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What to Do on a Cruise Ship

There are now so many things to do on a big cruise ship that you won't have time to do half of them even on a month long voyage.

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When planning when to book your next cruis, a tricky problem sometimes, there are a few specifics that can guide your planning.

A cruise to Bermuda is a dream for many, and trips to sub-tropical Bermuda are popular for a number of reasons. There's no doubt it's a great island to visit and the trip from Florida is short, making for a great two or three day cruise. As a result, prime cabins in the summer months of July and August will sell out six to nine months in advance.

But, remember that adjective up there, "sub-tropical"? For those who book a Bermuda cruise in April-May and September-October there is probably a great cruise experience in store. The weather in Bermuda during these periods can be great. That having been said, even those less comfortable off-peak months still give travelers many more options. The government, and tourist industry, of Bermuda do a lot to keep the off-season visitor entertained. Still, keep in mind that hurricanes, or at least heavy storms, can affect travel near the end of October, so be prepared to be flexible if you book a cruise to Bermuda during those periods.

By the way, Bermuda is a great place to visit for a first cruise. It's tourist industry is so geared to the entertainment of the visitor to Bermuda that it actually teaches other countries how to gear up their travel industry.

Many, however, think of an "ocean cruise" in terms of the old days of cruises between the east coast of America and Europe. Cruises from New York (and other points) to Europe are still some of the best, 100 years after they first began. Cruise lines have responded to the demand of the modern traveler by offering more trips, but demand still exercises its economic pressures on supply, keeping the price high.

As with Alaska cruises, and many others as well, it is common for balcony cabins to sell out first. Though more expensive, the demand from those who can afford it is still high enough to make booking far in advance a necessity. Since the economy has been fairly robust for the last few years, this trend has continued.

Other popular cruises, such as 7-night cruises to the Mediterranean, continue to do equally well. Remember that you will probably have to board at some European port, and might not finish your cruise where you started. The Baltic region also remains a popular destination. As with other European trips, you should probably plan to book a year in advance to get the type of voyage you want.

You can create some more options for yourself, often with shorter booking times and lower prices, by selecting an older ship or a somewhat less popular destination. Luckily, cruise ships have become so advanced that even older ones are usually still floating palaces, and even second- or third-choice destination can be exciting and entertaining. Though it was exceptional, the Normandie, for example, was as fine as the finest hotel 70 years ago and things have continued to improve since then.

Though most people fly to the islands of the Pacific these days, Hawaii is still a highly desirable voyage for many. Trips to Australia will require booking far in advance at almost any time of the year. Don't forget that when it's winter in the U.S. it's summer there and vice-versa down there in the Southern Hemisphere.

Often overlooked by would-be cruisers, South America is still a hot more ways than one.

You might be surprised to learn there are even cruises up and down the two coasts of the U.S. and U.S. to Mexico, from San Diego to Cabo, and New England to Florida. Though not considered to be as glamorous perhaps as a European cruise, the ships on these routes are still first rate. You'll have a great time on board and there are, in fact, several excellent stops on the way. A coastal cruise is an excellent way to get your cruise ship feet wet.

Booking for these types of cruises is often quite a bit less intense and generally less expensive as well. Still, however, you may want to take advantage of early booking discounts. If you happen to see a better deal a couple of months before your cruise's projected departure, you can sometimes still get it by working through a travel agent. Unlike a lot of other industries, cruise lines try very hard to accommodate as many requests as possible in order to keep customers happy. They know those return and recommend them to others.

Bon Voyage and Happy Cruising!

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Page Updated 12:52 PM Sunday 3/11/2012