Cruising the high seas a lovely option for winter travel

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Want to be wined, dined and pampered? Cruising is the way to go.

I recently disembarked from the beautiful Crystal Serenity. Crystal has been sailing the seas since 1990 on its two ships.

The cruise line also now offers the Crystal Esprit, a yacht for 66 passengers, on its new river boat sailing the Rhone, Danube, Rhine, among others.

We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean, but I'm not talking about the itinerary (although their itineraries are superb), but about the ship in general. For 14 days, we had excellent service, delicious food and the best shows I have ever seen on cruise ships.

In fact, they recently partnered with a Broadway producer and some of their shows feature Broadway stars. There are some nights where they feature two different shows.

And what to do on sea days? How about lectures on the beginning of passenger cruising? Or "The United States vs. Russia: Facing Cold War II" or "Forensics and History: The Mystery of the Romanovs," to name a few.

If you're a golfer, you might want to take a lesson from a certified golf pro. Or play bridge, mah-jongg or other games in their card room, or take lessons from their computer school, or just lounge around and then have a sit-down tea at 3 in the afternoon.

Staterooms are spacious - more than 200 square feet, with bathtubs and double sinks in their balcony rooms.

As for dining, there's no need to leave the dining room - the food is so good. But if you'd like to try their specialty restaurants, the first four reservations you make are included at no additional cost. There is Prego's, with fabulous Italian Food; The Sushi Bar and the Silk Road, featuring sushi and Asian food; and my favorite, Tapas, which is poolside but serves the must delicious tapas for dinner.

Sit at the pool on couches or double comfortable lounges, or if you prefer a regular lounge chair, there are plenty of those with thick cushions.

For single gals and guys, there are dance hosts available to whisk you away on the dance floor. And after show time, you can go to the Avenue Saloon and listen to Charlie James (or someone like him) sing all the familiar ditties you know. (He is fun, too.) Or try the casino.

Included in your fare are your gratuities, dining at the specialty restaurants four times at no charge, wifi for the duration of the cruise, and all the drinks with the liquors of your choice.

Try Crystal Cruises. You'll love it.

Joan Flynn is manager of Classic Travel. joan@classictravelhhi.com

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