This latest cold snap has gotten me thinking about a cruise to a warm and sunny location. Most people think of the Caribbean, and there is no shortage of cruise itineraries going there. You have a choice of leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Galveston, New Orleans, Charleston, Baltimore, New York or San Juan. The downside is the long air flight to get to the port of embarkation. Often times that requires flying a day early and staying overnight. But with the sales and deals, a Caribbean cruise is a cost effective vacation when compared with a resort on one Caribbean island. Being stuck in one location, no matter how beautiful, cannot compare in my book with visiting several different ports of call on a ship where meals and entertainment are included at no additional cost.
Cruises go to the eastern, the western, or the southern Caribbean or you can book a back-to-back cruise that visits both the eastern and western. If you have “been there, done that,” there is a seven-day cruise that visits the two southern islands of Curacao and Aruba, as well as the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas. Because of the distance traveled, there are three sea days to relax and enjoy all that the cruise ship has to offer on this itinerary. We have group space reserved on the Dec. 3 sailing that provides you with a discounted cabin rate and on-board credit.
Likewise the choice of cruise lines and ships that visit the Caribbean is almost endless. From the mega ships from Royal Caribbean that have more than 5,400 passengers to smaller ships that have less than 1,400 guests, we can find a cruise ship that suits your preferences.
Another warm weather itinerary is the Panama Canal. Here you have the choice of a 10-day itinerary round trip from Ft. Lauderdale that goes through one set of locks on the Caribbean side before returning to Florida. Or you can do the full canal transit that takes 14 to 15 days departing from either Los Angeles or San Diego to Florida, or vice versa. If you take the eastbound itinerary, you have only one long flight from Florida back to Arizona, and there is no overnight motel stay required, because the time change is working in your favor.
Of course you knew I was going to mention Hawaii as a favorite warm weather cruise destination. There’s no threat of violence in our 50th state, like there has been on some of the Caribbean islands. The 14-day round trip from either Los Angeles or San Diego is the least expensive way to cruise to Hawaii. We have several group sailings reserved, again offering reduced cabin rates and on-board credit. You can read about our last Hawaiian cruise on the Golden Princess on our Web site www.travelpayson under the “blog spot.”
There is one additional tropical cruise that I would dearly love to go on, and that is the 28-day round trip sailing from Los Angeles that visits Hawaii, Samoa and Tahiti. If you want to see Tahiti without the long air flight, this is definitely the way to go. And yes, we have group space reserved with the benefit of discounted rates and amenities for the October sailing. If only I could take a month off from work.
In the February issue of “Conde Nast Traveler,” there is the Reader’s Poll of the top cruise ships. This is a rating of cruise ships by their passengers, not agents or travel writers. Looking at the large and mega ship categories together, we see that many major cruise lines have a large percentage of their ships listed: Holland America has eight, Royal Caribbean has eight, Princess has nine, Celebrity has four, Disney is two for two, and the luxury lines of Crystal, Regent, Oceania, and Cunard have two to three each. This is no surprise to us because of the feedback we get from our customers and our own personal experience. Noteworthy is the complete absence from the list of several domestic and foreign cruise lines.
Just because cruising is our preferred way to travel, don’t think that we do not do land and resort vacations to tropical climates. The Caribbean Islands, Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, and of course, Mexico, are available from many different providers; some have trips of up to 10 days from $995 per person, including meals. Airfare is additional.
Remember that it does not cost more to use the services of an accredited travel agency. Our commission is paid by the cruise line or resort, not by you. Bring us an Internet rate, and we will do our best to match it. Sometimes we have found that moving a trip by one or two weeks can result in significant savings. Visit Cruise Port Travel on Facebook, or stop in our Payson office at 900 W. Driftwood Dr. We’re here to help you get the best value for your vacation dollar. Depending on your preferences that just may not be the enticing Internet lead-in price you are seeing.