How to Pack Light Using Compass Rose Packing Cubes

Packing light can make your life a whole lot easier, but it can be a challenge to fit all your travel needs into a carry-on bag.


If you’re like me, there’s a lot of stuff you simply can’t live without while you travel, but you’re tired of hauling around a huge suitcase. Thanks to Compass Rose packing cubes, you can fit everything you need into one small bag. I discovered the magic of packing cubes many years ago, but I’ve yet to find any that compare in quality and capability to the Compass Rose cubes.

Why Use Packing Cubes?

how to pack light

Have you ever wondered how Mary Poppins fit so much in her bag? Well, I’m convinced the answer is packing cubes. Using packing cubes allows me to fit at least 50 percent more inside my carry-on suitcase. This is ideal if you want to avoid checked baggage. Me personally, unless my airfare includes a free checked bag, I refuse to shell out any more money. I also take a lot of trips that involved moving from one place to another every few days, so lugging around a heavy suitcase is not ideal. That said, I also like to have a lot of options when it comes to my shoes and clothes. Packing cubes provide the ideal solution.

Tropical destinations are typically warm…very warm. I like to have an outfit I can change into once I’m done the most active part of my day—you know, once I’m done sweating. After a cool shower, it feels so good to put on fresh clothes, but it means I need two outfits for every day. Alternatively, I often travel too cooler climates where a few extra layers are needed to keep warm, especially after the sun goes down. I’m allergic to animal-based products, such as merino wool and cashmere, which makes it a challenge to find layering pieces that won’t take up a lot of room in my bag. Packing cubes make it possible to fit more stuff in less space. It’s a level of travel freedom you have to experience to appreciate.

What Are Compass Rose Packing Cubes?

how to pack light

Compass Rose is the only packing cube set on the market sized to correctly fit international carry-on suitcases, accommodating restrictive airline baggage policies. Created by travelers for travelers, Compass Rose Packing Cubes organize, compress, and maximize space for a smooth, stress-free travel experience. The innovative organizational packing system is designed using proven techniques to help people travel carry-on only. In addition, the structured, quality fabric ensures the cubes pack flat, retaining their shape. High-quality construction and materials include premium zippers, durable mesh, double stitching, and first-rate nylon fabric, allowing for maximum clothing compression.

How Do Compass Rose Packing Cubes Work?

how to pack light

There are four packing cubes in each set—two grey and two red. The slim-sized packing cube set features a one-of-a-kind number and color-coded organization system that allow you to maximize efficiency and organize your bag using one of six unique packing strategies. 

  1. Use one packing cube number per family member
  2. Assign daily outfit per number per day
  3. Color code for mixed weather trips (grey=cold, red=hot)
  4. Use numbers to differentiate clothes for each activity type
  5. Pack for two destinations by color coding
  6. Separate tops, bottoms, dresses, and more by number

Once you’ve decided on a strategy and chosen the items you want to pack, use a combination of rolling and folding to prepare each item. Then, simply fill each packing cube with clothing until it appears you’ve used all of the space. Looks can be deceiving, and once you’ve zipped the cubes closed, you’ll likely find you have plenty of space to spare. Once you find a small pocket of space, open one end of the cube, and push down the clothing that’s already inside so you can squeeze in more items. It’s that easy!

What Makes Compass Rose Different?

Let’s face it, there are a lot of packing cubes on the market today. Why should you choose Compass Rose Packing Cubes over another brand? Let’s start with the size. When you first receive your Compass Rose Packing Cubes, you may be a bit surprised by their size. They don’t look like other packing cubes, and that’s a good thing. The size difference is key because the Compass Rose packing cubes are the only cubes that will fit the exact width of a carry-on. Other cubes are slightly too long so Compass Rose cubes help streamline the space within your suitcase.

In addition, the materials used in the construction of the packing cubes was specifically chosen to allow you to pack a generous amount of clothing while maintaining a flat structure. Other packing cubes lose their structure when filled, which creates a poor fit inside your suitcase. You can stack the Compass Rose packing cubes on top of each other and they lay flat when filled, allowing for maximum space and organization. In addition, the high-quality mesh doesn’t rip as easily as other brands. All these details help improve your packing so you have a more stress-free and enjoyable travel experience.

There are so many great reasons for learning how to pack light. From travel freedom to eliminating checked bag fees, Compass Rose Packing Cubes can help you achieve your packing goals. For those of you wondering, this is not a sponsored post. I believe strongly in this product and the positive impact it can have on your overall travel experience.

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3 Tips for Knowing How Much Money to Bring on a Cruise

One of the tops questions when it comes to cruising is how much money to bring.

The good news is that when it comes to the cruise itself, you don’t actually need any money at all. You could—quite literally—come as you are, and you wouldn’t need to spend a dime. That’s because most cruises are more or less all-inclusive.

Your fare includes your room—known as a cabin or a stateroom on a cruise ship—as well as your food, transportation to all cruise ports, and onboard entertainment. Of course, if you want to spend more money on a cruise, there are plenty of ways you can upgrade the standard offerings to make your cruise more memorable. But you don’t have to spend more than your base fare if you don’t want to.

Now, most people usually end up dropping a few dollars on the ship and in the ports they visit, so you’ll like want to stash a bit of cash in your wallet. But how much? That’s where things get a bit sticky. Check out these three helpful tips for knowing how much money to bring on a cruise.

 1. Paying for Onboard Activities

Money to Bring on a Cruise

When it comes to onboard activities, you actually don’t need any physical cash. In fact, the ship won’t let you pay in cash for any of your purchases. Either when you check in online or when you arrive at the port, you’ll be asked to provide a credit card for each person staying in your room. You can each use a different credit card or the same one—it’s entirely up to you.

Every time you buy a poolside cocktail, a shore excursion from the activities desk, a souvenir from the shop, or play the slots in the casino, or even doing sports betting, the charges will go straight on your credit card. It’s that easy, actually if you love gambling games make sure you check out how online poker tables from Pkv Games works. Of course, this also has its disadvantages. It’s easy to lose track of your spending and end up with a hefty bill at the end of your cruise. A great way to prevent any unexpected surprises is to ask guest services for a breakdown of your charges every day or two if the cruise line doesn’t offer an app that lets you see for yourself.

Pro Tip: It’s easy to get carried away treating yourself to a few extras when you’re on vacation. Set yourself a daily allowance and do your best to stick to it!

2. Traveling to Popular Destinations

how much money to bring on a cruise

If your cruise itinerary is headed to popular places like Barcelona or Rome, it’s pretty safe to assume they’ll accept plastic. Pay for any purchases over $10 using a credit card to reduce the amount of cash you need to carry. Have a bit of pocket change in case you want to eat at a street vendor or buy a souvenir from a mom and pop shop.

I usually recommend taking the equivalent of $20 to $30 in local currency per day. It’s enough to grab a coffee and a magnet. If you need more, popular destinations will likely have an ATM where you can get more cash on the go.

Pro Tip: Your bank likely won’t accept any coins for exchange when you return home, so make sure to use them all up first. Save the bills if you can.

3. Venturing into Parts Unknown

how much money to bring on a cruise

Knowing how much money to bring on a cruise gets a wee bit trickier when you’re headed into less popular parts of the world. Typically, itineraries offered by river cruises or sailing ships venture into smaller ports that larger ships can’t get into. Sometimes, these places are so small they don’t have an ATM or the ability to accept credit cards, especially in Asia.

That said, these places tend not to offer a lot of high-priced items for sale, so you don’t have to worry about having a lot of cash on hand. You’ll likely be able to get by with $20 to $50 in local currency per day, depending on how thrifty you want to be. At markets in Southeast Asia, you can get a whole new outfit for under $10, for example.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to a place like Mexico or The Caribbean, they’ll likely accept U.S. dollars, so you may not need to exchange any money at all. However, Cuba will not accept U.S. or Canadian dollars. You must convert your money upon arrival. Take out small amounts each day so you don’t end up with more than you need.

Follow these simple tips for knowing how much money to bring on a cruise and you’ll be all set for an awesome vacation you won’t soon forget.

Use these handy links to book fun shore excursions in your ports of call!

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how much money to bring on a cruise

The Only Item You Need on Your Topical Vacation Packing List

Wondering what to pack for your tropical vacation?


Putting together the perfect tropical vacation packing list is always a challenge. Shorts, tanks, and swimwear are obvious choices for a casual day on the beach, but if you’re someone who likes a little more coverage, there hasn’t always been a lot of lightweight, fashionable options. Until now. I’ve discovered the perfect ensemble for any occasion. It’s fun and flirty, comfortable and cute. It’s the boho jumpsuit, and it’s truly the only item you need on your tropical vacation packing list.

As someone who breaks into hives every time the sun kisses my skin, I struggle to come up with cute clothes that are appropriate to wear when the Mercury rises over 80 degrees. What’s more, I like to be uber comfortable when I’m not obligated to dress up for work. When I came across the boho jumpsuit, I knew I had found the perfect balance between comfort and fashion. Thanks to the way the flowy fabric drapes over your body, the jumpsuit looks like a dress, but because it’s got pant legs, it gives you a bit more leeway in terms of when and where you can wear it. I’ve done everything from hike through muddy rice fields to dine at a gourmet restaurant while wearing a boho jumpsuit. It all depends on how you style it.

The rayon jumpsuit is the ideal solution for places where the humidity is high since they don’t tend to stretch out when they’re drenched in sweat. And the great news is that they’re wash and wear. You can easily rinse them out in the sink at the end of the day and hang them over the towel bar to dry. By morning, your boho jumpsuit is ready to go for another day. If it’s wrinkled, don’t worry. The wrinkles will likely release shortly after you start walking around, and if they don’t, just say it’s part of the look. No one will know the difference.

Raining outside? No problem. Simply tie a knot in the bottom of each pant leg to turn them into capris! Headed to the beach, toss a boho jumpsuit on over top of your swimsuit as a coverup, and simply slip it off if you want to go for a dip. If you’re traveling to a place like Indonesia or Cambodia where there are a lot of temples or sacred places, it’s important not to expose too much skin. The boho jumpsuit has you covered—literally. It’s ideal for every situation.

tropical vacation packing list

If you’re like me, you prefer to pack light. The boho jumpsuit folds up into a neat little square that fits perfectly into any carry-on bag. Pick up a few colors (I have four), and you won’t need to put anything else on your tropical vacation packing list. During the daytime, wear a kimono or wrap with your boho jumpsuit to keep your shoulders from burning in the hot sun. It’s always a good idea to have on ein your bag just in case one of those sacred places is on your itinerary.

At night, turn your jumpsuit into the perfect outfit for an evening out by pairing it with a wide belt or statement necklace. You can even jazz it up with a pair of pumps or embellished flipflops.


From Southeast Asia to the Caribbean, I don’t know how I would get by without my boho jumpsuits.

paradise point st. thomas

Want to steal my signature look? All you need is a hair scarf, funky shades, and Birkenstocks.

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Comparing Affordable Cruise Lines: Which One is Right for You?

When it comes to sailing the high seas, there are plenty of affordable cruise lines.

If you think you don’t have the budget to take a cruise, think again. Nowadays, there are so many different affordable cruise lines sailing to such a vast variety of destinations that there is something for every budget. In fact, you can take a seven-day Caribbean cruise for just a few hundred dollars. And the best part is that it includes everything you need to have a fantastic cruise vacation—food, entertainment, games, dancing, swimming pools, and more! If you’ve got your sights on something a little more romantic, you can sail the Mediterranean Sea for just a few hundred dollars more. With so much competition for business, there are always sales and specials designed to grab your attention.

From river cruises to tall ships and ocean liners, there are so many options to choose from. So how do you know where to start looking for the most affordable cruises? It’s easy—Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean tend to offer some of the best rates. They also offer a lot of value for your money. Just because you’re traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you’ll be treated like you are. Even these affordable cruise lines spare no expense to make sure your vacation is one you’ll remember for years to come.
So, how do these four affordable cruise lines compare? Each one caters to a different audience, so you’ll want to be sure you pick the one that’s right for you.


affordable cruise lines
If you’re pinching pennies but want to get away for a few days, Carnival typically offers the most budget-friendly rates. While the cruise line features a few other itineraries, it mainly focuses on Caribbean vacations. So, how does Carnival compare to the competition? Carnival caters to a younger crowd than NCL or Royal Caribbean. With music that ranges from Bon Jovi to Rihanna, most 30- and 40-something guests will feel right at home. Dr. Seuss-themed kids activities, Hasbro game nights, and Build-A-Bear workshops make Carnival the ideal cruise line for a fun family vacation. And just because you didn’t break the bank, doesn’t mean you won’t still get all the bells and whistles.

On sea days, Carnival puts on a delicious brunch featuring treats like French toast covered in your favorite cereal, as well as an afternoon tea. There are lots of other tasty treats, too, like Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint on the Lido deck. While the quality of the theatrical performances isn’t typically as good as the other cruise lines, there’s still loads of live entertainment to keep you entertained, including late-night dance parties where the fun never seems to stop.


affordable cruise lines
NCL is like a well-balanced meal. It’s got a great mix of itineraries throughout North and South America, as well as Europe and Asia, and it offers them at truly affordable rates. Like Carnival, NCL tends to cater to a younger crowd. There are lots of lively dance parties every night and live bands that play throughout the ship. And while NCL DJs are known for spinning the latest tunes, you’ll find a mix of oldies, too. Since there are also a lot of guests in their 50s and 60s, there’s usually a lot of disco on the dancefloor. Who doesn’t like the Bee Gees and Donna Summer after all?

While there is a great kids’ program, NCL isn’t quite as family oriented as Carnival. However, the adult-only areas tend to be a little more exclusive and relaxing on NCL—Carnival feels a bit like a party all of the time. NCL’s Broadway-style shows are second to none. From the detailed sets to the flamboyant costumes and top-notch talent, shows like “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” are bound to knock your socks off. Looking for a good time? You’ll find it at the highly anticipated White Hot Party and Norwegian Night Out events, where the cast and crew join guests for a good time out on the deck.

On newer ships, NCL has started offering solo cabins. This means guests traveling alone don’t need to shell out the big bucks to cover the cost of an entire cabin. The bite-sized cabins offer everything you need for a good night sleep, and there’s even a special common area where solo travelers can meet up and make friends. It’s a massive money saver!

Royal Caribbean

affordable cruise lines
Of all the affordable cruise lines, Royal Caribbean is best-known for catering to an older crowd. While the rates are on the lower end when compared to Holland America or Celebrity, Royal Caribbean is has a bit of a higher price tag than Carnival or NCL, making it more attractive to travelers who have a bit more money to spare. However, it also has the best range of international itineraries and some of the largest most extravagant ships at sea.

Royal Caribbean has built its business on being the cruise line with the most onboard activities at sea. Forget about all of the places they travel—the ships are a destination on their own. From promenade shopping to ice skating and zip lining to surfing simulators, Royal Caribbean takes cruising to a whole new level. Even though the average age tends to be a little older—like grandma and grandpa range—families will have a blast.

At night, the vibe is a little more low-key on Royal Caribbean ships. Like NCL, you’ll find high-end Broadway-style shows, but the other entertainment is a bit more relaxed. The bands play a lot more of the golden oldies than top-40 hits, so don’t expect to dance the night away.

Whether you’re looking to party the night away, relax on your own, or enjoy onboard activities, these three affordable cruise lines have something for everyone. Everything you need is included in the price, but if you have a few extra dollars to spare, there are plenty of great ways to make your cruise even more special.

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affordable cruise lines

What Happens on a Cruise Ship in a Hurricane?

The thought of being stuck on a cruise ship in a hurricane is scary.


During hurricane season, the Caribbean becomes a hotbed for tropical storms. Each year from the beginning of June to the end of November, the conditions in the North Atlantic Ocean are ripe for a hurricane. If you’ve ever thought about taking a cruise at this time of year, you’ve probably wondered just what happens on a cruise ship in a hurricane.

Hurricanes are a force to be reckoned with—literally. They have the power to cause widespread destruction and devastation. As someone who has found herself at sea when a hurricane is about to hit on more than one occasion, I can understand your concerns. But I can also help shed a little light on what you can expect to experience.


Business as Usual

cruise ship in a hurricane

If there is a storm circling the area you’re scheduled to visit, you’ll likely get a printed memo when you check in at the port letting you know that the cruise line is monitoring the situation. Throughout the cruise, it’s likely you’ll have similar notes slipped under your door or left on your bed with the daily schedule. The captain will also make the occasional announcement about the general state of affairs, just to put your mind at ease. The last thing the cruise line wants is to have 4,000 panicked people in its midst, and there’s nothing like a good distraction to take your mind off of things. So the show must go on, and that’s exactly what will happen.

If you’ve been on a cruise, you’re familiar with the elaborate entertainment that happens each day, including poolside bands, karaoke competitions, and Broadway-style shows. There’s also a spa, several dining options, special events, like Build-a-Bear workshops, and more. Each and every one of these activities will likely go on per the schedule. You’ll be so busy enjoying yourself that you won’t have time to think about the storm brewing nearby.

Change of Plans

things to do in st kitts

Rest assured that cruise lines have access to the most cutting-edge, innovative meteorological and navigational tools available on Earth. Both onshore and at sea, a crew of people are continually monitoring the path of each ship in the company’s fleet. They’ve got your safety in mind, and if I’m being truly honest, they don’t want to lose a billion dollar ship at sea.

Your captain is not going to sail into a storm. If there is a possibility that your ship is in any way at risk, the captain will alter the itinerary accordingly. I happened to be sailing toward Boston when Hurricane Hermine hit the East Coast in 2016. The first day on the ship we were at sea, and on the second day, we were scheduled to stop in Boston.

Since the storm was headed straight for Boston habor, the captain opted to sail to our second stop, Portland, Maine, instead. We doubled back the following day so we could still see Boston. It was a minor adjustment to our itinerary, but we still got to stop in all of the planned ports. We were very minimally impacted, and thankfully, so we were the people of Boston.

About a year later in September 2017, we were on a cruise ship as Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean. We left from San Juan on a Sunday and made our first stop in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the following day. The beautiful vistas and friendly people were a highlight of the trip. Just a day or so later, the hurricane tore through St. Thomas, causing mass destruction.

We continued to Barbados and St. Lucia per the itinerary, arriving a day or two behind Irma. In St. Kitts, Irma took down some trees, so our shore excursion aboard a sightseeing train was canceled due to branches on the rails. That night, we learned our final stop for the trip, St. Maarten, had been canceled, and we would spend the day at sea instead.

Looking back, I’m sure we were included in news reports of ships being stranded at sea since that’s effectively what happened, but for those of us on board, we were clueless for the most part. There was so much music, fun, games, and food, that we didn’t know the difference. Those of us who had been watching the news were well aware that many of the nearby ports were closed and the state of the port of San Juan was still in question. But the weather was warm, the sea was calm, and the skies were blue, so rather than focus on how we were going to get back home, we kicked back and enjoyed the beautiful day.

We were safe and sound and didn’t experience the threat of Irma at any time, but my heart still breaks for all of the people who have lost their homes and loved ones at her hands. The number of people aboard the ship that complained about the changes in the itinerary astounded me. There were people suffering in the aftermath of the storm—but thankfully, we were not among them.

State of the Sea

cruise ship in a hurricane

Unless you’re up to speed on current events or watching the news in your stateroom, it’s possible you won’t even know there’s a storm nearby. During Hurricane Irma, my friends and family back home waited with bated breath to see a Facebook update from me each day. They were just certain I was going to blow right off the ship into the Atlantic Ocean. Even though we were traveling nearly the exact same route as the Category 5 hurricane, we managed to avoid her wrath. The seas were completely calm and the skies were blue. Despite the devastation she was wreaking all around us, we didn’t feel a thing.

To say we didn’t notice the inclement weather when we cruised along the East Coast in 2016 would be a lie. It was windy and rainy, and at times, the ship rolled a bit from side to side. One evening as I walked on deck, the winds were quite strong, and it was difficult to open the door to get back inside the ship. The crew eventually restricted access to the outdoors due to the high winds. By that time, the evening entertainment had started, and no one even noticed we couldn’t go outdoors. It was autumn in New England and too cold to spend any length of time outside at night anyway.

That same night as I lay in bed, the ship rocked gently on the waves, lulling me into a sound sleep (which is saying a lot since I suffer from insomnia). Being on a lower deck, I could see the waves lapping against the porthole window in my cabin. They were a little higher than the night before, but barely, and they certainly weren’t atypical of the waves I’ve experienced on a cruise sailing through perfectly pleasant weather conditions.

While I know there are times when cruises hit rough waters, it’s quite rare. The chance that you will experience tsunami-sized waves and tornado-strength winds on a cruise is highly unlikely. Often the way the news is reported makes it seem different from it actually is. My point is not to diminish what people who have been in these situations experience—it’s about letting you know that you shouldn’t let fears of being on a cruise ship in a hurricane come between you and your bucket list. Book that trip! You’ll be glad you did.

If you would like to help those who have been impacted by hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, and Maria, you can make a donation to the Red Cross.

Cruise to the Caribbean! Click Here

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cruise ship in a hurricane

Star Clippers — What’s it Like Sailing on a Tall Ship

Have you ever dreamed of sailing on a tall ship?


Thanks to Star Clippers, you can make this dream a reality. This luxury cruise line gives you the opportunity to sail the seven seas aboard a real life tall ship. Whether you fancy the warm, azure waters of the Caribbean or the picturesque seaside villages of the Mediterranean, Star Clippers offers exciting itineraries all over the world. And the best part is that you’ll feel like you’re sailing on your own private yacht…for real.

sailing on a tall ship

Sailing on a tall ship was truly a dream come true for me. Several years ago, I wrote a feature story about a high school girl who had taken part in a tall ship sailing challenge. Her story resonated with me, and I longed for my own tall ship sailing opportunity. It has been on my bucket list for years, so when Star Clippers invited me on board for one of their first Indonesian sailings, I jumped at the chance to be part of this premier opportunity. As an avid cruiser, I had done a lot of research on the company and was eager to give it a try. I was not disappointed.

From the moment you step on board a Star Clippers ship, you’re treated like family. Since each of the ships in the fleet carries fewer than 230 guests and about 75 crew, there’s an inherent intimacy that envelopes you from the minute you step on board. And even though you’re getting a five-star experience, the atmosphere is casual and laid back. It is a working ship, after all, and you will be a part of the action — even if only as an observer.

So let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? I know you’re curious about what it’s really like to be sailing on a tall ship and if it’s right for you.

sailing on a tall ship

Will I Get Seasick?

I’m going to start with the topic I know is on everyone’s mind because the first question people ask when they hear I’ve sailed with Star Clippers is, “Will I get seasick?” And the short answer is not likely, unless you usually do, then maybe.

While tall ships maintain Old World charm in terms of style and experience, their systems are marvels of modern technology. Equipped with stabilizing gear and operated by extremely experienced crew members, there’s not a lot of rocky motion. Like any of the large cruise ships, you will feel the boat move from side to side. And, of course, there is the chance that you may hit some rough waters. So, if you’re someone who is prone to seasickness, come prepared. But for the most part, once you get your sea legs, you won’t feel a thing. Not knowing what to expect, I brought along a few didn’t find it to be any different than any other sailing experience I’ve ever had, from river cruises to massive ocean liners.

I’ve got a stomach of steel, but not knowing what to expect, I brought along a few over-the-counter remedies, just in case. In the end, it was a waste of money — the seals are still on the jars. I didn’t find sailing on a tall ship to be any different than any other sailing experience in terms of seasickness, from river cruises to massive ocean liners. It was, quite literally, smooth sailing for me.

Is the Ship Well Designed?

Ropes and knots, wooden wheels and brass compasses…these are the kinds of objects that come to mind when you think of sailboats, and they abound on Star Clippers. Star Clippers doesn’t cave to contemporary design standards. There is no over-the-top artwork or supersize seating areas. Rather, what you see is what you get. It’s a working ship, and much of its charm comes from the fact that you’ll need to walk around booms and sails as you navigate the upper deck. As you lay in your lounge chair by one of the small pools, you can watch the crew at work as they raise the sails, wind up ropes, and swab the decks.

sailing on a tall ship

sailing on a tall ship

It’s likely you’ll spend most of your time on the upper deck of the ship since there aren’t a lot of places to sit around inside. These ships are pretty compact, so most of the interior space is reserved for cabins, the dining room, and a small shop. There is a lounge area with a bar and several banquets where you can enjoy a drink with friends. There is also a small library where you can relax and read a book, or if you must, catch up on work. From the sketchings of sailing ships hanging on the walls to the antique-looking velvet banquets and navy blue carpeting that’s woven with a rope pattern, every detail of the ships’ decor harkens to old-school nautical traditions. It’s quaint and endearing and exactly what you’d expect from a tall ship sailing experience.

sailing on a tall ship

What are the Cabins Like?

Like the rest of the ship, they’re designed with a nautical theme. Star Clippers offers a five-star experience, but it’s only classified as a four-star because of the size of its cabins. They’re modest…most rooms have a queen bed (or two singles, depending on your needs), a small bathroom, and a small closet (that has a surprising amount of storage space). You can get larger suites  — some even include a full-size jetted tub, but they’re limited, so you’ll want to book early to get your hands on one of those. That said, once you learn the space, you and your cabin mate will get into a rhythm that has you maneuvering around each other with ease.

sailing on a tall ship

sailing on a tall ship

Each cozy cabin is designed for efficiency — making the most of the limited space. If you’re looking for extravagance or opulence, you won’t find it here. The rooms are wee, but they’re comfortable and have everything you need to make the most of your stay. My motto when I’m on vacation is, “If you’re spending all your time inside your room, you’re doing something wrong.” And this is especially true of tall ship sailing. This is an experience that’s meant to be enjoyed from the upper decks rather than inside your suite.

Pro Tip: There are some interesting room configurations, so be sure to let your travel agent know at the time of booking if you have any special requirements, such as mobility issues. One configuration requires guests to climb up a few steps to get into bed, for example. While you’re rewarded for your efforts with a porthole staring straight out into the seas, it may be a challenge for some guests. (I personally think these rooms are kind of cool if you don’t mind a little extra effort.)

Are the Meals Good?

They say a picture speaks 1,000 words, so I took a ton of pictures of the food. It’s exceptional.

sailing on a tall ship sailing on a tall ship

Need I say more? Okay, maybe a little bit more…each day, there are several options for breakfast. If you’re an early riser — like me — you can grab a pastry in the lounge area to tide you over until the buffet begins. Most mornings, it starts around 8 a.m., but if there’s an early morning excursion, it will open earlier.

Throughout the day, there’s a constant supply of cold water to wet your whistle. You can also make yourself a cup of joe or a spot of tea anytime you like. Everything you need is always available. And there’s always a basket of fresh fruit on hand for anyone who has the midnight munchies or needs a pick-me-up between meals.

Each evening during happy hour, a delicious spread of both savory and sweet treats is laid out for everyone to enjoy. This is a great time to snag a few extra cookies to take back to your cabin for later, but you didn’t hear it from me.

While there is a lunch buffet served daily in the dining room, it’s quite likely you may never have a chance to enjoy other than on sea days. There’s a good chance you’ll be exploring the local flavors while in port. But if you do get a chance to eat on board, you’ll be treated to soups, salads, a carving station, several side dishes and dessert options, and more.

Dinner is served in the main dining room at about 7:30 p.m. each night. There are several options for entrees, including a fish, poultry, and vegetarian meal. This means that everyone can find something to their taste (see what I did there?). In addition, there are always a couple of options for appetizers, salads, soups, and desserts. Everything is perfectly cooked, seasoned, and plated. You won’t be disappointed.

Beverages other than water, tea, and coffee are available for a nominal fee. The prices are in Euros and are comparable — and maybe even a bit cheaper — than some of the larger cruise lines. We paid the equivalent of $8 for a drink that would have been $12 on other ships. Drink packages are available for groups of 10 or more.

Are There Onboard Activities and Entertainment?

If your favorite thing about cruising on the massive ocean liners is the Broadway-style entertainment, sailing on a tall ship may not be right for you. But, if you like sharing intimate dinners with new friends from around the world, watching local entertainers perform traditional music and dances, and staring at the stars, then you’ll love Star Clippers.

Throughout the day, you can attend story time with the crew to hear about places they’ve been or take part in a workshop about astronomy, knot tying, towel folding, and more. You can even take a tour of the ship, climb up to the crow’s nest, relax in the bowsprits, or try your hand at steering the ship.

sailing on a tall ship

Before dinner each night, the crew performs what feels like a sort of ritualistic ceremony as they raise the sails. Watching the crew working like a well-oiled machine to the sound of  Vangelis’ 1492: Conquest of Paradise never gets tired. It was always my favorite part of the night.

Most nights, there is some form of entertainment after dinner, from a talent show put on by the crew to locals who come on board for a few hours to showcase their culture. There is a piano man on board who performs nightly and also acts as a DJ for anyone who feels like cutting a rug after the show. Dinner typically lasts well into the evening, ending well after 9 p.m., so the entertainment doesn’t start until about 10 p.m. By the time it ends, most people are ready to call it a night. For those who aren’t quite ready to settle into slumber, simply staring at the stars as you sail along is a serene and surreal experience that comes a close second to watching the sails unfurl each night.

What Kinds of Ports and Excursions Can I Expect?

Star Clippers has several ships in its fleet, and they voyage all over the world, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and Asia. You can expect to visit some very traditional ports, and you can also expect a few unconventional extras. I happened to be on one of the first sailings out of Benoa, Bali, in Indonesia. Most of the places on our itinerary were very off the beaten path. In some cases, there were no docks, and we had to disembark our tender boats a few feet from shore or climb across fishing boats. It was an adventure for us, as well as for the locals who were not accustomed to tourists. Many wanted to take their pictures with us. Others were eager to sell their wares.

Other itineraries venture to more traditional locales, such as Corfu and Monte Carlo or St. George’s and Phuket. If you’d like to experience the open water, you can even take a transatlantic sailing.

At every port, Star Clippers typically offers at least one shore excursion. I took part in some incredible experiences that were truly one of a kind, including climbing to the top of a bubbling volcano after riding a horse through a sandy desert landscape. And if you happen to be visiting a beach port, Star Clippers will bring all sorts of watersports gear ashore for you to use, including canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. You can even rent snorkel equipment on board.

What Should I Wear?

From the moment you step on board a Star Clippers ship, you feel like you’ve been transported to a different world, a preppy one where penny loafers, a polo shirt, and khaki trousers…that’s right, I said trousers…are the kind of clothes you wear for an afternoon on the top deck navigating the high seas. But the great thing about Star Clippers is that there’s no need for dress clothes for formal attire. Simply slap on a swimsuit and head to the upper deck — no trousers required.

And at night, anything goes. Most women wear a sundress or a pretty blouse paired with dress pants, but there’s certainly no need for anything more formal than that. If you’ve had a full day of fun in port, you can come as you are to dinner, and no one will blink an eye. It’s truly casual and carefree environment. Wear whatever makes you happy.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind your itinerary when packing, and be sure to bring along the necessary items if you happen to be visiting places, such as religious sites, that require your legs and shoulders to be completely covered.

What was the Overall Impression?

So what’s the verdict, you ask? Would I ever take another Star Clippers cruise? In a heartbeat. In fact, I can’t wait to share another tall ship sailing experience with my friends and family. If you enjoy river cruising, then sailing on a tall ship is likely also for you.

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sailing on a tall ship

Oregon Girl Around the World

3 Reasons to Take a River Cruise

A river cruise is a great way to see the world.


These days, you can take a river cruise just about anyplace, and while they’re wildly different from ocean cruises, rivers cruises have plenty of unique perks. Whether you’re looking to take a European river cruise, an Amazon river cruise or anything in between, you’re sure to find an itinerary that suits your tastes. Check out these 3 reasons to take a river cruise.

river cruise


A river cruise can be quite intimate. In fact, most only carry a couple of hundred passengers at a time. Since there is no extravagant entertainment on a river cruise, you’ll have lots of time to get to know the people you’re sailing with. It’s quite likely that you’ll make new friends while onboard. Reminiscing about your daily adventures over a glass of wine or cup of coffee is a great way to cap off an evening on a river cruise. Ask around, and you’re sure to hear stories of people who have made lifelong friends while on a river cruise.

river cruise


Since the ships are so much smaller, river cruises can sail into plenty of ports the big ocean liners can’t. If you want to get away from the typical big city cruise itineraries, you’ll find all sorts of alternatives on a river cruise. You can get right into the heart of France’s wine country or moor up right alongside the Christmas markets in Germany. And don’t even get me started on the sites you’ll see sailing the Mekong. It’s truly unlike anything else you’ll ever experience.

river cruise


If you want to get up close and personal with the people and culture of a place, a river cruise can help you do that. Often, river cruises invite locals onboard to entertain the guests. From woodcarving in the Black Forest to classical Khmer dancing in Cambodia, you can get a glimpse into local customs and traditions that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Not to mention, the dining rooms typically offer local delicacies at every meal and serve wines, beers, and spirits from the region through the voyage.

river cruise

What reasons do you have to take a river cruise? Have questions about what to expect? We’d love for you to leave a comment below.

What Does it Mean to Tender on a Cruise?

So you’re reading the website description for your cruise, and it says you need to “tender” to shore.

Unless you’ve taken a cruise before, you’re probably wondering what the heck that means. In a nutshell, a tender is a smaller boat that carries people from the ship to the shore.

What Are Tenders?

Many times, tenders are owned and operated by local companies. They are small ferry boats that hold anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred people. If there are not enough local ferry operators to service the cruise ship’s needs, the ship may even drop a few of its own lifeboats into the water to use as tender boats.

Side note: My mom thinks this is about the coolest thing ever and insisted I mention it in this post. The reason this is cool? Because you get to see what lifeboats are like and how effective they are. Wash the thought of rubber dinghies floating in a vast ocean out of your head. Lifeboats are fully operational boats that hold hundreds of people.

Why Do Cruise Ships Need Them?

Sometimes, ships aren’t able to dock in port. The water may be too shallow, or there may be a coral reef nearby. In some cases, the port city may not have a dock large enough for a cruise ship, or it may already have other ships using the dock. For whatever reason, your ship needs to park in the open water, and you need a more practical way to get to shore than swimming.


How Do They Work?

Your ship’s cruise director team will let you know in advance of reaching a port if you’ll need to tender. They will also explain how the process is going to work for your ship. In some cases, it’s a free for all. Simply head to the gangway, and walk onto the next tender. In many cases, people who have purchased tickets to ship-sanctioned shore excursions will be given exclusive access to the first few tenders. Once they are all on their way, the ship will open up the tenders on a first-come first-served basis. Typically, the ship will tell you in advance an approximate timeline for when this will happen so you can be prepared.

Some ships require people planning to board early morning tenders to acquire a tender ticket when they are ready to get off the ship. There tends to be a bit of rush-hour traffic until about noon, so the ship tries to manage the chaos. You will likely need to go to a lounge or theater area to obtain a ticket. That said,  you will only be able to get a ticket if your entire party is ready to go. If you’re still waiting on someone to finish breakfast or apply sunscreen, hang tight, and let someone who is ready to go get on board instead. If you’re a late riser, by mid-day, the traffic tends to die down and tickets will likely no longer be required.

Tenders run all day while you’re in port. They are a continuous service so you never have to wait long for the next boat. In most cases, as soon as one is full, the next one pulls up and starts loading.

Have questions? Let us know.

What to Expect on Cruise Embarkation Day

So you’ve never taken a cruise, and you’re wondering what to expect on embarkation day.


Going on vacation is an exciting experience. And you probably can’t wait to get on the ship. But you have no idea what to is going to happen when you arrive at the cruise ship terminal. Here are seven things you can expect on embarkation day.

Baggage Porters

No matter how you arrive at the terminal, there will be people waiting to take your bags…for a small fee. You can tip what you want, but baggage porters will expect a few bucks for carting your bags onto the boat. And you don’t have any other option than to hand over your bags, unless you travel with a carry-on. Anything larger than that, and you would be allowed to bring them on board yourself.

Security Check

As soon as you pass through the doors at the terminal, you’ll be expected to submit your bags to a security check, much like the kind you find at an airport. You’ll place your carry-on onto a conveyor belt for a quick X-ray before you walk through a metal detector. After that, you’re free to go.

Pro tip: Be sure to check with your cruise line to find out what’s allowed on board before arriving at the terminal. Last time I took a cruise, I found out you were no longer allowed to bring a bottle of water on board—something I had done a million times before.

Navigating the Crowds

There will be a lot of people at the terminal when you arrive, and it may look a lot like mass chaos. I can assure you that the cruise lines have done this thousands of times before, and it will be orderly, even though it may not look like it. Still, expect to wait in long lines. And be sure to check with the cruise staff at the front of each line to be sure you’re in the right one. Some people get priority boarding, and you’d hate to find out after a half hour of waiting that you’ve got to start over in another line.

Pro tip: Some cruise lines off skip-the-line passes for a small fee. Check out this option if you want to jump past everyone else and get on board faster.

Checking In

Once you’re at the front of the line, it’s smooth sailing from there—pun intended. Just like checking into a hotel, you’ll present your identification, as well as a credit card for incidentals, grab your room key, and be on your way. It’s that easy.

Smile for the Camera

Before you leave the terminal, you’ll be herded into a corner for a quick picture on a cheesy backdrop. You can choose to bypass or stop for a quick snap—though the cruise staff will enthusiastically encourage the latter. It costs nothing to take a photo, and you’ll have the option to purchase it later. Who knows, it might turn out great!

Touring the Ship

Once on board, it’s a good idea to get the lay of the land. Take yourself on a quick tour of the ship, checking out all of the nooks and crannies. The spa staff even offer guided tours of their services.

Planning Your Week

The first day is the perfect time to plan for the rest of your week. Book a spa package, attend the shore excursions overview session, and find out about other special events happening on board.

What other advice do you have for embarkation day? Share your thoughts on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.



3 Reasons Why Having a Balcony Cabin on a Cruise is the Best

There are so many amazing reasons why having a balcony on a cruise is amazing.


Now, it’s no secret that I love to cruise. And I can’t always afford to have a balcony cabin, but when I do, it’s fan-freaking-tastic. Don’t get me wrong sometimes getting a balcony simply isn’t worth the extra dough. If you’re sailing off-season when there may be cold weather or high winds, there’s just no point in having a balcony off your stateroom. Wondering what makes a balcony cabin so special? Check this out.

balcony cabin

Soothing Sounds

Listening to the water lapping against the side of the ship at night is such a soothing sound. I often leave the door open just a crack so I can hear the waves crashing on the open ocean.

Light Show

Nothing beats waking up to a beautiful sunrise right outside your window, except maybe watching the sun sink below the horizon at night. One of my favorite things to do after dancing the night away is bring a cup of ht cocoa up to my cabin to enjoy while staring at the stars.

Beautiful Vistas

If you’re sailing someplace warm or where there are great views—I’m thinking of places like Geirenger, Norway—then it’s totally worth shelling out the big bucks. Any time you’ll be sailing near the shoreline for the majority of your trip, you can catch some amazing sights day and night. You don’t want to miss a thing. And I just love when I wake up with views of a foreign place outside my window—so inspiring.

balcony cabin

Why do you love having a balcony cabin on a cruise? Share your thoughts with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.