We spend a lot of our time discussing the benefits of the various air and hotel options at various destinations. However, there is a very popular travel option that doesn’t rely on hotel chains or air travel: cruising. Cruises are a great way of exploring many cities within an area such as the Caribbean or Mediterranean without having to commit several days to each of them. I’ve taken a few cruises in my short travel life and I find it to be a great way to get a taste of a particular city or culture to see whether I’d like to spend some additional time there in the future.
The experience you have on-board a ship depends largely on two things: the itinerary and cruise line that you choose. Some itineraries, such as those to the Caribbean, are going to be much more relaxed and vacation focused whereas other itineraries, such as those to much of Europe, are going to be more touristy and education focused. That’s not to say that you can’t relax by the pool during a Mediterranean cruise, but the shore excursions will mainly be to tourist sites such as the Tower of Pisa – most of the excursions in the Caribbean are going to be focused on snorkeling or sailing. On-board the ship there will most likely be few differences. A lot of ships these days have moving roofs for the pool, meaning you’ll be able to enjoy the water no matter what it looks like outside!
In my opinion, however, the most important choice to make is the cruise line. Each line has its own particular personality that fit certain people. I’ve been on three different cruise lines and will most likely try a few more before I settle on one that I think is perfect. While I’ll go into more detail on each cruise line later, I’ll throw out a few general observations that I’ve noticed.
- First, if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing, or educational experience, don’t go on the mega ships from Carnival, Norwegian, etc. Most of these ships are geared towards people who like to stay active with on-board rock climbing walls, water slides, and even ice rinks.
- Likewise, if you’re looking for a trip with lots of activities, don’t cruise with cruise lines such as Holland America, Celebrity, etc. These generally smaller ships cater more towards older couples that are cruising either to relax or learn about the different cultures. There are obviously going to be exceptions, but I think you’ll be safe with sticking to those generalizations.
- Similarly, Disney cruises are going to have a lot of families on-board. If you don’t want to deal with lots of small children, it won’t be the best choice.
- When I went on my first cruise, I was overwhelmed by the number of stateroom choices. Not only are there different categories such as an inside cabin or an outside cabin with a balcony, but you also have to keep in mind the location of the cabin on the ship. I’ve never stayed in an inside cabin and I’m not sure if I ever could because I think I might be a little claustrophobic with no window – and I never get claustrophobic.
- Having a balcony is amazing in my opinion and spending some time out there in the morning is a wonderful way to start the day.
- Finally, while many of the specialty restaurants charge an extra fee per person, the experience and food is generally worth it in my opinion.
What are your cruising opinions? Anything you’d like to learn about it particular?