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Cruise rates, particularly for Alaska and the Caribbean, are a great value this year. Considering the fact that the cruise fare includes accommodations, meals, several on board activities and entertainment, if you plan ahead, you can have very little out of pocket expenses. For those of you who have never been on a cruise, we now want to share more details on the different types of onboard activities that are available. Plenty of things to do on a cruise ship are free, like using the pool, library, game room, basketball courts, fitness center or catching live'll find everything from Reggae Bands by the pool, to Comedians, Magicians and Broadway style performances throughout your cruise. Children's programs are free, and the activities cater to several age groups. If you are interested, you can also dance the night away at various lounges, or the night club. Check your daily planner (or "compass" as it is called on many ships,) that is left in your cabin each day, so that you don't miss out on the activities. Activities vary by ship and cruise line, but in general you can expect to see the following: Complimentary onboard parties including a Captain's welcome reception, a sail away party, mixand mingles, theme parties, toga night and more. On games that include prizes such as scavenger hunts, karaoke superstar, name that tune, trivia, talent and game shows. Throughout the cruise you can also choose to participate or watch various tournament including mini golf, basketball, shuffleboard, ping-ping and pool volleyball. Some ships have come up with other unique forms of free entertainment. For example, several Princess Cruise Line ships offer Movies Under the Stars - a 300 sq. ft. screen around the pool. During the day, all sorts of videos and family movies are shown. At night, the chairs are covered with comfortable padding, blankets are provided and fresh popped's almost like being at a drive-in! Make sure and arrive early, as the seats do fill up. Newer Carnival ships also have an outdoor screen, and some it's and MSC ships have added it as well. The Celebrity Solstice, which launched in November, features the first "Hot Glass Show" at sea, where glassblowers from New York's Corning Museum of Glass give free glassblowing demonstrations. On the same deck right off of the Glass blowing area, the Solstice also has a deck with real grass called the "Lawn Club" where you can play bocce or croquet or putt golf balls for free. The Eclipse (2009) and Equinox (2010) will offering the same activities as the Solstice. For "Foodies," Holland America has an excellent Culinary Arts Presentations Center. Each cruise features chefs and experts offering cooking demonstrations. On several cruises throughout the year, famous guest chefs will be onboard. Demonstrations are offered on seas days - usually twice during a 7 day cruise. After the demonstration, which lasts about 45 minutes to an hour, everyone in attendance gets to sample a few of the dishes that were prepared on stage. Many other cruise lines also offer cooking demonstrations, ice carving, napkins folding and more. Royal Caribbean

offers free rock climbing on most of their ships. Newer ships also have free Ice skating shows, and on Freedom Class ships you can try out the Flow Rider, a surf simulator that attracts hundreds of eager surfers and golfers to the aft sports court each day. The sloped, wavelike surface of the FlowRider is perfect for beginning, intermediate and advanced surfers. And for those not brave enough to attempt the FlowRider, the surrounding stadium seating is great for surveying wipeouts. The new Oasis of the Seas, the largest ship in the world, will offer a Boardwalk and Central park area with free activities for all ages. Needless to say, there is plenty to do on a cruise. Let one of our agents help you find the best value and cruise line for you next vacation.

S Lobo

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