Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Real Estate Investing Cruises

I love the idea of cruises where you can learn something. I've seen everything from cruises with lectures on historical topics relevant to the area you're traveling in to those that will teach you digital camera skills or how to play chess (yes, my heart gets all warm and snuggly at the thought of cruise ships full of geeks).

Well, I was listening the Real Estate Guys (a radio show I catch via podcasts), and they were talking about real estate investing cruises. It sounds like they are a mix of instruction and opportunity (to network and buy). I imagine there are people there trying to sell you the latest and greatest investing strategies and deals you just have to act on right now (snort), so you'd sure have to be careful, but for someone interested in investing in real estate, a cruise sure sounds like a nice way to get an education!

Has anyone out there been on one of these cruises? If so, was it a worthwhile vacation? Were the lectures useful or was it more about people trying to sell you stuff? And if you are an investor, did you write the cruise off on your taxes as a business expense? :P

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Higher Gas Prices Mean More Expensive Cruises

With gas prices high everywhere, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the cruise industry is affected as well. Many lines have been forced to increase prices or add special "fuel surcharges" in order to accommodate the greater expense of powering these big ships.

According to a recent Newsday article, "Disney Cruises to add fuel surcharge after May 27," Disney is the next at bat.

"The fee for cruises booked after that date is $8 per passenger per day for the first two passengers in a cabin and $3 a day for additional passengers in the same cabin. Disney was the last of the major cruise lines to respond to higher fuel prices with surcharges."

Fortunately, cruises still remain a pretty good deal when it comes to all-inclusive vacation packages, but if you've been waffling about whether to book now or later, it might be best to book your cruise soon (even if it's for a distant date), since gas prices aren't looking to go down any time soon (but they are expected to keep rising).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dining Room Etiquette on Cruise Ships

If you're heading off on a fancy cruise, and you haven't been to a lot of formal dining occasions or upscale restaurants, you might be wondering if you'll make an embarrassing goof at the dining room table. Well, here's a short list of tips for proper dining room etiquette on a cruise ship:

  • Make sure to arrive on time (the formal sit-down restaurants on board will have posted meal hours).
  • If you order wine, offer to share it with others at the table (on many cruise lines, you'll dine with the same folks each night, and they'll probably return the favor).
  • Don't start eating until everyone at your table has been served (this, of course, is a display of good manners no matter where you're dining).
  • Use the correct silverware (if you start to feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, just remember to work your way from the outside in--use the first fork on the left for your first course).
  • Dress appropriately for the evening (most cruise ships send around daily bulletins, which should let you know the evening's dress code)
  • Don't smoke at the dinner table (most ships these days have non-smoking dining rooms, but if yours doesn't specify, be considerate to those around you).