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Things you can do on a cruise that you did not know about

Cruise vacation deals are becoming more and more popular but not just for the price itself. From five star restaurants to incredible entertainment and activities, there is much more to a cruise than meets the eye. Here are two incredible things to do on a cruise that just about anyone would enjoy:

Enjoy Broadway-styled productions on Cruise Lines

Cruise lines are adapting the changing entertainment scenarios which demands high-tech, dynamic productions, and providing the same high quality of entertainment on board for their travelers. These state-of-the-art ships have assorted features and entertainment choices. These include varieties like surf simulators, ropes courses and even snow rooms as well as ice skating rinks! Beyond these fascinating structures, cruise lines are also reinventing the cruising experience and producing Broadway-like shows on board. These have advanced features such as big lighting, elaborate costumes and contemporary choreography. In fact, Disney Wonder of Disney Cruise Line has already started producing theatrical version of its all-time highest earning animated movie “Frozen” during travels. The movie is presented as a musical show on board. This is just one example of how cruise lines are changing the face of entertainment at sea, and giving their travelers experiences of a life-time in special surroundings. After all, watching a musical in theater is ordinary, but watching “Frozen” come alive on a ship, surrounded by splashing waves is something unique.

cruise entertainment

Another Disney cruise liner, Disney Magic has already been presenting “Tangled: The Musical” on board. This hour-long show contains 7 musical numbers.  Alan Menken, an Academy-award winning music composer has composed 3 new songs for this musical. It is breathtaking to see Rapunzel in the cruise settings; with her 200 feet long golden hair adorning the stage.

Not only Disney cruise lines, but Carnival’s latest ship Carnival Vista also has excellent, on board entertainment varieties, including the first ever IMAX theater cruising at sea. The liner also produces special musical shows, featuring classic rock anthems.

How About Taking a Culinary Cruise?

Who says gourmet dining and celebrity chef-led restaurants cannot be experienced at sea?

You too can enjoy the feast-adventure by taking any of the culinary cruises that have become quite popular in last few years. While restaurants on earth are earning stars for their meals, spirit and excellent wines, now the same experience is also being offered on sea by the best cruise lines through their culinary-themed vacation sailings. Here you can have the same high levels of exclusive meals, wines and enjoy gourmet dining episodes that are created by world’s renowned chefs. Instead of booking a simple cruise vacation, now a high number of travelers are booking for trips based on famous chefs’ appearances on selected cruise lines. There are also events of opening trendy cocktail bars or restaurants aboard a ship which have been quite a hit with connoisseurs. Most of cruise lines used to offer a central restaurant along with breakfast, lunch buffets in their all-inclusive packages. But now, renowned chefs are creating exclusive menus for cruise lines inspired by their destinations as well as local cuisine of ports of call. Windstar Cruises offers such culinary cruises on its small luxury yachts. It has a sophisticated fleet that consists of six yachts, each with a capacity of 300 guests. That makes it a perfect cruise for select gatherings going to ports where big ships cannot dock. Such convenience gives travelers a chance to disembark and taste local cuisine too.

food on cruise

You can find cruise discounts for all the best destinations on Hotels Etc.

How to choose the right cruise vacation in 2017

According to recent studies in the industry, these days more travelers are choosing a cruise vacation over an all-inclusive resort. As per estimates, nearly 24 million people had taken cruise vacations around the world in 2016 and these numbers are expected to rise in year 2017. As demands for a cruise vacation grow, so do choices for travelers. Among a wealth of cruise vacation offers, how do you choose which one is suitable for you? Well, here we are to help you sort through various options and select the best cruise line for both your budget and vacation needs.

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Best Value for Money Cruise Lines

If you are looking for a cruise line which returns best value for your money in 2017, then consider taking Celebrity Cruises. Although it has smaller fleet compared to its rivals, Celebrity’s many ships provide personalized service as it has an average ship-capacity of less than 2,700 passengers. This helps in catering to passengers personally. That does not mean it has any less amenities than big ships. The cruise line also offers all those amenities you would look for in big ships such as open-air movie screens and also kids’ programming. Big amenities, but at lower rates of $100 per traveller, per night. Second option can be Royal Caribbean International or Norwegian Cruise Line which also provides best amenities and value for your money while choosing a cruise vacation

Best Cruise Vacations for Families

When it comes to family cruise vacations, Disney Cruise Line wins hands down against its competitors. It has topped the list of family cruise lines for four successive years. The cruise line is famous for its deck parties based on Disney characters and has a specialized kids’ club, which is sure to keep the younger crowd happy. On the other hand, there are also exclusive areas for adults which provide an excellent place to parents for unwinding after a day of fun-filled activities. Another favorite for family cruises is Royal Caribbean International, which is ranked number 2 and Carnival Cruise Lines with a rank of number 3.

Couples? Here are Best Cruise Lines for You

Whether it is Valentine’s Day or your sweetheart’s birthday; if  you are looking to celebrate by sailing away with your partner, then you can get an enchanting experience on Crystal Cruises. This cruise line has been selected as the top ranking for couples this year. Here, the lovebirds can enjoy all-inclusive, special amenities such as terry cloth robes, feather beds and complimentary spirits and romantic wines. If you want to give a romantic gift to that special person with you, then instead of going for some regular gift, choose couple’s spa treatments or/ and specialty private dining. For those wanting to spend romantic vacations on sea, other recommended cruise lines include Azamara Club Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises that provide best romantic cruise for couples.

Best Cruise Lines for Caribbean Destinations

Nothing compares to emerald waters of Caribbean seas and if you are searching for the best cruises line to Caribbean, then Disney Cruise Line should be your first choice. Two reasons set apart Disney from other cruise liners; first it owns a private island called Castaway Cay (Bahamas) from where its ships set sail. Secondly, it sends ships to not one or two, but more than a dozen Caribbean destinations. These include popular destinations such as Jamaica, Cozumel, Puerto Rico, Mexico and also to lesser-known islands like Curaçao and Grenada. Second rank for Best Caribbean cruise lines goes to Celebrity Cruises and Crystal Cruises is at number 3 if you wish to go on ocean-vacation in 2017 in the Caribbean.

cocktails on a cruise vacation

Best Mediterranean Cruise Lines

If you are looking for warmer climate and heavenly food, then Mediterranean shores would appeal to you. For 2017, Celebrity Cruises tops the list of the best Mediterranean cruise lines. The line’s ships are mostly mid-size that travel to popular European ports such as Greece, Santorini and Naples (Italy). These ships will take you to famed Mediterranean destinations where you can explore the waters as well as dine at in-house swank restaurants, which will offer you a wide range of delicacies from French desserts to juicy, tasty steaks. After satisfying your taste buds, you can enjoy the restful hospitality of their comfortable accommodations. The number 2 spot in the list of the best Mediterranean liners in 2017 is occupied by Regent Seven Seas Cruises while Oceania Cruises holds the number 3 rank in this list.

If you would like to know more about these cruise vacations or find the best available cruise discounts, you can avail of a free trial perios with Travel membership experts Hotels Etc.

Best Caribbean Cruise Ships in 2017

There’s really no such thing as a terrible cruise in the Caribbean, but there are definitely a few who stand out from the rest. Whether it’s unique activities that are offered onboard or just a vibe that’s not like the others, these cruise ships might have just the thing you’re looking for. So, sit back, relax and grab one of those tasty pineapple drinks with neon straws and ridiculously big umbrellas as we check out five Caribbean cruise ships that are anything but boring.

Here are the best Caribbean cruise ships in 2017:

Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas

Honestly, what makes this cruise ship so amazing are the many fresh options when it comes to activities that there’s really no other experience like it. Royal Caribbean really outdid itself with the robot bartenders, skydiving simulation, trapeze lessons, and glass enclosed ride that takes you up 300ft above sea level so you can see the world from an entirely new vantage point.

This ship also has all of the other regular stuff like delicious food options and shows, but its rooms are also unique given that some have HD screens that cover an entire wall and give guests the feeling of a virtual balcony. Some of the rooms also are interconnected and two stories, which is good for larger families or someone who just really likes to spend more money.

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Carnival Sunshine

Formerly known as the Carnival Destiny, a pretty, little makeover of over $150 million bucks upgraded the 17 year-old ship into something a little more, you know, cool. There are a ton of bars and restaurants on this bad boy, including a delish burger bar that was created by your favorite blond-haired chef, Guy Fieri.

One of the favorites on this ship though is the huge adult-only sections that span across three separate decks. Not that we don’t all love having kids around while drinking our cocktails, but you know.

Norwegian Escape

This cruise ship is a party machine and with twenty-one bars onboard, you almost have each one of your drinks at a different place. Two of them are Jimmy Buffett franchises, which always helps out with creating the chilled out Caribbean vibe.

Another thing that makes this ship unique is that it supposedly has some of the fastest waterslides you can find while sailing the seas. But, there’s really only one way to find out — plug your nose!

Disney Fantasy

Kids, kids, and more kids – that’s what Disney has always been about and this 2,500 passenger Disneyland on water is going to get anyone’s vote who’s under the age of twelve. It’s not all about the kids though and good ol’ Walt and company still keep the adults in mind with bars and other areas that are 18+ only after 9pm.

Disney

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas

Saving the best, and most impressive for last as there’s no other cruise ship that competes with the 5,400 passengers that this thing can hold. But, it’s not only size that matters, right? There’s also an entire park that has over 12,000 plants (the first of its kind on a cruise ship), two climbing walls, a surfing simulator, and an entire mall that offers pretty much anything you would ever need to buy, including your daily dose of Starbucks.

You can check out our endless run of cruise discounts for 2017 on Hotels Etc here.

Researchers explain why planning a vacation can make you Happy

Vacations are fun, we all know that, we all want more of them and some of us will almost live for them. But do they make you happier? It might seem like a question with an obvious answer but a group of researchers in the Netherlands set out to answer this precise question while also determine what it is exactly that causes someone to feel this way.

Almost 2,000 adults took part in the research, half of which had taken a vacation during the previous year and the results threw up a very interesting point. Yes, there were no surprises that these people experienced happiness while on the trip, whether they were relaxing next to the pool, swimming at the beach, eating out in a fine restaurant or sipping cocktails as the sun went down but what about afterward or what about before?

“The practical lesson for an individual is that you derive most of your happiness from anticipating the holiday trip,” said Jeroen Nawijn head of the research. “What you can do is try to increase that by taking more trips per year. If you have a two week holiday you can split it up and have two one week holidays. You could try to increase the anticipation effect by talking about it more and maybe discussing it online.”

You see, much of the findings for this research pointed to the fact that most adults felt relaxed returning from their vacation, they felt energized and rejuvenated but what they did not expect, was to learn how extremely happy these same people felt when planning a vacation. That’s right, the research showed that the longest, most prolonged and enjoyable part of their trip was the actual part of planning a vacation. Marveling at wanderlust inducing photographs online, imagining how relaxing it would be on the beach, checking the best places to stay in the Caribbean and then of course, looking for the best hotel discounts, vacation deals and general value. People felt good about being able to find the best online travel deals, joining travel membership clubs for cruise discounts and knowing that they had found the best place to stay at the best price.

So there you have it in black and white, planning a vacation is just as good for your health and will make you just as happy, as being on the vacation itself. We can’t say we are surprised as for more than 25 years now we taken great pleasure from finding the best hotel discounts for our members here at Hotels Etc. We know that people will always appreciate a good deal when we find one and keep coming back so long as we keep offering the best value vacations. So what are you waiting for? It might be a few weeks, a month or even a year until your next time off but why should that stop you from feeling happy, start planning your vacation and get signed up for a travel membership with Hotels Etc.

7 Things worth knowing before your first cruise vacation

Planning on taking a cruise vacation in the near future? Sitting on a cruise right at the very time of reading this post? Well, maybe this will help you or maybe it will just be little more than an entertaining “Told you so” but here are some tips and things we wish we knew before sailing off into the sunset on our first cruise:

1.Arrive several days prior

Okay so there are not all that many vacation days to take in North America but still, if you have even just a couple of days spare just make sure you take a flight into your departure city long before you are due to board the ship. Why? Not just to check out whatever city it is you are starting from but mostly, to reduce stress, to slow down, to start moving at your own pace and not be rushing across town as the ship is leaving. Even two nights in a city prior to the cruise departing is enough and will quite possibly be the best decision you make all vacation. Hotels Etc also offer great hotel discounts for these cities.

2. Read up on shore excursions before you arrive

Decisions are stressful and so too is deciding which tour/shore excursion you wish to take. Remove any risk of there being a panic and grab as many leaflets on board to read during the day while you sunbathe. Then fill out the form on board and get your name on the list before it sells out, because they do sell out and its usually because people are smart enough to read their leaflets while they sunbathe.

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3.Know exactly when will be you at Sea

Why? Because there are no shore excursions. Why? Because there is no shore. And why is this important? Because this is exactly when the Spa Treatment room is most busy and yes you’ve guessed it, full. Check the calender for when you are at sea and book the spa room long in advance. Smart huh?

4.Unpack your bag

Treat it like your home, take our candlesticks, your favorite pillow and anything else in that suitcase and find a place for it. Seriously, get every single item out of the bag and put everything away, then do the same with your suitcase. Last thing you want (which most people end up doing) is to waste hours rooting through your bags for that elusive bikini, underwear or camera.

5.Choose dinner time wisely

On shore excursions during the day? Book dinner on the cruise ship for the later time. Wanting to avoid the crowds? Book breakfast for the earlier time. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t do this but it certainly makes things easier.

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6.Get your laundry done all at once

Who are you travelling with? Put your laundry together and hand it in as one. Sounds cheap to say this but honestly, laundry facilities are no longer on board cruise ships and they charge an absolute fortune to do it for you – think $30 a load.

7.Bring an outfit for every dress code

Yes, there will be fine dining, sunbathing, cool evenings on deck, fancy jewelry and sporting activities. Make sure you take clothes for all occasions so as not to stand out too much and please, as we said before, make sure you unpack it all once you get on board.

You can find all the best cruise discounts, hotel offers and much more on Hotels Etc.

Wondering what you can expect on a Cruise Vacation?

How about a cruise ship for your next vacation? Never thought about it or maybe unsure of what’s involved? Okay, let s take you through a little bit about cruising, cruise life and what you can expect in general:

What type of ship should you choose?

There are literally hundreds of cruise ships, all of different sizes, age groups and quality. Be thing to do is decide whether you want a ship which is a little more lively or quiet and then book based on the most affordable cruise you can find. Then again, some ships are “all-in-one”, for example, the Royal Caribbean have some smaller cruise ships which are ideal for most age groups (such as the Vision of the Seas) which has less than 2500 passengers.

What food and drink is included?

Down to the basics. Food on cruise ships is notoriously good with many five star chefs on board cooking up some incredible dishes. There are usually two main seatings during the day, breakfast and dinner, and these can usually be had at 8am or a slightly earlier time should you decide. Same goes for the evenings, although most people who take to activities from the port when docked, will be best to have their dinner at the latest time available.

There are also a number of different restaurants on board every cruise ship, meaning you can dine in a different spot each night so long as you make a reservation – Sushi, tempura, steak or buffet – there is an endless choice.

Drinks are sometimes included in the price of the cruise but usually not. You can pay for them as you go or if you are smart, you will purchase a “Drinks plan” that will more than cover whatever drinks you want for the duration of the trip while also being quite affordable. For example, you could buy a drinks plan for $40 and drink as much or as little as you like for the entire day. Wine, beer, spirits, soda, you name it, they’ll have it.

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Activities on a Cruise Ship

There is usually so much to do on a cruise ship that you need to decide between certain activities, but this is obviously a bonus rather than a complaint. Here are just a few things to do on a cruise:

Tour the Ship itself

This is mostly overlooked by tourists but is often the most fascinating thing to do on a cruise vacation. Visit the kitchen, meet the chefs, see the sleeping quarters, the captains deck and much more. A tour of the cruise ship can be an amazing insight and highly entertaining.

Learn to cook

Guess what? These highly skilled chefs will often offer the opportunity for you to learn how to cook. Sometimes they do the preparation work so you need only mix the ingredients and do other fun stuff, but ultimately, you can learn some neat tricks and tips on board from some of the worlds most famous chefs and all for no extra cost.

Spa and Royal treatment

Visit the spa and float away into a zen like state. What better way to get away from it all with a massage, pedicure, manicure and more in the middle of the ocean. The crew are always highly skilled and attentive while you can also be sure of some truly breathtaking scenery.

Night Entertainment

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, night entertainment is completely free and rivals any Broadway show. In fact, many of these entertainers are straight from Broadway…and so are the shows themselves.

Still wondering for reasons to take a cruise for your next vacation? Okay, check out Hotels Etc and see the hugely discounted rates they offer on what is already a very affordable vacation.