Some travel tips

Tip #1: Never travel alone. If you are vacationing alone, sign up for tours rather than try to find things on your own. Street vendors look for single people and prey on them to sell their wares and in some countries they can get fairly mean about it and cause you more trouble than you bargained for.

Tip #2: On cruise ships, most have someone designated as a professional shopper (or some other title). Basically, they recommend different places to shop for what they call "bargains". These shoppers visit these merchants about once a week with each new cruise, so they may not be as objective in their recommendations as you would hope. If you're looking for precious stones, do your homework before you set sail.

Tip #3: If you are taking a cruise, take advantage of the shore excursions offered onboard. They may be a little more expensive than what you may find once in port, but you'll be guaranteed that you'll get what you pay for. Additionally, they are aware of the ship's schedule and will get you back on time.

Tip #4: With cruises to the Carribean, remember that hurricane season is from 1 June to 30 November. If you are planning this far in advance, you may want to consider insurance in the event a hurricane pops up just before you go.

I recommend taking a 7-day Western Carribean cruise out of Tampa, Florida. This cruise visits Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya. Two shore excursions I highly recommend: The Mayan Frontier by Horseback in Cozumel and the Dolphin Encounter in Belize. I'm not a horseback rider, but the staff was fantastic and extremely amusing. The dolphin trainers are very knowledgeable and are very protective of the dolphins.

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