With the wild winter weather this year, many of us have been surprised to glance at the calendar and realize how soon Spring Break starts. Some vacation companies, like Holiday Cruise Line, say that they have vacation packages left to sell, even this late in the season.
This is especially enticing for those who still haven’t finalized their spring vacation plans, since some reports say that cruises are increasingly becoming the vacation of choice across multiple age and lifestyle demographics. Families with children, retirees, newlyweds and recent graduates are all gravitating toward cruises, where the options range from partying, to relaxation, to kid-friendly fun.
Huffington Post recently rated cruises in their top five options for last-minute Spring Break plans. They too cite the weather, pointing out that many families and students have been forced to cancel, postpone or change their plans for this year’s vacations, as snow days have forced school make-up days that are cutting into the usual vacation schedules.
So, where are these Spring Break cruises going?
Holiday Cruise Line recommends a Bahamas package, saying these make exceptional options for a short vacation like Spring Break, since trips are available for as few as two nights. It’s also a trip that has more options for budgeting, with multiple packages and prices available.
Destination 360 speaks of other locations, including Mexico and Europe, but reminds travelers that plans to enter most destinations outside of the United States will require a passport. They emphasize that this is now true of Mexico and the Caribbean Islands, too, due to changes in law, even though those who have taken cruises before may recall entering some destinations with only a birth certificate and photo I.D.
Since getting a passport can take a couple of weeks, if you’re considering a cruise for your Spring Break vacation plans, now is the time to start the application process.
What else should you know to prepare for a cruise?
Destination 360 suggests packing at least one formal outfit, since most cruises include at least one formal dinner. They also recommend shoes that are comfortable for walking, and comfortable clothing for the weather. Of course, swimwear is a must for any cruise.
Destination 360 also offers advice for tipping. Tipping policies will vary greatly from one cruise to another. In some cases, tips are automatically added to your bill. In others, you’ll find an envelope in your cabin, where you can leave a cash tip at the end of your trip. Even in these cases, wait staff, cleaning staff and others may expect tips for their service. You will most likely be able to add the tip to your credit card bill, though, if you prefer not to carry cash.
There are numerous options available on cruises these days, with most cruise lines expanding their child-friendly choices. These may include rock-climbing walls, mini golf and even onboard water parks.
For adult travelers, there may be options such as alcohol and gambling, but if you’re under 21, be warned that cruise lines are cracking down on underage drinking. The rules for gambling vary, but tend to be strictly adhered to, so if you’re under 18, don’t plan on it, and if you’re between 18 and 21, call ahead and check, since some cruise lines don’t allow passengers under 21 to join in these activities.
Many, such as Holiday Cruise Line, also offer spa treatments ranging from manicures and massages to hairstyling and teeth-whitening services.
Gyms with equipment for fun and fitness are also available on many cruises.
For entertainment, options are as diverse as cruises themselves. Movie nights for kids, live shows, dancing, karaoke and more are on the list. Your cruise director can give you specific options available on the cruise you’re considering.
Cruise Critic suggests that those seeking a getaway that is more tuned to adults seek a cruise with a longer duration. While children may be welcomed on these trips, they’ll be scarcer, since Spring Break’s limited length requires most young folks to return to land in time to re-enter the classroom the next Monday morning.
They also suggest that Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean are the most family-friendly trips, and that there will be fewer kids on trips to Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
One Last Tip
While travel can certainly have positive effects on health, and ocean air is sweet and pleasant, seasickness is an issue for some. Almost every cruise will have a shipboard doctor who can provide you with pills to negate the effects of seasickness, but if you know you’re prone to it, you may wish to visit your own doctor and take the pills ahead of boarding, to ensure that your cruise is a pleasant experience from the first moment.
While cruises can be a fun getaway at any time, this spring is considered a particularly advantageous time for cruise packages, since the weather and its effect on travel plans has opened it up last-minute purchase options for those who might otherwise have missed the purchase window. Holiday Cruise Line advises contacting your cruise provider for details, special deals and package information.