Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution While Traveling

Happy New Year! Have you planned your New Year’s Resolution yet?

It is now 2020. A new year, a new decade, and a perfect time for a new start. It’s a great time to choose your New Year’s Resolution and plan for how you’re going to keep them as the year goes on.

There are many popular New Year’s Resolutions, but they are often seen as incredibly difficult to keep. Here we have five of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions, along with tips for how to keep them while you travel.

Exercise More

This is a very popular New Year’s Resolution, and the good news is it’s a very easy one to maintain while you are traveling.

Workout with a View

The Fitness Center overlooking the beach at Secrets The Vine Cancun in Cancun, Mexico

Many hotels, resorts, and cruise ships have on-site fitness centers, and are often located in beautiful, picturesque locations. It’s very common for the fitness centers to have floor to ceiling windows, and they are typically designed with the view in mind.

Going to the gym can be a chore, but it’s a lot easier when you can watch the sun rise over the ocean while working out. You can also add on a massage or a soak in the hot tub after your workout.

Plan Walking Tours

Fitbit Stats after one day of walking around Kyoto, Japan

There are a lot of great activities and excursions you can plan while on vacation, but sometimes walking is the best thing you can do. Many international cities are very walkable, and often walking can give you the best views. You are free to stop whenever and wherever the whim strikes.

To keep track of your progress, invest in a Fitbit or other fitness tracker. You may be surprised by just how much you walk in a single day. Museums, castles, gardens, nature trails; walking doesn’t have to be boring.

Use Public Transportation

This may seem like an odd thing to specify, but public transportation can greatly improve your fitness. If you take a private car or a taxi, the vehicle comes to you. You can take a car from the front door of your hotel the the entrance of your destination, without having to walk at all.

Public transportation, on the other hand, has specific stations where you have to go. Even if your hotel and destination are close to a station, that little walking can add up. As an example, the hotel we stayed at in Tokyo, Japan was 500 meters away from the nearest train station. That’s about a third of a mile. Just the round trip walk between the hotel and station added 3 miles of walking to our time in the city.

As an added benefit, public transportation is cheaper than private transportation, which may just knock off another one of your resolutions.

Eat Healthier

This is another popular New Year’s Resolution that at first may seem much harder to keep while traveling. Cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts have restaurants and buffets galore, and it can be hard to stick to the healthy choices. The fact that you will have to eat at restaurants more frequently when traveling can also hinder your efforts. But there is good news, especially when traveling internationally.

International Portion Sizes and Nutrition

Compared to the US, many international destinations have much smaller portion sizes. For example, at many steakhouses in Asia the typical cuts of steak are 200 grams or around 7 ounces. Sugary sodas are much less prevalent in many countries, and when available are in much smaller bottles. In Thailand the Coke bottles were 330ml, or 11 ounces. The bottles in Japan were 250ml, or 8.5 ounces.

Preservatives, artificial flavors, and sugars are also much less common in international destinations. Aside from being smaller, sodas are often made with sugarcane rather than processed sugar. Fried foods are much less common, and vegetable based sides are a common sight. In Puerto Rico, most meals come with a large serving of plantains or yuca. In many Asian countries meals are served with lotus root, potatoes, white raddish, or cabbage.

Snack Often

Sign for a Yakitori vendor in Tokyo, Japan

One of the best things about traveling is the ability to try several new foods. Rather than waiting for a designated meal time and eating until you’re stuffed, snack throughout the day. If you’re visiting Spain, stop and taste the tapas. In Japan, grab some yakitori (grilled skewers) from a street vendor. Pick up some fresh picked fruit while in the Caribbean.

Enjoying several small snacks throughout the day will allow you to enjoy a wider variety of foods and keep your portion sizes down. When you add in all the walking you’ll be doing, your body can more easily expend the energy you are eating.

Go Grocery Shopping

This isn’t always feasible, but if you are able to stay somewhere with a kitchenette you can shop for and prepare your own meals. This can be a great way to manage your portion sizes and expenses when traveling.

Learn a New Skill

Typically, a New Year’s Resolution is all about self-improvement, and learning a new skill is one of the best ways you can improve yourself. While you likely won’t become a master while on vacation, you can still learn quite a bit and set yourself up for success in the future.

Take a Local Class

Take a local cooking class to really immerse yourself in the culinary culture

How would you like to learn how to make pottery and ceramics in Italy? What about training in ninja or samurai techniques in Tokyo? Maybe you’d like to learn how to bake Parisian pastries and deserts? There are all sorts of classes you can take while traveling to help you learn a new skill. Every destination is famous for something, why not learn it right at the source?

Get SCUBA Certified

This is one new skill that is easy to achieve while traveling and that will open up a whole new world of travel opportunities. Nearly any destination near the water will offer SCUBA certification opportunities, but some of the most popular choices include the Florida Keys, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Australia.

Full SCUBA certification will usually take at least 3 days; it involves coursework, closed water (pool) training dives, and 4 open water certification dives. Due to safety considerations, you need to spread the certification dives over at least two days. To save some time, you can complete the coursework online before you travel and then just do the actual dives at your destination.

Yours truly after finishing my SCUBA certification in beautiful Key West, Florida

If you aren’t sure that SCUBA is for you, or you don’t want to spend the time for a full certification, you can also do a 1 day Discover SCUBA course. This course won’t give you a certificate, but it will get you familiar with the equipment and in the water diving all in one day. Children 10 and older can safely dive, so this is an activity the entire family can enjoy.

Spend More Time with Family and Friends

Traveling can be a great way to reconnect with family and friends. No matter what age ranges your group includes, there’s a vacation for everybody.

Disney and Universal

By far one of the most popular trips for the entire family is Disney or Universal. These theme parks have rides and experiences great for people of all ages. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney are great experiences, even for people who aren’t into theme park rides.

Cruises

Cruises can be a great choice for a family vacation

Many people think cruises can be expensive, but there are options for every budget. Cruises are also a great experience for the entire family. Many cruise lines have kids and teens clubs, as well as adult only spaces so every member of the family can have something geared towards them. Add in the wide variety of entertainment such as rock climbing, minigolf, Broadway shows, and parades and it’s easy to see how everybody can find something to do on a cruise.

Even better, traveling as a group can net you some excellent deals. We are able to work directly with all of the cruise lines to get you unique group rewards and discounts. Depending on the size of the group, these rewards can even reach a free cabin on the cruise for the group leader. Reach out to us today if you think you might be interested in planning a group trip on a cruise.

All Inclusive Resorts

All Inclusive Resorts can be a great budget option since you don’t have to worry about paying for drinks, meals, and many activities. You may be imagining a romantic, adults only resort, but that’s just one option. If you are traveling with kids, there are many family friendly resorts. Disney, for example, has Aulani in Hawaii. In Punta Cana, there’s a Nickelodeon resort and several resorts with on site water parks. Atlantis in the Bahamas has an aquarium and a water park on site.

Lazy River at the Royalton Bavaro All-Inclusive in Punta Cana

If you want to have a great time with your friends, maybe choose an adults only resort that’s more party and less romance. Or you can plan a great girl’s trip to a resort with an amazing spa. Into golfing? We have resorts with official PGA tour golf courses.

Travel More

I’ll admit, this one is definitely biased towards traveling, but it’s still a popular New Year’s Resolution. Traveling can be difficult at times, but we have experience in helping to plan a trip for any budget.

So what’s on your travel bucket list for 2020? An Alaska cruise? A trip to Hawaii? Seeing a new country? No matter your travel goal, we’re here to help.

Are cruises the most budget friendly vacation?

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas cruise ship

I’m not shy to admit that cruises are by far one of my favorite ways to travel. From the small luxury ships to the great floating cities, I love to cruise. You can see just about the entire world from a cruise ship. Alaska. The Caribbean. Asia. Europe. Even Antarctica has a number of cruise opportunities. Unfortunately, many people have the idea that cruises are prohibitively expensive and end up shying away from what could be their new favorite way to travel. Far from being too expensive, I’d argue that cruises are a very budget friendly vacation idea.

It is definitely true that you can find some very expensive cruises out there. One example is the 127 day Viking World Treasures cruise which can run as much as $50,000 per person. Antarctica cruises can cost up to $12,000 per person. There are even a few suites on the “budget” cruise lines that can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. But with over 20 million people taking a cruise each year, these pricey options are the exception, not the rule.

So why exactly do people think cruises are so expensive? How much will a typical cruise actually cost? And how does that compare to other vacation options? Put on your captain’s hat, because we’re about to go on a journey to see the value of a cruise vacation.

Why people think cruises might not be a budget friendly vacation?

I touched a bit on this above; there are some very pricey cruises out there and the media loves to talk about them. But even if you’re just looking at a budget cruise line like Royal Caribbean or Carnival, there can be a bit of sticker shock. Partially, this is because of the way cruise lines advertise their prices.

Advertising Gimmicks

Most cruise lines will advertise their price per person per day. So you will see an advertisement that says something like “3 Day Cruises from $99!” When you then break down the price, however, it comes out to $750. Quite a bit more than the $99 that got you excited. The problem is that the $99 price point was the cost per person, per day and didn’t include taxes and fees. Cruise cabins are designed with two passengers in mind, so the room itself is $198 per day. For a 3 day cruise that’s close to $600, and then taxes and port fees can add another $100-$200.

Thankfully, this kind of deceptive marketing is going away, although the per person rates are still advertised, despite the fact that you can’t just book that rate for one person. Most cruise lines will add a “single supplement” for anybody cruising alone. This single supplement typically brings the total cost to just a touch under the price for two people.

What’s Included

More than just a place to sleep. Cruises include food and entertainment as well.

Another reason why cruises appear to be so expensive, is because most expenses are included in the quote. When you are booking a standard land vacation you will see separate prices for the hotel, food, activities, and transportation. So with a cruise you might see the grand total of $2,000 and think it’s expensive. But add together everything from a land trip – food, hotel, rental car, etc. – and you’ll quickly see that you’re actually spending more than you anticipated.

Of course, not everything is included in the cruise fare. Excursions, alcohol, the casino, etc. will all cost extra. However, these same things will also cost extra when you are planning a non-cruise vacation. Even better, many activities on board are included that you would have to pay for otherwise. Cruises offer pools and water slides, miniature golf and rock climbing, movies and plays, comedy shows and concerts. Each of these activities could cost you $5-$50 per person on land, but are included with the cost of a cruise.

How much does a cruise actually cost?

This is a really difficult question to answer, and the best option would be to reach out for a detailed price quote. That being said, there are some general pricing rules we can follow, depending on some of the details of the cruise.

What all impacts cruise price?

There are a few different aspects of your cruise that can change what you should expect to pay:

  • Cruise Company – Different companies have different price structures, but typically your mass market cruise lines will be cheaper. Generally speaking, Carnival is often the cheapest, followed by Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Holland America. Celebrity and Princess can be a little more expensive, and then Disney and the luxury lines like Oceania, Silversea, Azamara, and Seabourn even more so.
  • The Ship – Even within a single cruise line, prices can vary wildly from ship to ship. Newer and larger ships will often fetch a premium while the older and smaller ships often have lower prices to entice more cruisers.
  • Room Type – There are four main types of rooms – Interior (no window, no balcony. Cheapest) Ocean View (A window that doesn’t open.) Balcony or Veranda, and finally, the different levels of suites.
  • Length of Cruise – Most cruises are 7 nights, but they can range from 3 to 21 or even longer. On a per night basis, longer cruises are actually typically cheaper. This is due to a decrease in demand as well as an anticipation of higher on board spending.
  • Destination – Destination can make a huge difference in cruise price. The Caribbean, which has dozens of ships in competition with year round cruises will often be cheaper than Alaska or Australia cruises. Speaking of Alaska cruises, the one way Anchorage to Canada cruises are often significantly cheaper than the round trip Seattle cruises.

Bottom line? At a base price expect a 7 night cruise to cost between $1,000 and $2,000 for two people. If you want a more exotic itinerary, a nicer room, or a newer ship that price can rise, but under $2,000 a week is typical and is a very budget friendly vacation.

Budget Friendly Vacation Comparisons

Prices can vary based on your personal taste, but I’ve set up a few different comparisons to see how cruising compares to other vacation options. We will take a look at a week in Europe, a week in Alaska, and a week in the Caribbean.

Cruise vs Land – Europe Edition

Cruise ship in Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro

For this comparison I chose a week in prime summer travel season – mid June, 2020. The cruise I chose is Royal Caribbean’s 7 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise out of Venice leaving on June 13th. This cruise visits Venice, Kotor, Corfu, Athens, Mykonos, Argostoli, and returns to Venice.

Cruise Costs

InteriorOcean ViewBalconySuite
Cost for 2$1,941.68$2,460.68$4,402.68$5,547.68

For the land portion, we have two options. We can just do a full week in Venice, or we can actually try to duplicate the exact itinerary. When considering each, I will come up with numbers for three different types of budgets. For low budget I will assume a cafe for breakfast, and fast food for lunch and dinner with a three star hotel. Mid budget assumes a 4 star hotel with a casual restaurant for dinner. High budget will be a 5 star hotel, casual lunch, and nice dinner.

Single City Costs

Low BudgetMid-BudgetHigh Budget
Hotel (7 nights)$690$1,275$2,950
Meals (7 days)$560$700$1,000
Public Transit (7 days)$135$135$135
One Attraction Per Day$250$250$250
Total$1,635$2,260$4,335

As you can see, the total price is just barely lower than the cost of the cruise. However, this limits you to seeing just one city while the cruise will let you see 6 cities. What happens if we were to try and visit the same 6 cities not using a cruise ship? Each leg of the trip (6 in total) would cost between $150 (bus or train) to $400 (regional flights). At the lowest budget that would make the cruise $600 cheaper to see the same cities.

Cruise vs Land – Alaska Edition

A pair of wood bison in Portage, Alaska

For Alaska, there’s no good way to travel to many of the port cities so for the land portion we will just assume a full week spent in Anchorage. The selected cruise is on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas leaving Seward, Alaska on May 22, 2020.

InteriorOcean ViewBalconySuite
Cost for 2$1,780.68$2,180.68$2,803.68$5,905.68

Aside from the suites, this cruise is even cheaper than the Mediterranean option. The attractive pricing, the unique itineraries, and the absolutely stunning natural beauty are all reasons that Alaska cruises are my personal favorite.

Low BudgetMid-BudgetHigh Budget
Hotel (7 nights)$670$1,435$2,415
Meals (7 days)$650$800$1,200
Rental Car (7 days)$200$200$200
One Attraction Per Day$250$250$250
Total$1,790$2,685$4,065

Here we can see the cruise not only visits much more of the state, but it is also cheaper.

Cruise vs land – Caribbean All-Inclusive

The Caribbean offers amazing snorkeling opportunities

For the Caribbean we’ll try to get a bit more apples to apples. We’ll stick with just one location, but compare an all-inclusive resort to a cruise. There are a lot more cruise options, so we’ll price out three. First, the newest and biggest, Symphony of the Seas out of Miami. Next, Freedom of the Seas out of Puerto Rico, and finally Liberty of the Seas out of Galveston.

InteriorOcean ViewBalconySuite
Symphony$2,073.20$2,214.20$2,456.20$4,875.20
Freedom$1,225.78$1,503.78$1,828.78$2,713.78
Liberty $1,286.16 $1,654.16$1,787.16$3,298.16

With Caribbean options, we are now getting a much more budget friendly vacation. For the all-inclusive resorts, we will also consider three different islands, and three levels of resort as well.

Royalton Bavaro All-Inclusive in Punta Cana
3 Star4 Star5 Star
Punta Cana$1,154$1,610$2,168
Cancun$1,552$1,840$2,182
Jamaica $1,290$1,902$2,652

Here we can see that all-inclusive resorts are very comparatively priced with cruises. Indeed, AI Resorts and cruises offer many of the same amenities; it ultimately comes down to if you prefer multiple destinations and time at sea, or a single destination with a more traditional hotel experience.

Final Thoughts

Cruises are a vacation that offer a very strong “bang for your buck.” There is a cruise available for nearly any budget, and the total price of a cruise vacation is in line with more traditional types of vacations. When you consider what type of vacation to take, you have to consider all the variables, and cruises have many different pieces to them. While the total price may appear high at first, remember that you are paying for your hotel, meals, transportation, and entertainment.

If you are ready to find a cruise, all-inclusive resort, tour group, or individual travel plan, contact us today. We’ll be happy to help you plan the perfect budget friendly vacation.

Big Changes Coming to Alaska

Norwegian Bliss – The hull of the ship is decorated by Wyland, an artist known for his marine life murals

The Alaska Cruising season is in full swing, and here at Adventures With Anthony we are celebrating Alaska Week. Come back everyday this week for a new article about Alaska Cruises, and find out why Alaska is not only our personal favorite cruise destination, but also the most popular cruise destination for our clients.

Today’s post is all about the changes coming to Alaska. Read on for some of the new experiences, ships, and ports coming to Alaska for the 2018 and 2019 cruising season.

Two Big New Ships

Everything’s bigger in Texas Alaska

Both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean are sending some of their biggest and newest ships to Alaska. Norwegian Bliss is a brand new ship that was just delivered to Norwegian Cruise Line last month. At 168,000 tons the Bliss is Norwegian’s largest ship, and she is already in Alaska. The Bliss is a great ship for families as well as active travelers. The ship has a massive water park and a two deck high go-kart racing track. In another first for Norwegian, the Bliss has a modern Texas style BBQ restaurant that will feature live country music. That’s music from the second biggest state, playing on cruises in the biggest state, on board Norwegian’s biggest ship. That’s a lot of bigs! For 2018, the Bliss is the largest ship to have ever sailed Alaska cruises from any line, but not for long.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class ship, with the North Star Observation Pod extended

For the 2019 cruise season, Royal Caribbean will take the crown for largest ship in Alaska when Ovation of the Seas arrives in Seattle. Ovation of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class, and is just slightly larger than the Norwegian Bliss. Ovation of the Seas also has some great attractions on board, including the iFly Indoor Skydiving and North Star. The North Star a large glass pod that extends 300 feet above the ship and offers stunning 360 degree views of your surroundings. This pod officially holds the record for “Highest Viewing Deck on a Cruise Ship” and will be a welcome addition to Alaska cruises.

Both Bliss and Ovation can carry over 4,000 passengers on average with almost 5,000 passengers at maximum capacity. This is nearly double the amount of passengers on other ships sailing Alaska, so there can be some crowds in port when these ships are docked.

New Port Stops

We have already discussed how Holland America is the only cruise company docking in Anchorage this season, but there are a few other port changes as well. Several ships will be adding Ketchikan to their list of stops, including the Carnival Splendor which will visit Ketchikan only once in 2018; the final stop on a 14 night round trip cruise from Long Beach, CA.

There are also some smaller ships that will be running Alaska cruises this year. If you are looking for something a little more intimate there is the Windstar Star Legend (208 passengers), Silver Seas Silver Explorer (132 passengers) or American Dream American Constellation (175 passengers)

Windstar’s Star Legend represents Windstar’s return to Alaska after being out of the region for the past 20 years. The all-suite ship is kicking off the all new Signature Expeditions Program. This program takes cruisers closer than ever to Alaska with zodiac and kayak tours of the coastline.

Make sure you come back tomorrow for our next entry in Alaska Cruise Week. And if you’re already ready to book your next Alaska adventure, reach out and let us help you plan your new favorite cruise.

April 21st is Free Park Day at the National Parks

Did you know that April 21st is part of Free Entrance Days in the National Parks? That means that participating national parks that normally have an entrance fee will be free to enter. April 21st also kicks off National Park Week, which will last until April 29th. During this time the national parks will be hosting a number of different events and activities. Some of these activities will include National Junior Ranger Day and an Earth Day celebration. In addition, April 22nd is the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System and the Wild & Scenic Rivers System. With so much to do and explore, why not take a mini vacation to some of these national parks this spring?

No matter where in the United States you live, there are plenty of National Parks available for you to explore and enjoy. Here in Nevada we have a number of parks within driving distance, spread across Nevada, California, Idaho, Utah, and the entire western United States. Below are some of our favorite parks that are no more than a day’s drive away from most cities in Nevada.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon

Lake Mead Ariel View

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the parks included in the Free Entrance Days. Normally, the entrance fee for Lake Mead is $20 per vehicle. So April 21st would be a great time to save some money and enjoy everything that Lake Mead has to offer. Some of the available activities include canoeing, kayaking, hiking, camping and much more. Make sure you also check out Hoover Dam while you are in the area. Hoover Dam is actually what created Lake Mead back in 1935.

Aside from the National Park itself, Lake Mead puts you just 24 miles away from Las Vegas, which has plenty of things to see and do as well. Alternatively, you can reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in four hours, or the North Rim in 4 and a half. If you are planning on visiting both parks, the best bet would be to do the Grand Canyon on April 21st. The entrance fee for the Grand Canyon is $30 per vehicle, so you’d save an extra $10 per vehicle compared to Lake Mead.

Death Valley

Marble Canyon in Death Valley National Park

Also on the list is Death Valley. This famous park is 3 hours from Lake Mead or 6 hours from northern Nevada. The normal fee for Death Valley is $25 per vehicle, and the park is vast, at over 3 million acres of wilderness. Death Valley is filled with some amazing hiking trails and camping opportunities. The park has salt flats, canyon trails, sand dunes, and desert peaks; enough to thrill any hiker. Even if you aren’t much for hiking, Death Valley has hundreds of miles of roads with many of the most famous parts of the park visible by car. Whether you want to drive or hike, Death Valley is a great park to visit.

If you do go down to Death Valley, be sure to stop by Baker, California. This small town has only 735 residents, but is home to the World’s Tallest Thermometer. This thermometer was erected in 1991 to honor the highest recorded temperature in Death Valley, 134°. Make sure you bring plenty of water if you go hiking here!

Great Basin National Park

Bristlecone Pines at Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada has no entrance fee, so every day is Free Park Day. There are some activities, such as the Lehman Cave Tours, that cost extra, but they are worth it. Great Basin is particularly famous for the incredibly clear night skies, and their astronomy programs. The park also has some wonderful hiking trails, camping areas, and fishing spots.

Great Basin has something to do every season of the year. In the spring there are some wonderful opportunities for wildflower viewing. The summer opens up some excellent caving, camping, and hiking opportunities. Spend the fall gathering pinyon pine nuts, up to 25 pounds per household. And in the winter, go skiing or snowshoeing across the natural, ungroomed trails.

If you want to make a weekend trip out of it, there are many parks in neighboring states that will be participating in the free entrance day including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Crater Lake, and more. More info on which parks are included can be found on the National Park Service website here.

What national parks are on your list to visit?