Cabin fever

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Cruise vacations - their popularity grows every year. Along with the size of the ships.

The list of cruise line amenities is as big as the array of food on the buffet - rock climbing walls, surfing pools, state of the art spas, adults only "sanctuaries" and "alternative dining options."

Let's face it, the evolution of a cruise vacation is never ending. And isn't that great?

Small, cramped cabins have given way to light and airy staterooms. Strictly observed dining room hours have given way to more "freestyle" food options. And with shore excursions available for online booking, the stampede to the shore excursion desk is a thing of the past. These days cruise ships are more like floating resorts, with more amenities and flexibility than ever before.

With the host of choices we have when sailing these days, there are always lots of questions to ask before you go on a cruise vacation. Besides what cruise line you want to sail with and where you want to go - Eastern, Western or Southern Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, etc. - there's the question of where you want to be once you're onboard.

In "days of cruising past," it used to be rather simple - inside or outside, port or starboard. Now your cabin will come in various shapes and sizes, many offering balconies - and if you're on one of the gigantic Royal Caribbean ships, you can get an inside cabin with a window or a courtyard view with a balcony! It's easier than ever to find something that works for you.

So where's the best place to be on a ship? The laws of physics say the best place to be is an inside cabin, centered directly mid-ship from front to back and top to bottom. This is where you'll feel the least amount of side-to-side rolling and forward to aft rocking. Now let's be honest - not everybody wants to be here. Sometimes even the sickest of sea dogs would put their desire for natural light ahead of their fears of a queasy stomach.

Before you set sail on your next much deserved vacation, let's go over a few terms so you can choose the type of accommodations that will be right for you.


Inside - A cabin located on the interior of the ship. While in most cases this cabin will be identical in size and amenities to an outside stateroom, this type of accommodation does not have a window. If you're the kind of traveler who uses their stateroom to sleep and change clothes, an inside cabin offers your most economical option.

Outside - A cabin located with one wall on the exterior of the ship. Traditional portholes are pretty much a thing of the past, but you will find the windows come in a big variety of sizes and shapes. Most are large, allowing for lots of natural light in the cabin. While not the least expensive option, you'll often find these accommodations aren't much more than inside cabins.

Balcony - This category covers a wide variety of staterooms! While stateroom sizes are pretty consistent, the balconies differ in size - even on the same ship. Balcony staterooms are most often located on the decks in the center of the ship from top to bottom, making them a comfortable option. Rates vary from pricey to outrageous, but some people swear they won't sail without one. You'll see these cabins called by lots of names, too - Verandah, Suite, Mini-suite. This will differ from cruise line to cruise line.

Port and Starboard - This is easy! Left and right. Here's the trick I use to remember one from the other - "port" and "left" both have four letters. Some experienced cruisers will always sail on the port side as they say you get a better view. While this may be true in some itineraries, it's not true for all. You'd be amazed at how maneuverable the ships are these days, offering all sides of the ship terrific views, even in tight quarters. And personally, I'd rather have a nicer cabin on the Starboard side than a minimum one on the Port.

Fore and Aft - Another easy one! These terms refer to the front and back of the ship. Something to think about: be careful of being too far forward - you may hear the anchors being hoisted early in the morning and late at night. By the same token, you don't want to be too far back either, as you'll feel lots of motion. Again, the best place to be here is in the diplomatic middle.

And last but not least, look carefully at your deck plan. If at all possible, you won't want to be over or under a busy public deck. I don't care how good the insulation is, you don't want to hear the bing bing bing of the casino when you're trying to sleep, nor do you want to hear the deck stewards rearranging the chairs each morning. We all work too hard these days to have our vacation marred by pesky interruptions!

A cruise vacation ranks very high on my list of great ways to travel. The convenience and comfort of today's glittering and modern ships will make your vacation a memorable one!

And if you "choose to cruise," there are some fantastic rates for the Caribbean and Alaska!

Cruise September through November and you'll find rates like this:

Inside Stateroom - from $499.00 per person
Outside Stateroom - from $499.00 per person
Balcony Stateroom - from $699.00 per person
Mini Suites - from $799.00 per person

These rates are for a variety of ships sailing from Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, cruising the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Add a flight from Phoenix and you've got a great vacation value!

Rates are per person, based on two people sharing the stateroom, and are subject to availability. Grab your passport and go!

Cruise late August through mid-September and you'll find rates like this:

Inside Stateroom - from $699.00 per person
Outside Stateroom - from $899.00 per person
Balcony Stateroom - from $1299.00 per person

These rates are for the round trip Inside Passage cruises out of Seattle. Add a flight from Phoenix and off you go!

Rates are per person, based on double occupancy. Grab you passport and your calendar to plan your trip!


A nice variety of all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica are offering terrific rates for folks traveling from Phoenix to this island paradise!

The rate includes round trip air from Phoenix, six nights all-inclusive accommodations, airport transfers and tips! Your air taxes are additional. This rate is for Sunday to Saturday travel, July & August, on into Fall.

There are some wonderful resorts on sale!

Junior Suite
$989.00 per person, double occupancy!
Lovely and luxurious!

RIU Montego Bay
Run of House Room
$1039.00 per person, double occupancy!
Very popular, on a great stretch of beach!

RIU Negril
Run of House Room
$1059.00 per person, double occupancy!
Kids stay free!

RIU Ocho Rios
Ocean View Room
$1079.00 per person, double occupancy!
Kids also stay free at this popular resort!

And finally:

March 11 - March 22, 2011

I'm putting the finishing touches on the itinerary, but it's looking like we'll be spending a total of four nights in Rome plus two nights each in Florence, Venice and London!

Keep checking this site and for rates and more itinerary information in the coming weeks!

An island holiday or a holiday cruise - we do it all at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140 or, if you're outside the Metro Phoenix area codes of 602, 480 and 623, you can call toll-free at 888-751-2032. You can also reach me directly via e-mail at I look forward to hearing from you!