Spring Break Cruises - Tips and Tricks
March and April are prime-time for spring break cruises, enticing waves of college students and families to ocean tours of Mexico and the Southern and Western Caribbean. Cozumel, Cancun, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Mexican Riviera are just a few of the party-friendly ports that offer all the sun and surf you could want with a seasoning of local flavor. The cruise market bursts open this time of year, so learn which are the wild lines, where the discounts are, and where to go if you want a quieter trip as spring break 2011 approaches.
Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Lines are the major carriers servicing the Caribbean and Mexico that cater to the college crowd this time of year. Keep in mind that if you're under 21 these ships will not allow you to travel without at least one chaperone over 25, and in most cases (except for certain trips to South America or Europe) drinking is strictly prohibited unless you're of-age. (One thing to remember if you're trying to imbibe on the cheap: Whereas most lines allow you to at least bring wine, champagne, and beer for in-room consumption, Royal Caribbean forbids all alcohol from being brought on board.)
Older couples and families will want to be on the lookout for cruises that offer all-inclusive alcohol packages, as these can tend to get a little crazy, and not necessarily the ideal environment for young children. The best option for families and the young-at-heart might be a Disney cruise, with tons of kid- and family-friendly programming and events that capture the dreamy essence of the Magic Kingdom on the sea.
If you're looking for a more reserved Spring break cruise, Holland America has a reputation for being more adult-oriented, while the luxury of Cunard's ships is unsurpassed, albeit pricey.
Speaking of prices, if you do fall into that flexible young adult category (or hey, a flexible older adult), there are several websites, including AOL (that's us!), aggregator sites like Orbitz and Travelocity, and others that cater specifically to those looking for last-minute cruises and travel deals. Cruise lines want to fill those ships come spring break, which means if you're near a port, or can get to one easily, keep your eyes open for some terrific discounts – sometimes as little as 50 or 60 dollars a night. You might not get to pick the destination, but that's all part of the adventure.
Photo by Peter Dedina via Flickr