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Cruise Countdown - 16 days to go

Using the word of mouse to finish my planning

Whether its traveling south of the equator or just south of the nearest boarder, cruising is my favorite winter escape. With less than 3 weeks to go before my cruise - and a business trip to Vegas to fit in there as well - I've got some serious work to do.

Beach BlissBeach BlissBut I've got the important stuff taken care of. My bikini shopping is done - the little purple number I bought is as sweet as sin. I've clocked some pre-tanning. Yes, I know it's unhealthy but I hate lying in the sun as much as I hate my glow-in-the dark Canadian legs - it's a compromise.

I've even booked a few shore excursions (more to come on those in a few days). But I have more digging to do on the Princess site - especially the alcohol packages. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean both allow cruisers to make selections (and payments) ahead of time.

If you haven't cruised before, the whole experience can be intimidating. But a few clicks of the mouse can help unravel the mysteries....

Do I really need expando-pants by day 3 because the food is that good?

Amazing as it sounds, it's possible to enjoy the buffet without coming away looking like you're competing for a spot on The Biggest Loser. For more info, read: Weight Gain while Traveling.

I've heard tipping can get pricy on a cruise. Do you tip everyone?

Tipping on a cruise is no different than tipping for a really great meal - you do it as a thank you. For more info on tipping, read: Cruise Tipping.

What about Norwalk virus while cruising? Is there any way to protect myself?

The best way to protect yourself from any illness is to wash your hands - a lot. But if worry consumes your pre-cruise excitement, calm your nerves by visiting sites that offer accredited information on your specific ship. For more information, read: Cruise Ships and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I like that resorts are all-inclusive and it worries me how much money I'll spend on adult drinks.

There's good cause to be worried on this count. Depending on how many umbrella-dressed drinks you enjoy, alcoholic beverages can drive up the cost of your cruise substantially. If you're not cruising with Celebrity, it simply comes down to budgeting. Good luck with that.

I'm not worried about weight gain but I am a little concerned there won't be enough for me to stay active on the cruise.

There's no denying you can spend your days lounging at the pool practicing your fav yoga pose - napping-cougar-on-a-deck-chair. But you can also enjoy kick-boxing, Latino dancing and even a full spa for those who prefer exfoliation over sudden movements. For more info, read: Healthy Cruising.

We're cruising for 10 days - what do I pack?

Whether you're cruising or jetting off to Vegas for a business trip, packing is a simple formula. And it's more about what not to pack. For more info, read: Packing with Style.


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