By Fred Arnold
The working public cherish their vacation time, and they very well should. Mother Earth is alive and (for the most part) well with its clear blue waters, crystal skies, and lush green forests. Finding the time and money to venture into Earth’s beauty may pose a problem, but a person can enjoy a nice vacation for little expense by booking a cruise.
There is nothing like the kiss of the sun on a day requiring no responsibility while the ocean sways below a large cruise liner. Engines rev and push the one-hundred-and-ten- thousand ton ship at a steady thirteen knots – or fifteen miles per hour. The entire horizon bristles with hues of blue, aqua, and marine, while tendrils of sunlight streak out across the vast openness, shimmering and splendid. Time disappears. A life begins to build up around the cruise liners many activities: breakfast at 8 AM, a concert at 10 AM, the ships comedian at 1 PM, lunch at 2:30 PM, the casino at 4 PM, dinner at 6PM, a movie at 8 PM and on, and on, and on. Days mix in and out, the vice of the real world disintegrates, and the tightness of chest and mind are replaced with a warm, full belly, a light heart, and stress free muscles.
A horn blasts three times cutting through the crisp seventy-eight degree weather. Land is near, the coast of Costa Maya, Mexico. First site reveals an ocean of cobalt glass, a liquid menagerie throwing wave after foamy wave of frothy surf across the ivory shore. People lounge in bathing suits, under large umbrellas, and near bars that are two steps from a spot on the beach. Paradise drinks are served with medleys of fruit: strawberry, cherry, pineapple, and orange. People line up on the deck of the cruise liner awaiting the slow process of docking, anticipation evident in their body language while the burgeoning forest, ruins, and caves of Costa Maya stare unknowingly back, an adventure waiting to happen.
Sounds wonderful, does it not? The scene above was from a cruise taken on the Caribbean Princess from December 13-18, and it was done with little expense. We visited Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico two of those days, and we spent the rest out to sea. So, why do cruises make such wonderful vacations?
For one, a cruise offers free food and beverages that are included when you pay for your ticket.
That means you will be guaranteed, for free, three solid meals (or more if you like to eat) and any beverage that does not consist of soda or alcohol. Did I mention they have twenty-four hour free pizza? Also, the beaches and towns visited do not require any extra money. You get there, you lounge at the beach, and then site see – all completely free.
Next, cruises constantly put out savings deals for multiple persons per cabin. To put this into perspective with the cruise described above: As one person the ticket would have cost $580.00 for five days, but with a second person sharing the room the cost fell to $300.00 per person (taxes and fees not included which amounts to ~$80-100). Prices fluctuate daily, so getting an excellent deal happens more often than not when it comes to cruises.
The last and probably best attribute to cruises is that you can put a small down payment on your cruise tickets. This usually amounts to ~$100, give or take, and then you can make payments on the rest of the sum till the date specified. This is a beneficial tool used by most people when booking cruises and can really help when it comes to financing your vacation.
Now, there are some downsides to a cruise, such as the prices of alcohol and soda. Generally a beer costs around $7-8, while specialty drinks could get as high as $12 and sodas (cans) ran at $2.50. If you are vacationing on a budget, it might be best to wait until you’re at your destination to drink, or you could rack up an enormous bill. Though alcohol prices were high, they did offer bottles of liquor at a decent price, normally $17-20. Mixing it with soda produces drinks that run $4.00 instead of $10, so there is a solution to your drinking needs. Next, the gratuity for the waiters/waitresses and staff is automatically taken out each day. That runs around $10-12 a day, but look at it this way: that goes to every person who has waited on you, and believe me, you are pampered on a cruise ship. The last con would be the price of excursions at the destinations, which were as high as $180 per person, but as stated above, there is a plethora of activities and sites to see that don’t involve any extra cost to you.
Putting all this together: a cruise vacation offers leisure when it comes to payment of tickets, it offers free food and drinks (with a bit of a downside), and it offers extraordinary deals. So, price-wise, two people could have an amazing adventure for less than $1,000, which is less than the average cost of vacationing in the U.S (about $1,145). I’ll see you on the boat!