Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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Caribbean scuba diving vacation

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Looking to partake in the warm, clear waters of a Caribbean scuba diving vacation? The warm tropical salt waters, year round warm weather and beautiful white sandy shores of the Caribbean a perfect vacation destination any time of the year for scuba diving.

There are over 30 possible destinations for you to choose from and every one of them has wonderful year round scuba diving available. The main difference between all the choices is if you want to experience the vacation with lots of other tourists or do you prefer to skip out on the tourist attractions and go for more of the local resident feel.

One of the lesser known Caribbean scuba diving vacation destination is a beautiful island called Antigua. With gorgeous hot, white sandy beaches plus plenty of historical attractions, make this destination very memorable. Most of the scuba diving here in Antigua, other then the southern shores, is not deep; but with the stunning coral reefs, most divers do not mind the shallow waters.

A once spectacular Caribbean scuba diving vacation destination is the island of Montserrat. Sadly in 1996 an inactive volcano that is situated on the island became active again and devastated many scuba diving locations along with the main town including homes, hotels and attractions. It is not fully understood how much damage occurred to the coral reef and in fact local residents claim the volcano has not affected the diving nearly as much as is rumored and besides when will you ever get an opportunity to witness an active volcano from a safe distance like you can in Montserrat.

Another incredible Caribbean scuba diving vacation is the British Virgin Islands. Made up of a group of smaller islands, these islands are very popular tourist destinations. Scuba divers can take advantage of amazing caves, sinkholes, canyons and ledges. Probably the most visited dive sites in the British Virgin Islands is the Painted Walls where you will experience all the wondrous colors of the rainbow while you dive. If Wreck Diving is your preference then the R.M.S. Rhone is available to you as well.

Nevis, due to a lack of tourist promotion is a largely unknown Caribbean scuba diving vacation spot, with plenty of fascinating scuba dive sites stretched along the east of Nevis to the west end of St. Kitts. You really must plan to travel around the entire island to appreciate the complete assortment of sites accessible. There are plenty of both inshore and offshore diving with an astonishing natural coral reef that is home to numerous species of corals and some amazing sea life such as sea turns maybe even some sleeping turtles.

Obviously there are dozens of other islands to discover during a Caribbean scuba diving vacation, so enjoy trying to decide on the destination for you.

Best of North Carolina beaches

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Summer brings with it warmth and high humidity. The season also offers the opportunity for heat weary folks to escape to the mountains or beaches for a well deserved rest. In North Carolina, there are several beach destinations worth visiting; nine top sites are featured here.

1. The Outer Banks — Perhaps the most well known of all the beaches in the Carolinas, the Outer Banks offers much history as well as attractive beaches. You can visit the spot where the Wright Brothers first took flight in Kill Devil Hills as well as the first European settlement on Roanoke Island.

2. Bald Head Island — Got feet? You’ll need them here as no cars are allowed on the island. You can use an electric golf cart to get around, however.

3. Atlantic Beach — Located on the eastern end of the Bogue Banks this resort is part of the Crystal Coast. Historic Fort Macon State Park is a popular nearby attraction.

4. Figure Eight Island — Got money? You’ll need it to visit this private, exclusive resort.

5. Oak Island — Located in Brunswick County, below Wilmington, Oak Island is one the few south facing beaches along the east coast. Lots of golf courses in the area including at least one champion course.

6. Sunset Beach — Just three miles in length, Sunset Beach is the southern most of the Brunswick Island beaches. The only link to the mainland is a one lane pontoon bridge. Wow!

7. Carolina Beach — Located between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean, Carolina Beach features shopping, a boardwalk, a state aquarium, and the Carolina Beach State Park.

8. Topsail Beach — If beachfront high rise developments turn you off, then this is the place for you as strict zoning laws rule the land. During the 1700s pirates roamed the nearby waters. No word on whether Blackbeard’s treasure has ever been found.

9. Wrightsville Beach — This busy beach is frequented by Raleigh area residents as it is the closest beach to the state capitol. Still, out of state visitors find it to be a favorite resort.

From the Virginia border to South Carolina, North Carolina’s beaches offer visitors much more than sand and ocean breezes. Pick one of these destinations and you will truly have plenty of fun in the sun!

Best of Cape Town, South Africa

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1. Table Mountain

Table Mountain is arguably the most iconic image of Cape Town. Standing at the top should top everyone’s list of ‘things to do before you die’. Take the leisurely route in the slowly revolving cable car, or alternately hike to the top. Either way you won’t regret it when you get to enjoy the sight of Cape Town and surrounds from the Table top!

2. V & A Waterfront

Situated at the Cape Town Harbour basin, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is the most popular venue in Cape Town. With a wide variety of shops, numerous restaurants and cafes, wine bars, sites of historical and cultural interest and local craft workshops, you’ll never have a dull moment here, day or night.

3. Wine Farms

From the farms of Constantia in the southern suburbs to the expansive estates of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franshoek, the Cape boasts some of the most beautiful wine farms in the world. And it’s a well known fact that they produce some of the finest wines in the world too! A visit to Cape Town is incomplete without at least one day spent on the wine route, sampling fine wines, learning about the history and methodology of winemaking from the experts, enjoying a sumptuous lunch along the way and coming back laden with some great purchases for the cellar back home.

4. Robben Island

Site of former president Nelson Mandela’s prison cell where he was confined for many years prior to his historical release, Robben Island has a very special atmosphere. Take a ferry from the Waterfront and learn from the guided tours about the other men who shared the Island with Madiba, and about the incredible man himself.

5. Cape Point

Who wouldn’t want to say they have stood at the tip of the great African continent? Once inside the reserve you can make your way to the main parking area and stroll up the wide paths to the top lookout point. From here the view is breathtaking – sheer cliffs drop to the crashing waves far below while azure waters spread out as far as the eye can see to a hazy horizon. On a clear day, you really can see forever! Enjoy lunch at the excellent restaurant or drive to one of the sheltered beaches for a picnic.

6. Boulder’s Beach Penguin Colony

Home of a colony of so-called ‘Jackass’ Penguins (so named for the donkey-like braying sound they make) Boulder’s Beach is situated just past Simon’s Town. Apart from great penguin viewing, the beach is picturesque and great for families with its sheltered bay.

7. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

These beautiful gardens at the foot of Table Mountain were established in 1913. The gardens only grow indigenous South African plants, and cover an area of 528 hectares. Picnic on the green lawns next to bubbling streams, or take advantage of a guided tour.

8. Top Stones Gemstone Factory and Scratch Patch

Visit one of the Top Stone Gemstone Factories at Glen Cairn or the Waterfront, for a sparkling and enchanting experience. At the Glen Cairn factory you can view the stones being washed polished and crafted into curios or jewelry. Trawl through the walk-in Scratch Patch ‘caves’ and select your own treasures to take home.

9. Two Oceans Aquarium

Located at the V&A Waterfront, this is South Africa’s largest aquarium. It has great exhibitions and a strong educational component. The shark feeding times are always popular with visitors who love to get a close up view of these awesome creatures without getting wet!

10. District Six Museum

Back in the 1960’s the apartheid government demolished the District Six neighborhoods, displacing the residents. Of all the museums to see in Cape Town, this memorial to the glory days and tragic history of District Six is one of the most interesting and colourful.

Best of Barcelona, Spain

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High spirits and vitality govern in abundance when in Barcelona. This infectious capital of Catalonia, and second largest city in Spain, exudes soul and energy, living life to the full. Barcelona’s verve is matched by its magnificent architecture, characterised by one man’s signature, Antonio Gaudi.

1. Las Ramblas

Running from seafront through to Placa de Catalunya, Las Ramblas is a fusion of market stalls and street entertainment. Watch out for the mime artists, though keep a hand on your wallet.

2. Sagrada Familia Church

In progress since 1882, La Sagrada Familia is perhaps Antonio Gaudi’s most magnificent achievement. As yet unfinished, the ongoing construction of this gothic masterpiece is financed through tourism.

3. Picasso Museum

Born in Malaga, Pablo Picasso moved to Barcelona during his teen years. Though many of his greatest works are in private hands, the Picasso Museum on the Carrer Moncada is well worth a visit.

4. Casa-Museu Gaudi

A pink, Alice-in-Wonderland house is the setting for the Gaudi museum. Gaudi lived in this surreal location between 1906 and 1926 with his niece. Exhibits in the museum include furniture, drawings and portraits designed by the great man himself.

5. The Poble Espanyol

Completed in 1929, the ‘Spanish Village’ is a compilation of buildings representing the collective architectural characteristics of Spain. A celebration of all things Spanish, the village has become a gathering place to dine and be entertained.

6. Bishop’s Palace

After being destroyed by fire, Bishop Juan Bautista Grau i Vallespinós commissioned Antonio Gaudi to design a new, more magnificent palace in 1887. Upon the bishop’s death, and consequent interference from the diocese, Gaudi abandoned the project. It was not inhabited until 1961.

7. Gothic Quarter

On the site of an ancient Roman village, the Gothic Quarter is a contrast of contemporary and medieval architecture, incorporating the magnificent 14th century cathedral.

8. Olympic Stadium

During 1992, the eyes of the world focused on the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona as they hosted the Olympic Games. Today a popular athletics facility, the stadium was a redesigned version of the original built in 1929.

9. Passeig de Gracia

As one of the major shopping areas of Barcelona, Passeig de Gracia caters for the modest, and also those who prefer the more sophisticated boutiques. Bars and restaurants also line the thoroughfare.

10. Lover’s Day

On behalf of those looking for romance, Barcelona obliges with its own version of St Valentines, known as Lover’s Day, celebrated every April 23rd.

Best of Dublin, Ireland

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Few places around the world lend a friendlier hand than Dublin. The Emerald Isle offers wonderful hospitality, complemented by its warm and friendly hosts. A cosmopolitan city, Dublin is rightly proud of its rich heritage, but also presents a modern face in keeping with contemporary culture.

1. Trinity College
Housing the Book of Kells, a near two century old manuscript written by monks, Trinity College is Dublin’s oldest university, built in 1592.
2. Christ Church Cathedral
Dublin’s oldest building dates back nearly one thousand years to 1038. It was built courtesy of the invading Vikings, a monument to serve a powerful army.
3. Dublin Castle
Dating back to the Norman invasion, this wonderful example of medieval architecture captures the artistic influence of the time. Magnificent painted ceilings and crystal chandeliers portray the Ireland of one thousand years ago.
4. National Gallery of Ireland
Monet and Picasso are just two of the influential artists on display in the city’s largest gallery. Some 2,500 paintings give a flavour of a historic past and present.
5. Guinness Storehouse
Ireland’s most famous export was once brewed in this famous old building. Since relocated, the Guinness Storehouse now delights in telling its visitors how one of the world’s favourite beverages came to be.
6. Temple Bar
Contrasting Dublin’s historic ancestry, Temple Bar brings the city right up to modern day with its cosmopolitan mix of bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries.
7. Smithfield Village
More eating, drinking and shopping can be found at Smithfield Village, a newly renovated development. A walk to the top of the Chimney presents magnificent, panoramic views of Dublin.
8. Grafton Street
Big name department stores trade alongside local craft shops in the busiest shopping area of Dublin. Traditional Irish gifts and souvenirs can be found more easily in the adjacent Nassau Street.
9. Pint of Guinness
No visit to Ireland would be complete without a tipple of the world famous Irish Guinness. Locals say it tastes better in its home city. Well, there’s only one way to find out!
10. Irish Grand National
You can smell the money amongst the punters present at one of the great sporting events of the calendar. Join the runners and riders during the month of April to witness the Irish Grand National.

Best of Brussels, Belgium

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At the hub of European politics – Brussels is the cosmopolitan capital of bureaucracy. But when freed from the shackles of red tape, this compact capital of Belgium is a fascinating fusion of profound historical curiosity and contemporary living.

1. The Grand-Place
Brussels’ central square is the focal point of activity for locals and tourists alike. The heaving markets are bursting with souvenir-seeking bargain hunters. Look out for the town hall (Hotel de Ville), a magnificent example of 15th century architecture.
2. Manneken Pis
This sacred 17th century bronze statue of the small boy urinating is a Brussels landmark. Several legends exist as to the origins of this statue. One says it depicts a young boy urinating on a burning charge destined to blow up the city walls when under siege from a foreign army, thus saving the city from invasion. Whatever the truth, he is undeniable cute and has over 500 outfits, one for every occasion.
3. St Nicholas Church
Constructed in the 11th century, this fine example of medieval architecture is the oldest church in Brussels. If you are lucky, you may even catch one of the occasional services given in English.
4. Royales Galeries Sint-Hubert
Europe’s oldest glass arcade was designed by JP Cluysenaer and built in 1847. Home to fashionable boutiques and cool cafes, it was renovated and reopened in 2000. The arcade is worth visiting if only to experience the magnificent architecture.
5. Belgian Chocolate
No visit to Brussels is complete without experiencing the world famous Belgian chocolate. It has a quality all of its own and is the obvious choice for gifts to take back home.
6. Avenue Louise
If you crave a shopping fix then the Avenue Louise is the place to be. Designer shops aplenty provide ample opportunity to flex your spending power. Popular purchases include diamonds and antiques.
7. Waterzooi
This local Belgian speciality is a kind of fish stew and very popular with the locals. Other appetising native dishes include mussels, waffles, and sweetbreads.
8. Pistes de Lancement
If you are travelling with children, be sure to catch this clown festival during March. The Saint-Gilles region is awash with circus acts entertaining children and adults alike.
9. Flower Carpet
Throughout August, the Grand’ Place is subjected to a sea of colour as thousands of flowers are laid out in stunning patterns.
10. Christmas Market
The festive period is a flurry of activity as traditional Christmas stalls suddenly emerge. The effervescent displays keep you entertained between purchases as jugglers and musicians perform amongst the festive shoppers.

Best of Amsterdam, Netherlands

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An enticing fusion of ancient and avant-garde, Amsterdam is a beautiful city of creative legacy. Take a walk along the cobbled streets and serene canals and you can seem a million miles from the vibrant nightlife on every corner.

1. Dam Square
Dam Square is the hub of the city and located on the site of the original Amstel dam. The focal point of the Square is the Royal Palace. Originally the town hall, it became regal following Louis Napoleon’s crowning in 1808.
2. Anne Frank’s House
In close proximity to the Square, Anne Frank’s house provides a constant reminder of Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Her infamous diary is kept here; be prepared to queue as it gets very busy during the tourist season.
3. Rijksmuseum
The fabulous Rijksmuseum is home to some of the most important historic art in the world. Perhaps the most famous pieces here are that by Rembrandt; the works of Frans Hals and Vermeer also feature prominently. Beautiful examples of porcelain dolls and dolls’ houses can also be seen.
4. Van Gogh Museum
Another unmissable illustration of fine art is exhibited at the purpose built Van Gogh Museum. Including many of his finest pieces, the Van Gogh Museum is home to the largest collection of his work in the world.
5. Albert Cuypmarkt
If you feel the need to shop, the Albert Cuypmarkt offers just about everything you could wish to buy. This cosmopolitan shopping region will provide your credit card fix.
6. Queen’s Day
A sight to behold, Queen’s Day is the celebration of all that is gay and lesbian. Music is pumped from every corner, as what seems to be the entire world’s gay population descends on Amsterdam.
7. Vondelpark Summer
This summer festival is held between June and August and features all forms of entertainment including open air concerts, theatre and cabaret. The fun is enjoyed by men, women and children of all ages.
8. Holland Festival
The Dutch certainly enjoy their festivals; this is the biggest annual arts event in the country and continues for three weeks during the month of June.
9. Dutch Clogs
You cannot visit Holland without at least trying on a pair of their famous wooden clogs. Other iconic souvenirs include Dutch dolls and Delft pottery. Cheese and the famous windmills are also very popular.
10. Grand Cafes
Amsterdam’s notorious cafes are spread densely throughout the city. Take a well earned break and try the local erwtensoep as you wet your whistle.

Beaver Creek, Colorado for ski vacation

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Located near Avon Colorado, Beaver Creek is one of the main ski resorts in the United States. Two and a half hours out of Denver, with crisp clear air and dry powdery snow, Beaver Creek is a stunning ski location. The mountains look fantastic dusted in an average of 7.9 metres of snow.

146 Ski Runs

There are 146 ski runs in Beaver Creek in the 3 different terrain parks, covering a skiiable area of 6.58 square kilometres. Roughly 1/3 of the ski runs are for beginners, 1/3 for intermediates, and 1/3 for experts. Park101 is the beginner’s terrain park, Zoom Room the intermediate’s park, and Moonshine the advanced terrain park.

Impressive Ski School

At Beaver Creek there are specialized ski programmes for all skill levels. The ski instructors speak more than 25 languages between them, and run programmes for adaptive skiers, Nordic skiers, adults, children and families.

Halfpipe Heaven

Located off Barrel Stave, the Beaver Creek halfpipe is over 100 metres long, making it great for doing tricks on, whether you are doing a backside 720, or just happy to be able to jump in the air and land again!

Villages of Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek Village is in the heart of the resort. After a long day skiing, there are numerous bars and restaurants to while away the twilight hours in! Beaver Creek Village also has many hotels, B&Bs and condos. If you still have the energy, there’s an ice rink to skate on!

Bachelor Gulch Village has places to rent ski equipment from, and a ski and snow board school to polish up your skills at! There is also the Bachelor Gulch ski lift to take you up to the slopes.

Arrow Head Village has a selection of condos to rent, as well as bars and restaurants to keep you entertained.

Relax in a Spa

There are a choice to spas to relax in throughout the resort: Allegria Spa and Spa Struck are located in Beaver Creek Village, and Bachelor Gulch Spa is located in Bachelor Gulch.

Shopping!

If you fancy a change from skiing, why not unwind with a bit of retail therapy in Beaver Creek Village! Check out the art galleries such as Beaver Creek Fine Art Gallery, jewelers such as A. G. Betteridge, gift shops such as Beaver Creek Trading Co, or clothes shops such as Charlie’s Resort Wear.

Cruise travel – a perfect budget vacation

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A cruise ship provides a great, one price, vacation, and one of the main attractions to booking a cruise ship is that just about everything is included in the price.

When many people think about a budget vacation, they picture an intrepid traveler in a roach infested hotel room eating stale sandwiches and riding around on the city bus. However, one of the best ways to save money on a vacation is also one of the most luxurious and most thrilling – the cruise vacation.

Cheap Accommodation
In addition to a cheap place to stay, a cruise also offers unlimited food, including many amazing buffets that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, the food on cruise vacation ships are often better-quality to those in all but the best land locked restaurants, and once again, the food is included in the price.

Traveling Off-season
Of course, it is possible to save money by traveling in the off-season, and this can often be a great plan. For instance, even though it is the middle of the winter and most people are not thinking about vacations where you are, it may be warm and tempting in many tropical cruise ship destinations.

It is important, however to check out the local weather, and to avoid the rainy season in the destinations you are considering. Steering clear of hurricanes, tropical downpours and other weather problems can help you get the most out of your cruise ship.

Cabins
If you have never taken a cruise ship before, it is a good idea to get advice from those who have experienced cruising. These people can give valuable insight on the best balance of cost and comfort for your first cruise ship experience.

The location of the cabin is another important consideration when booking a cruise ship. The interior cabins on the lower parts of the ship are generally the least costly, while the higher, larger cabins with ocean views are the most expensive.

Discounts and Cheap Cruise ship Deals
It is not always necessary to shop early, of course. Cruise ship lines have been known to offer some fantastic discounts at the last minute in order to move unsold cabins or avoid leaving with a less than full passenger load.

There are many last minute travel newsletters that provide details on these types of cruise ship deals, and these last minute travel deals are a big hit with retirees and others with the time to see the world.

Food and Gym
After eating all that food, you will probably feel the need to work out, and the cost of the cruise vacation also typically includes unlimited use of the gym, the weight room and the sports locations. While many hotels tack on a surcharge for the use of the hotel gym, with a cruise vacation it is generally included.

Shipboard Entertainment
The cost of a cruise vacation also includes all shipboard entertainment and classes. The entertainment options of a cruise vacation are often one of the best parts of the experience, and many cruises offer such things as movie nights, theatres, spas, nightclubs, discos, and even casinos.

There are also some great classes offered by cruise lines, in everything from origami to bridge to ballroom dancing. And again, these classes and entertainment options are included in the price you pay for the cruise.

Among the only things that are not included in the typical cruise vacation are alcoholic beverages and shore excursions. Many of the higher priced cruises even include these extras. If the shore excursions and drinks are not included, be sure to get a price list for shore excursions and drinks.

It is often possible to save money on shore excursions while on a cruise vacation by booking the tours locally at portside instead of going with the cruise line. Just be sure, however that the book it yourself excursion will get you back to the ship on time.

For all these reasons, cruise vacation can be among the best, and most economical, of all vacation opportunities. The ability to enjoy a week or two week cruise vacation at one low price is one more reason to love cruising.

Good reasons for a cruise travel

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For many years, taking a cruise for a family vacation was considered an expensive luxury that few people could afford. Most people never even considered a vacation cruise as an option for themselves. Times have changed, though, as more and more people are discovering that cruising is a great value for a family vacation.

1. What you get
The price you pay for your cruise includes a huge number of things. It covers your accommodations (cabin) for the duration of the cruise, all of the food you can eat, and a huge variety of shipboard amenities and activities. A good way to see the value of what you get for yourself is to compare the direct costs of a cruise with the direct costs of a typical vacation. Add up the cost of comparable travel, hotel, food, and activities, you will quickly see that the price of a cruise is indeed a bargain when you take into consideration everything that you get.

2. Shipboard amenities
Modern cruise ships have an amazing array of amenities. Nearly all ships have the expected swimming pools, restaurants, bars, and other common attractions. More and more, though, cruise ships offer other amenities that may surprise you. These may include:
· Wine, cigar and specialty bars
· Ice skating rink
· Rock climbing wall
· Luxury spa
· Modern fitness facility
· Jogging track
· Game room
· Broadway entertainment
· Multi-room staterooms
· Specialty facilities for special needs
· Miniature golf
Each ship is different, so find out the amenities on whatever ship you are considering and select the one that best matches your wants and needs.

3. Shipboard activities
Activities abound on a cruise ship, and it is the rare person indeed who can manage to take part in all of them. There is literally something for everyone to do on a cruise ship, so you can be assured you will never be bored.
The list of shipboard activities will vary, but here are some typical examples:
· Dance lessons
· Swimming pool games
· Shuffleboard
· Ping pong
· Skeet shooting
· Lectures and workshops
· History and culture of ports of call
· Arts and crafts
· Photography classes
· Sports and game competitions
· Scavenger hunts
· Discussion groups
· Mix and mingle hour
· Wine tasting
· Painting lessons
· Clay and pottery lessons
The list goes on and on, and changes regularly. Some cruises are even considered “theme” cruises, where activities are designed around a particular topic or special interest.

4. Ports of call
Being on a cruise ship is like being at a fine resort with great food, lots of fun, and exceptional facilities. In addition to all of this, though, a cruise also takes you to one or more ports of call. At each stop, you can experience the culture of a location, explore the area, go on a special excursion, and then return to the comfort of your floating hotel.
Some cruises visit only a handful of locations, while others stop at four, five, or even more places. You can choose a cruise that goes to as many or as few ports of call as you like. Many cruise aficionados say that cruising is a great way to see a wide variety of places and determine which ones they would like to go back and visit for a more extended stay.

5. Choices
A cruise is a great value because it offers so many choices. You can do as much or as little as you like, and be very spontaneous about participating in activities. You have the freedom to relax and do nothing or spend your time being busy – it’s all up to you.
One thing is for certain – when you go on a cruise, you will never be bored. Some people return from their cruise saying they want to do it again because they didn’t have time to do all of the activities they wanted, while others return and want to do it again because they had a great time doing absolutely nothing. Cruising truly does offer something for everyone.