Top 7 ways to save money on a cruise vacation

Top 7 tips to save money on a cruise

 

Whether you are going for the first time or are a frequent cruiser there are various ways to save money when you go on a cruise.  From booking the cruise, excursions, and even while onboard. These simple tips can help you not break your bank when traveling and save money on a cruise.  Unless you want to go all out which is really fun too.  So read along as I help you learn “How to save money on a cruise”

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Everyone always wants to know how to save money on booking a cruise.  The various boards are full of post on how to get the best deal on a cruise.  How to get the best pricing, when, where, and on and on.  Well here is the number one lesson from a Travel Advisor.  Use a Travel Advisor.

I know, I can here you saying I can book it myself right?  Why yes you most certainly can but a Travel Advisor has the ability to check many different cruises at the same time.  They have access to sales from there own agency that you don’t.  They have groups that they could add you into that will give you a little extra something like and onboard credit.  They also can use whatever you received from the cruise line as a bonus when they book your trip.

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Tip number 2 sometimes the earlier the better especially if you want a certain cabin.  You can always update pricing if a sale comes out that is better along the way.  So you are in the cabin you want and when a sale comes up your Travel Advisor would just rebook you into the new sale if it is beneficial.

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Tip number 3 There are certain times of the year that prices drop for cruises.  A good Travel Advisor knows this and will help you with the timing.  That is if you don’t need the cruise to be during a certain time frame.

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Tip number 4 Saving money while on ship can be done.  I remember our first cruise, we bought the ship out I think.  Pictures, spa, drinks, specialty dining, shopping, excursions, Casino ect ect.  It was new and we were excited.  It was FUN!  We received our bill at the end and were WOW!  All in and all no regrets.  We enjoy our memories and I laugh and can tell you about it now.  So on ship there are extras and these all can add up.  My suggestion only do the things you really want to do.  Only purchase the pictures you really like not all the whole pack that you can never put up on your wall.

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Tip number 5 Excursions are great but can add up at every port.  My suggestion take a look a head of time at what you would like to do.  Sometimes if it’s not a crazy long trip in the jungle two hours you can pick up an excursion in port.  Like we did renting a golf cart in Bonaire.  You will learn about this later this week when our next update post.

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Tip number 6 Onboard credits, drink packages, free internet, the list goes on an on.  Everyone has things that are important for them.  Some don’t care for internet so this does not matter to them.  Others it’s a drink package they won’t use.  So for the perks on board companies like Norwegian often run a sale with pick 5 free and you choose between what they are offering.  Companies like Princess often run an onboard credit sale.  You can then take your on-board credit and use it for what you want.   There is usually a sale that can fit any traveler.  All these will help you save money on a cruise.

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Tip number 7 there are many other tips a travel advisor has for saving money on cruising one of my favorites is go River Cruising where the price you pay is the price for basically everything .  There are not a lot of extras as your excursions are included.   Overall cruising is an excellent value for your money.  You see many places, unpack once, food is included, and you have entertainment on board.  What are you waiting for GO CRUISING!  I hope you enjoyed the Top 7 things to save money on a cruise.

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If you have any questions on cruising or travel do not hesitate to reach out and I would love to help you.  Who are you traveling with?  Travel with T

 

An Amazing Journey Europe’s Christmas Markets

 

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The air is crisp and the scents of spice and roasted chestnuts are in the air as you walk through the village inspired Christmas scenes.   As you glance around you notice Christmas lights fill the streets with a soft warm glow where bobbles, bows, candy and special treasures await. It’s an old world style atmosphere, markets are often at the center of town squares  beneath the spires of the local parish church steeples.   Laughter and music fills the air as shoppers pass by snuggled in their winter coats.    There is just something about Europe’s Christmas Markets that I don’t feel we have quite captured in the United States.  Perhaps it’s the community aspect, the gathering together sipping mulled wine as you let go the stress of the day. Perhaps it’s people coming together and catching up as they experience the warmth of Gluhwein and nibble on delectable pastries.  Europe’s Christmas Markets are simply Magical.

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Europe’s Christmas Markets

It’s the start of Holiday Season as during the first weekend of Advent Christmas Markets begin to pop up throughout Europe.  This annual tradition has been bringing happiness to locals and visitors alike for centuries.  It’s almost like you have been transported back in time to a place of happy memories and the warmth of the season.    Christmas carols surround you as you experience your first glance of the sparkle of snowflakes as they gently fall around the merchants selling their wares.  Many of these markets can take over blocks and blocks and are filled with everything Christmas.

 

 

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Germany’s Christmas Markets

Your taste buds will be filled with sweet, spice, and nutty flavors.  The food of the Christmas markets change with the village or city and sausage rules and changes according to region.  Gluhwein which is a mulled style of spice wine also changes with region, hot coco, and even non alcoholic versions are available for those who don’t imbibe.  Every market also provides a mug for your journey.  You can choose to turn it in after your visit for a deposit refund or take it with you as a souvenir.  These make great little keepsakes and or gifts.

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Christmas Market Food

The Markets are filled with everything from food to trinkets.  Many favorites are the classic wooden Christmas ornaments.  Lace and varieties of Christmas ornaments are also available and many of the items in the markets are hand crafted from local artisans.

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Europe’s Christmas Markets these are a bucket list item
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Europe’s Christmas Markets

Bundle up though as winter is starting to set in and you will appreciate the warmth of the heat lamps that surround some of the merchants.  If you forget something don’t worry you will find many selections of hats, mittens, scarves, and socks.  I recommend a couple of cups of the local Gluhwein to spice up and warm up the day or evening.  It will slowly melt away any breath of cold that sweeps the area.

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Travel with T at the Christmas Markets in Europe

If you are a lover of all things Christmas I can’t recommend these enough.  Once you go every year you will have a longing to re experience the magic again and again.  Christmas in Europe is a memory maker.  Experiences are to me more precious then things so go out and experience and build your memories.  Better yet make it a River Cruise where you can see and experience these treasures as you glide along one of Europe’s historic waterways.

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Half Timbered house of Germany’s Christmas Markets

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Book your Christmas Market visit or River Cruise with Travel with T @ Travel Plus of NC

www.travelwithttoday.com www.travelplusofnc.com

A Year with Marriott Gold: Destination Long Beach Marriott

IMG_1271A exquisitely beautiful hotel adjacent to the airport with an outdoor area that is beautifully tranquil. This little gem is placed conveniently adjacent to the airport but is nothing like a typical airport hotel yet not like the JW in Houston either.

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We were greeted with a warm smile at the front desk and throughout the hotel.  We were given a room on one of the higher floors as this was a simple upgrade.  We were only going to be here overnight so it was fine.  We were leaving out of the Los Angeles Port to catch our Princess Cruise.   This was in Long Beach and not too far from the port.  We chose it because of it’s rates and it’s location really.

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The Lobby is stylishly designed with hues of blue, beige, and reminds me of sea foam I guess.   A really wonderful choice being we were headed out on a ocean cruise.

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We had a chance to enjoy the pool area in the evening as friends came to visit us while we where there.

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I have to say it is rather surprising that you do not really notice the large air craft sometimes just right over you head.  We had a nice conversation on one of the patio’s out doors and hardly noticed the aircraft flying above.

The rooms are nicely designed and we were presented with upgraded amenities.  The Thann soap smells wonderful.

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The halls throughout are brightly decorated and as you can see feature a cherry style wood grain finish.

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Every detail is beautiful from the exquisite flowers to the stylish and classic telephone.  I do love how Marriott takes care of all these design details to provide not only a comfortable stay but a feast for the eyes for those who care to look.

 

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We had a chance to venture off property during our evening and were treated with some of the best Mexican food at a tiny little place around the corner from the hotel within walking distance.  It’s in a little strip type mall and literally is really close.

We enjoyed a morning breakfast at no cost because we are Marriott Gold members.  It offered an array of items typical of your hotel breakfast.  It was set in there main dining area adjacent to the outdoor pool area.

For my Marriott Gold status this was a great little property.  A nice little upgrade, free breakfast, high speed internet, a concierge lounge it was the weekend so I did not use it, and nice and pleasant staff.

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This is a great little property for anyone visiting the area or flying in or our of Long Beach.  Not far from the Los Angeles Port in San Pedro and a great stop before your cruise.  It’s a little bit of tranquility before your next adventure.

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So if you would like to book this or anything else please use my booking site at TravelwithT.mtravel.net.   I would love to help you.

 

Traveling through Baja California:Destination Ensenada Wineries

 

Cetto Winery

Wineries in obscure places that are completely out of the way are my favorite.   I happened to be spending a little time around Ensenada when I found out they have wineries.  Ensenada is in Baja, California a long time destination for Southern Calif weekend vacationers.  I had been there several times and never made it past the Buffaladora, the restaurants and the bars.  I really never took a moment to discover they offer so much more.

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To my delight, I discovered they housed several local wineries.  In the valleys of San Vicente, Santo Tomas and Guadalupe is what is refereed to as the wine growing region of Baja California.  Just about 90% of Mexico’s table wines come out of this region.  Including Bodegas de Santo Tomas, founded in 1888.

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It appears that much of the Baja peninsula has a semi-desert climate.  You only have to drive through to notice this.  Yet, in Ensenada’s region there is a cold marine current, providing a Mediterranean climate, and it is ideal for growing wine grapes here.  Ensenada has warm summers and mild winters, and many sunny days with cool nights especially during the growing season.  I have learned that every wine growing area tends to produce a style of wine unique to there region.

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Many of the wines in this region have obtained international recognition, and are even exported to Europe, the United States, and Canada.  It’s really an amazing little place right down the southern coast.   We happened on it by chance really.  We were on a Princess Cruise and it was listed as one of the excursions.  So I was like wine yeah I am on top of it.   Drug the husband along and could not have had a better trip.

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We got a chance to visit 3 of the wineries in the area  La Casa Dona Lupe  and L.A. Cetto use old-world methods, and we came to learn that both have become pioneers in Mexico’s wine development.    Both wineries have been plying their craft for hundreds of years and are highly respected for their expertise in the production of sherry, wine and brandy. Oh and in case you think you are going away empty handed you are given a souvenir wine bottle as a gift to take with you.   Visit and winery and then get a bottle of free wine can’t beat that.

Dona Lupe Wine

All in all a great little one day trip if you are visiting the area and one of the best excursions we have been on.  Simplistic yet wonderful and FREE wine.  dona lupe wine 1

This is the lovely Dona Lupe who has been running her winery for quite some time.  She was gracious enough to pose for a picture.

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The cruise itself was traveling to Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, and it’s final leg of the journey was Ensenada.  I would love to help you take a journey to visit Ensenada’s winery’s either on a cruise or on your own.   TravelwithT.mtravel.com

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Cruising it’s all about Princess or maybe “The Princess”

 

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Puerto Vallarta on Princess Cruises

We have been cruising for several years now and have quite a number under our belt. Our choice being Princess for there superb service, classically beautiful design, destinations, and military friendliness.   For the ultimate experience and pampering you really can’t beat it.  For instance I am a Elite member and this includes yup a free mini bar set up.

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For the luxury minimalist it is a very nice room especially if you book a balcony.   I get to bring two YES two bottles of wine on board and I really love my wine.   I have a room steward who comes to take care of my room twice a day.  I can order room service to be served on my balcony if I booked one over looking that big beautiful ocean.   Or I can have them open my wine as I just sit and relax in ultimate comfort.  It really has a lot of featured comforts that can’t be beat.

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On the Ruby Princess Ocean View with obstruction ok ok it’s a little messy.

 

For this cruise we chose a ocean view obstructed room on the Ruby Princess and it was cabin E632.   We had a great window and there was hardly any obstruction at all.   A little noise in the morning from the opening of the storage door below but really nothing.  When you book an ocean view obstructed you can just about get anything.  It can be completely obstructed to really nothing to speak of.  I try to usually go on line and make sure I am getting a room that is not totally blocked.   This is always a great value and is comparable to a interior room and less than a full ocean view in price.   It’s a great deal if you are not spending a lot of time in the room.

E532 Ocean View Obstructed on the Ruby Princess Can you see the obstruction?
E632 Ocean View Obstructed on the Ruby Princess Can you see the obstruction?

I chose the ocean view obstructed because we were traveling with a group this time and was pretty sure I would not be in the room too much.  I was not disappointed as this view was great!  The cabin fantastic.

E 532 Ruby Princess Ocean view with Obstruction
E 632 Ruby Princess Ocean view with Obstruction

Our cruise this time was to the Mexican Rivera our stops were Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.   I have to say my favorite used to be Puerto Vallarta but I really enjoyed Mazatlan this time.  We chose a self guided taxi ride that took us throughout the city and out to the beach area to somewhere called Playa Bruja area.   We stopped and had lunch at a little place right on the beach.

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Matzatlan, Mexico Playa Bruha

The food was classic seafood style Mexican.  I chose grilled lobster which was very good.  Now I have to say that is was not as good as the little lobster village down in Baja California called Puerto Nuevo but it was close.  I was serenaded upon request of course as I enjoyed my lunch with great company.

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Cruising with Friends is always good

If you have never taken a cruise it is wonderful and one of my husbands favorite vacations.  He really enjoys the idea of unpacking once yet seeing multiple places.  It’s great if you just want to step your foot into various places before you make a longer trip.  In the United States our vacation time is some of the shortest in the working world so most try to make the most of the short time.   A cruise is perfect in this aspect because you can see a lot in a relatively small time frame.

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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Photo Credit Travel with T

For those who just want to enjoy the sea it’s perfect.  You can stroll upon the decks or sit in the International Café and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a nice cup of loose leaf tea.  There is no better place on ship for my favorite past time people watching then the Piazza.

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Wine is better on a Cruise Photo Credit Travel with T
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Piazza on the Ruby Princess Photo Credit Teresa Halsey Hollar TravelwithT.net
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Piazza on the Ruby Princess Photo Credit Teresa Halsey Hollar

As always if you enjoyed my review of Princess and would like more information please contact me.  I would love to help you book your destination discovery.

 

 

Affordable travel is it a myth?

 

pexels-photo-269583.jpegAffordable Travel is it a myth?

I hear it all the time, how do you travel like you do?   Isn’t it expensive? Aren’t you afraid? I heard on the news that ….. Don’t you work? How do you take all that time off? I heard about that free travel but isn’t that just a scam?  I can’t afford to travel.

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These are the most common stumbling blocks for people who want to travel but never make it out the door. I will try to address them in a little depth in my post this month.

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My answer to these, yes sometimes it is expensive.   Yet it is so worth it.  I have found it is worth so much more than I ever pay.   No I am not usually afraid, and I find if I use common sense I have no issues.    I am more afraid of not being able to see the things I want to see.   Yes, I heard all the stuff the news reports and I am usually not interested.   I might not ever leave my door if I paid attention to the news.   Yes, I work and I maximize my vacation time.   I do everything from long weekends to adding my vacation on to Holiday’s to extend it a little longer.

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So I will try to break down how I actually travel so much and how I do it as a luxury minimalist.  I will try and show you that YOU can do it too.  I am going to answer the most important questions first and I am going to stress what you need to do right away to make it happen.   MINDSET.

First Step: Make Travel a Priority again MAKE TRAVEL A PRIORTY

Ok, so how do I do it? First of all I make it a priority.   Above everything else I like to do travel is number one on my list.    So it’s what I focus on to make happen before anything else.   I CHOOSE to travel.    When other people might have toys, coffees, concerts, clothes, shoes, hobbies, ect I choose travel.   It’s my priority.   We all have them little things we spend money on daily and things we like to buy.    I choose to make mine travel. I get that not everyone likes it as much as I do and others may choose something else.   I choose travel over buying stuff and things.  Including a lot of dinners out of the house.

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I did a quick stint at Starbucks to see what it was about. I was actually surprised at how many people came in daily for a cup of coffee, latte, Macchiato ect.  At times there were lines of people waiting for coffee. I thought to myself its coffee people.   What I learned is you can’t mess with people and their coffee.

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So, instead I did the math and averaged out if you bought a latte at Starbucks 5-7 days a week (Although I had seen people in there twice daily) at an average of 5 bucks a day, over the course of the year you could spend 1,500 to 1,700 just on your daily coffee habit.   To some this might be quite worth it and they are not willing to give it up for anything.  To me in my book that is one trip.    For me that is going someplace I have never been and sitting there sipping coffee enjoying a new experience.  For some traveler’s, that would be a budget of one month for someplace like Thailand.   This is why it is so important to establish YOUR priorities.  What do you want?

This is what I mean when I say for you to prioritize.   If travel is something you want to do and don’t have the funds but maybe have a daily coffee habit, is travel or coffee more important?   Some might say coffee and I understand I love my coffee too.   I just love to travel more.    So I make mine at home.   I can make a mean cup of coffee too!    I want to experience life outside of my cup of coffee.   I want to experience that cup of coffee in Morocco or even maybe two hours away at that little roadside coffee place just outside of my next weekend adventure.    That to me is more important.   You have to decide what is more important to you. Only you can do that.

So next step: Dream and Plan

So if you are like me and decide that you need to prioritize travel, what happens?   The moment you decide to do this your dreams start to become reality.   So from the priority comes the plan or the action that has to happen to make the priority come alive.   I start looking at fares and places I want to go.   What do I want to do?   How much will it cost?   Then how can a spread it out over my timeframe so that I have to make small little payments?

I start to turn what started as a dream into reality.   You can too it’s really not hard.  Most motivational people will often talk about this and goal setting.   If it is weight, money, or travel, it’s all about goal setting.

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I actually started doing this at first with cruising  I picked place and looked at pricing  Then I discovered Cruise Layaway.

I love telling people about cruise layaway. I hear people all the time tell me I would love to go on a cruise.  I will always ask, “well why don’t you?”   Their response is always, because isn’t’ it expensive?   My first response is “what if I told you that you can plan it and lay it away?”   They are like what?  If you need help let me know.   I would love to help you do this and you can always take a look at my booking site.  There is a link on this site.   That is part of what I do to help me afford to travel.

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Not everyone’s choice is cruising but we have done it and love it.   You place a small deposit down sometimes 100 to 200 per person and you can do this a year in advance.   Then monthly you pay on it. There is no set amount you just need to have it completely paid usually 60-75 days out.   So you break up that 600 per person fee into small manageable increments.

After you have done this  70 to 80 percent of your vacation cost is paid for even before you go. What you do in addition is completely up to you and your budget.   If you do nothing else but cruise around the port areas you will owe nothing more but your tips.   Everything including entertainment is included.   Perfect for those trying to see things but not spend too much.   There is not anything better for more bang for your buck than cruising. Multiple places, various countries, in one trip for one cost.

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So now you have prioritized, then you have turned your dream into a goal.  You have placed a deposit down or you have paid your balance on your trip because you took the step.  For most people this is the first step and they just have to get through that step to open up a new world.

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It’s all about that first step.  If you never take it and keep putting it off it won’t happen.  There will always be something ahead of it.  Something scary, something that will stop you from taking that step.  I am telling you take it anyway.  Open the door.  JUMP!!!!  What are you waiting for?pexels-photo-753626.jpeg

 

I will be looking at some other ways you can travel using points, rewards, and such in some of my next post on affordable travel.  So, keep following for additional information on our you can continue to turn your dreams into reality.  As always if you have any questions or I can help you don’t hesitate to call me.  If you like this post by all means please share it.

Contact me if I can help you plan your destination discovery.  Remember Travel with T

You Betta Belize it!! Destination: Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker, Belize 021                                                         In December, 2014, we decided to do a family cruise. We had everyone from grandma to godchild and everything in between. There were 10 of us total. We chose the Carnival Glory for the price really.    Some of the younger ones were on a tighter budget and this was a great fit.  Our cruise would feature an area known as the Western Caribbean and is visited by several different cruise lines.

If you have never been on a Carnival Ship they are known for being fun.  They are called the fun ship and everything is geared towards that aspect.  The Glory is no expection.  You will walk in and the first thing that greats you are the colors.  They are always bright and you will notice that they use a lot of purples, reds, greens and blues, the colors of Carnival.    It was the first week of December and so the ship was decked out in it’s Christmas splendor.                           Christimas Deco on Glory

 

Cruising for someone like me where you are able to see and visit lots of different places for one price is great.   When you cruise you are presented with lots of options to do as much or as little as you want.  You don’t even have to get off this ship if you choose not too.  For this trip our Islands of choice were Cozumel in Mexico, Rotan in Honduras, and Caye Caulker in Belize.  Caye Caulker is only available once you get to Belize City at the port.

Caye Caulker Mangroves

One of the things you can do if you want to experience the local areas and the various ports are excursions   We opted for the non ship excursion ran by Belize Express Tours.  There are various options here when doing excursions.  You can reserve them from the ship, with your travel agent,  and you can use the ships website, and of course you can call the line itself.   You can even wait to the last minute and reserve on ship.  The only issue in waiting until the last minute is if your ship is booked the excursion you want might not be available.  An important feature of booking with the cruise line is you are covered in case something happens which causes you to be late.   They will even fly you to the next port (no charge) if you are really late. You also can go out into the port and find tours.  You have to be careful in choosing and if you are new to cruising your best bet might be to go with what he ship offers.  They usually have a great selection to choose from.

Snorkeling Tour in Caye Caulker, Belize

Belize is an english speaking country with a diverse population. It’s a small country with only a little over 300,000 people.  It’s a prime choice for Americans, Europeans, and Canadians to retire due to its lower cost of living.   The city itself has no natural beaches so if you are expecting to see a tropical beach paradise you might be in for a shock.  This is definitely not your Virgin Islands although it has it’s own charm and beauty.   The port is designed for cruise ships and it has all your standard little shops and venues.   If you want to experience Belize culture and life take a little tour of the city.  The picturesque beauty of Belize can be found in the surrounding areas  within its jungles and especially some of the Islands off the coast.

Our choice for this trip was snorkeling off of Caye Caulker, a mangrove covered Island and we could not have made a better choice.   Our excursion was right from the dock in Belize City and roughly 50 dollars per person. Our tour guide was great and the trip to Caye Caulker is about 45 minutes from the mainland on open water.  The area we chose was Shark and Stingray Alley.  While on the boat you are able to see various smaller Islands and even some of the local aquatic wild life like Tarpon.  We arrived on a small dock on the little Island that is not bigger than 5-7 miles at is longest. You can actually see from one side of the Island to another from the dock. WE LOVED IT!!!! The Island is home to a variety of Islanders and a well loved place for the budget traveler. Backpackers flock here for the laid back atmosphere and the price.  They have quite a number of hostels that offer sun, fun, beach, and a VERY relaxed Island life style. There are no cars on the Island, lots of bikes and of course walking is the mode of travel.

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Belize is home to one of the longest reef’s in the Western Hemisphere with 290 km in length of unspoiled beauty.  Your snorkeling is right off the reef and we  got to swim with nurse sharks and sting rays.   It’s an easy snorkel and although one area has a little bit of a current over all it’s a great area.  Perfect for families and teens too.  You will be able to see, touch, and swim with these magnificent creatures.  They will swim below and around you and you will have to take care not to step on some of the rays as the area is pretty shallow.  Having snorkeled in the Caribbean I was used to seeing various rays, sharks, and other aquatic life so it was not as unnerving to me as it was to some of the others on our trip.  They seemed to find it a little weird to be swimming next to a nurse shark and above a group of sting rays.

After snorkeling you again board the boat back to the mainland where you are treated to fresh fruit and rum punch.  Overall a great trip to Belize, a country with a laid back life style, and beautiful  people.  Belize a place to visit that an be great for a budget travel while visiting some of fantastic Islands and barrier reef’s there are.

If you happen to find your self in Belize make sure to visit this enchanting, little Island  If you have a chance “you betta Belize it”!

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