Why would anyone want to take a cruise? You are stuck on a stultifying boat or forced to play stupid games with maybe a crowd of people that you feel you can't get away from in the middle of the ocean. Cruises are for the boring oldies, the nearly dead, those that can't think for themselves or otherwise awash in party people that invade your space with their rowdy behaviour. A cruise would be hell on water! Does this sound like your take on a holiday on a cruise ship?
Apparently we have got it all wrong, as the happiest holidaymakers are those who choose to cruise. Over the last 15 years there has been a revolution in cruise ships with tourism surveys reporting that over 90% of "cruisers" are super satisfied.
The debate rages below:
1. Cruise ships are not created equal, so it does come down to how much you have paid for the depth of floating luxury you will receive. Upscale cruises can include such items as alcohol, soft drinks, shore tours, entertainment, gratuities and onboard spending credits, you may even have your food thrown in, not literally. For others your food may be included, but not your extras, such as your cocktails by the pool, spa treatments or jumping off the boat when you land for a shore excursion. You may even go for the el cheapo cruise that only covers your "bunk" and you will have to stick to a personal daily budget.
If you are not into kids, there are kid free cruises to take advantage of, so no squalling rug rats are in sight or within hearing distance. There are cruises for seniors (probably backgammon sleuths), party cruises, exploration cruises (think Antarctica) and the list goes on. You can choose your cruise to suit almost any criteria that you like.
You should be weighing up the value for money that you get on a cruise compared to holidaying on dry land. If the food is included you should be a big eater and the same goes for the alcohol, be a big drinker or else someone who only drinks the best, as people who eat like birds and don't indulge in alcohol, will definitely not be getting their money's worth.
Here are the Wise Traveller Top 7 Tips To Selecting A Cruise
2. Convenience may be an important factor for some people. If you don't have to fly to jump on board, you are one step closer to holiday nirvana, which is a bonus for those who don't like to queue up at the airport, catch endless flights and endure tedious airport transfers. Basically you are swapping your cramped plane seat for holiday mode in comfort straight away. The ultimate convenience factor is that you can unpack your gear once, and that is it.
You will be able to visit multiple destinations with no effort whatsoever, apart from walking down the gangplank. Every morning you can wake up in a new city or a different country, having slept through the shenanigans of getting there. Cruising enables you to miss the hassle of catching ferries, trains, buses or a camel ride, so that you can tick another item off your bucket list of places to see.
If you need some inspiration see also 5 Sceneic Cruise Options
Unlike travelling on land or flying through the blue sky, if you intend to visit more than one destination, you are constantly fighting with your luggage. You miss out on all the cheeky fun of actually getting to "the" place under your own steam and feeling that you have achieved something and earned that cocktail in your hand, when you do finally arrive.
Isn't travel meant to have that dash of exciting flavour of sitting on a train or a bus wondering if you are heading in the right direction, yet knowing that it doesn't really matter, because you don't have to adhere to any pre-set schedule. You can spend as long as you like wherever you like, because you are not tied down by the fact that the boat will leave without you. The old saying about travelling: "half the fun is the journey, not the destination" to some people, is very true. How much fun can you have if you sleep through the "getting there" part?
3. Taking the kids, the extended family (think grandparents, step kids and maybe the "ex"), family cruises are designed for all ages, so the "big" kids aren't reduced to playing hide'n'seek on the pool deck, unless they wish to. There are kiddie clubs, hangouts for the teenagers plus parent friendly pools and bars with 24/7 entertainment. You can stay with your kids or lose them somewhere on board and not worry, as they can't really go far. You may even consider going on a cruise with a bunch of your friends to play with.
This is definitely a bonus for those that "have" to take their tots or teens on a holiday. There is nothing worse than standing in an immigration line holding 6 passports with a vomiting child in your arms, whilst trying to control the other 3 toddlers and dad is looking on in bewilderment, not knowing how to help.
As for taking friends along, this would have to be after careful consideration, as the friendship may not be strong enough to withstand the rigors of too many days of over-indulgence at the pool bar.
4. Dining options will vary depending on the type of cruise ship you are on. Some are veritable floating cities of decadent dining choices, whilst others will only have one main dining area and maybe a casual eating alternative. This includes the gauntlet of whether your food is lovingly prepared by a world-renowned chef or a run-of-the-mill ordinary cook that happens to have chef's credentials. You will encounter a la carte cuisine or maybe smorgasbord fare that the hordes have touched and sneezed over. You won't have to stress over getting into that brilliant restaurant that all the locals rave about, as there will always be your name on a seat somewhere, plus you have room service as an option.
But, you will miss out on the delight of scouring the local produce markets to gorge yourself silly for a pittance, to linger with the locals over an espresso that you would gladly die for, to happen upon an unexpected dining delight of a cuisine that you have never experienced before. You don't have to eat just because it is a designated mealtime and if you want breakfast at midday you can have it.
5. You are safe when stopping off in exotic destinations, as you can venture onshore with the ship's tour guides. This is a bonus for those solo travellers who are not confident enough to see the world by themselves. Safety whilst on the floating palace is not an issue, as there are no dark alleyways to walk down to get to your bed for the night.
This would have to be the biggest bonus, the fact that there is someone looking out for you all the time.
The only blip on the horizon to this fact is if you happen to take a cruise through the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the North Indian Ocean, the Malacca Straits or the South China Sea, as there are still those dastardly Somali pirates hijacking ships to steal passengers' valuables and to demand ransom for the safe return of the passengers.
Although the international maritime community is stamping it out and the threat has declined, it is however still happening. The easy answer to this is not to get on a ship bound to cross any of these bodies of water, or stay on land and run the gauntlet of the landlubber pirates of different breeds.
The debate is left in limbo, as it appears to be a personal choice or maybe that of your partner under the heading of he/she "who must be obeyed".