A Man’s Point of View

I founded Bentley Hedges Travel in 1970—and still, after all these years, I get excited for my next cruise or tour. From a man’s point of view, I like to be involved in the planning process from beginning to end. As I judge all men should do! Don’t get me wrong; women plan fabulous journeys, which often involve more activities than men might plan. I personally like to be involved.

I’ve put together some tips for planning your cruise vacation that I think you will find helpful.

If you have less than a week, you are probably restricted to the Bahamas, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean or a “cruise to nowhere”. A cruise to nowhere allows passengers to cruise for a long weekend out of port into the ocean and then return. No ports of call are made by the ship, but you can get a feel for what a cruise is like. We are fortunate to live within driving distance to Galveston, Texas, where you can take a four- five or even seven-night cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines or Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and seasonally Disney Cruise Lines.

A week’s vacation will open the Caribbean to you, and depending on where you live, you can even get to Europe, Hawaii, Alaska or the South Pacific. Norwegian Cruise Lines will take you to the beautiful ports of Maui, Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii. One of my personal favorite cruises is cruising the Tahiti Islands from Papeete, Alaska, on Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines, which allows more time in ports to enjoy the included shore excursions.

If you can squeeze out 10 days to two weeks, you will have many more options—including all seven of the continents. A Regent Seven Seas Cruise may be exactly what you are looking for; all shore excursions are included while you cruise from Rome to Barcelona, South America, New Zealand and Australia. Regent Seven Seas often offer complimentary air or highly discounted business-class air.

One thing to remember—the longer the cruise, the more you will need to pack, or you might have to do laundry while away.

If not a cruise vacation, how about an all-inclusive land vacation? This type of vacation can be full of activities or, for me, sitting on the beach taking in the sun. My wife can be at the spa getting a massage, and we are both happy. Then, in the evening, we will enjoy a wonderful dinner together. My favorite all-inclusive resort is the El Dorado Royale in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

Cruise vs. Land Vacation

One of the main benefits of a cruise is that you and your traveling companion can visit multiple destinations during your vacation. While you may only be there for the better part of one day, you can get a feel for the destination and decide if you would like to return for a longer stay.

If you have had someone tell you how wonderful a destination is, you may want to stay longer than a cruise allows. In that case, all-inclusive resorts are a great option. These resorts allow you to explore the destination more fully. Your room at the resort will most likely be larger than your cruise stateroom.

There are simply so many daily activities on board a ship. In my opinion, cruise lines offer a better variety of daily entertainment options, but the resorts offer many ocean water sports that can’t be done on a cruise.

Both cruises and resorts offer a wide variety of dining options. Often, the cruise lines’ food offerings overall are better than at resorts. Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines focus on providing a 5-Star dining experience on board all their ships. That said, there are all-inclusive resorts that focus on gourmet dining as well.

Going back to the beginning, I believe, from a man’s point of view, travelers—especially a husband and wife or couple—should both be involved in planning the travel process from beginning to end. It adds to the excitement.

Planning a cruise or any vacation can be a challenge for those who either haven’t traveled much or who haven’t taken an organized tour or vacation. If you want to “take the plunge” and go on your first cruise or tour, where do you start?

I suggest and believe all first-time cruisers should find a good travel agent who is experienced in booking cruises, tours and escorted tours! I must say, after 49 years in the business, I am a little biased by saying that our company has an experienced staff who can plan trips for the beginning travelers to the seasoned travelers. Most of all, I encourage you to contact a local travel agent.When you book online, you have no one to help you if a situation arises.

For me, traveling will always be my favorite thing to do, and I plan to travel as long as I can.

Bon voyage, I’m off to somewhere.

Bentley C. Hedges CTA, COO

Founder, Travel Leaders/Bentley Hedges Travel

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Contact one of Bentley Hedges’ professional travel agents to book your next adventure at their office at 10021 S. Pennsylvania Ave., in Oklahoma City, online at bhtravel.com or call 237.3333.