Cruises are all the rage nowadays, and they are definitely a unique way to travel. People are drawn to them with all the promises of relaxation and pampering that they offer. But is it all good? There are some challenges to cruising as well, and if you are going to spend that much money on a vacation, it’s good to be fully-informed.
Here’s some things to think about:
- Cruising is an experience in and of itself. If you never set foot on shore from the beginning of your cruise until the end (which I have done on one occasion), there is plenty of fun aboard the ship. From the casino, the spa, on-board games, cooking classes, art auctions, live entertainment, interesting and delicious food experiences … the list is simply endless, and the crew does a fabulous job of making every guest feel pampered!
- Kind of like a “sampler”, cruises offer a very unique opportunity to get a “snapshot” of different destinations, so the traveller can decide if they want to return and explore further on a lengthier visit. It’s also a great opportunity to visit a destination that you wouldn’t otherwise want to plan an entire vacation around.
- The hospitality of the crew and the ship itself is extraordinary, and after a long day of exploring ashore, it is a surprisingly warm and satisfying feeling to come “home” to your stateroom aboard the ship.
- Excluding precious and semi-precious jewellery, you can get some great deals in the gift shops aboard ship, especially if a ship is changing destinations after your cruise is done, or if the cruise season for a particular destination is coming to an end.
- Cruises offer the opportunity to meet tons of new people. Sitting in the hot tub, on shore excursions, and especially at dinner. If you don’t book a private table, the dining staff will sit you with other parties until tables are full. This can be a con if you are seated with someone you don’t gel with, but overall it can be interesting an fun.
- The ocean is, of course, everywhere … and it is stunningly beautiful and all-encompassing with it’s beautiful hues of turquoise, periwinkle and azure. How’s that for creative writing! Seriously though, there’s something mesmerizing about spending some mindful time just staring out at the endless sea and clearing your head.
- The on-board Internet is extremely pricey, and when you do purchase it … it sucks. Ok, ok, I know … why go on a cruise if you are going to go on the Internet? Well, hopefully you won’t want to too much, but if you are travelling for business, cruising is NOT the way to go. It also means that you could feel somewhat isolated from friends, family and social media if you are so inclined.
- Cruiselines only offer a very short stay at the different ports they include in their itineraries, so it’s kind of an “If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belguim” feel (see movie reference here). Sometimes you can get very interested and excited about a particular locale, and the next thing you know it is floating away behind you.
- Cruises can be picky about attire. They have what are called “dress nights” or “formal nights”, and this means semi-formal clothing for women and a suit coat and dress pants for men. Now, while it can be a fun experience to dress up for dinner sometimes, it means a whole bunch more clothes to pack and you can feel like you are Superman in a phone booth sometimes especially if you are on a tropical cruise and trading flip flops for stilettos! It can also lessen the relaxation element of a vacation knowing that you have to “dress” for dinner.
- Cruiselines make it very easy for you to spend money aboard ship. You are given a plastic card at the beginning of your cruise which is tied to your stateroom, and this is the only currency used aboard ship. So, any purchase you make for things like merchandise, alcohol, spa services, you name it, will go onto your stateroom card and then the night before you disembark, the total will be applied to your credit card. It an be hard to keep track of these purchases, and it can add up quickly. The ship does offer little electronic devices at various places around the ship which can give you an “interim” printout, but who wants that if you’re trying to have fun!
- Shore excursions can be pricey. They can range anywhere from $50 to $500, sometimes for only a few hours of entertainment. Of course, you can always just get off the ship and walk around, and local tourist merchants have learned that putting a shop as close to the dock as possible is a good thing, but if you really want to take advantage of the short time you have in port, you might have to put out the dough, and this of course, adds to your bottom line when budgeting for a vacation.
- Seasickness can still be a thing. Most cruise ships nowadays have stabilizers on them to prevent this, but it can still happen. Stabilizers help stop the ship from moving side to side, but let’s face it, the movement of the water beneath the ship cannot be predicted … nor can the weather, so sometimes you can still feel a bit queasy or dizzy, and nobody wants to spend money on a vacation to experience that!
Overall, I would go on another cruise in a heartbeat, but there are many, many destinations I would like to visit for far longer than a heartbeat, so I think my future travel adventures will include a little bit of both.