Cruising for the Time of Your Life
April 20th, 2018 by Pamela A. Keene

A passenger gets a scenic view from the top-of-the-ship zipline. Many cruise lines also have climbing walls for active guests.
Photo courtesy of MSC

Looking for a luxury getaway without spending a fortune? Check out a cruise from one of Florida’s five port cities: Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Port Canaveral and Tampa. If flexible, you can pick up last-minute deals for a weekend, a week or longer.

Cruise ships as floating cities, with anything and everything you need: plentiful food, diverse entertainment, comfortable staterooms, activities for all ages and shopping.

The MSC Seaside (—the flagship of the Italian-based line—launched its maiden season in December 2017, sailing to the Caribbean. Billed as “The High-Tech Cruise Ship,” common areas feature futuristic black, gold and chrome décor.

Guests board through a soaring four-story atrium with lighted crystal curved staircases, lots of glitz and an elevated stage for live music.

The 5,600-passenger ship is packed with amenities: ziplines, giant waterslides, an aquapark, specialty fine-dining restaurants, a Balinese spa and theatrical shows ranging from tributes and famous entertainers to Broadway hits and a 45-minute adaptation of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.”

Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean also provide options to the Caribbean and the Bahamas, with ports of call including Nassau, Jamaica, Bermuda, St. Thomas, Cozumel, the Grand Caymans and San Juan.

The best way to get your feet wet with cruising is to start with a short trip, a long weekend or a four-day adventure. Surf the internet for deals, then pack up the kids or that special someone and head out for life on the sea.

Think Small
Digital media company PureWow named Micanopy, just south of Gainesville, as Florida’s cutest town.

Nicknamed “the little town that time forgot,” Micanopy embodies classic old Florida with moss-draped oaks, rambling two-story Victorian homes and a historic district listed in 1983 to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1991, it was the backdrop for the film “Doc Hollywood,” starring Michael J. Fox.

Check out another relaxing and laid-back town—Perdido Key—near Pensacola. According to The Active Times, pristine beaches, unspoiled parks, a wildlife preserve and minimal traffic make it a hidden gem.

Traveling While Pregnant
If you are pregnant, here are tips from Huffington Post about enjoying a vacation:

  • Schedule your trip during the second trimester, after you have had your bouts with morning sickness. Dr. Aron Schuftan, co-founder of Embrace Her Health and its free Pregnancy Companion mobile app, suggests traveling between 20 and 30 weeks.
  • Choose a domestic destination to avoid uncertainties about unsafe drinking water or contaminated food.
  • Carry copies of prenatal records and medical notes.
  • Plan ahead and locate the closest hospital or medical facility to your destination.
  • Travel by car for more pit stop flexibility for bathroom breaks, to stretch your legs and get fresh air. It also helps if emergency medical care is needed.

Florida native and travel enthusiast Pamela A. Keene is a freelance journalist who specializes in travel, gardening, personality and feature writing. She is also a photographer and accomplished sailor. Her website is