Tag: FirstTimers

6 Stress-Free Cruises for First-Timers

By MM Travel and Tours in Travel

By: Elissa Garay / Reposted from: www.cntraveler.com

Looking to get your feet wet in the wide world of cruising?
With an overwhelming number of itineraries spanning the seven seas—on
ships of all shapes and sizes—it can be tough to find your niche for a
first-time cruise. Keep the high seas low stress by sticking to one of
these rookie-ready itineraries that are sure to please anyone in search
of their nautical stripes. Whether it’s gliding along European waterways on a sleek riverboat
or a quick jaunt to the Bahamas on a tricked-out mega-ship, when
setting out on these voyages, you can be sure that your first cruise
won’t be your last.

1. “A Taste of the Danube” River Cruise on Avalon Waterways

European rivers are the perfect place to the test the waters for would-be cruisers, thanks to calm waterways (no bouts of seasickness
to contend with here), intimate ships (rarely carrying more than 200
passengers), and port-intensive itineraries that showcase the best of
Europe’s cultural and historical attractions. While most river voyages
run a week or longer in duration, Swiss company Avalon Waterways
caters to first-timers with its series of “Short & Suite” three- to
five-night itineraries, perfect for those tight on time, budget, and/or
tolerance. Their three-night “A Taste of the Danube” offering sails
between cultural heavyweights at Budapest and Vienna, stopping for
excursions in Slovakia (at Bratislava) and Austria (at Melk and
Dürnstein) en route—where you might tour Melk’s 11th century Benedictine
Abbey or bike through the vineyards of Austria’s Wachau Valley.
Sailings in 2020 embark aboard a quartet of the line’s sleek, 128- to
166-passenger “Suite Ships,” known for their signature spacious cabins
that convert to open-air balconies via floor-to-ceiling, sliding-glass
doors—with beds positioned to face the passing landscapes. Sailings in May, July, and September–November 2020; rates from $810 per person; avalonwaterways.com

2. Quickie Bahamas Escape on Royal Caribbean Mega-Ship

The bigger-is-better crowd won’t be disappointed with a Royal Caribbean
sailing, the ultimate mega-ship line (its 26-ship fleet claims the
world’s four largest cruise ships, carrying more than 6,500 passengers
apiece), known for its multigenerational appeal and slate of whiz-bang
features. Give ’em a whirl aboard a beachy Bahamas sampler sailing, with
quickie three- and four-night voyages scheduled year-round aboard the
3,386-passenger Navigator of the Seas from Miami and 3,344-passenger Mariner of the Seas from Orlando (via Port Canaveral). Both runs incorporate a stop at the Bahamian capital at Nassau, gateway to attractions like the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort and the turquoise waters of Cable Beach, as well as at the line’s recently revamped private island
experience Perfect Day at CocoCay, home to North America’s highest
waterslide and the Caribbean’s biggest freshwater pool. Onboard, you’ll
be spoiled for choice of amenities, with dining, entertainment,
nightlife, and pools aplenty, and diversions that span surf simulators,
escape rooms, waterslides, glow-in-the-dark laser tag, and more. Sailings embark year-round; rates from $177 per person; royalcaribbean.com

3. Classic Med Sampler on a Tall Sailing Ship with Windstar

a reason sailors have been plying the Mediterranean for millennia—there
are incredible places to see and near-perfect at-sea conditions in
which to get there. Today, the trade and conquering mindset of yore may
not factor in, but idyllic ports and a touch of romance are just as
motivating, especially when swooping in below the billowing white sails
of Windstar’s intimate, 342-passenger Wind Surf. The line runs a standout port-intensive itinerary between two of the region’s blockbuster cities—Barcelona and Rome—with
a dreamy mix of yacht- and culture-flooded ports in the French and
Italian Rivieras wedged in between, including Palamos, Sanary-sur-Mer,
Monte Carlo, Cannes, Portofino, and Portoferraio. Bonus: The ship, which
is known on the culinary front for menus that feature creations by
James Beard-associated chefs, as well as its retractable water sports
platform, is in the midst of a facelift this fall, and will emerge in November with upgrades like a brand-new spa and wellness center. Sailings from April through September; rates from $2,699 per person; windstarcruises.com

4. Alaska Sailing with the Experts on Princess Cruises

its rugged snowcapped mountains and calving glaciers backdrop, met by
waters teeming with spectacular marine wildlife (where whales and orcas
abound), Alaskan waters are tailor-made to cruising. Discover “the Last Frontier” in expert hands with Princess Cruises,
which has been voyaging to Alaska for more than 50 years. The line
offers the most robust cruising calendar in the region (with eight ships
positioned here for the 2020 sailing season), plus its own railway car
and five wilderness lodges on shore, primed for its customized
land-and-sea “cruisetour” vacations. Their weeklong cruise-only
itinerary aboard Princess’s 3,560-passenger Royal Princess affords an excellent entrée to the best of Alaska, sailing between Anchorage and Vancouver,
and visiting Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan in between, along with a
day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park. On board, enjoy
Princess’s Alaskan signatures like “Cook My Catch,” where guests can
have the fresh-caught bounty from their salmon and halibut fishing
excursions prepped to their liking, or “Puppies in the Piazza,”
featuring onboard meet-and-greets with Alaskan sled dogs. In port, other
exciting excursions include a Discovery-branded “Deadliest Catch”
crabbing boat ride off the coast of Ketchikan. Sailings from May through September; rates from $669 per person; princess.com

5. Yachting the Caribbean on Seabourn

It’s little wonder that the Caribbean
is the most popular cruising destination in the world. Tropical temps
(a special lure come wintertime), gorgeous beaches, and a laid-back
lifestyle put forth a winsome combination, while the region’s
multi-island geography is conveniently explored aboard a floating home
base. Get there in style with the upscale mega-yachts of Seabourn: Both
their 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn
winter in the region, offering a range of 7-night-plus itineraries. The
shorter weeklong voyages, which start and end within the Caribbean,
sailing between Philipsburg, Saint Maarten, and Bridgetown, Barbados,
rotate featured ports, where excursions might include chef-led outings
in local markets, tours of UNESCO sites (the line is the official cruise
partner of UNESCO World Heritage), or beach BBQs, complete with grilled
lobster—as well as caviar, delivered by Seabourn waiters right into the
surf. Onboard, expect menus backed by top chef Thomas Keller
(paired with included-in-the-rates wines and spirits), a significant
spa space and wellness programming, and a plush, all-suite
configuration. Sailings from November through March; rates from $2,699 per person; seabourn.com

6. Baltic Sea Expedition with Viking

For some first-timers, the best way to enjoy cruising is to dive right in, and see—contrary to a popularly held misconception about the perceived superficiality of sailing—just how comprehensive a cruise vacation can be. Baltic-rooted and destination-focused Viking is most at home in Scandinavia, where its 14-night “Viking Homelands” voyage, aboard a quartet of sister ships (the 930-guest Viking Star, Viking Sky, Viking Sun, and Viking Jupiter, in 2020), delivers a well-rounded and immersive introduction to Scandinavia and its diverse, yet interconnected, Baltic Sea ports. On the eight-country itinerary between Stockholm and Bergen, Norway—where the ship overnights in each bookended port—port calls include Helsinki; Tallinn, Estonia; Gdańsk, Poland; Berlin; Copenhagen; and Alborg, Denmark; as well as an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia. Plus, some scenic sailing through Norwegian fjords, along with a couple of off-the-path Norwegian stops, for good measure. (Bonus: you’ll get an included-in-the-rates excursion in each and every port). Back on the ship, luxuriate with complimentary perks like high-tea service, access to the LivNordic Spa’s Thermal Suite (complete with a mineral pool, dry/wet saunas, and snow grotto), and regionally inspired cuisine. Sailings from April through September; rates from $5,799 per person; vikingcruises.com

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