The suitcases are down, and we are in the midst of packing for an upcoming vacation cruising to Hawaii and back. This will be our splurge vacation for the year, and we are excited to board the ship and set course.
How and where we decide to go for our splurge trips (versus our more frequent and economical RV'ing trips) often depends on what travel deals pass our way in the months preceding. This year's splurge vacation was decided as a result of receiving a promotional mailer from a cruise line some months back offering reduced rates of about 33% off of a sailing to and around the Hawaiian Islands.
The total promotional cost of the 14 day cruise for two in a balcony category room, inclusive of taxes, fuel surplus fee and port charges, was just a bit over $4,000. We also received a $400 onboard credit from our online travel agent as a "Thank You" for booking the cruise through them, rather than through a brick-and-mortar travel agent. We plan to use the $400 onboard credit to cover the cost of tipping, generally around $10-$12 per day, per passenger, plus an excursion at one of the ports we'll be visiting. Our other port stops will involve a combination of on-our-own and guided trips, for which we've budgeted an additional $750.
With just a few exceptions, most cruise lines allow passengers to bring their own wine onboard, so we plan to carry on six bottles for this trip, which should see us nicely through the 14 days we'll be cruising. Otherwise, our goal is to spend no additional money while onboard, which should be very achievable in that the majority of food and entertainment options available are already included in the cruise fare. And yes, though cruise lines definitely work to separate you from your money as frequently as possible by continuously promoting for-an-additional-fee beverages, drinks, dining venues, art auctions, spa activities, bingo and gambling, it's really very easy to avoid the call and focus instead on what's already freely available.
Like enjoying morning coffee and afternoon wine on our private balcony while gazing out at sea, working out daily in the well stocked gym, laying by the pool each afternoon alternately swimming, sunbathing and reading, attending a variety of dancing, photography and foreign language classes, listening to interesting live lectures on a variety of topics, enjoying recently released movies, going to Las Vegas style live shows in the evening, dancing to live bands, and the opportunity to dress to the nines and flirt with my husband every evening - and vice versa!
And then there's the matter of calories . . .
At dinner we ignore the bread basket, select lighter fares for our appetizer and salad courses, fish or vegetarian options for our main course, and one dessert that we share. And before anyone trots out the old "But you're on vacation!" or "Life is too short!" adages . . . . keep in mind that we are on vacation a lot, and quite simply, we feel vastly better when we take care of ourselves and eat well, than when we do otherwise.
So that's our plan. We anticipate coming home tan, relaxed, on budget, and hopefully the same weight we were when we left!