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Avalon Waterways
10% Off* Avalon Europe River cruises - Enjoy Savings Up To $1,500** Per Couple.

Sail on the newest ships on the European waterways. Avalon’s impressive fleet is just two years in age – compared to an industry average of seven years.

Special Celebrity Promotions
Celebrity offers the most beautiful ships at sea; Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse. See Europe from $899, Caribbean from $599.
Celebrity Cruises

Holland America View and Verandah Sale
Special Savings fleetwide: 7-day Mexican Riviera from $449, New York City to Bermuda $699, 7-day Caribbean $549 or Alaska from $699!
Holland America Line

Carnival Cruises Early Savers Program
Early Saver's Program
Sail for less that $70 per day!
3-Day Cruise $169
4-Day Cruise $229
7-Day Cruise $449
Book Your Carnival Cruise

Airfare to Norwegian Epic from $99 per person round trip.
Special savings on airfare to Barcelona this summer to sail on Norwegian Epicø!
Book Now at NCL.com

Allure of the Seas CruiseMates Cruise from $779
We have the best prices on Allure we have seen yet: Central Park view from $949. $100 shipboard credit. Join our group cruise.
Cruisemates Cruises
Allure of the Seas

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01.20.2011
Get the most out of your cruise
by planning ahead

Planning A Cruise
There is a saying; you can't teach an old dog new tricks. There is also another expression; you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. So? Put the two together and you get this: you can teach a old dog new tricks, but there has to be a sweet treat involved.

Think of me as that old dog - or that young dog, either way you'll get the idea. Here is the trick you need to learn - to plan as much of your cruise in advance as possible, because the more decisions you make in advance the more you will be able to experience and the more you will enjoy the cruise. Enjoying your cruise more is the "sweet treat."


Airfare to Norwegian Epic
Special savings on airfare to Barcelona this summer to sail on Norwegian Epic
Book now at ncl.com

Lesson #1 - Decide how much discretionary money you will spend during your cruise in addition to your cruise fare.

Every other decision you make depends on this decision first. Of course, there are some lucky people who do not have to worry about this, but even so, the more you plan ahead to more value and enjoyment you will get for the money you spend, and that is something everyone can appreciate.


See all of the great special values from Holland America here!
Special Savings fleetwide: 7-day Mexican Riviera from $449, New York City to Bermuda $699, 7-day Caribbean $549 or Alaska from $699!
Holland America Line

Lesson #2 - Plan and Book your Shore Excursions as Early as Possible

Have you ever wanted a shore excursion that you were told was cancelled due to a lack of interest? Have you ever wondered how many people they had to tell the same thing? What if it was enough to make that shore excursion happen? If all of those people had planned ahead you would be on that tour instead of wondering what else you were going to do with your day.

The important thing about shore excursions is that they are only available once during the cruise - meaning you can't go cave tubing in Belize any given day of the cruise. The earlier you book that cruise the more likely you are to get a spot before it sells out. You will also get the preferred time, leaving you extra time for a "port-day special" in the spa that afternoon.


Carnival Cruises Early Savers Program
Early Saver's Program lets you sail for less than $70 per day! 3-Day Cruise $169; 4-Day Cruise $229, 7-Day Cruise $449 !
Book your Carnival Cruise!

Pre-planning your shore excursions makes it easier to manage your budget. Shore excursions are expensive but if you plan ahead you will have a much better idea of what you can afford. What if you decide to spend $250 apiece on a deep sea fishing charter early in the cruise, and then later on you see a chance to have dinner in a royal palace - but it is also expensive? Do you really want to be telling yourself "I wish I hadn't gone fishing, because now I can't afford that dinner?"

Another advantage to pre-planning your shore excursions is in knowing how much energy you will have for other cruise events. For example, if you plan to hike for eight hours on a given day, that is not the night to make a reservation for a specialty restaurant. You may fall asleep before you were scheduled to be seated.


Special Celebrity Promotions
Celebrity offers the most beautiful ships at sea; Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse. See Europe from $899, Caribbean from $599.
Celebrity Cruises

Lesson #3 - Plan your Special Dining Next

After your shore excursions, plan your specialty dining. Do you know what nights are most popular for specialty restaurants? Not the first or last days at sea, because those are the nights when they serve the best food in the main dining room; lobster with baked Alaska, for example. Experienced cruisers know this, so they tend to book special restaurants for less active days in port.

I have personally missed out on dining in certain specialty restaurants I wanted to try solely because I didn't make a reservation at least three days before the cruise ended. All of the time slots were filled by the time I realized I hadn't eaten there yet.

Other times I was able to get a reservation on the last day at sea, but guess what, that is the same night they serve the best meal in the main dining room. Guess who ends up missing the lobster and baked Alaska - the people who couldn't get reservations for the specialty restaurant on the days when the main dining room menu was not so special.

The sooner you decide which nights you want to dine in the special restaurants the better your dining experience for the whole cruise will be.


Avalon Waterways - Up to $1,000 off per couple on Avalon Cruises
Sail on the newest ships on the European waterways. Avalon’s impressive fleet is just two years in age – compared to an industry average of seven years.
BOOK NOW
Avalon Waterways 866.397.6594

Lesson #4 - Book your Spa Appointments Next

Here is one simple fact of cruising; there are many things the cruise line has to do that depend on you making an early decision. The sooner they know what you want to do the easier it is for them to accommodate you. The sooner they can accommodate you, the better equipped you are to plan the rest of your cruise. A last-minute change in plans can cause you to miss out on important things. Therefore, planning ahead gives more time to adjust when you don't get what you want.

Especially if you want something specific, you are more likely to get it by being the first to ask. If you want a haircut just before dinner on formal night you had better book that at the earliest possible moment, because if you don't someone else will.

A really good massage should leave you in the mood for a nap, but what if you schedule a massage after lunch and you don't realize until you lay down that you have just eaten too much to enjoy the massage? The fact is that restaurants fill up and spas fill up. The more you can plan each day ahead of time the better off you will be.

At home there is always another day. But you are paying the same price for a cruise as everyone else, but you can get far more out of the cruise by making sure you get everything that is available to you when you want it.

On your next cruise plan ahead as much as possible. You just might be surprised at how much more you enjoy your experience.

here.

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new feature articles

You Know You're a Cruiser When ...
With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy; along with some help from members of our CruiseMates message boards, I’ve created a “foxworthyesque” list of cruiser idioms blue arrows

California Cruising in Critical Condition
The following ships will sailing out of California through 2011 on a regular basis; Holland America's Oosterdam, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Splendor when she returns to service. Sapphire Princess will sail to Mexico semi-regularly, but also has Hawaii, Asia and Australia itineraries blue arrows

Countdown to Disney Dream
Disney Dream is currently sailing its first U.S. cruise. Read more about it. blue arrows

Carnival Spirit Moving to Australia
One of the most popular west coast ships ever, Carnival Spirit, will be moving to Australia permanently to provide year-round cruises out of Sydney. blue arrows

Azamara Cruises Virtual Cruise
I am was just sailing on the Azamara Journey. Check here daily for my Internet reports. blue arrows

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NEW CRUISEMATES CRUISES!

Let's Get Lei'd 5.0
We're doing yet again - for the fifth time (because these cruises do so well) - We are going to Hawaii on a Princess ship, this time the mega-Sapphire Princess. We sail from Los Angeles and return to the same. Eight days at sea and five beautiful ports of call - four of them in Hawaii, plus Ensenada. February 26, 2011.

Allure of the Seas
Join your CruiseMates on the newest world's biggest cruise ship on October 2nd, 2011, on the sister ship to Oasis of the Seas slated to debut in early December of 2010. We have great prices and plenty of onboard fun in store for you!