Ahh, cruises. A form of travel that “real travelers” love to hate. My travel philosophy is that most types of travel are okay – to each his own.
It’s true that cruises are basically moveable all-inclusive resorts, and that you’re unlikely to have any sort of “authentic” experience. But, that’s not why you take a cruise. You take a cruise because you want an easy vacation that’s takes you to more interesting, more “exotic” places than a road trip.
And I’m here to tell you that it can be fun. Jeff and I took a 4-day cruise in January 2009, leaving from Port Canaveral, Florida and going to the Bahamas. It stopped on Royal Caribbean’s private island, Coco Cay, and also at Nassau.
Did we learn much about the Bahamas or its culture? Certainly not. But what we did do is have a good time. Here are some of the reasons to take, and not to take a cruise.
Why You Should Consider a Cruise
- Cruises are relaxing. Everything is planned for you and all you have to do is pick what to do, if anything, at any given point.
- The food is delicious and plentiful. You can eat at any time during the day – there are buffets and such available almost at all times. I suggest going to dinner in the restaurant because the food is generally top-notch. And if you can’t decide what to pick for some course, you can just order both. Best of all, all of this is already included in the price.
- It’s easy to meet people. Whether they are in your age bracket depends on the cruise. But you will probably be seated with other people at dinner, and can easily meet people through the various activities available onboard.
- You won’t get bored. It’s pretty unlikely that you will hate the sound of every single ship activity. There’s plenty to do, from sports on the deck (Royal Caribbean even has a climbing wall on most of their ships), to catching an after-dinner show, to trivia nights, to gambling at the casino, to doing karaoke in the bar.
- Booked last minute, cruises can be a great value. In my recent research I have found 2 week transatlantic cruises for as low as $30 a night. That’s a pretty good price for a hotel room, and when you consider that cruises are almost entirely all-inclusive – you get all the food you can possibly eat, lots of activities, a place to sleep, and transportation – it’s a total steal. Check this website for cruise deals. Note that because you have to tip, the price you see online is less than the final price.
Why You Should Not Consider a Cruise
- If you want to fully experience the culture of the ports-of-call. This is unlikely to happen, as the place where you step off the ship inevitably caters to cruise ship tourists. You are unlikely to have the time to really see the place very well since you have a strict deadline for returning to the ship. Note that it is possible to escape the tourists if you want to at most ports.
- If you want to spend more than a day in each place. Most cruises will dock at around 8 am and leave around 5 pm from each port of call. There are of course exceptions, but this doesn’t allow for a lot of exploration.
- If you really hate the all-inclusive resort vibe. Cruises are most definitely what you could call “touristy.” If you absolutely can’t stand that, it might not be for you.
- If you’d rather experience the local food than what you’d get on the ship. At most it’s going to be possible to have 2 meals in port on a port day. But let me tell you, even if you are as gung-ho as we are about trying local cuisines, it is hard to resist the lure of the free stuff back on the ship (well, we are also pretty cheap so that might have something to do with it). Anyway, there is less opportunity for this, typically, than in other kinds of travel.
- If you want to go to a whole bunch of places quickly. Cruise ships can’t match planes in speed. There are likely to be days at sea unless maybe you are cruising through the Mediterranean. If you can’t stand the idea of a whole day simply traveling on a ship, you might not like cruising.
Do you like cruises?