One of my favorite ways to travel is by cruise ship. It’s a wonderful way to see several countries on one trip without having to repack, because the ship is like a floating hotel. And it’s also a great way to celebrate your 40th birthday!
My most fascinating and unique cruise was to Antarctica – which is a totally different type of cruise experience that I’ll discuss in a future post. However, most of my cruising has been through the Caribbean. Some of the lines I’ve cruised on include: Princess, Carnival, Costa, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. In fact, I helped my brother celebrate his 40th birthday on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Cancun, Mexico. A few months ago, Royal Caribbean launched its newest megaship, Oasis of the Seas – the world’s largest cruise ship (pictured left) with 16 decks and 2,700 staterooms.
Most of today’s cruises offer 24-hour buffets, Vegas-like entertainment, casinos, spas, pools, and even activity camps for kids. But megaships offer amenities that you wouldn’t expect to see on a cruise ship such as an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, and mini golf course. I must say ice skating in warm weather, and seeing the ocean from the top of a rock climbing wall was extremely exhilarating!
Did you know that during a cruise ship’s naming ceremony there is a celebrity “godmother,” who smashes a Champagne bottle against the ship as part of its official launch? Well, Oasis of the Seas is so big that it had seven godmothers, including: Gloria Estefan, Keisha Knight Pulliam, and Michelle Kwan.
Each time a new mega ship is launched, it ups the game for all other cruise ships to compete for passengers. And Oasis of the Seas is no exception with amenities that include: Central Park – the first living park at sea, a carousel, 28 loft suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, nine specialty restaurants with cuisine from burgers to fine dining, an oceanfront amphitheatre, and like Royal Caribbean ships before it; an ice skating rink, casino, children’s play area, and several nightclubs. (image: an inside look at the Oasis)
The ship sails to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas. In May it will start alternating the eastern Caribbean route with a western one, with stops in Labadee, Haiti (a private resort on the northern coast); Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Rates start around $729 per person/double occupancy, and now is a great time to book a Caribbean cruise because of the deals available online.
Here are some sample cruise deals for May 2010:
- 4 Night Caribbean on Carnival Imagination – $239 pp – www.cruisesonly.com
- 7 Night Caribbean on Crown Princess – $490 pp – www.cruisedeals.com
- 3 Night Bahamas Cruise on Norwegian Sky – $169 pp – www.cruises.orbitz.com
In my next post I’ll offer tips to help you experience smooth sailing on your cruise vacation. And remember: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain (Left: Kalin and family on Royal Caribbean)
Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, go to www.seetheworldproductions.com.