Spring Break Cruises on a Budget
Cruises are no longer reserved strictly for suburban families and senior citizens. Many lines, taking note of the influx of youthful cruisers, are building programs that target the college crowd and offer appropriate outings and onboard activities. But unless you want to get stuck on a boat where the height of the activity is a rousing game of bingo, you must do your research beforehand (or at the very least, enlist our help). Read on to discover what cruises we recommend for all your spring break needs.
From the geniuses behind the European budget airline easyJet comes a sea vacation that aims "to offer long weekends, short breaks and longer itineraries -- without the trappings of traditional cruises." Whereas most of the world's cruise liners only dock at each port for a few hours, easyCruise gives passengers nearly 24 hours to enjoy the sights. While guided off-shore excursions are available, easyCruise tends to appeal to the independent crowd -- those travelers who want to get off at the island and explore by foot (or scooter) on their own agenda.
Three-year-old easyCruise's low prices are justified by its no-frills approach, yet you'll still find the ship aesthetically pleasing in its bold black, orange and white accents created by Dutch designer Jan Des Bouvrie. Onboard you can enjoy such luxuries as a sauna, spa and wellness zone, and revel in social opportunities at the resident bars and nightclub. Prior to 2008, easyCruiseOne was the only ship sailing on the line, but new addition easyCruiseLife -- accommodating more than twice easyCruiseOne -- will give passengers more choices when planning a trip. For now, routes are limited to the Aegean and Ionian Seas, with ports in Turkey and various Greek islands; however, easyCruise itineraries change each year.
Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas
The most active of the Royal Caribbean line and the largest ship in the world, Liberty of the Seas is an adventure seeker's playground. Boasting a full-sized boxing ring, 11 courses for rock climbing, a 9-hole golf course and an ice skating rink, it is difficult to leave the ship when docked at your ports of call. If you prefer to expend as little physical energy as possible, the FlowRider surf system and golf simulator are perfect ways to learn the ropes, without making a total fool out of yourself.
Athletics aren't your thing? No problem; the Liberty attracts the artsy and musical, as well. Theater courses are on tap, and you can learn to spin at scratch deejay classes. If you work up an appetite, there's a Johnny Rockets and Ben & Jerry's onboard, along with all the typical dining options. When it gets too hot to lie on deck in the sun, the H20 Zone water park -- with its spouting geysers, sculpture fountains and flowing waterfalls -- is the perfect way to cool down.
Norwegian Cruise's Pearl
The Norwegian Pearl is fast becoming a favorite among younger travelers. Flaunting a bowling alley (an industry first), a rock-climbing wall and 11 dining options -- from gourmet Asian cuisine to fancy French fare -- the Pearl has all facets covered. A sports bar and club complex, Bliss Ultra Lounge and Night Club, that includes arcade games, foosball, air hockey and multiple flat-screen TVs insures you won't be spending any evenings inside your cabin. If you've brought along a digital camera and just can't wait to get home and have photos made from last night's outing, drop by the onboard kiosks to develop prints from your trip.
Once you've reached your daily destination, you can opt for activities like submarine excursions, river-floating expeditions, island safaris, ATV tours or white-water rafting. The Pearl sails 5- and 9-day itineraries throughout the spring that cover the western and southern Caribbean and leave from Miami. Some of its ports include Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Grand Cayman, Barbados, Antigua and Tortola. Its counterpart, the Gem, sails the same routes, only out of New York, giving you even more options if you reside in the northern states.