labadee, Haiti & The Caymans). We use the tips I 'm sharing, to make vacation dreams a reality for our own family!
In a perfect world, we'd all have fully funded vacation accounts full of lots of money to pay for our annual family getaways. The reality is that most of us are just now starting to think about this holiday season and next summer's vacation. Here are some fast-track ways to save for your big trip.
1. Start with a spending plan-Decide upfront how much you'll spend on your vacation. Get specific. Hey, write it down!
2. Sacrifice now for lots of fun later-Where can you scrimp and save to have extra funds for Travel?
3. Build cash with a 'Pantry Week'-One week each month, For one week each month, from now until your trip, stay out of the grocery store and eat only what you have in your house.
4. Eat out less, save big- Consider brown bagging it, and cooking more from home, it's better for you health wise and will save you money from spending on meals out.
5. Make a visual savings wall chart- Keep track of what you’re saving for, your family members would get on board with this and love seeing the progress. Nothing beats sharing the "vision" together!
6. Sell your stuff- What can you sell NOW to earn some cold, hard, cash?!?
7. Use your tax refund – right now- April 15th just past us, so put those IRS refund dollars into a dream trip, instead of home improvements.
8. Let credit cards pay you back- Let your rewards pile up and then use towards plane tickets, etc. I know several people that do this and it works well for them.
9. Pay for All of Your Trip Up Front-This is the way I prefer to vacation, as stress-free as possible. We like to head on vacation with NO Debt owed for the trip. We pay for our tips/gratuities, any extra trips, etc. in advance. I like to go on vacation knowing that everything has been covered, and I can truly relax with no worries about finances!
Don't stop til you reach your vacation goals! You'll too be at a tropical island like we were, and soon enjoying Jamaica, The Caymans, Labadee, Haiti or another exotic place very soon!!
Why People Love To Travel!
Do you love to travel? Me too! Since many of us are self-described travel nuts I thought it would be very interesting to explore some terrific reasons why we love to travel.
What Is It About Travel That People Love?
For some, travel’s a dream that comes true once a year for the annual vacation. Often people yearn of a fabulous travel adventure like a few weeks in Africa or perhaps even selling everything you own and backpacking in Europe for a year! For some, travel is a sweet plan for retirement on a boat, an RV, with only your backpack or by train. I haven’t quite decided yet which one might be my favorite and I might even have to run with all of those travel plans in my golden years.
For me travel has been an all-consuming passion, my first love. My whole life’s been geared towards travel. I spent a year in Germany as an exchange student so I could learn a foreign language and travel (of course). I would work for a few months and save up, then head to Europe to see the sites for a month or so! It’s been a grand journey thus far, and cannot wait to see where else I can see for the first time.
So…Why Do People Travel?
1. To challenge yourself
Visiting a 3rd world country can have you count your blessings in life! While E. Germany (before the wall fell) wasn’t exactly the worst, going for about a week without a shower, was “roughing it” in my book. Then sharing a very “humble broth/soup” served to me and my fellow exchange student friends from our hosts with pride, truly impacted my life. Even the toilet paper was “recycled” seemed rough and felt like sand paper! Not much running water and sharing a toilet with 8 other students proved to be a challenge.
2. To enjoy new experiences
Just recently I made a fabulous trip to Germany. I was able to see Heidelberg (my favorite city in Germany) brush up on my linguistic skills and even check out Oktoberfest in Munchen, which was quite an experience in and of itself! This was something way outside of Sampson County, NC and so took me out of my comfort zone!
3. To find yourself
Where do you go to find yourself when you may be a bit off track? I tend to take a trip, immerse myself in the local dress and spend time reflecting. It’s a worthwhile event and one I encourage you to take.
4. To learn a new language
It took me nearly 6 months, immersed in Germany, in a high school classroom where virtually no English was spoken, to pick up the language. Not to mention my Host Mom and Dad spoke zero English so this made for some challenging conversations! I love speaking in a foreign language (or at least my humble attempt) when I travel, it gives you a whole new outlook on life.
5. To experience new cultures
Our family shares a love of travel and we now try to take a trip to a new country every year together as a family. Last year we visited Jamaica, Grand Cayman Islands. We discovered that once you leave the Jamaican port, it can get dangerous. That the locals live in extreme poverty and we do have much to be thankful for! I’m pretty sure we were all thankful to arrive at the resort behind large gated compound. We all enjoyed seeing a different culture.
6. To have fun
Travel is fun and lots of people travel with the sole purpose of enjoyment! Life is too short. I believe it’s meant to be enjoyed, so take a trip, relax and have a great time
7. To see new things
I’ve seen the Berlin Wall after it was opened up in 1989. I just saw the phenomenal Zugspitze last month, skiing in the Alps, we’ve enjoyed an exotic beach in Labadee, Haiti, snorkeling with the stingrays in The Caymans and Zip-lining in St. Martin. I don’t think I could ever tire of visiting new places, enjoying the local food and immersing myself in the local, enchanting and always different cultures on our earth!
8. To eat new food
I love to try new stuff! How about you? Have you ever tried conch? “When in Rome” has always been my motto. When in a new country, venture out, go ahead and try something new.
Why not take a trip this year, to explore a new place, to find yourself, and try new cultures? You’ll enjoy some sweet memories to stay with you for a lifetime!
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