To cruise or not to cruise?
Cruise ship travel is not for everyone. So “to cruise or not to cruise?” is the question I will try to answer today. Cruise ship travel may be perfect for you. Or it may be the worst idea ever for your travel style. Or maybe, like me, it is for you every once in a while. Continue reading for some pros and cons about cruise ship travel.
I just returned from a quick cruise to Mexico to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. (Side note: cruise ship travel is a great way to celebrate a birthday.) It was my fourth cruise and I can say with confidence that cruising is not my favorite way to travel. But I also cannot deny that I had a good time. I have always had a good time while cruising.
Below I have listed some pros and cons to cruise ship travel. Note: not all cruises are created equal. The pros and cons I list below do not apply to every cruise ship every time. Small river cruises through Europe are not the same as a floating fun ship in the Caribbean. But in general, the following should apply.
Cruise Ship Travel Pros:
- Cruise ship travel is easy. Those cruise ship people know what they are doing and they do it very well. It is one of the easiest ways to take a vacation because almost every choice is already made for you.
- Cruising is relaxing. There is a lot of downtime on a cruise. Sure, there are activities to keep you busy if that is what you want. But it is also possible, and perfectly acceptable, to sit on a lounge chair on the deck and read a book all day.
- Cruising is affordable. In general, the cost-per-day on a cruise ship is a good value. But often, you can book a cruise (especially at the last minute) and get a great deal. The price can be very hard to beat when compared to other types of travel.
- Cruising takes you to some fun places. And it is always nice to visit multiple locations without having to pack and unpack your bag.
- You meet some fun people on a cruise ship. Dinner is especially a good time to bond with fellow travelers since you will often be seated with strangers.
- Cruising equals good food (and plenty of it). I am NOT talking about the buffet lines and 24-hour pizza. I am talking about the meals prepared in the dining room. They are usually very good and you get the opportunity to try some cool stuff that you may not have the guts to try at home (e.g. the only time I have eaten escargot is on a cruise ship).
Cruise Ship Travel Cons:
- So. Many. People. Cruise ship travel equals crowds. Unless you are on a smaller cruise ship, you are going to have to deal with those crowds. That being said, I am still amazed at how cruise ships organize that many people. Their processes for cooking, cleaning up after and loading and unloading that many people are impressive.
- There is a lot of bland food. Unless you are eating in the dining room, the food is only so-so. It will get old fast.
- Cruising “extras” add up fast. Yes, for the most part, cruises are all-inclusive. But those few items that are not included can really undermine the affordability of a cruise. Sure, you can drink all of the water and coffee you want for free. But if you want a soda or a beer, you are going to have to pay for it. Shore excursions are certainly not cheap. Want to visit spa or play in the casino? Get ready to drop some dough. Plus, their very convenient, cash-less card system makes it easy to spend more than you were planning to.
- Cruise ship travel is all on someone else’s schedule. So if you really enjoyed a particular destination and want to stay a couple of extra hours, too bad. The ship is sailing and it is not waiting for you.
- Cruising means you will visit tourist row and that is it. If you want any sort of real, local flavor, you are going to have to work really hard to find it…and you still might not be able to do so in some ports.
Cruise ship travel is not for everyone. But if you go into it with the right attitude, you can have yourself a really good time and see some beautiful places.