I sailed into the New Year via cruise ship. It was my mom and I’s sixth cruise, so we are very accustomed to traveling this way. It has been almost five years since my last cruise, and in those five years, I did a lot of traveling from my study abroad program, Semester at Sea, and also did a fair share of backpacking. For each way of traveling, I have had such different experiences that mostly varied based on money spent and number of items brought with me.
Obviously one of the benefits of going on a cruise is going to different countries! But each country experience varies on where your cruise goes, so I will be focusing on many of the benefits of the ship itself in this post. There are many advantages of traveling on cruises, and hopefully this information can help solidify your cruise plans if you are iffy about booking:
1. EASY TRANSPORTATION
You get on the boat, you get off the boat. You get on the boat, you get off the boat. Any type of transportation where you can simultaneously sleep and travel is productive. But being able to live the luxurious life while hopping from port to port without having to even turn on your brain is the best it gets. Not only is transportation TO the ports easy peasy lemon squeezy, but if you book excursions through the ship, all transportation IN each port is already handled for you. You can hop right on your nicely air conditioned bus that screams “tourist”, but I mean, it has AC! #noshame.
2. UNLIMITED FOOD
The Freshman 15 ain’t nothing compared to the Cruise Ship 7 (Yes, I just made up that term, but I also just googled that people gain an average of 5-10 pounds on cruises!). You paid so much money for the cruise so you might as well get your money’s worth and EAT.EVERYTHING. Buffets at every meal, pizza stands, ice cream machines, dining rooms, and you can’t forget formal dining (but that costs extra so it better be darn good). There is food beyond your wildest dreams that you may never be able to afford, or willingly spend money on, back at home. My personal favorites were lobster night, baked Alaska night, and the unique dishes of each country you go to that they’d serve on days you were in each specific port.
3. THE SHIP COMMUNITY
You are stuck with the same people the whole cruise, so hopefully you find some cool people to hang out with. You’re never really stuck everyday with the same people in life unless it is your family, roommates, or are living in a college dorm. Even then, you probably won’t constantly be running into the same people since you all have different schedules. Well, there’s nowhere else on the ship to go unless you want to go for a fun swim in the middle of the ocean, so you will constantly be running into the same people. Everyone is relaxed and open to meeting new people (especially the ones who have the “Ultimate Beverage Package”) so it is easy to form instant connections. Even at meals, they ask every night if you would like to share the table. It’s so easy to meet people everywhere you go and after just a day of knowing someone, you might feel a stronger connection than you do with someone you’ve known for years. Traveling+relaxed conversations=the absolute best connections.
4. FUN ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT
They darn well better entertain you since you are paying so much! On the Coral Princess Panama Canal 10-day cruise I recently went on, the entertainment was fantastic. My mom and I ran around from activity to activity, basically anywhere where they lured people in by offering free champagne. Art auctions, jewelry store events, and a Captains Circle exclusive gathering all offered free drinks. Each night there is a main headliner who performs in the main theatre. On my ship, there was a magician, a comedian, different short musicals, and my personal favorite, the most amazing pianist I have ever heard, Tom Franek (he plays the piano backwards and while doing headstands…check him out!). There’s hilarious “Marriage Gameshows”, trivia, happy hour, karaoke, bingo, Zumba, and music playing in the club/lounge every night until 4am, just to name a few of the best activities! Or if you just want to relax, you can get your tan on at the pool all day er’day; your choice.
5. YOU CAN RELAX
You just woke up? Time to grab breakfast (or lunch if you slept past breakfast) at the buffet and head to the pool to go tan. You want to grab a drink? Head on over to one of the 3274932 bars onboard. Dinner time? Should you head back to the buffet or go to formal dining? Such hard decisions. Excursions are also completely planned out and you do not have to worry about any logistics if you booked one. Cruises are meant for relaxation, so whatever your definition of relaxing is, you can do whatever the heck your heart desires.
I personally love cruises, but as a woman in her 20s, I slightly prefer backpacking. The only real disadvantage of cruises are the fact that you are only in ports for a few hours in a day (sometimes overnight but rarely). It is a great way to travel, but if you want a more immersive experience like many Millennials are seeking, it is hard to feel satisfied with just a day in each country. Cruises are 1. A great country sampler to see where you would like to go back to and spend more time in the future or 2. A relaxing vacation where you don’t even care what ports you go to. I met so many people who didn’t even get off the ship in some ports because they care more about the ship itself than the actual ports! You can do whatever floats your boat.
So if you are debating on whether or not to book a cruise, just go for it! It can be pricey, but there are great deals you can find if you look hard enough! I have been on six cruises total on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask! Is there something you think I should have added to the list? Or do you prefer a different way of travel than via cruise ship? I’d love to hear from you!