The 5 Pros and Cons of Cruising
There are so many choices when it comes time to think about a vacation – cruising is just one option! Is cruising right for you? We’ve talked with people who automatically say that cruising is not for them. Many have never even tried it but have pre-conceived notions. At one time, we didn’t think cruising was for us either. Let us look at the many cruising pros and cons to consider before deciding if cruising is the right choice for you!
Our first experience was a Caribbean cruise with Carnival with one of our children. We specifically picked a family friendly cruise line so that our 12 year old would find lots to do. He had a great time. We rarely saw him except at mandatory checkpoint times and for dinner. This experience was very much like our experience with mid-priced all-inclusive resorts. Great for vacations with kids but not something we would do on our own.
Our second cruise experience was planned to be a romantic escape. We picked a Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Venice with extra time in Barcelona. This time we went up-scale to the Oceania Cruises line. And every aspect of our trip was great! The ship, the cruising experience, the Mediterranean destinations made us converts. We booked a second Mediterranean cruise with Oceania the next year to different destinations and then booked a 26 day Caribbean cruise with them the next winter. Cruising is something we will definitely be doing again.
Cruising Is The Right Choice For You If You ….
1) Like To Taste Test Different Destinations:
A cruise itinerary will let you get a quick taste of a bunch of different destinations. If you don’t want to settle into one place for an in-depth exploration, cruising is the right choice for you.
How many places you see will depends on how many days you choose to cruise and sometimes where you cruise. Most Mediterranean cruises give you a different spot every day since the cruise ports are closer together. In the Caribbean and Far East, you will generally have one or more days at sea to move between some locations.
In a taste test stop you can try the local food, get a feel for whether language is a problem, get a bit of a sense of the geography and things to do in a destination. It might take a destination off of your list and it might put it on the “come back later” list.
We have generally picked cruise itineraries where most of the destinations are new for us. As a result, we tend to put far more onto the “come back later” list.
2) Want To Unpack Once
Typically if you are travelling and want to see many places that are more than a few hours apart, you will end up packing and moving hotels. When we travelled around Italy for 10 weeks, we moved almost every week (8 hotels).
With a cruise, you unpack once and your closet is moved with you. For those of us who continue to fail the “packing light” courses, this makes things easier. I only have to worry about cramming stuff back in at the end of the journey. If you don’t travel light, cruising is the right choice for you.
If we are adding on time to visit the destination at the start or finish of the cruise, we try to pack in a way that the clothes for these shorter stops are easy to get to. Then we don’t unpack most of our suitcase until we are on the cruise ship.
3) Like All-Inclusive Pricing
Similar to an all-inclusive resort, the big costs are all bundled in when you book a cruise – airfare, lodging, food and most on-ship entertainment. When we have moved hotel to hotel, it was surprising how quickly the daily costs added up.
The “extras” need to be considered when you are calculating your “all-inclusive” cost. The big one for most people is alcohol. While most all-inclusive resorts bundle in alcohol, most cruise ships offer either drink packages or pay as you go prices. David and I are not big drinkers so we always pay as you go. In fact, one of the downsides for us with all-inclusive resorts is the inability to opt out of the drink costs. You can take a small amount of alcohol with you when you board and you can get a drink at virtually all ports. Our alcohol bill at the end of the cruise was always far less than if we had paid for a package.
The other cost for many people is internet access. If you can’t stay disconnected or wait for an internet cafe in port, this cost can be quite expensive. Maybe it is time to disconnect? Especially if you have a really busy agenda planned!
Gratuities are generally automatically added to your bill at the end and are calculated as a per day per person cost. You may or may not be able to change this bill – even if you are tipping for extra service along the way. You also generally cannot direct your automatic gratuity to those who you had direct contact with.
The last big cost for most cruises is the cost of excursions. That is the topic for another blog! But in most cases, excursions are costs you pay no matter what kind of vacation you take. Getting more value out of your excursion dollar is the same on a cruise as on any other vacation.
If you watch for cruise deals (especially if you book late), you can often find offers that can include drink packages, internet, gratuities or excursions. If you can tailor that package to meet your needs, that will make your total cost closer to “all-inclusive”.
Most of the costs are relatively easily to estimate to get you a total all-inclusive price – it may just not be the brochure price. If have a fixed budget, then cruising is the right choice for you.
4) Like Being On the Water
Some people are water babies. They find the view of water to be immediately relaxing. They like being a floating island on the sea, cut off from land. The gentle rolling of the ship, puts these people to sleep. As an ex-Navy diver, David feels as much on the sea as he does on land.
And there are no sunsets quite like those you find at sea! Make sure you watch for the green flash at sunset!
If you are comfortable on the sea then cruising is the right choice for you.
5) Want to Visit Places At the Start or End of Cruises
If your cruise starts or ends at someplace you want to visit, you can plan to extend your trip in one or both of these destinations. This will give you more than a taste test. And most of the start and end destinations are great places to visit – London, Venice, Barcelona, Miami and more.
If you want to take advantage of the starting and ending cruise ports, cruising is the right choice for you. Just remember that modifying your cruise itinerary like that will require some forethought to understand the cost implications. There will be a cost to deviate but since your airfare is already paid, if you have the time, it is an easy way to add in some new destinations.
You May Not Think Cruising Is the Right Choice For You If You …
1) Want To Visit Destinations At Night
While you may get to taste test new destinations during a day visit, most of the time you are not going to see these destinations at night. For most cruise ports, you are heading out late in the afternoon in time for dinner on the ship. Check the itinerary to see which cruise ports have over-night stays and which ones have late departures. And then skip your dinner on the ship and enjoy the evening in the new destination.
Most cruise ports and day trip destinations change completely once the day tourists are gone. The island of Capri is one of the top day trips on the Amalfi Coast in Italy and is a perfect example. We stayed on the island for 2 nights and after 5pm the locals came out, the crowds disappeared and you could wander about and enjoy so much more of the island.
If you want to experience the night life or romantic dinners at the shore destinations, then you may not think that cruising is the right choice for you.
2) Like Small Boutique Accommodations
Many people like to book their accommodations in very local, small boutique hotels. This lets you get away from very large American hotels, eat in the neighbourhoods and be less of a tourist. Most cruise ships are much more like chain hotels although many of them are known for their great cuisine and dining options. If you find this kind of accommodations not to your liking, then you may not think that cruising is the right choice for you.
If you want to wander with the locals, plan to do your own walking tour when you hit the ports. Eat in the ports rather than on the ship when you are in port. If you want a more unique cruise experience, look at the much smaller cruise lines or even consider a sailing cruise.
3) Are An Introvert
I am an introvert. Large crowds and standing in line on a vacation is pure hell for me. Quiet and solitude to re-charge me. Even the mid-size ships for me become challenging after a week at sea.
While you can always hide in your cabin, most cabins are not designed for people to spend a lot of time there. You can also often find quiet nooks on a ship – try the library, the lounge very early in the day or a deck chair well away from the pool.
Remember to pick your excursions carefully. You don’t want to be stuck on a crowded bus every day!
Maybe you can try a very small cruise ship. There will be less people but you may not be able to escape as easily. If crowds and being with people is not in your comfort zone, then you may not think that cruising is the right choice for you.
4) Have Problems Being On the Water
While there are people who pick a cruise because it is on the water, for others the water is the big problem. If you are prone to getting seasick, you should come prepared with medicine, seasickness bands or anything else that works for you.
If seasickness is an issue, pick your first cruise carefully. Try to avoid cruises with days at sea in wide open seas. But even that may not help. Travelling from Barcelona to Marseille overnight we hit a storm and that night was really bad – even for people that are great on the sea. Even though the rest of the Mediterranean cruise was smooth sailing, people couldn’t stop thinking about that first night.
If the idea of being on the water for more than a few hours turns you green just thinking about it, then you may not think that cruising is the right choice for you. You never know when a storm may be brewing!
5) Want More Flexibility in Your Itinerary
While a cruise gives you a lot of different destinations to try, the agenda is fixed.
When you really like a destination, it is hard to just stay there. If there is someplace close you want to visit, you generally will not be able to do a detour. Some people want to be more spontaneous. If you like to wake up in the morning and then decide what is next, this forced agenda may not be to your liking and you may not think that cruising is the right choice for you.
This list of pros and cons may help you to decide if cruising is the right choice for you. But you may also have to tailor your cruise to fit your specific needs. What is the itinerary, what size of ship, do you want to explore the start or end destinations and what kind of excursions do you like to do. You can find some things to consider here:
If you want a teaser about how much fun you can have doing two back to back Caribbean Cruises, follow our adventures here:
After 4 cruises, we think cruising fits some specific travel needs and we would cruise again!
Is cruising the right choice for you? What “pro” convinced you? Is there a specific “con” that is a deal breaker for you?