Oceania Cruises Raises the Bar on Concierge Perks

Travel Pulse – by Jason Leppert

Oceania Cruises Raises the Bar on Concierge Perks

PHOTO: Oceania Cruises’ Riviera. (photo by Jason Leppert)

Oceania Cruises has made its Concierge Level Stateroom category more enticing with one of the best onboard privileges ever.

The upscale line now offers free laundry, and the goodies don’t stop there. It has also added room service from its Grand Dining Room lunch and dinner menus to the perks as well.

“The last thing you want to worry about on vacation is doing chores such as laundry,” stated Bob Binder, President and CEO of Oceania Cruises, in a press release.

“You want your vacation to be relaxing, so we’ve solved that problem and we’ve provided an even greater incentive to relax in the comfort of your stateroom – lunch or dinner from the Grand Dining Room. The laundry is done and lunch and dinner are taken care of, what more could you ask for?”

Oceania is well known for offering some of the best dining at sea and now it can be enjoyed after a long day ashore. Among the premium restaurant fare now available in the comfort of your own room—while the laundry is taken care of—are Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Vegetable Ratatouille & Gratin Dauphinois and Papuan Chocolate Volcano with a passion fruit center.

These two new benefits only add to the already extensive list afforded guests in concierge accommodations as updated here:

—Room service from the Grand Dining Room lunch and dinner menus

—Complimentary laundry service (up to three bags per cabin)

—Priority noon embarkation

—Concierge Lounge access staffed by a dedicated Concierge and stocked with free soft drinks, coffees and snacks (onboard Marina and Riviera)

—Unlimited access to the Canyon Ranch SpaClub private Spa Terrace

—Free welcome bottle of champagne

—Priority online specialty restaurant reservations

—Onboard iPad use

—Complimentary unlimited internet access

—Free Oceania Cruises logo tote bag

—Cashmere lap blankets

—Free pressing of garments at embarkation

—Free shoe shine service

Combined with the complimentary pressing at embarkation and shoe shine service throughout the voyage, the three bags of free laundry is icing on the cake.

These are great value-added perks usually only made available to higher suite tiers or loyalty levels. With more and more cruise lines charging for standard room service, it’s certainly noteworthy any time premium dining is offered for free.

The new amenities will roll out across the fleet beginning October 17 on the Regatta in Miami and Riviera in Monte Carlo; October 20 on the Insignia in Montreal; October 28 on the Marina in Athens; October 30 on the Sirena in Rio de Janeiro and November 6 on the Nautica in Dubai.

 

6 Cabin Locations That Could Ruin Your Cruise

 

 

by Kayla Becker

Choosing a cabin is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your cruise. It’s your home away from home and — even if you plan to spend more time exploring the ship than in your room — the wrong location can impact how well you sleep which is, after all, the whole purpose of a cabin. Read on for the seven cabin locations you’ll definitely want to avoid.

1. Under the Pool Deck

Unless you can drift off to the sound of scraping of chairs and tables when the late-night clean-up crew comes in, don’t stay directly under the pool deck. (You’ll notice that area marked as “Lido” on a deck plan, so it’s easy to avoid.)

Case In Point: The aft portion of deck 14 on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas is just under the main pool deck.

2. Near the Nightclub

When you’re trying to fall asleep so you’re fresh for that 8 am shore excursion, there’s nothing worse than music from the night club blaring through the walls. Avoid booking a cabin on a deck below, above, or next to a night club, as well as any venues that host live music.

Case In Point: Cabins on the aft end of Deck 14 of Norwegian Breakaway, for example, will land you directly under the thumping Spice H20 nightclub. And on many Carnival ships, some cabins on Deck 6 are directly above the Casino Stage, where a live band plays into the wee hours. It’s a fabulous place to hang out if you like the nightlife and wanna boogie, but much less fun to be by if you’re the early-to-bed type of cruiser.

3. “White Spaces” on Deck Plans

Just because they’re not labeled on a deck plan doesn’t mean there’s nothing there: these unmarked spots could be a laundry room, housekeeping room, ice machine, or engine room, where the cranking mechanics of the ship can drone on into the night.

Case In Point: On Regal Princess white space often represents a staircase that’s used by the crew, sometimes round-the-clock.

4. Forward Staterooms on Low Decks

Booking a cabin at the front of the ship on a lower deck can be a problem for two reasons: You could hear loud noises from the ship motoring through the water or even dropping anchor. Plus, being at the front of the ship is less stable, and therefore not ideal for seasick-prone passengers. Book a mid-ship cabin instead.

Case In Point: Watch out for anchor and motor noises on some Deck 4 cabins on Silver Wind.

5. Next to, Or In, Connecting Cabins

These cabins are designed to open up to each other, so there’s less sound proofing to keep noise from neighbors out — which isn’t ideal if you’re actually next door to strangers. In addition, the people staying in these cabins are usually families or friends — and you won’t know until you board whether they’re a quiet group.

Case In Point: Steer clear of connecting cabins on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class and on Disney ships, unless you’re an early riser and immune to the sound of children at daybreak

6. Below the Galley

Food preparation starts early and clean up ends late, so expect to hear pots and pans clanging if you’re in a cabin directly below the galley.

Case In Point: This is the case for some rooms on Deck 2 of Carnival Magic and Carnival Splendor.

Kayla Becker

Kayla Becker is a New York City-based contributor to ShermansCruise and the assistant editor for the site.

Must-Have Dollar Store Essentials to Take on Your Cruise

by Amanda Harding

Packing for any vacation can be stressful, but packing for a cruise might be the worst of all. Since you’ll be spending most of your time at sea, it’ll probably be impossible to find a Walmart to cheaply purchase the things you forget to bring. That means you’re stuck paying a premium for any essentials you’re missing — or worse, you won’t be able to get them at all.

Before you leave for your cruise, head to the dollar store and stock up on cheap, convenient vacation essentials so you’re never stuck missing out on what you need again.

1. Pill box

Daily pill box with medications

Leave the big bottles at home. | Robynmac/Getty Images

If you take pills on the daily, these clever storage containers are real space savers. Instead of packing all your giant pill bottles and digging through your bag every morning to make sure you remember to take them all, plan out your daily medication regimen ahead of time using these handy boxes.

2. Magnets

magnet fruit

Hang up important papers. | Instamatic/Getty Images

Usually, the staterooms on cruise ships are made of metal, so bringing along magnets is a smart idea. You can use them to hang up your itinerary, notes, or other important documents so they’ll never get lost or soiled if you spill a drink.

3. Resealable plastic bags

plastic bag with lock

You’ll always find use for a baggie. | Snyferok/Getty Images

There are so many uses for resealable plastic bags. Use them for packing up jewelry or other small items that you don’t want loose in your suitcase. You could even use them for keeping your cell phone protected from sand and water if you’re traveling to any beach destinations.

4. Dry erase board

Black Marker Pen and Eraser

Go old school with a whiteboard. | Design56/Getty Images

It’s like college dorm living all over again! Since your cell phone won’t work on your cruise, dry erase boards are a great way to communicate where you’ll be or leave quick messages for friends and family members who might be traveling with you. Many doors are magnetic, but you can also use a suction cup hook to keep it on your cabin door.

5. Laundry bag

Laundry Stuffed In Laundry Bag

Keep dirty clothes seperate.| WendellandCarolyn/Getty Images

The dollar store is a treasure trove of useful finds. If you look in the laundry aisle, you’re likely to find giant laundry bags or pop-up hampers where you can stash all your dirty clothes. Using one is a lot tidier than just piling everything in the corner.

6. Poncho

young woman in raincoat outdoors

Just in case it rains. | Michaeljung/Getty Images

Hopefully it doesn’t rain during your cruise, but it very well might. Bring along a dollar store poncho just in case you get caught in a passing shower.

7. Travel-sized bottles

Essential travel toiletries

Mini bottles are cute and practical. | PhillDanze/Getty Images

Unless you plan on cruising for several months (wouldn’t that be nice?), you probably don’t need your full-sized bottle of shampoo. Head to your local dollar store to stock up on TSA-friendly travel bottles of your favorite products so you can maximize space in your bag. If they don’t have the stuff you use, just buy empty bottles and fill them yourself.

8. Earplugs

Foam ear plugs

You never know what noises you’ll need to block out. | JoyTasa/Getty Images

Unfamiliar sounds — and snoring — can make for an unpleasant night’s sleep. Pick up a couple of cheap earplugs and enjoy the shuteye you need and deserve.

9. Night light

A new generic LED night light that turns on automatically

A nightlight can be comforting. | BWFolsom/Getty Images

You never know how dark your room will be at night, and since you’ll be in an unfamiliar place, that could pose a tripping hazard. Grab a cheap night light so you don’t have to worry about it.

10. Over-the-counter medication

Aspirin bottle with tablets

Be prepared for headaches. | Source: iStock

The dollar store often sells small, travel-sized containers of common medications such as aspirin, allergy meds, antacids, and more. Stock up on these so you always have them on hand without wasting suitcase space on full-sized bottles.

11. Reusable beverage containers

Aluminum bottle water isolated white background

Tote around drinks without spilling. | Matheesaengkaew/Getty Images

Sometimes the cruise ship cups are tiny, so if you want to keep a lot of juice or water handy all day, a water bottle or big cup might be a good item to have on hand. Bring your sport bottle, straw cup, or travel mug, and skip those dinky little 8 ounce cups.

12. Clothes hangers

Three beige and one black clothes hangers

You can never have too many hangers. | iStock.com/Lizmyosotis

Your room may come equipped with a few hangers, but there may not be enough for all the clothes you need to hang up. It’s always a good idea to keep a few spares to ensure you’ll have plenty.

13. Power strip

power bar with switch

Keep everything charged. | Kingjon/Getty Images

Chances are you have tons of electronics to charge, but your room might not have enough outlets to support all of them. Pick up a power strip at the dollar store so you’ll definitely have all the juice you need to keep your e-reader fully charged at all times.

14. Suction hooks

Suction cup on white background with clipping path

Hang up whatever you want. | Lemon_tm/Getty Images

You’ll find tons of uses for dollar store suction cups. Use them to hang your loofah in the shower, as a place to hang your jacket or sweatshirt, or for hanging up long necklaces you don’t want to get tangled. Best of all, if you accidentally leave them behind, it’s no big deal since you spent so little on them in the first place.

15. Straws

Colorful drinking straws background.

Keep necklaces from getting tangled. | Monrudee/Getty Images

No, not for drinking. One travel hack that really works is to thread your necklaces through regular plastic straws before you travel to keep them from getting all tangled. Genius!

16. Toothbrushes

Toothbrushes

Buy cheap ones and toss them when you’re done. | Nik_Merkulov/Getty Images

Cruise time is a great time to stock up on travel toothbrushes, and inexpensive dollar store finds work just as well. At the end of vacation, just toss them in the trash.

17. Glow sticks

Multi color glow sticks

Nighttime fun, anyone? | DuncanL/Getty Images

These are just fun to have on hand for nighttime activities, whether you have kids or not. And for $1, why not stock up?

18. Snack containers

storage plastic containers

Bring leftovers back to your room. | iStock.com/Ebolyukh

Get a few cheap plastic containers so you can stock up on snacks at the buffet and keep them in your room for whenever you get a little hungry. There’s no shame in being prepared!

19. Travel tissues

Mini pack of tissue paper

You can always use a tissue (or two). | Design56/Getty Images

You always need tissues on hand, and the dollar store is just the place to get them cheaply. Stash a few packs in your bag, in your nightstand, and just about anywhere else you can think of.

20. Batteries

close up of batteries

Batteries are always good to have on hand. | iStock.com

If you’re bringing anything that requires batteries, it’s a good idea to have backups just in case. Stock up on cheap replacements at the dollar store.

21. Chapstick

lip balm

Keep chapped lips at bay. | Koosen/Getty Images

The sun and the salty sea air may lead to chapped lips quicker than you’d expect. Keep a few cheap lip balms on hand to quickly remedy the situation. Plus, when you inevitably misplace a tube or two, you won’t even feel bad since you spent so little on them.

22. First aid basics

 

 

 

Three colorful bandages

Pack a mini first aid kit. | CCaetano/Getty Images

It’s a good idea to have a stock of basic first aid items, like adhesive bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and gauze, no matter where you travel. And that’s especially true on a cruise when you can’t just run over to a local drugstore to grab what you need. Head to the dollar store to get all the things you need cheaply.

23. Reusable bags

colorful cotton shopping bag

You can never have too many bags. | Aopsan/Getty Images

Reusable shopping bags are ideal for so many purposes. Instead of lugging around your bulky straw beach bag, tuck pool items like towels and sunscreen into a shopping bag instead.

24. Playing cards

Deck of playing card spread out on a table

Don’t be bored — play cards. | Photology1971/Getty Images

Despite the plethora of things to do on a cruise ship, you may find yourself bored hanging out in your room one night, and having a deck of cards on hand can be a real lifesaver.

25. Pocket organizer

Burgundy travel bag organizer with pockets

Hang it up to keep everything handy. | Shedu/Getty Images

Keep all your toiletries organized and accessible with a clear or mesh pocket organizer. You can hang it up on the back of the bathroom door with a couple of dollar store suction cup hooks that you also stocked up on.

5 Best Cruise Ship Buffets

 

 

By Christina Janansky, Associate Producer

 

Cruise ship buffets — you either love the smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat fare and the uber-casual setting, or you hate the crowds, queues and food that’s sat out a bit too long. Whether you’re a fan or not, you have to admit that some cruise lines have put more effort into their pool deck dining venues than others. Our favorite buffets stand out from the rest with countless cuisine options, pleasant dining areas, helpful staff and a navigable layout, often with separate self-service stations. Feast your eyes on the five best cruise ship buffets you’ll find at sea.

Terrace Cafe

 The Terrace Cafe onboard an Oceania cruise ship.

Cruise Line: Oceania Cruises

Why We Love It: Oceania’s Terrace Cafe is likely the best cruise ship buffet we’ve seen at sea. This well-stocked and varied venue is arranged in stations to avoid the typical buffet congestion, and has food comparable to an upscale classy cafe. The service is great, too; the wait staff will load up your tray for you, and the chefs will cook food to order in full view of passengers. Even better, Oceania hosts different themed lunches and dinners every day, with fresh seafood, a carving station and an impressive salad island. Plus, who could resist the homemade ice cream that changes daily?

Horizon Court

Princess Cruises' Horizon Court buffet on Regal Princess.

Cruise Line: Princess Cruises

Why We Love It: Princess Cruises’ Horizon Court offers a diverse selection of cuisines, meals and snacks, including the Horizon Bistro Pastry shop, which serves freshly baked waffles, pastries and sweets daily. Breakfast choices are standard with the buffet’s “Grab & Go” station, and live stations during lunch and dinner offer a rotisserie, a Japanese hibachi grill and build-your-own tacos. There is also a special buffet area designated for kids, and nifty hand-washing stations located throughout the venue.

Oceanview Cafe

The Oceanview Cafe onboard Celebrity Reflection.

Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises

Why We Love It: The Oceanview Cafe onboard Celebrity’s Solstice- and Millennium-class ships boasts some of the best international food at sea. This spacious buffet utilizes islands and active stations to serve a variety of cuisines, including stir-fry, sushi, pasta and pizza. It also has an exceptional salad bar, meat-carving station and dessert station. On some Celebrity ships with a high volume of Brits, there’s even a British “comfort-food” area with different teas and fish and chips.

Lido Marketplace

The Lido Marketplace onboard Carnival Breeze.

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Line

Why We Love It: The Lido Marketplace is the primary dining option onboard Carnival’s newest ships, such as Carnival Breeze and the recently refurbished Carnival Sunshine. The buffet, which offers both indoor and outdoor seating, has a ton of separate food stations, such as the Pizzeria and Grille, the Burrito Bar, the Mongolian Wok, Indian Tandoori and the Grand Buffet, which has a wide selection of meat and vegetarian options. Specialty drinks, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are available from the bar menu, and the pizzeria is open 24/7.

Windows Cafe

Azamara's Windows Cafe buffet.

Cruise Line: Azamara Club Cruises

Why We Love It: Located onthe pool deck, Azamara’s Windows Cafe is the main casual eatery onboard Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. Apart from an impressive selection at the salad bar, the meat-carving stations and a dessert display, Windows Cafe is most notable for its themed dinners, which vary from night to night. Azamara dresses up the space with tablecloths, wines and live entertainment and serves a variety of international cuisines, such as Italian, Greek, Indian and Asian. While Windows Cafe is a self-service buffet, dining staff members are always around to help serve passengers and to fill drink orders of any kind.

What Ever Happened to Former Renaissance Cruises’ R Ships?

CRUISE LINE & CRUISE SHIP AZAMARA CLUB CRUISES JASON LEPPERT

What Ever Happened to Former Renaissance Cruises’ R Ships?

PHOTO: P&O Cruises’ Adonia in its former Fathom livery in Havana, Cuba. (photo by Jason Leppert)

Founded in 1989, Renaissance Cruises was a once flourishing line that had an impressive fleet of eight nearly identical ships by 2001.

The operation had also been struggling financially by that year, with the events of September 11 and resulting travel slump being the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

Nonetheless, each former R-class ship remains in operation to this day under a variety of different brands.

R One — Insignia

The first R-class vessel was built in 1998 at Chantiers de l’Atlantique (now STX France) along with its sister-ships to follow. After not even three years in operation for Renaissance, followed by a period of being laid up, Oceania Cruises became its new operator in 2003. (In fact, Frank Del Rio who was once co-CEO at Renaissance, cofounded Oceania.)

A brief interlude from 2012 to 2014 had the ship on lease to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises as Columbus 2 before returning to Oceania as Insignia.

R Two — Regatta

Actually, R Two was the first Insignia for Oceania from 2002 to 2003 before being renamed Regatta when R One took over the moniker. Otherwise, it’s one of the least-storied of the 30,277-ton, 684 to 826-guest ships, at least in name.

R Three — Pacific Princess

R Three has an even simpler history as it has only ever been Pacific Princess following its Renaissance run since 2002. It now remains the only R-class ship in the Princess Cruises fleet and was recently remodeled with the line’s bold new livery.

Now, the signature “Sea With” logo covers a large portion of the bow in addition to the smokestack.

R Four — Sirena

Princess Cruises also had possession of R Four for quite awhile as Tahitian Princess from 2002 to 2009, later renaming to Ocean Princess from 2009 to 2016.

Though, by 2016 it too went to Oceania as Sirena where it became the fourth R-class ship in the fleet with some features added from its Marina and Riviera new-builds.

R Five — Nautica

R Five is the last to technically have only two titles, becoming Oceania’s Nautica in 2005. It did operate under Pullmantur Cruises as Blue Dream from 2002 to 2004, but it never officially changed its registered Renaissance name.

R Six — Azamara Journey

R Six, on the other hand, did become Blue Star (2003-2005) and Blue Dream (2005-2007) for Pullmantur before co-parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited conceived of Azamara Club Cruises.

Originally considered an offshoot of corporate cousin Celebrity Cruises with ship names Celebrity Journey and Celebrity Quest, Azamara eventually became its own line. Thus, the current Azamara Journey was born in 2007.

R Seven — Azamara Quest

R Seven followed a similar Pullmantur to Azamara path but only after it was Delphin Renaissance (an appropriate callback) from 2003 to 2006 for Delphin Seereisen. Then under Pullmantur, it became Blue Moon briefly (2006-2007) before heading over to Azamara as Azamara Quest, where it continues today.

R Eight — Adonia

Last but not least is R Eight which transformed into Minerva II from 2003 to 2007 for Swan Hellenic before becoming a third R-class ship for Princess Cruises: the Royal Princess (2007-2011).

Of course, the Royal Princess name was later repurposed for a new-build and new Royal-class when this ship was transferred to P&O Cruises and became the Adonia in 2011.

For all intents and purposes, it has operated entirely under P&O since that time, but the Adonia did receive all-new livery under Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand from 2016 to 2017. However, that short-lived overlay has since been dropped with the ship returning fully to P&O branding as of June 2017.

Is a Cruise Drink Package Right for You?

By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor

bar cocktails

Whether or not to buy a cruise drink package when you sail is one of the most common questions that appears on the Cruise Critic forums.

Sometimes passengers balk at the price tag, which can seem steep when you are making a bulk payment as opposed to paying for each drink individually. Others worry that they won’t get good service from bartenders if they have a package (or conversely, be considered “partiers” by other people).

Here are some reasons you might want to consider buying a cruise drink package, as well as times when buying a package isn’t a smart idea.

A Cruise Drink Package Is a Good Deal If…

canned soda

You like knowing your bill ahead of time.

Sure, it can be painful when you pay a few hundred dollars for drinks before your cruise even starts. But once you’ve gone ahead and paid, you have the luxury of being able to order drinks at most bars and restaurants without having to worry about your final bill.

If you’re still undecided before you board, keep in mind that you can usually buy a package during the first couple of days — but it won’t apply retroactively to those first few margaritas you downed during sailaway.

You like sodas, specialty coffee drinks and bottled water.

People who are new to cruising often don’t understand that almost all drinks besides basic tea, coffee and tap water carry a charge. That means that if your daughter has a Diet Coke habit or you enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice in the mornings or a latte in the afternoons, you’ll have to pay up. Cruise drink packages can cover all of the above, as well as nonalcoholic mocktails, if you don’t go for booze.

Also, don’t forget the bottled water. If you have a lot of shore excursions in a hot climate, such as the Caribbean or Eastern Mediterranean, you will want to bring some water with you on shore — and when you’re on a set tour, you might not have time to stop at a local convenience store to get your own. A package makes it easy to grab a bottle on your way off the ship, without worry.

You like convenience.

Sure, some cruise lines allow you to bring on your own soda or bottled water (although Carnival has banned bottled beverages — any drinks carried on must be in cans). And almost every cruise line allows you to bring at least a bottle or two of wine onboard. But sometimes, it’s just not logistically easy to do, especially if you’re flying into a foreign country or don’t have a rental car to get to a store. Having a drink package means you can skip the annoying runaround.

A Cruise Drink Package Might Not Be a Good Deal If…

Patron brand tequila

You prefer a specific brand or type of drink.

If you’re someone who must have Patron in your margarita or won’t drink house wines, then you might want to examine drink packages to see if they are a better deal. Many drink packages will cover cocktails or wine up a certain amount; if your drink is more expensive, you either have to pay full price or simply make up the difference.

Note: The cruise lines don’t always make it easy to find out exactly what drinks onboard cost. Your best bet to see if your favorite cocktail makes the list is to check the cruise line’s website or ask the question on the Cruise Critic forums for the line you’re sailing.

A Cruise Drink Package Isn’t As Good a Deal if…

bar drinks

You prefer a bottle of wine at dinner.

Most cruise line drink packages apply to wines by the glass. That’s great if you’re someone who likes to match wines with your appetizers and entrees, or like a different type of wine than your dining companions. But if you prefer to order a bottle of wine or want a larger selection, keep in mind that while some drink packages offer discounts on bottles, many do not. (Some cruise lines have drink packages that ONLY cover wine at dinner. This might be your best bet.)

Your cabin mate has different drinking patterns than you.

Some — but not all — lines require both adults in the cabin to purchase the same package. If you like to drink Scotch, but your wife is a teetotaler, you’re better off buying drinks separately. Keep in mind that most bartenders and waiters will only serve you one drink at a time — and will refuse to serve you if you are caught sneaking a glass to a companion.

Some alcohol is already included.

River cruises usually include beer and wine at meals in the fare, as do premium cruise lines such as Azamara; the latter also includes some types of cocktails. Unless you’re someone who really needs brand-name alcohol, what you already have might likely suffice.

You just don’t drink much.

There’s no way to get around it. The absolute best way to determine if a drink package is best for you is to get out that calculator and tally up how much you would spend without the package. In general, if you think you’re going to order five or so alcoholic drinks a day during your trip, a package is worth considering.

Travel Packing Tips for Your Cruise

Whether for business or pleasure, traveling is usually an exciting experience. What’s less fun is the packing that precedes it. That’s why TravelInsurance.com put together this set of travel packing hacks, so you can spend less time staring at your suitcase like it’s some unsolvable puzzle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As travel insurance professionals, we meet many people who travel even more extensively than ourselves (which is saying something!) Unsurprisingly, these intrepid souls have packing down to a fine art and will often share their insights with us.  Here are six hacks to get you on the move:

1 – Check Your List(s)

Keep a checklist for different types of travel — international or domestic; personal or professional; short stay or extended time away. All have different requirements that will influence how and what you pack. Maintaining a dedicated list for each gives you a quick reference guide that will also steer you away from packing unnecessary items. Apps like Evernote or Google Keep are perfect for creating your travel checklist.

2 – Take a Picture

If you are more of a visual person, lay out all of the items you intend to pack on the bed before putting them in your case. Take a picture to serve as the reference for future trips and provide a visual record of the contents, just in case your luggage gets lost or stolen. This will be helpful if you have to make a claim.

3 – Double Check Your Documents

One of the most important categories to cover on your checklist is documentation. Getting every useful document down in list form will prompt you to organize them ahead of time, all in one place. Some emergency documents and contacts you might not have considered are:

  • Telephone number and address of the nearest embassy. Visit the US State Department’s travel site for contact information, a handy traveler’s checklist and important travel alerts that may include your destination
  • Multiple emergency family contacts while away,
  • Your travel insurance policy’s confirmation of benefits–this will include the details of your coverage and also the contact information for any 24/7 emergency global assistance available with your policy.

Keep a dedicated folder for these items. You can also use it to file receipts for important purchases and for necessary documents (related to the insurance claims process), such as medical visit documentation/receipts and police reports for stolen items

Keep photocopies of important documents and store them separately from your wallet and actual travel documents. In the event you lose your passport or wallet, having copies will make it immeasurably easier to cancel your credit cards and to report your lost passport.

4 – Roll for Relaxing, Fold for Formal

When it comes to actually packing your bags, most travelers ask the same question: roll it or fold it?

The answer depends on what you are packing. For a beach vacation, rolling bathing suits, t-shirts, and shorts is a great way to keep your suitcase light. If your clothes need to be neat and as wrinkle-free as possible, stick to folding. On the other hand, folded clothes can be ironed more easily or hung in a steamy bathroom for five minutes.

As a rule of thumb, remember that rolling is mostly for clothes you can relax in, while formal attire prefers the fold.

5 – Maximize Your Miniatures

Not the alcoholic variety, although some security lines may make you crave a cocktail! The minis we recommend are travel toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, gel, and any other essential bathroom product you’re going to need. Also, if you’re going with carry-ons only, anything larger than a mini will be taken away at security. Not only are these miniature versions lighter and space-saving, they’re much easier to slide into an accessible space if you want to quickly freshen up when you arrive.

6 – Review and Revise

When you get home from your trip, take a few minutes to look at what you used while away. Revisit your checklist when you get home and cross off any items that did not make it out of the bag. This helps to keep non-essential items out of your travel plans next time. If every item was essential, give yourself a pat on the back: you’ve become a travel packing hacker!

By Stan Sandberg, TravelInsurance.com Co-Founder.

Secrets Luxury Cruise Lines Don’t Tell You

By Janice Wald Henderson, Cruise Critic contributor

The Pool on Oceania's Riviera

Who knew that luxury cruise lines keep secrets? It turns out those big brochures don’t spell out every trick in their posh books, and first-timers might miss out on special treats, experiences or freebies because they’re not in the know. We scoured Cruise Critic’s Message Boards, compiled notes from our own sailings and then dug even deeper for more inside information on the lesser-known perks of luxury sailings. Use the knowledge to enhance your cruise, and don’t hesitate to spill the beans to other new cruisers.

Food Secrets

  • On luxury lines, you can eat whatever you want whenever you want — especially if you give the line a heads up. Just place the request in advance, usually 90 days prior to the sail for complicated requests and 24 to 48 hours for simple ones. Say you want truffle oil-scented popcorn at 4 p.m. each afternoon — even if you’re cruising remote regions like Australia’s Kimberley Coast or Iceland. Or perhaps your fantasy cruise ship dinner is roast duckling with Grand Marnier sauce — every night. Maybe it’s as simple as a craving for pot roast. Special request meals are generally complimentary unless you’re requesting something extravagant.
  • On most luxury ships and some upper-premium lines, you can order off the main dining room dinner menu via room service nightly — and it’s served complimentary. On luxury ships, butlers or stewards will serve your meal in courses, if you like, just like in the restaurant.
  • Although main dining room dinner menus are traditionally written in the appetizer, salad, intermezzo (such as sorbet), entree and dessert sequence, feel free to order untraditionally. Request an entree as a first course, two appetizers as the main event or just make a meal of sweets. No one will bat an eye.
  • You don’t like the thickness of the steak or the tenderness of the pork chop? Do not hesitate to send it back and request another better cut. Servers’ goals are to make you happy. And unlike at some land-based chain restaurants, the onboard chefs are not afraid to present your meat rare or medium-rare if you request it.
  • On formal nights, some luxury lines serve complimentary caviar as a starter, usually with blinis or potatoes. It’s acceptable to ask for a second serving; after that, it’s deemed, well, overboard.
  • Can’t score a reservation for a specialty restaurant? Try asking in person. Maitre d’s are reluctant to say no to any luxury passenger’s request and will do their best to accommodate you. If they can’t, they might bend a rule and let you order from their menu via room service, usually a no-no unless you’re booked in one of the ship’s priciest suites.
  • If you’re counting stars poolside or sipping cocktails at a bar and suddenly crave a burger, know that you can order one — or anything else — from the room service menu. On many luxury lines, anytime you’re outside your suite — and anywhere on the ship — any goodie on the room service menu is yours. Ask any passing crew or pick up a house phone to place your order.
  • Some lines deliver their choice of complimentary canapes to your cabin or suite every afternoon or evening, with daily rotating selections. If you want the same canape every day or want to make requests given your dietary restrictions or preferences, say so and your butler or steward will accommodate. If you rarely eat the canapes and prefer not to have them at all, you can make that request as well.
  • Since food and beverages are complimentary on luxury ships, go ahead, throw a cocktail or dinner party in your cabin or suite for your travel party or newly made friends. It won’t cost a penny if you’re ordering off the complimentary food and beverage menu. (Though you might want to tip your butler extra for helping with setup and bartending. This is tricky as all gratuities are included and this service should be part of that. If you are planning to tip your butler at the end of the cruise — even if gratuities are included — consider upping the amount for the additional service.

Glass of rose at the Golden Lion Pub on Queen Mary 2

Drink Secrets

  • Although sommeliers present just one complimentary white and one complimentary red wine for dinner, they have a stash of other such wines they’re happy to open for you. If you don’t like what the sommelier is pouring, ask him to open another bottle.
  • While wine is always included on luxury ships, and for many upper-premium lines at lunch and dinner, sometimes you want to splurge on a varietal from the fancy list with price tags.  No worries if you can’t finish it at once; your server can mark the bottle and save it for another night — they’ll even whisk it to a different dining venue.
  • Cocktails are complimentary on luxury cruises, but servers and bartenders often typically reach for the most basic liquors, without giving you a choice of brands. If you have a preference, ask if your favorite vodka, gin, rum or other alcohol is available when you place your order. You might be surprised at the selection of labels included.
  • Mini-bars are usually pre-stocked with the ship’s choice of brands and beverages. Ask your butler or stewardess to replace any you don’t like with those that you do.
  • On upper-premium lines where wines are only complimentary at lunch and dinner, you can score a free glass in many a cooking class between meals.

Cabin Secrets

  • If you don’t like the bathroom toiletries, ask the stewardess or butler if they have a backup brand; luxury ships usually stock hyper-allergenic choices, too.
  • The bigger and more expensive the cabin or suite, the better the perks. Before making a final choice, read the fine print and see if the perks add up to enough value to make booking a higher-level accommodation the real bargain.
  • Let your stewardess or butler know if you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary (if it isn’t already noted in your cruise documents) on a luxury line such as Silversea or Regent Seven Seas Cruises. They tiptoe in and decorate your suite while you’re away. Hearts, flowers, balloons, a cake — it’s always a lovely surprise.
  • If your cabin is feeling crowded or you can’t squeeze your luggage under the bed or another tucked-away space, ask your stewardess if a piece or two can be stored elsewhere on the ship.

Entertainment Secrets

  • Spa fees are exorbitant on luxury cruises. Most ships offer port-day specials and discounts if you purchase multiple treatments at once. Some even offer sample mini-treatments and discounts on embarkation day.
  • Feel free to engage with enrichment lecturers when they are not working. They know that on luxury ships it’s a passenger perk. You can stop to chat by the pool or in a coffee shop — even invite them to dinner. Just be conscious to share their free time with other passengers.
  • Didn’t have time to download books on your tablet or buy paperbacks before you left on your cruise? Visit the onboard library. Upscale cruise ships stock hundreds of hardcovers to borrow; Seabourn has a whopping 1,000 tomes. With novels, travel guidebooks and biographies — these book nooks are a treasure trove for avid readers. And if you brought a paperback you don’t want to take home, there’s usually a shelf to leave it for the next passenger.
  •  Luxury cruise lines offer numerous complimentary enrichment extras every day, like language and dance lessons, and wellness seminars. Read the daily chronicle to see what’s free and note which activities need advance sign-up.
  • Show up at a complimentary exercise class and you might be the only one, or one of a few, who do. Guess what? You score a private or semi-private class with a fitness instructor without paying extra.
  • Complimentary shuttle service in most ports is standard for luxury and most upper-premium cruise lines. If the ship doesn’t dock directly in town, the shuttles will take you to a central location, eliminating the need to haggle with a taxi driver in a foreign language.
The Sanctum Spa Terrace on Azamara Journey

Cruise Line-Specific Secrets

Here are some less widely known complimentary amenities on specific upper-premium and luxury cruise lines.

Azamara Club Cruises

  • When you purchase spa services on Azamara, you can access the private spa deck for free. The retreat includes a small seawater thalassotherapy pool and lounge chairs in a more secluded spot than communal areas.
  • Select fitness classes, such as yoga and spinning, are complimentary.
  • Tapas in The Living Room, a newly redone lounge, are complimentary from 4 until 9 p.m. daily. Think hot and cold small plates celebrating Spain’s fabulous flavors.
  • Suite passengers eat for free in specialty restaurants Prime C and Aqualina, as often as they’d like.

Crystal Cruises

  • Passengers can dine once per 15-day or shorter cruise (more if longer) in each of two specialty restaurants for no extra fee; Silk Road and The Sushi Bar — its cuisine designed by superstar chef Nobu Matsuhisa — and Prego, a superb Italian restaurant. After that, it costs $30 per person per dining experience. However, Penthouse passengers can order room service from these two dining venuesevery night for free. For Nobu devotees, the chance to devour as much salmon tartare and Nobu-style lobster with yuzu sauce as you crave each evening without spending a cent extra is nirvana.
  • Dine nightly at The Sushi Bar for no extra cost, but know that this venue doesn’t take reservations. Show up before The Bar opens to secure a seat at the counter or one of the few tables.
  • Tastes, offering a global take on street food dining, is the only specialty restaurant onboard Crystal Cruises that is complimentary no matter how many times you visit. Reservations are recommended.
  • Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, is an exclusive private club where some of the world’s finest magicians perform. Crystal Cruises features Magic Castle At-Sea performances, and when you score tickets onboard, keep them, as they can be used for one-time access to the real Magic Castle back on land.
  • Crystal Cruises goes all-out to celebrate your birthday. The captain or the hotel director sends a letter inviting you to enjoy a special breakfast in your stateroom or in the dining room. Choose from a creative menu including mini-bagels with smoked salmon and wasabi cream cheese, waffle cone with lemon cottage cheese and marinated strawberries, truffle omelet with caviar and mini-doughnuts filled with Cointreau-flavored vanilla custard. If your birthday falls on an early morning shore excursion day, you can switch the feast to another, more convenient, date. And that’s not all. Expect to find birthday congrats posted in the daily newsletter and on television (unless you don’t want the recognition) and to receive a celebratory dessert at dinner.

Oceania Cruises

  • Check the price difference between a Veranda stateroom and a Concierge Level stateroom on Oceania Cruises. It may cost only $200 more for the Concierge Level per passenger, but the upgrades are notable: priority embarkation and luggage delivery, private concierge lounge access, complimentary welcome bottle of Champagne, a choice of Bulgari amenities, complimentary garment pressing on embarkation day, access to the spa deck and free Wi-Fi. All these perks can add up to or exceed the cost of the upgrade — and your cruise will feel far more indulgent.
  • On Oceania Cruises, look for OLife Choice promotional fares; these include airfare, unlimited Wi-Fi and a choice of either shore excursions, beverage package or shipboard credit per stateroom. Since Oceania is not all-inclusive, such promotional fares can make a big difference in total cruise cost.
  • During the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party, drinks in several bars are free for about two hours — regardless of whether you’re actually in the lounge where the captain is speaking. Looking for more drink discounts? Pre-dinner and late-night happy hours feature two-for-one drinks.
  • Mad for Oceania-themed swag? You earn Big O points at competitive onboard games like trivia, golf putting and beanbag toss, and redeem them for T-shirts and hats on the last day of the cruise. Although the different prizes have stated point costs, we found the entertainment staffers distributing the goodies were very generous in rounding up your point total to get you the gift you’d like.
  • If you have access to the forward-facing spa terrace (Concierge-level passengers and above), know that it’s the best spot onboard for stargazing because the ship’s lights and funnel smoke don’t get in your way. Jump in the hot tub and look up, and you’re sure to be starstruck with your evening activity.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

  • If you love enrichment lectures, seek cruises marked The Smithsonian Collection by Smithsonian Journeys. Regent collaborates with the Smithsonian Institution to secure superb speakers with serious cred; many have doctorates, are professor emeriti and best-selling authors, and some are experts in specialized fields such as Tongan dance or astronomical wormholes. These lecturers are not booked on every cruise, so do your homework.
  • Passengers in Penthouse suites and above needn’t choose between Regent’s three posh brands of bath amenities. Rather, they’re given L’Occitane Mer & Mistral, Bottega Veneta and Guerlain toiletries automatically. Of course, you can ask your butler to remove any you don’t like — but who would?
  • Want to throw a chic cocktail party in your suite for up to eight newfound friends at no cost with plenty of ease? If you’re traveling in a Grand, Master or Regent Suite on Seven Seas Explorer, or Grand or Master on the other Regent ships, the food-and-beverage director or executive chef will personally meet with you to discuss the menu and party arrangements.

Seabourn

  • On Seabourn, caviar isn’t mentioned on the menu yet it’s complimentary to all passengers — anywhere, anytime. Yes, you can order the ravishing roe to nibble by the Jacuzzi, in the privacy of your suite or even in a lounge while sipping cocktails and listening to a singer croon. It’s presented with all the proper trimmings, such as chopped hard-cooked egg whites and minced onions. Naturally, such a delicacy should be savored with a glass of Champagne — complimentary, of course.
  • Seabourn Square doesn’t list or showcase any juices, but if you want to sip yours there, a server will get it for you.
  • Be aware that trivia is cumulative, so try to get on a team right away. If you attempt to do so later in the cruise, it could be awkward.
  • If you want to go shopping with the chef in port, ask the cruise director. While not usually offered as an excursion on non-food and wine sailings, the cruise director will do his best to make it happen — especially if you ask early in the sail.

SeaDream Yacht Club

  • One big SeaDream lure is the opportunity to sleep overnight under the stars on a Balinese daybed. To get first choice for your preferred evening, book it the day you board. You’ll also want to request the bigger bed at the front of the ship, which will be roped off when passengers are sleeping there. The other eight beds are all in a row, four on each side, and adjacent to the Top of the Yacht Bar. There’s little privacy and lots of noise if a rowdy crowd is doing some late-night drinking.
  • Remember to give SeaDream your pajama size when they request it in advance. Matching tops and bottoms are delivered to your stateroom on the first day with your name embroidered on the shirt. They’re not only great to wear for an overnight outdoors on a Balinese daybed, but also to take home for future use.
  • It’s well-known that SeaDream offers complimentary caviar once per cruise during a Champagne-and-caviar party in the surf. However, what’s not advertised is that a complimentary tin of caviar beckons on the poolside cocktail table two nights of each cruise; at the captain’s welcome and farewell cocktail parties. You might find caviar canapes or appetizers on other evenings, but not a whole tin.
  • SeaDream regulars must not be big beer drinkers because the ship keeps only Heineken on tap. If you are a beer lover or have a preferred brand or style of ale, let the line know in advance or the head bartender on the first day of your sailing. Crew will go out of their way to get your favorite brew onboard.

Silversea

  • Silversea has a Gourmet Bites room service menu in its bigger suites that offers extravagant delicacies such as foie gras with brioche, and caviar and housemade blinis. If you want to throw a cocktail party in your big suite, order an abundance of extravagant nibbles from the Gourmet Bites menu. It’s all complimentary and your butler tidies up while you go off to dinner.
  • All bathrooms onboard Silversea possess room diffusers by haute Italian perfumer Laura Tonatto. If you don’t like the scent, ask for another; the ships only present one type to passengers, but actually stash three different scents onboard.
  • Few cruisers know that the best value suite to book on Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper is a Terrace Suite. It provides access to a veranda without paying a Veranda Suite price. Granted, it’s shared by all nine Terrace Suites and has no furnishings, but feel free to take a chair from your suite, sit outside in semi-privacy and count the money you’ve saved.

Viking Ocean Cruises

  • Complimentary access to the thermal suite lets you partake in all the hot and cold areas, from the fabled snow room and hot tub to salt water thalassotherapy pool and cold bucket dump. The spa provides Nordic bathing ritual instructions — what order to move between rooms and hot and cold water treatments — to ensure you get maximum benefit from the experience.
  • Viking Ocean Cruises has more than just complimentary yoga classes; the line also provides free Zumba, TRX and body conditioning classes.
  • Check when cabaret shows are presented in Torshavn, the late-night dance and nightclub venue. These performances are often the best entertainment onboard. But you must get tickets for your preferred show date in advance, so heads-up.
  • Don’t forget the delicious pea soup at Mamsen’s, served until midnight, with other good and complimentary noshes. This soup is rapidly becoming a signature of Viking Ocean.

Windstar Cruises

  • Windstar Cruises features a complimentary yoga class at least once per cruise. It’s held in a great spot — either onboard outdoors on the fly bridge, or in port, often on a private island when in tropical destinations. Check the daily activity schedule for details.
  • On Windstar Cruises, you can wander up to the bridge anytime the ship is at sea. You can chat with the crew, peek at the equipment — even if it’s 2 a.m. Good to know when jet lag strikes.

New Cruise Ships Under Construction/On Order

CruiseFever

by Ben Souza

Cruise lines have a record number of cruise ships on order over the next ten years with the major cruise lines having over 40 new ships to enter service by 2026.

Here is a list of the mainstream cruise lines and the cruise ships that each one has either under construction or on order.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line has the more cruise ships in their fleet (25) than any other cruise line in the world.  Carnival has four ships on the order block over the next five years including the largest in their fleet.

  • Carnival Horizon (2018) 133,500 GT, 4,200 passengers
  • 3rd Vista Class Ship (2019)  133,500 GT, 4,200 passengers
  • LNG Powered Ship (2020)  180,000 GT, 6,600 passengers
  • 2nd LNG Powered Ship (2022)  180,000 GT, 6,600 passengers

Celebrity Cruises

  • Celebrity Edge (2018) 129,500 GT, 2,918 passengers
  • Celebrity Beyond (2020) 129,500 GT, 2,918 passengers
  • 3rd Edge Class Ship (2021) 129,500 GT, 2,918 passengers
  • 4th Edge Class Ship (2022) 129,500 GT, 2,918 passengers

Disney Cruise Line

  • TBA  (2021) 135,500 GT, 2,500 passengers (double occupancy)
  • TBA  (2023) 135,500 GT, 2,500 passengers (double occupancy)

Holland America Line

  • MS Nieuw Statendam (2018) 99,800 GT, 2,650 passengers
  • 2nd Pinnacle Class Ship (2021) 99,800 GT, 2,650 passengers

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises has begun a $10 billion investment to bring 11 new cruise ships into their fleet over the next decade.

  • MSC Meraviglia (2017) 167,600 GT, 4,500 passengers
  • MSC Seaside (2017)  154,000 GT, 4,140 passengers
  • MSC Seaview (2018)  154,000 GT, 4,140 passengers
  • MSC Bellissima (2019)  167,600 GT, 4,500 passengers
  • Meraviglia Plus Class Ship ( 2019) 177,000 GT, 6,300 passengers
  • 2nd Meraviglia Plus Class Ship (2020) 177,00 GT, 6,300 passengers
  • 3rd Seaside Class Ship (2021)  154,000 GT, 4,500 passengers
  • World Class Ship  (2022)  200,000 GT, 5,400 passengers
  • 2nd World Class Ship  (2024)  200,000 GT, 5,400 passengers
  • 3rd World Class Ship  (2025)  200,000 GT, 5,400 passengers
  • 4th World Class Ship  (2026)  200,000 GT, 5,400 passengers

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Norwegian Bliss (2018) 168,800 GT, 4,200 passengers
  • Breakaway Plus Class Ship (2019) 168,800 GT, 4,200 passengers
  • Project Leonardo  (2022) 140,000 GT, 3,300 passengers
  • Project Leonardo 2 (2023) 140,000 GT, 3,300 passengers
  • Project Leonardo 3 (2024) 140,000 GT, 3,300 passengers
  • Project Leonardo 4 (2025) 140,000 GT, 3,300 passengers

Princess Cruises

  • 4th Royal Class Ship (2019)  143,700 GT, 3,560 passengers
  • 5th Royal Class Ship (2020)  143,700 GT, 3,560 passengers
  • 6th Royal Class Ship (2022)  143,700 GT, 3,560 passengers

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has the second most cruise ships (24) in their fleet and will welcome another six ships over the next seven years.

  • Symphony of the Seas (2018)  230,000 GT, 6,780 passengers
  • 4th Quantum Class Ship (2019) 168,666 GT, 4,200 passengers
  • 5th Quantum Class Ship (2020) 168,666 GT, 4,200 passengers
  • 5th Oasis Class Ship (2021) 230,000 GT, 6,780 passengers
  • 1st Icon Class Ship (2022)  200,000 GT, 5,000 passengers
  • 2nd Icon Class Ship (2024)  200,000 GT, 5,000 passengers

Virgin Voyages

Probably the most anticipated new class of cruise ships in years, Virgin Voyages has three cruise ships planned for the start of their new cruise line.

  • TBA  (2020)  110,000 GT, 2,800 passengers
  • TBA  (2021)  110,000 GT, 2,800 passengers
  • TBA  (2022)  110,000 GT, 2,800 passengers

Husband Won’t Cruise? His Top 9 Excuses and the Arguments You Can Use to Get Him Onboard

By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

married couple enjoying a cruise

Let’s be real: We all know who in the relationship pushes for vacations and plans all the details. Your husband might never use his vacation days if you didn’t do the legwork. (Well, mine wouldn’t.) And it’s even more frustrating when you’re longing for a certain kind of trip — say, a cruise — and he’s just not interested.

Sulk no more! We are here to help get you that dream cruise. If your husband refuses to cruise, just use these iron-clad rebuttals to his top gripes to help get him onboard.

1. I don’t want to be trapped on a boat with nothing to do.

You Say: Modern cruise ships have tons of things to do onboard! If you’re feeling active, you can work out in the gym every day, go rock climbing, try onboard surfing and sky diving, traverse a ropes course, practice your golf swing and join a game of pickup basketball. At night, you can see Broadway-caliber shows (like “We Will Rock You” and “Grease” on Royal Caribbean), try your luck in the casino, embarrass yourself at karaoke or create your own bar crawl. Or, just watch movies in the cabin, swim, play board games and read if you need downtime.

7 Best Cruise Lines for Onboard Entertainment

2. There are too many people on those cruise ships!

You Say: We can avoid them. Luxury ships are much smaller than the huge mega-ships, and you won’t feel like you’re in a cattle call or constantly queuing. For example, Crystal Esprit carries just 62 passengers. Or, on a big ship, you can book into a suite with access to private sun decks and restaurants with far fewer people, dine in your cabin or seek respite in a limited-access spa thermal suite or sun deck. MSC Cruises’ Yacht Club and Norwegian’s Haven are two exclusive complexes that make a big ship feel like a much smaller one.

Big Ships vs. Small Ships: the Pros and Cons of Cruise Ship Size

Outdoor movie screen overlooking pool on a cruise ship at night

3. I need to watch the important games.

You Say: Not only do many cruise ships show playoff and championship games like the Super Bowl, often on movie-sized screens, but many have sports bars showing all sorts of games daily. They might just have better access than your home TV, especially if you like international sports like soccer or rugby. Princess Cruises even runs Tailgate at Sea parties, with game time food like pizza and hot dogs, team-inspired drink specials and games shown on giant, poolside screens.

5 Best Cruise Lines for NFL Football

4. I’m not over-paying for bad beer. I can’t live without beer.

You Say: Go on a cruise, and you will not be lacking for beer. Order a bucket of beer at the pool for a discount on multiple bottles (plus, you won’t need to keep getting up from your lounge chair to get another brewski). If you drink a lot, you can order a beverage package for unlimited drinks at one flat rate. Even better, many lines are now offering these packages free as a booking incentive. And, yes, some cruise ships have even caught on to the craft beer craze, such as Norwegian Escape, whose District Brew House offers 24 beers on tap, and Carnival Vista, which has its own brewery right onboard.

Best Ships for a Craft Beer Cruise

5. I prefer active vacations.

You Say: Who says you’re going to sit on your bottom for a week on a cruise? In addition to active offerings onboard, you can snorkel in the Caribbean, kayak in Mexico, scuba dive in the South Pacific, hike in Scandinavia and bike in Europe — either on your own or through an organized tour. Some small luxury cruise lines, like Seabourn and Windstar, even have water sports marinas onboard their ships and offer Jet Skis, water skis, windsurf boards and small sailboats straight from the ship.

10 Best Cruises for Active Travelers

South America Cruise Tips

6. Cruises don’t go anywhere interesting. I don’t want to sit on one beach after another.

You Say: Think St. Petersburg is interesting? How about Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma)? Cruise ships travel the world, sailing through the Panama Canal, around the bottom of South America, even through the Suez Canal to the Middle East and Asia, and onward to Australia. If it’s on a major waterway, it’s likely a ship goes there — and there are some pretty darn fascinating places sitting waterside in this world.

6 Most Exotic Cruises

7. I don’t like long plane rides.

You Say: Who does? Luckily, cruise ships sail from tons of U.S. homeports on the east, west and southern coasts of the U.S. (as well as several ports in the U.K. and Australia if you live there). Reaching a cruise is as easy as a short domestic flight or even a car ride.

10 Best Cruise Homeports in the U.S.

8. I don’t want to be forced to talk to lots of people I don’t know.

You Say: Cruises can be very social if you wish to make new friends, but no one is forced to talk to anyone. You can request tables for two at dinner (easier on some lines, such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, than others), eat alone in the buffet, order room service or book smaller, specialty restaurants. Put on your headphones by the pool deck, or bury your head in your Kindle, and no one will bother you. Or hide out on your cabin’s private balcony for that perfect mix of sun and isolation.

Tips for Finding Peace and Quiet on a Cruise

Guy's Burger Joint on Carnival Triumph

9. I don’t want to eat weird foreign food.

You Say: Wimp! But if you really don’t want to brave a local restaurant and try new cuisines, or if you’re being a tightwad and don’t want to spend more money on land, you don’t have to. Cruise ships always offer lunch onboard, included in the fare, so you can sightsee in the morning and come back to burgers and pasta in the ship’s buffet or grill venues (including burgers created by Food Network star Guy Fieri on Carnival).

The 6 Best Burgers at Sea