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The Benefits of Cruising

In response to a recent e-mail I received, I was inspired to write about why we love to cruise.  Mainly I think of the benefits of cruising when comparing to similar vacations.

It’s a Portable Hotel Room:

How many people do you know who want to visit “Europe?”  That’s quite an undertaking since there are many countries each with their own highlights and not-to-be-missed sights.  I particularly want to visit Venice and the Greek Islands.  By taking a cruise, we can unpack once and visit (briefly) each of the places we want to visit.  We can even extend it to a cruise-tour to visit some of the land-locked locations.  If there is one place we particularly enjoy and want to explore further, we can book a future vacation to go back and spend more time.  I see it as a “taster” of places to visit.

You don't get this in a hotel room

You don’t get this in a hotel room

In contrast, for a more traditional vacation, we could book multiple hotels, rent a car, struggle with local maps, and then spend half of the vacation travelling from one location to the next by plane or train, exhausted by the time we reach the next stop.

Think about visiting Hawaii – how do you choose which island to visit, or how much time do you want to spend flying from one to the next?  I would much rather spend a day on each, then book a week’s stay on my favorite island at a later date.  The same goes for the Caribbean islands – how can you possibly visit them all if not just for a day?

And the “piece de resistance”… Alaska can really only be experienced by cruise ship to view the stunning glaciers while watching for whales.

Built-in Entertainment:

Finding evening entertainment is often difficult and pricey on vacation, so the evening usually consists of dinner and retiring to the hotel to watch tv or read.  But on a cruise, there is something going on every night, from comedy shows, bands playing in the bars, karaoke, not to mention the extravaganzas going on in the three-level theatres.  I have two favorites so far: the Ice Show on Voyager of the Seas, and on her sister ships, is just phenomenal for both the skill level required of the skaters, and its entertainment value; and the Blue Man Group on Norwegian Epic.

Something for Everyone:

Try something new!

Try something new!

I love sea days, when I can relax and read on the balcony, spend some time at the gym, and lose my $20 in the casino (yes, that’s my limit!).  There is something for everyone on board, from the kid’s clubs, the pools, various demonstrations, a sports deck with perhaps rock-climbing, mini-golf, or even surfing!

Great for Family Reunions:

Imagine trying to coordinate a family reunion.  You book a block of hotels at an agreed location and meet up successfully enough.  But what are you going to do about getting around the island, deciding where to eat, dividing up the bills for activities and meals?  And what if you don’t all want to do the same activities?  This is where a cruise is the perfect reunion vacation.  You’ve all booked your own cabins, in the price-range of your choice, and your meals are already paid for.  You pick the excursions you want to do, separately or together, and they’re all charged to your individual rooms, then transportation is provided to and from without having to figure out how many cars to rent or who is going to pay.  And the best part, the kids have their own play-areas, safe and age-appropriate, while the adults spend time at the pool or drinking at the bar.

Easy to Budget:

One of my favorite things about a cruise is that my costs are fixed or, at the very least, controllable.  I can go on a cruise and not spend anything for the whole week.  You don’t have to pay for meals, nightly entertainment, kid’s clubs, or workout facilities.   Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to spend a LOT of money in the casino, spa, nightclubs and bars, and specialty restaurants, but even some of these activities can be cost-controlled by pre-paying for drinks or dining packages.

Then there are the excursions.  I generally prefer to take an excursion offered by the cruise-line, especially if I haven’t visited that port before.  Again, the cost is agreed upfront, and I’m not stuck in the middle of nowhere, held hostage for money to deliver me back to the ship in time.  There are no nasty surprises and extra hidden costs.  Plus you have the confidence that you will receive a refund for any cancellations, or even if the weather is bad.

Twelve cruises on…

We’ve taken un-cruise vacations since, but it’s just not the same.  We were hooked after the first cruise, even though we didn’t think it sounded that appealing when friends had recommended it.  Now, if only I had more vacation time!

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