Your guide to the best-ever cruise vacation
If you’re thinking of booking a cruise, this spring is an exciting time to set sail.
Carnival Cruise Line just announced its newest vessel, which will debut in May, will have an on-board brewery — the first of its kind in North America — serving up stouts, IPAs and Caribbean wheats. The same cruise line also revealed it will begin voyages to Cuba, a destination with high demand after a decades-long travel embargo.
With the spring and summer season approaching, we’re rounding up our best cruise trips — everything from saving money to staying in shape while you’re at sea.
Here’s our guide to cruising this spring.
Save money on your trip:
First things first, you can save big when you book your cruise. Earn Cash Back when you book your cruise through ShopAtHome.com, plus cruise lines offer deals on on-board spending. Most cruise bookings come with all-you-can eat options — but the on-board spending deals can be applied toward extras, like alcohol purchases, specialty coffees, upgraded dining in the ship’s best restaurants or access to on-board WiFi.
Save directly by booking with cruise lines like Princess Cruises or Cruise Direct. Or, book packages with Priceline, Orbitz or Travelocity. Also, if you can be flexible with your dates or book last-minute, you can save big.
Avoid gaining any weight:
Like a siren at sea, the culinary offerings on board are certainly tempting. From around-the-clock, all-you-can eat options (yes, unlimited desserts!), it’s hard to step off the ship without gaining a few pounds. Go ahead, enjoy the feasts — but here are a few tips for counterbalancing the extra calories and saving yourself the extra pounds.
Be active on board! Ditch the elevators and take the stairs. (Trust us, you’ll sneak in some extra cardio by climbing 15 flights of stairs). Check out your ship’s daily itinerary. You’re likely to find free fitness classes — like fitness classes targeting the abs. Or, go take some dance lessons, which are popular cruise ship activities. Get familiar with all the amenities on board. Dip in the pool to swim some laps or tread water while an on-board movie is playing. Many cruise ships have basketball courts and putting greens. Another idea? Make it a ritual to walk (or jog!) around the exterior of the ship and take in a sunrise or sunset every day. Most ships have mile markers, so you’ll know just how far you’re going. A final tip: Get the most out of your off-board excursions. In balmy destinations, you’ll have options to go swimming, rent paddleboards (hello, core workout!) or go kayaking.
Pack like a pro:
Check out the dress codes on the ship. Most cruise lines have at least one or two nights that are “formal.” If you’re traveling from a hometown that is cool, pack some warm-weather clothes in your carry-on so that you’re not sweating in the port of call in sunny Miami or Los Angeles. Don’t forget medicine — like Dramamine for possible motion sickness or pain relievers, as you’ll pay extra for them once on board. Also, if you’ll be going on off-board excursions, might we recommend bringing a versatile tote. We love this Ombre Newport tote from Athleta because it’s foldable, making it easy to pack, and it can be wiped down and easily cleaned if you’ve stashed wet bathing suits in it.
Extend your trip and save yourself from stress:
You don’t want to miss the boat — literally. We all know that travel plans can go awry, whether it’s delayed flights or missed connections that prevent you from getting to the port on time. Extend your vacation, and reduce stress, by arriving in your destination city the night before so that you give yourself plenty of time to board the ship. Earn Cash Back from great hotel groups — like Marriott, Hilton and Intercontinental — when you book your hotels through ShopAtHome.