Next to an all-inclusive resort, cruises are the best vacation value around, And if you’re someone who likes to unpack once and see multiple countries, you’ll probably say cruising is an even better value than all-inclusive resorts.
I love to cruise, so much so that I started Ante Up Poker Cruises for our company since Laura told me she never wanted to take another cruise in her life. Ha. Since then, she’s joined me on several Ante Up Poker Cruises. I could go on and on about cruising. And I did – on Ante Up’s Cruise Guide page.
We sail Royal Caribbean almost exclusively for Ante Up, and I recommend them to any first-time cruiser. The food and experience is more to my liking than on Carnival. However, Carnival has more ships in the United States, meaning more departure ports and more sailings. So you’ll find more options if you go for the “Fun Ships.” You’ll have fun on either line. NCL is the other big mass-market line serving the United States, and we’ve taken a couple of cruises on them. The “freestyle” aspect of its cruises is tempting, but I found it more exciting on paper than in person.
If all you care about is price, you’ll likely do best with one of the big, cruise-only travel agencies on the Internet since they can offer great deals based on the volume of business they do. But cruising is one of the travel opportunities that a travel agent can really help you with, especially if you’re picky about where your stateroom is.
A year or two into my bachelor life, I thought it would be great to take a train. I was wrong. I drove from Ohio to Washington, D.C., jumped on Amtrak and spent 13 long hours wondering why I didn’t just fly to Montreal instead. Oh, and I had 13 hours on the way back to think about it, too.
To be fair, I bought the cheapest ticket possible (though it was still more than an airline ticket), so I had nothing more than a seat and access to the dining car (microwaved snacks and tiny bottles of liquor – my best friend on the trip). I imagine if you paid for plusher accommodations, on a scenic route, it might be an enjoyable way to travel.
A few years back, Laura and I took Amtrak’s Auto Train from the Orlando area to the Washington, D.C., area. This route goes back and forth every day, and your drive your vehicle up to a valet, who loads it on to the train for you. It’s a top-shelf experience, as far as U.S. trains go, with sleeper cars, a free gourmet meal and free wine happy hour, so it had some of the romance that I had imagined my first train trip might have. I’m able to sleep anywhere at anytime, so I got a good night’s sleep and woke up in Washington. My wife, on the other hand, is a light sleeper and was miserable. But it’s a great way to transport your car north or south, albeit a costly one.
More recently, I’ve been thinking about giving the rails another chance. Here in Florida, you can take the train from Tampa to Jacksonville or Miami for less than a plane ticket, get their faster than if drove and the trains now have wi-fi.