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Make your next vacation a cruise

Carnival Sunshine
Carnival Sunshine
Mary Baker

Imagine spending days aboard a state-of-the art cruise ship sailing from nearby ports in Galveston, New Orleans or Houston. Journey from one exotic location to the next, experiencing the culture, historical landmarks and scenery of the Caribbean or the Bahamas aboard such well known names as Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Princess, or Carnival Cruise Lines. Once aboard these masterpieces of the sea, you will have no shortage of enticing things to do such as hands on culinary cooking classes, poolside lounging, casino gambling, duty free shopping, late night movies under the stars, Vegas style shows and much more.

Cruise vacations can easily be considered one of the best values for your hard earned dollars. Included is your food, (except specialty dining) and many non alcoholic beverages, luxury accommodations, outstanding service, entertainment, swimming, lounging and transportation to exotic ports. Usually not included are shore excursions, alcoholic beverages and most carbonated beverages, tips, shopping, spa and internet services, to name a few. Still, you'll eat some of the best food anywhere, including steak, lobster, shrimp, and regional and international specialties. Most ships have 24 hour room service, often free, and many have all night restaurants including pizzerias. There's always something to do on a ship, whether you're just relaxing by the pool, in the coffee shop or in the library, having a cold beverage in one of the many bars, swimming, playing a round of miniature golf, sliding down an over-the-sea slide, or spending time with the family or new friends.

And if you have children, they will be entertained with games, arcades, swimming, arts and crafts, dances, movies and much more. And if you don't have children and want to relax, most ships have a serenity or adults only area or pool.

Prices for cruises vary, and each cruise line is a little different, so it pays to do your homework. One way to make sure you get the best value for your money, and to make sure you are booking a cruise that will suit your travel tastes, is to use a travel agent. Most agents or consultants work for commissions which are paid for by the suppliers, not by you, the customer. It's like having your very own travel agent, for free! Follow me as I post more articles about cruising in the coming weeks, and join me on line as I blog from the Carnival Elation, Sep 6-11, 2014. If you would like to book a cruise, there are many options of local agents, or contact the cruise line directly. Our next article will consider the benefit of using an agent, versus booking directly with the cruise line.