Summer's over. The grandkids are off the beaches and back in school--and life's a little more peaceful. Maybe it's time to plan a different kind of fall vacation.
Storms that pack a real wallop begin to descend on Vancouver Island in November. Local inns and restaurants on the West Coast have turned the natural spectacle into a tourist attraction, offering special deals to come snuggle up to watch the show with a blanket or a glass of wine. Book a room at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, a hotel designed specifically to take in the best views of the storms.
Expert travelers know to check up on local tipping customs before they head abroad. It’s good to know, for instance, that waiters in Germany appreciate a 5 to 10 percent tip delivered by hand, while luggage porters in Israel should get 6 shekels (around $1.55 USD) per bag. If you’re in Hong Kong, make sure to round up to the nearest dollar on your cab ride. And if you’re dining out in Japan, don’t tip under any circumstances—unless offending a Japanese waiter is part of your itinerary.
Long-time cruisers often have an embarkation day routine. Some make a beeline for the atrium or poolside bar, while others head to the buffet. Some like to explore the ship, posting photos online to make Facebook and Twitter friends jealous. Others meticulously spray down their cabins with Lysol, start popping seasickness medicines and unpack all their belongings into their proper places.
If you're a first-timer or haven't settled into a familiar cruise routine, here's a list of embarkation day do's and don'ts, culled from our many years cruising, as well as input from Cruise Critic's Facebook fans.