Hate paying individually for drinks on a mainstream cruise ship -- or perhaps you've been known to run up a huge bar tab onboard? You might be the ideal candidate for an alcohol-inclusive drinks package, offered by the majority of mainstream cruise lines. Found somewhere between the ubiquitous soda packages and the included-in-your-fare booze of most luxury lines, these programs let cruisers pay one base price that covers most -- if not all -- of their nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks onboard. Of course, while high prices and annoying fine print may persuade some travelers to go it a la carte, for others, the freedom to sample brightly colored cocktails and wines of unknown provenance can be too appealing to ignore. See below for a line-by-line guide to available drink packages, followed by some Cruise Critic reader reactions to the programs.
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Nature-lovers might be surprised to know that they can seek out birds, animals and outdoor activities on a cruise vacation. From small expedition ships staffed with naturalists and expedition leaders to bigger ships with wilderness or wildlife-themed shore tours, passengers have a wealth of options to embrace the outdoors. But which destinations lend themselves to the best nature-based cruises? From Antarctica with its penguins to the Arctic with its polar bears, cruisers are actually spoiled for choice. They can seek out closer-to-home Mexico or Alaska nature cruises or journey to exotic Africa for wildlife cruises. If you've got your binoculars, bird books and hiking boots all ready to go, here are some of the best cruise destinations for nature-lovers, by region.
If you've got a reason why you couldn't possibly like cruising, we can guarantee we've heard it before. And while not every cruise ship or type of cruise will suit every vacationer out there, the explanations people give for why they'd dislike a vacation at sea are generally unfounded. In fact, we'd bet that for every excuse, a cruise line exists that proves the stereotype wrong. That's because cruise ships and itineraries come in all shapes and sizes, and not as cookie-cutter as the uninitiated might fear. If you think there can't possibly be a cruise you'd like -- or have a friend or relation who feels that way -- here are our favorite cruise lines for non-cruisers that defy cliches and win over skeptics.
While big ships impress with onboard surf simulators and corkscrew water slides, smaller vessels like the six ships in Windstar Cruises' fleet are upping their game in another direction: putting you directly in the water instead of several stories above it. Windstar's water sports platforms give passengers complimentary access to water toys, water skiing and more directly from the back of the ship.
Fitness-minded cruisers have a bounty of options these days, as cruise lines continue to get more innovative with their health and wellness offerings. Even those who aren't overly active can find more subdued ways to loosen up their muscles. Whether you're a gym junkie, sporadic exerciser, casual walker or wellness enthusiast, a cruise can offer just as invigorating of a workout as what you'd find back home. In addition to cutting-edge workouts like Kinesis, TRX suspension training and kick-boxing at sea, many cruise lines have fitness trainers onboard to help you strategize a fitness plan. Also popular are group classes such as yoga, Pilates and spinning (these often come with a fee). The good thing about staying fit on a cruise is that you don't have to keep your "serious face" on. Activities like scaling a ropes course, rock climbing and pickup games in the sports court allow you to burn calories while having fun. If you really want your cruise to be all about burning calories, though, choose a fitness-related theme cruise focused on activities like running and biking. Learn where -- and how -- you can stay in shape at sea, with our roundup of the best cruises for fitness.
Five Zodiacs, six onboard expedition experts, two (or more) days of scenic cruising, one 212-passenger ship and countless opportunities to explore major and lesser-known ports -- that's what you can expect from a Windstar cruise in Alaska. Even though the line hadn't sailed in Alaska for 20 years, it wasn't going to come back in 2018 with a ho-hum itinerary of the standard ports in the region. Instead the line tricked out its Star Legend motor yacht with the best expedition gear and staff, and created itineraries that would set it apart from the rest of the crowd. If you are interested in small-ship cruising and in-depth exploration, here are five reasons you might love a Windstar cruise in Alaska.
Kids running around in face paint, clutching melting ice cream cones; ribs and corn grilling on the barbecue; the splashing of pool games, the waving of flags and even the crackling of fireworks -- this isn't the Fourth of July in your backyard, this is the Fourth of July on a cruise. Whether you're sailing through Alaska's Last Frontier or far away in exotic waters, cruise lines find a number of ways to celebrate America's birthday. From traditional meals and red, white and blue decor to new traditions like an Americana-themed silent disco party, there are many ways to observe and revel in July 4th at sea. (One line even hosts its own grand fireworks display!) Find out which lines do what for an Independence Day cruise.
Windstar is proof that bigger isn’t always better. Each ship in the six-yacht fleet holds only 148 to 310 passengers - less than the capacity of a lifeboat on a big ship. The ships’ smaller sizes and shallower drafts allow for nimble navigation into smaller ports without another cruise ship in sight. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Windstar -- but should.