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How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions On Cruise Ships

As 2013 comes to a close, many of us will make New Year’s resolutions and (if we’re honest) the large majority of those resolutions will be broken at some point in 2014. On cruise ships you can find a multitude of ways to keep your resolves, but you can also find over-the-top ways to break them.New Year's resolutions on cruise ships

Quit smoking. Smoking in indoor areas and cabin balconies on cruise ships is becoming a rarity. Royal Caribbean, Disney and Cunard are among lines that recently tightened their smoking policies. If you’re planning to smoke on a cruise ship, you’ll have to work for it — and probably go outside.

Help others. Several cruise lines offer opportunities for volunteerism. Holland America Line with its “Cruise for a Purpose” and Crystal Cruises with its “You Care We Care” program are among cruise lines with specific shore excursions that include a volunteering aspect. Shipboard, fundraising efforts encourage passengers to give — including Royal Caribbean’s “Walk for Wishes,” a mile walk around the deck to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Carnival’s “Care to Play: Carnival for St. Judes’ Kids,” a dance fundraising event.

Drink less. Cruise ships offer temptations such as the new self-serve wine and beer from dispensers on Norwegian and Carnival, and new designer cocktails on lines including Celebrity, Norwegian and Princess. If you don’t want to imbibe much, stay away from the increasingly popular all-you-can-drink alcohol packages. One alternative: all-you-can-drink soft drink plans.

SEE MORE: Cruises go self-serve with wine and beer.

Save money. Cruises are one of the best vacation values out there, but if you want to go big you can do that too. In 2014, find a cruise for $499 for a week in an inside cabin or pay five figures for a fancy suite. Cruise pricing includes accommodations, meals, activities and entertainment (more if you do an all-inclusive cruise on lines such as Regent Seven Seas). You’ll want to pay gratuities to the crew, but what you spend beyond that is up to you.

Improve your knowledge. Topics you can learn about on cruise ships can actually help you keep your resolutions. Cruise lines offer a roster of educational activities shipboard, including seminars on finance and health and wellness topics. Improve your photography, take language lessons, do a cooking class, or learn from a historian or naturalist on lines including Crystal, Oceania and Lindblad Expeditions. Gain insight from local experts too as you explore ports of call.

Spend more time with the kids. Big cruise ships offer the perfect environment for family togetherness because there is opportunity for everyone to do their own thing. The kids can hang out in expansive children’s centers, where they are well occupied with activities run by experienced counselors, while parents get a break. Then everyone meets up for family meals. There are also plenty of family togetherness activities — not the least of which is playing at shipboard waterparks with thrill slides/rides.

Make new friends/fall in love. Cruise ships are convivial places, socializing being a large part of the scene. If you are at an assigned dinner table you will really get to know your tablemates during a week together. If you’re on a small ship with open-seating dining, you’ll get to know practically everyone onboard. For singles, social events help you scope out who’s onboard. Princess Cruises even has singles cruises.

Get Fit/lose weight. Yes, you can start a new healthy lifestyle on a cruise. Many ships have state-of-the-art gyms, fitness classes and personal trainers available for hire. Dining room menus include some healthy choices, but you’ll have to put on blinders as you pass temptations at the buffet.

PHOTO TOUR: See the best cruise ships for fitness junkies.

Manage stress. If lounging in the sun doesn’t quite do it for you, head to the ship’s spa for an array of massages and other relaxing treatments. On some ships you’ll also find a Thermal Suite (a de-stress retreat with heated loungers), sauna and steam rooms and sometimes a hydro-pool with soothing jets that will turn your tense muscles into mush.

Take a trip. Cruises take you places, and not just on popular Caribbean itineraries. You can get to many of your “Bucket List” locales on a cruise ship – on longer itineraries and world cruises you can hit a bunch on one sailing.

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