Hubby and I love to go on cruises. So far, we have been on four cruises, and they are definitely our favorite style of vacationing. We feel they offer everything we are looking for in a trip, and all for a great price. Below I’ve broken down what makes cruising so great. If you haven’t been on a cruise before, hopefully this will convince you to take the plunge and book your first one! Or if you have cruised before, this article will remind you why you need to book your next.
Cruises are Affordable
If you wanted to travel to another country, you would need to pay for international flights, transportation from the airport to the hotel (and vice versa), the hotel room, the food, and the entertainment. When you go on a cruise, you are buying into an all-inclusive experience where all the expenses listed above are included in the base price. There are of course extras you can add onto your trip such as spa appointments, fancy dinners, or land-based excursions, but these luxuries aren’t necessary to have a wonderful time cruising.
There are twenty-four cruise ports in the U.S. and five in Canada. In the U.S., the ports are located in Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana,Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, US Virgin Island, Virginia, and Washington. In Canada, the ports are located in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. If you live in any of these locations, you are the lucky ones who don’t need to take a flight to a cruise port. You can just drive and park, take a train, or even a taxi. I’ve lived in Florida and New York City and have taken cruises from both states.
Who Can Cruise
Cruising is for everyone! Whether young or old, cruise companies can accommodate any age or needs. Cabins come in a wide variety of styles including suites with balconies, rooms with windows, interior rooms with no windows (a great option for families with teens alone in their room for the first time), handicap accessible rooms, and even rooms with bunk beds. Don’t let the idea of sea sickness hold you back. If you are prone to sea sickness, there are medicines that you can take and patches or special bracelets that you can wear to avoid sea sickness. However, if you hadn’t known these existed, there is a clinic onboard that can assist should you get sick.
Cruising allows you to experience more countries or cities in a short duration of time than traditional vacations. Sure, you aren’t going to fully immerse yourself in the culture of a country when you just pop in for one day.However, cruise lines do try to maximize their time at port. Often you may have8-10 hours at port, and in that time you could book an excursion, relax beach-side, shop, or explore town like a local. 10 hours at port usually allows me to see a bunch, and then if there is still more I felt we missed, we know we should plan another trip back to that specific destination and stay for several days. The single day at port allows you to get a taste of the country, and for some countries a taste may be enough.
Hotel at Sea
For those that have not been on a cruise yet, the best way for me to describe it is a hotel at sea. Most amenities (if not all) you could think of are sort offering, a cruise ship offers too. They have pools, hot tubs, gym, spa,children’s play area, restaurants, bars, shopping, and even a casino! You get to the beach at some ports. The only difference between a land hotel and a sea hotel is that you get to travel the world and see a new country every day or two.
I love creating travel itineraries for our trips. I include travel time, exploring, shopping, shows, activities, and dining. It’s the best way to keep us on track and maximize what we can do and see each day. I hate coming home and then realizing we missed a fun experience and we had been in that same neighborhood a flew blocks away. I do my research, plan out each day, and never miss a beat. As much as I love making the itinerary, I love it more when my cruise ship does the work for me! Each night when you retreat to your cabin, you have the next day’s itinerary waiting for you. We lay in bed and peruse through each line item and plan out our tomorrow based off the offerings. I like to highlight the activities we want to participate in. There is such a diverse offering of activities too. Below I will talk more on daytime activities and evening performances.
Cruise companies don’t want you to feel trapped on a ship with nothing to do but lounge poolside and wait until you make landfall. They provide loads of daily activities to keep you entertained. Below are a few of the many coordinated daytime activities we have participated in on cruise ships:
- Poolside parties
- Dance lessons (usually in the ballroom)
- Napkin folding classes
- Towel animal folding classes
- Origami folding classes
- Scrapbook making classes
- Shopping tutorials to set us up for what’s hot to buy the next day at port
- Casino slot competitions
- “Learn to play” poker and black jack classes
- Game shows where audience members volunteer to participants as contestants
- Rock climbing
- Silent disco
- And my favorite… B I N G O !
Most ships have two spaces where they provide nightly entertainment: a large theatre space and a smaller theatre type space. Each evening the ship offers multiple shows to keep your night just as entertaining as your day.
- Large theatre: Dinners are usually served broken up into two meal times to allow everyone on the ship to eat without the experience being chaotic. The cruise line wants to give everyone a chance to see the large nightly production, so they usually run the same exact show back to back each night.This allows each dining session to see the show before or after dinner. The larger production is usually a Broadway-style show where the talented entertainment staff dazzle you with song and dance.
- Smaller theatre: This smaller venue features nightly entertainment such as a comedy show, a musical revue performed by a few of the crew’s entertainment staff, or karaoke competitions.
- There are also clubs that feature themed parties such as 90’s night or disco.
One thing we love about getting dolled up each night for dinner is that the cruise ships set up photographers to take pictures of you. All included of course. You can take as many shots as you like, then you just pay extra for the prints you would like to take home at the end of the trip. We always take several a night in front of different backdrops or in front of different scenery around the ship (some photographers roam). We love cruising so much that we actually got engaged while cruising. Hubby proposed during a land-based excursion. We came back on the boat and got dressed for formal night dinner. Then headed to the photographers to take a little engagement photoshoot. It was so fun that we ordered the digital package of every single photo.
One of my favorite parts of cruising is the food! I believe that good food and food variety are important parts of vacationing. I like to eat dishes I don’t cook at home when I am on vacation. Here are the highlights:
- There are several 24/7 dining options on board.
- Room service is included.
- Many ships have a lido deck (poolside) dining option which is set up buffet-style.
- For the evening scheduled dinners, there are dining rooms with multi-course meals served. If you want lobster and filet mignon, just ask for both! If you want two desserts, just ask for both!
- Variety of food is just wonderful. Every sit-down restaurant has a menu with several options to pick from. If you have dietary restrictions, just let the staff know and they can make you anything.
Cruising is like taking your vacation to the next level. It’s the all-inclusive hotel without any steep fees, and it’s basically on steroids. The ships are so large, it could take you a couple of days to really see it all. The entertainment will keep you on the go and out of your cabin room. The food will keep you well-fed. The ports will provide you with cultural experiences. Does it get any better than that?