Cruising was never the type of travel I thought I would enjoy, but I’ve gone to the dark side, and I’m all in! Why cruising didn’t use to appeal to me. First, you don’t get to see as much, you spend a good percentage of your time on the boat. And, taking a trip, to live on a boat, with a bunch of strangers was not on my to-do list. Second, I didn’t need help traveling. I am perfectly capable of planning my own trip; and I was not looking for a tour guide. To a much lesser extent, the idea of all-you-can-eat-buffets and the many people at an-all-you-can-eat-buffet had very little appeal to me. Third, pretty much all the other cruising stereotypes and horror stories out there.
As it turns out, I’m very happy to have been wrong. It didn’t happen all at once. My first cruise to Mexico was a last minute deal. We had a good time, but I wasn’t convinced I was a cruiser yet. I did think cruising was a nice niche for traveling to places you might not otherwise see. For instance, originally our trip to Mexico was a thoroughly planned, to the umpteenth degree, trip until we had to cancel because of safety concerns in Mexico. So, a year later, when we had an opportunity to cruise Mexico we decided that would be a better fit. And, I would love to do an Alaskan cruise, because I probably wouldn’t travel there independently (still on my bucket list).
The next cruise I did, 3 years later, was to the Greek Islands. Not a good deal, but we wanted a prescheduled way to see the islands. I have heard it’s cheap and easy to use the ferries and island hop, but I had very little luck finding a way to book it in advance. So again, a cruise was the right fit us.
This last cruise I took was purely for fun (not a bad reason to take a cruise)! It was a steal of a deal and I couldn’t pass it up. It was also the longest cruise I had done with more time spent on the ship, but honestly you’re paying for that. So if you can’t find a way to enjoy that aspect of it, cruising might not be for you. Not to mention we traveled for 12 days and 5 countries and I didn’t have to repack or move my luggage once!
Here’s a breakdown of the key parts to cruising:
Ships – All the ships are different and excellent in their own way. To warn you though, they will inevitably have some disappointments too. That being said, I have always been pretty happy with the ships we have stayed on. I have been warned about some ships being too big, but I have actually found I like the bigger ships. There is a sense of awe and a feeling of being in a small city instead being inside a hotel. Although, If you are not comfortable walking, it wouldn’t be a good fit. I have been happy in all the rooms we’ve stayed in- a junior suite, a balcony room, and an exterior room; never an interior room. I was skeptical about whether or not the small windows in the exterior room would really make a difference. It does! It was worth it and I was also not disappointed that we didn’t pay the large sum to upgrade to a balcony. Bottom line- All the ships are different you just have to figure out what your priorities are.
Dining – All the food has been great! For breakfast we do room service every day. It’s free, arrives at your door, and you don’t have to search for a table. It also cuts out the inevitable overeating that would take place if I ate at one of the buffets. That being said- if possible avoid the massive buffet. This might not be important for everyone, but for me it’s a must do. There is nothing wrong with buffets, just with the quantity of food that I’ll consume and my desire to fit into my clothes. If you are someone with willpower- let me know how the buffets are.
Entertainment – Try it all. It’s not all going to be great, but it’s almost all free so why not try it. There is something for everyone’s taste. But, you must go see the Newlyweds Show! We saw it on our first cruise and it was amazing. I still laugh thinking about it and remember way too many lines from it. You have to have the right participants and cruise director. If you do it will be unbelievable and if you don’t, you’re not any worse off for having tried. It’s not the kind of thing I would normally be interested in but after having seen such a memorable one on my first cruise I always check it out now.
Cruising still won’t be for everyone, but I would encourage even those skeptical to give it a try. You might be surprised!