Winter Getaway

Who doesn’t have an itch to get away from the Mid-Atlantic’s steel grey look and nippy feel of winter cold for the option of warm temperatures, pleasant breezes, puffy white clouds, and azure blue skies are offered by……well, the possibilities are endless. Choices abound if you have not already planned something.   

Is a land tour your preference or perhaps a cruise – river boat, a modest sailing ship or a large cruise ship with several thousand passengers. Each has pros and cons.  

And what about insurance? Regardless of your travel choice, Charlie Leocha, president of the consumer advocacy group Travelers United, has some advice. “Always read the fine print of any contract you sign. It will let you know when different benefits kick in,” he says. “Better yet, if it important, ask your lawyer to take a quick look. If friends of yours had to use the insurance, make sure to ask them their experience.” The bottom line? Do your homework, says Leocha.   

Let’s start with cruises! An obvious benefit of being on a cruise is that regardless of vessel size, there is no need to pack and unpack every couple of days. The ship is your hotel and  your activity/entertainment center.  

Cruise Critic does a good job of highlighting the pros and cons of small ships vs large ones. Size matters.  

For example, larger ships offer more restaurants for dining, if that is a priority, not to mention bars and lounges. Smaller ocean cruising ships house a modest array of eateries, but compact river boats use the same dining area for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  

Entertainment varies considerably between larger ships and smaller ones. Larger ships boast large scale Broadway reviews, theater productions, magic acts, and more. Smaller ships offer a more limited selection of entertainment. River cruises include evening entertainment, but they focuses more on presenting a single musician who likely sings and plays the keyboard. Karaoke is a popular passenger-participation passtime.  

Regardless of ship size, most cruises provide opportunities for excursions at various ports. Smaller ships including river boats, tend to place more emphasis on the history and culture of places visited simply because they don’t offer the plethora of amenities found on a larger ship. The excursions are more the key focus rather than the vessels themselves. A word of caution though, some excursions can be quite rigorous so it is best to read the descriptions carefully to make sure you can handle the level of activity.  

Larger cruise ships can seem like city on the sea. January 2024 marks the debut of the world ‘s largest ship – Royal Caribbean’s “Icon of the Seas” which, in 2024, surpasses in size Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas   At full capacity, Icon of the Seas holds 7,200 guests, sports 20 decks and a cadre of “neighborhoods” called Aqua Dome, Thrill Island, Chill Island, Surfside and The Hideaway. That might seem a bit overwhelming and more geared to younger families. There are plenty of web sites that feature large and small cruise ships and itineraries for seniors, the 55 and over crowd, adventure seekers who want to get off the boat to sample sea and land excursions or those with disability or mobility issues.  

The basic daily costs for a vacation on a large ship is typically less than the fee on a smaller ship. Guests on cruise ships of all sizes can opt for an all-inclusive beverage package or play it day by day.   

Next up: Land packages.  

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry s a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  

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