am I warming up to cruising?

I've always loved traveling on land. Nothing beats a comfortable hotel in the heart of a great city ... or relaxing at a gorgeous resort nestled alongside a white, sandy beach. I love walking out the front door before dawn to capture pictures of a sunrise ... or wandering through picturesque streets to explore a new destination. You really can't do these things while cruising. Ocean ports are not in the heart of a city, nor do ships dock next to beautiful, secluded beaches.

But I been on two cruises this past year with a third cruise planned for April. Could I be warming up to cruising?

My first cruise experience was aboard Seabourn Ovation last May. Along with some Brownell colleagues, we enjoyed the final four days of an eight-day Athens to Barcelona cruise. Boarding in Rome, our stops included ports in Corsica, the south of France, and the northeast of Spain before completing our experience in Barcelona. Seabourn is a pretty all-inclusive cruise line with a lot included in your fare including all beverages and Thomas Keller-inspired dining at your choice of restaurants. My cabin was large and comfortable with a bedroom, living room, and large walk-in closet.

My second cruise experience was aboard Windstar's Star Pride last August. We chose this cruise because of its fascinating itinerary around the Baltic Sea — Gdansk, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and more... This was a small ship with just 200 guests, and we felt an instant connection with our fellow passengers.

And now I have a third cruise experience to look anticipate — a Tauck River Cruise aboard the Inspire. The map above shows the route we'll take. The cruise begins in Amsterdam in mid-April (an ideal time to see the tulips) and sailing up the Moselle and Rhine rivers toward Basel. We'll spend a couple of days in Amsterdam before we begin and explore the Interlaken area of Switzerland at the end.

Here are five cruising tips for hotel lovers.
  1. Look out for creative itineraries that you couldn't do any other way.
  2. Choose a ship whose size corresponds to your favorite hotels. For instance, a ship with 200 cabins is like a typical Four Seasons. Avoid the huge mega-ships unless you really enjoy large convention hotels with thousands of rooms.
  3. Do splurge for the extra space. Cabins are much more compact than hotel rooms. If you can book a Suite with 300 square feet or more (admittedly smaller than most hotel rooms), you'll be happy.
  4. Don't be fooled by low come-on pricing by premium cruise lines. It doesn't matter what you pay to get on the ship; it's what you pay to get off the ship that matters. Many guests booking a lower-end ships at a "bargain" fare are shocked when their bill at check-out exceeds the initial cost of the cruise. Look for the magic words "all-inclusive." A true luxury line may cost less than the bargain advertised price of a mere "premium" cruise line.
  5. Enjoy the pack-and-unpack once experience of an ocean or river cruise as your hotel room floats with you from port to port.
And here's a special value ... book a Tauck River Cruise before the end of the year and enjoy a complimentary pre- or post- hotel stay. Contact us for more details!

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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