Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Cruising

I have been fortunate enough to have a travel agent as a grandmother, albeit one with a definite preference to cruising. This blog will be dedicated to the pros and cons of cruising as a form of travel.

Lets begin with the Pros:
  1. If you have kids cruising can be a very appealing option. I went on two Disney cruises before hitting my teens and absolutely loved them! Cruise ships have day camps (day cares) for children, which are especially helpful for days at sea. The Disney kids room had a pirate ship, toys, and interactive activities; one day we got to play with dry ice and make flubber. This allows the adults some free time to enjoy the rest of the ships amenities, particularly the spa and the bangin bars. 
    • Aside from the day care most ships, particularly Disney, have a lot of space dedicated to kids throughout the ship. This ranges from kid friendly pools to a rock wall or mini-golf. Obviously these can be enjoyed by all ages but are a special bonus if travelling with kids.
  2. The entertainment factor! Cruises have something going on at all times and it is always listed in the daily itinerary, so there is no searching for something to do that night. I have seen fantastic plays, water shows, comedians, game shows and more on cruises. Now that I am old enough, I have also enjoyed the on-ship casinos. 
    • As I stated earlier many ships today come equipped with rock walls, mini-golf, surf simulators, zip-lines and more. These are fun on there own but there are also competitions associated with them that are fun to participate in or watch. My personal favorite has been the "Mr. Universe" contests, where men must strut there stuff and show off there best belly flop. 
  3. Low Stress! Since you typically book excursions before boarding and most of the other entertainment, cruising can be a very stress-free form of travel. You wake-up each day knowing where and when you have to be places as well as what is going on during any free time. There is always someplace to get food and a pool to lounge by. This is by far one of my favorite things about cruising, as I am a plan ahead kind of person.
  4. And finally, the most obvious benefit to cruises, the sheer amount of places you see in one trip!  Cruises are especially wonderful if you want to see only a few of the major attractions in an area. For example, I have only a handful of things I want to see in South America, and so would greatly consider seeing the region by ship. This fast-paced, jam packed travel can also be nice if you have a limited amount of vacation time, but a lot of places on your list. My first European cruise, took me to 7 countries in 2 weeks, a feat that would have been nigh impossible to accomplish otherwise. The Mediterranean cruise I am taking this summer will allow me to see 7 in 12 days! 


 Now the Cons:
  1. While cruising takes you to many places you merely skim the surface. While cruising has allowed me to see lots of places, I did not get to truly experience them. Typically you are only docked at a certain location for 1-2 days and are not allowed off the ship till 8 or 9 and have to be back on by 5 or 6, allowing for little more than 8 hours of exploration. This gives you time for a tour or two which typically doesn't get you to all the main tourist attractions of an area. So if you are in it for a cultural immersion, to see it like the locals, or an extended tour of a region, touring is not for you. 
  2. Expense! There are certainly ways to keep your cruising costs to a minimum, but at the expense of using the ships many amenities and extras. Not all of the restaurants and entertainment on cruises come with the ticket; for example, spa treatments, casinos and specialty food items such as gelato and alcohol cost extra. Cruise run excursions can also be quiet costly. Depending on your preferred method of travel or budget this can be frustrating. It has never been a huge issue for me, though the alcohol thing has become more frustrating recently and the extra expense of the spa and delicious food gets to me more on days at sea.

I realize that I have more pros than cons, but that does not mean that I prefer cruising to other forms of travel. For me personally, the two cons are big deals for me. I have really enjoyed all of my cruises and would not say no if my grandmother offered me more, but for my own personal travel it will never be a top choice, at least for a majority of places I want to see. I enjoy immersing myself in a place and allowing time to really experience the culture of a place and see all of what it has to offer. I will most definitely be returning to the European places we have traveled to see them more thoroughly on my own time. If you have any specific questions about cruising, such as which excursions I have enjoyed best and what ships I recommend, please let me know. 

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