Cruising is big business. Have you given it a try?
I've now been on four official (including overnights) cruises:
1) French Polynesia on Paul Gauguin
2) Northern Caribbean with Celebrity
3) Mediterranean with Holland America
4) Kvarnar Bay (Croatia) with Katarina Line
Still would love to do a European river cruise and a Panama Canal crossing, among other cruise destinations.
This has all been on small boats which I really like, but I am not very keen on bigger cruise ships cause I don't like the crowds a big cruise ship creates when going ashore.
These big crowds always attracts every scammer within 200 miles of the harbour and it's just too much mass tourism for me.
Why or why not? Well, it depends on the type of person that you are. Some people love cruses and some hate them. The below list comes with the assumption that you're willing to spend money on a moderate to good quality holiday. Budget cruises and bad companies can throw a spanner in the works with ships running aground, virus outbreaks, icebergs getting in the way and chefs eating their loved ones.
Yes, there are bad cruises, but traditional planes fall out of the sky and hotels can also ruin your holiday so neither activity in my mind is particularly worse than the other.
5 reasons why cruise ships are great:
5 reasons why cruise ships are bad:
I could probably think up a 100 point list for the pros and cons but I'm trying to avoid writing novels on this site ;)
In the end the most important thing is to figure out if you like a well-structured holiday or if you like getting lost and immersing yourself in the culture of a foreign land.
I went on my first cruise in 2011 from Los Angeles to Ensenada. Ever since then I have been hooked on cruising. I have sailed 6 times and have my 7th coming up next month. My favorite itinerary was Seattle to Alaska in June 2012. It was the best vacation I have ever taken. I love being on the ocean viewing God's glorious creation. Having all your food and entertainment included is wonderful, too. I highly recommend cruising over land based vacations!
As former crew, I stopped counting at 100. The number of sailings I've been on is much, much higher.
I've only got this to say: TRY IT.
(More advice: Tip those that *deserve it*, not those that the cruise line says you are 'expected' to tip. And if you really want good service, tip at the start of the cruise not at the end.)
Surprisingly, none of them are true. I recommend sticking with upscale cruise lines and booking a balcony cabin (believe it or not, there are bargains - I usually find them on vacationstogo.com).
The food is excellent and you can surprisingly always find a corner of the ship to call your own. I recommend booking your own excursions for ports, however. You'll have a better, cheaper experience.
It's really like a floating hotel. You're traveling but never have the need to pack!
Mentioned in this answer:
It depends on the type person that you are, but don't knock it until you try it.
If you don't like crowds then you might prefer a smaller to midsize cruise line or one of the river cruise lines or some of the cruise lines are offering the ship within a ship concept, for example: Norwegian Cruise Line's Haven is a separate section within the ship with it's own dining area and private entry, MSC's Yacht Club has earned rave revues, you get butler service, priority boarding, drinks, food and beverage package ect...it's almost like having an all-inclusive on a cruise at a reasonable price.
Ahhh, what a controversial question!
You know, I tried it once and hated it.. the longer story is on my blog if you want to give it a read: http://giveforgranted.com/2014/04/how-to-avoid-choosing-the-wrong-cruise-line/
My word of advice: unless you're planning on paying big bucks, avoid the Carribean cruises at all costs!
I've done quite a few cruises, Alaska, Ecuador, 4 to Europe, and I've lost count on the Caribbean but I think it's 6. I'd do all but one of them again.
I think in particular the Caribbean cruises make sense for us. We get to escape for a week out of the cold Chicago winter, you can go for a week and see 5 or 6 different places, you don't have to pack and repack, your traveling is done overnight while you are sleeping. In some of the ports you have to pick from a number of really interesting things, in some ports 8 hours is enough and I couldn't imagine staying in that spot for several days.
Even flying from Chicago, there are quite a few places in the Caribbean that it takes all day to get to because there aren't direct flights or there are direct flights but you'd have to go to one place for a full week because they only fly on Saturday. We've looked into doing that many times and we always end up just booking a cruise instead.
Europe is less appealing on a cruise ship, some of the ports, like Rome for example, you can't possibly see in a day. If it had been our 1st visit, I would have just been frustrated. I loved Orient Lines when they were running as most of their packages included a couple of days on either end to explore two of the cities and in the case of St. Petersburg, a couple of days docked there. Of course, you can also do that independent of the cruise ship.
We book all of our own excursions so we are not herded like cattle with the cruise excursions. Even if traveling on land, the price of a guided tour would still cost the same amount as booking it as a cruise passenger.
You can be as social or as antisocial as you want on a ship, there's nothing that says you have to do anything in particular. We started getting balcony rooms and spend our time out there enjoying the fresh air and catching up on reading.
I only tried short cruise trip from Singapore to Malaysia that lasts 3 Nights with Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.
Why I gave it a try?
1) Because it was a Dreamworks Themed Cruise and I felt like a kid once again chasing all the mascots like Shrek, Madagascar animals, and many more just to take pictures with them.
2) Non-stop, wide selection of dishes from popular Western, Indian, & Asian cuisines.
3) Almost 24 hr entertainment guaranteed in different areas of the cruise ship.
4) The experience of seeing the vast sea water and watching sunrise/sunset in a different perspective.
5) Lastly, I booked because there's a promotion at that time - If not, I'd think twice because cruising is really expensive ;)
Here's one thing to know about cruising that might suggest choosing another form of travel: www.mddsfoundation.org.
Cruising can cause Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, a rare balance disorder which causes the sensation of constant spinning and bobbing that can last for years after a cruise. For some people, this disorder is disabling to the point of needing to walk with a cane. Others have had to leave their jobs.
My own case was less extreme, but I suffered for 3 years after a 7-day cruise to the Mexcian Riviera. Other things can cause MdDS, but travel by ship is the most common cause. Women in their 40s are most susceptible. Treatments are improving, but there's no guaranteed cure yet. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
We took a Mediterranean cruise last spring and it really was a love/hate experience. Cruises are a great way to see things you'd otherwise not be able to see for a good price, and have the comforts of a floating hotel and food source following you the whole way. What they don't tell you is how boring the days at sea can be locked on a ship with a bunch of people and limited things to do, or how everything turns into a cash grab, or how far away some cities actually are from the port you stop in, how limited your time is at certain ports, etc. Do your research and weigh the pros and cons, if you want to relax, see many places in one trip and have the comforts of "all inclusive" it might be for you.
Being a little older (61), I adore cruising to see more places in a limited amount of time without having to pack and unpack a zillion times. Did a 30 day cruise, on Oceania, in January, 2014 and we were at 16 different ports - many countries (from Cape Town, South Africa to Singapore). Also, I prefer as small a ship as possible - more personalized service.
I have also done 'regular' cruises - Caribbean, Alaska, Europe. Lots of fun. Repositioning cruises can be a very good bargain.
Larger ships can offer more activities - it all depends on what you like to do!
I am a big fan of the sea, so cruising is an obvious choice. My advice is to pick a product that aligns to your lifestyle. That means, price, size of ship, and included amenities.
Before you pick a cruise, don't forget to check out the environmental record of the cruise lines you are considering!!
Here is the 2013 cruise line Environmental Report Card to help with your choice:
A smaller ship like Star Clippers would be my personal choice (http://www.starclippers.com/us-dom/).
We can all be good citizens of the world and conscious travelers. Our choices of tours, cruises, etc. can make a BIG difference.
For more, here is an article on cruises and the environment:
Cruises can be big polluters and there is very little regulation of pollution in international waters (and sadly there is tons of food waste from those all-you-can-eat buffets). CO2 emissions from the ships are a factor too.
Whatever you choose, I hope this information is helpful!