The Ultimate 6 Reasons To Cruise
When I chose to name my cruise blog Reasons to Cruise, I did so as it succinctly explained what my ambitions were.
I want to provide a platform where newbies can discover what cruising is truly like, without the marketing hype.
So I set about creating a long list of reasons to cruise. But I noticed something on that list. Many reasons overlapped, and some of the choices made by other list curators were bizarre.
So instead of making a list as long as my arm, I have distilled all the points into six central points. These are the reasons why I cruise, and why I love cruise holidays so much.
Value for money
Let's face it, cruise holidays are not cheap, and for first-timers, it can be a daunting task trying to work out how a sea-based holiday stacks up against land-based equivalents.
But the reality is that cruise holidays represent exceptional value for money. Considering the price includes accommodation, travel to exciting destinations, entertainment, as well as meals, it does work out competitively. The up-front cost is often higher than land-based holidays, but on land, you pay as you go. You might book your flights and accommodation ahead of time, but your meals and entertainment will rack up throughout your holiday.
Cruise holidays are perfect for those looking to travel on a strict budget. As you pay upfront for your holiday, you only have to worry about your onboard spend. I am a testament to the fact you can walk away from a cruise holiday having spent next to nothing onboard.
If you have the luxury of a generous budget, there are ways to splurge on a cruise. Book a luxury suite, upgrade your dining, enjoy premium shows and experiences, enjoy a shopping spree, pamper yourself at the spa, or enjoy a drink from a world-class selection.
Literally, a world of destinations
The great thing about cruise holidays is that they cram in destination after destination. In a week you could visit towns and cities in at least three or four different countries.
Try putting together a land-based equivalent to rival a cruise itinerary, and you will face a barrage of exhausting flights and an astronomical quote.
Better still, not only can you experience a bevy of destinations on one holiday, you need only unpack once. Hop aboard, unpack your suitcase and then banish it underneath the bed or at the bottom of the wardrobe.
Not all itineraries are created equal, but there is something for every taste and budget. The destinations you can choose from span the entire globe. Explore the history in Europe or search for the sun in the Mediterranean. Seek fun in the sun in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico. Fly long-haul and tour Asia, Australia, and New Zealand from the comfort of a ship. You can even head to the poles on inspiring Arctic and Antarctic itineraries.
See the sights from sea level
There are some destinations where the views from a cruise ship are unsurpassed. For example, you can visit Norway and have a splendid time, but to truly appreciate the beauty of the fjords, you will need to head out on the water.
Other destinations are far easier to explore by cruise ships, such as the Arctic Circle and Antarctica.
Do not underestimate the captivation of an unending sea view either. Little beats lounging on a private balcony, soaking up the sun's rays while gazing out to sea.
Family-friendly or adults-only
My son loves cruise ships. The crew enjoy interacting with him, and some of his fondest memories are out at sea. Many cruise lines are family-friendly, offering kids clubs, entertainment, and shore excursions geared towards children and families.
Better still, cruising appeals to so many people that it is the perfect option for a multi-generational holiday. Children, their parents, and their grandparents can all enjoy the diversity found on ships on the same holiday together.
Family-friendly ships are available for all budgets, from the value end of the market to the luxury travel sector. Rich people have kids too, after all.
Inevitably, some people hate children disrupting their holidays. A noisy child on an aircraft, disruptive children running amok in a hotel, or kids larking around on an otherwise peaceful beach sends shivers down their spines.
Even though there has been a notable rise recently in family-friendly cruise ships, adults-only ships are also in demand. With a minimum age of 18, these ships are the perfect sanctuary for child-phobic travellers or those that seek a more mature cruise holiday. With no kids on board, more adult entertainment is available.
A cruise to suit every taste
Not all cruise lines are created equal. Some cater to the cheaper, mass market. Others tailor their services to the top one percent. Some offer American-style service onboard while others offer service to cater for Europeans or the British.
For an authentic regional feel, look for an Italian, German, Norwegian, or Spanish cruise line. If a home-from-home feel is what you seek, choose a British cruise line. For exuberant service look no further than an American cruise line.
Do not assume that all cruise ships are created equally either. Even within the same cruise line, the difference between ships can be significant. Smaller cruise ships carry far fewer passengers than the mega ships, and so the entertainment will be toned down. Even so, the small size of the ships means they can access more remote ports, meaning they can sail unique itineraries. Due to the size and the limited number of passengers that can sail onboard, holidays on these ships can be pricey.
Large ships cater for the mass market and can carry mind-boggling quantities of passengers. Scores of passengers typically lend themselves to competitive pricing, particularly on less popular itineraries and dates. Smart ship design means that these vessels will rarely feel crowded, and the sheer volume of passengers means the entertainment will usually be first class.
Mid-sized ships are a halfway house between the two. They are smaller than the giant beasts, but not so small that entertainment is affected. While they cannot access remote ports of call, itineraries on these ships are often more varied than those on large vessels. Prices are often reasonable too.
Itineraries vary too. If you have months to spare, little beats a world cruise. If you have a week off work, there will be international cruises to suit. If you want to dip your toes into the cruise world without committing to a week, a mini cruise is a perfect sample of this diverse style of holiday.
If you have a fear of flying, you can enjoy travelling on a cruise ship instead. Sailing from a domestic cruise port, you can explore countries on your doorstep or far-flung destinations. The choice is yours.
In recent years cruise lines have been clambering over themselves to offer more variety. As their client bases change from the "newlywed, overfed, and nearly dead," so the cruise lines have to adapt their products to satisfy new tastes and demands.
Each new ship that rolls off the production line boasts newer, more environmentally-friendly technology. With ever-tightening regulations, environmental concerns, and a keen focus on profitability, cruise lines have an incentive to save fuel, energy, and money - and this can only be a good thing for the planet.
Not only are ships becoming greener, but they are also becoming smarter too. In a bid to attract younger passengers, cruise lines are investing heavily in better technology and faster Internet access at sea. Some cruise lines use technology to help make life onboard even easier, while others have incorporated it into their entertainment offerings.
Food is another area undergoing a massive transformation. Variety is no clearer on a cruise ship than with the diverse range of dining options available. Most ships favour the main dining room, but an ever-increasing range of speciality restaurants showcase the best and the most innovative food choices, even rivalling top land-based restaurants.
Entertainment has exploded, with cruise lines pushing the boundaries recently. At sea, you can go skydiving, try surfing, soar in an observation pod, work your way through a ropes course, tackle terrifying slides, drive dodgems, and even race go-karts. Head into the theatre and on the larger ships you will find productions with standards that rival Broadway and West End shows. If that's not enough, how about skating on an ice rink? Or taking a dip in an infinity pool? Or how about a game of basketball with unparalleled sea views. The kids have their clubs too, and many cruise ships have separate spaces for teens to hang out.
Retail therapy comes in the form of boutique shopping. Newer ships boast high-end fashion brands. For relaxation, head to the spa with diverse ranges of treatments available for men and women.
The best aspect of all this variety is that there truly is something for everyone. Everyone in your group will find something they love, and will soon find their days filled with lots to see and do. A cruise experience comes into its own on multi-generational holidays, where kids, parents, and grandparents may have completely different tastes and preferences, but can each find lots to see and do.
Is there anything that puts you off a cruise holiday - your list of reasons NOT to cruise? Let me know in the comments below, and I can help separate fact from fiction.