After spending months devouring a number of highly-regarded and popular travel blogs, I’m left with the feeling that cruising has a reputation for being a bit…frowned upon. When the travel elite are asked their favorite cruise lines, time after time, the answer is “never been on a cruise,” or, “not into cruising.” And I can somewhat understand the opinion from afar, that cruising is one of the most touristy ways that one can travel. I too, like to blend in, and subscribe to the “When in Rome” mantra. However, having taken part in a number of cruises now, I just have to defend it. Cruising rocks. And here’s why, in my opinion, it’s one of the best ways that you can travel.*
You only have to stay in once place.
The thing I love the most about cruising is that you get to see a number of different locations without actually having to (un)pack your bags and check in to another hotel, hostel, or wherever you choose to sleep. Those dresser drawers are yours for a week (or more), giving you the opportunity to feel like you really have a home base. On one trip, we saw Barcelona, Rome, Capri, Cinque Terre, Eze, and Monte Carlo—all while going back to sleep in the very same (very comfortable) bed. Convenience and comfort reign supreme.
Transportation is not a headache.
Well, this is mostly true. The ship’s captain takes you where you need to be according to your ship’s itinerary—usually while you’re sleeping. Go to bed in Spain, wake up in France. No stressful airport visits, no missed trains. Well, about the trains: on one Mediterranean cruise, we did in fact take a number of trains—you do have to get to your destination from port. And while some cruisers like to shell out a ton of money to do some sort of tour excursion, that’s just not our style. J is a planner to the fullest and he handles port logistics like a pro—but I’ll let him tell you all about those logistics some other time.
You make friends!
I know, you can make friends on your travels anywhere (though we have yet to do that as successfully as we have while cruising). But the cool thing about sitting with the same people each and every night on the ship during dinner is that you just may bond. Our first cruise, admittedly, it just didn’t happen. And we’ve also been on cruises that did away with the group dining arrangement (which frankly, we also enjoyed very much—date night every night!). But on one trip in particular, we made friends with some really great people. Five years later, we’re still keeping in touch!
You get to try the sampler platter.
Who doesn’t love a good sampler platter? No, I’m not talking the fried food mountain from your local chain restaurant. I’m talking location! Depending on your itinerary, you can seriously hit the jackpot. Imagine never before visiting Europe, and then you hop a Mediterranean cruise, and see 5 different countries! You can sample locations and perhaps plan for future, longer visits based on what you liked the best. By the way—I was reading a critique of cruises the other day, and someone made the argument that they want to spend “more than 4 hours for exploring.” Most stops plan for at least 7 hours—more than enough time to get a good taste of a port. Is it long enough to feel like you’ve come to know a particular location? No. In my opinion, you need at least a week for that. But it’s enough to take it all in, and hit the highlights. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
You get the royal treatment.
Nightly dinners at your service. Shows to entertain. Turndown service, with towel animals and chocolates (okay, not everyone craves that. But fun!). Spa services, high teas, wine and whiskey tastings. There are all these little pleasures built in with your cruise, filling the holes that would normally be taken by travel time. I have the most wonderful time exploring what the different cruise ships have to offer, but if a jam-packed schedule isn’t your thing, you can always sunbathe and swim! And you don’t have to worry about time wasted, because it’s all on travel time. And who couldn’t use a little R&R between exploration days?
*YES your choice of cruise ship matters! Do I blame the people cruising with Carnival for thinking that hitting the high seas is an awful way to travel? Probably not! (Sorry, Carnival). But just as a hotel can make or break a vacation, so can your cruise ship. Choose wisely!
Stay tuned for why Disney cruises are the best of all (and yes, I swear! I’ve been on other lines!).