Cruising has become a popular method of travel for people of all ages and backgrounds. There is no wonder it’s so popular, the options are nearly unlimited. There are cruises for families and for people who like to party. You can go somewhere with white sand beaches or icebergs. There are theme cruises and even cruises offering continuing education credits.
Cruising is one of those vacations that either you love it or you hate it. Well, I most definitely fall into the love it category. I can’t imagine anyone hating it, unless they got really seasick or something.
There are several cruise lines that everyone knows, such as Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Princess. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. That is the shortlist, and I do mean short. If you want to consider river cruises as well, there are nearly 100 individual cruise lines. For a complete list, check out All Things Cruise.
Cruising can provide a lot of value to people who are mindful of their budget. If you are truly budgeting your money, you could get by on simply paying for the cost of the cruise (including taxes, fees, and tips) and the transportation to and from the port.
There are plenty of food options included in the price of the cruise. You will never have to spend extra if you don’t want to. Although most cruise lines do offer additional dining options, it is not something that you have to spend money on. In fact, there are even times when those extra-cost options are offered free to the guests, such as a free lunch menu one day of the cruise.
You don’t even have to do without your caffeine fix if you are used to drinking soda on a daily basis. Although, sodas are not included free unless you buy the extra package. You are usually allowed to carry on certain amounts of your own.
If you are an alcohol drinker, you can purchase the extra drink package for that as well, which can save you money, depending on how much you plan to drink on the cruise. Keep in mind, though, that you have to purchase the drink package for every adult in your stateroom. So, if only one of you plans to drink, it may be cheaper to buy the drinks individually.
Another option for cheaper drinks is to purchase one of the drinks of the day offered at the different bars throughout the ship. This will allow you to try different kinds of specialty drinks for a much cheaper cost.
Excursions are extra, but many of the port stops include free beaches, especially when it is a private island owned by the cruise company. Even if there is no free beach at a port stop, you can always get off the ship and wander around the port shopping area or city, or you can simply stay on board the boat and enjoy the free amenities included. This can sometimes be a preferable option because it is less crowded when everyone else has gotten off at the port.
There are plenty of activities to choose from to keep yourself occupied. Most ships include at least two swimming pools and numerous hot tubs. Even though there are a lot of people on board, you can usually get some time in one of them.
For those more adventurous folks, there are usually activities provided for your entertainment. There can be water slides, rock climbing walls, or basketball courts to get your adrenaline pumping. For more low key family fun, there are often small mini-golf courses or bowling alleys available, possibly at an additional cost. There are usually game rooms for teens to get their video game fix.
If sitting back and relaxing is your plan, there are plenty of ways to do that, as well. There is usually a library where you can go and enjoy some quiet reading time, or you can possibly find an empty corner somewhere to sit and relax. Reclining chairs line the decks to allow you to lay back and tan or even sit in the shade and enjoy the outside breeze. It can be very relaxing while you’re cruising along.
If you don’t like reading, you can participate in one of the many trivia or bingo games on the ship. Or, simply sit back and watch others make a fool out of themselves in order to win a plastic prize of one kind or another. I must admit, I’ve been entertained on more than one occasion doing this. And, I have made a fool out of myself, I’ll admit it. Unfortunately, I didn’t win the plastic prize.
Of course, this is only a few of the many activities available onboard the cruise ships. There are also great shows and performers. The entertainment staff on the cruises I’ve been on have always been great.
Although there are elevators for people with mobility issues, the ships are often quite large and there is usually a lot of walking involved. There are a lot of places to sit throughout the ship, so there are usually places for you to rest awhile if needed. But, this is something to keep in mind. If you need to rest frequently, it may be a good idea to bring along a walker, especially one that has a seat on it that you can use to rest when needed.
Another consideration is the excursions. Although some of them may list themselves as “easy”, it might be a good idea to double-check that there are precautions in place for people with mobility issues. We recently took a sunset cruise as our excursion and were surprised to find that it was listed as an easy excursion, although they did not provide steps into and out of the boat. My mother injured her knee trying to get out because it was such a large step up for her. She had a very difficult time getting off the boat. It also made the rest of the cruise harder for her because of all the walking she had to do onboard. Luckily our dining room was mid-ship, but the buffet was at the very end. Thankfully, this did not turn her off on cruising altogether.
There are times when using the elevators is not easy or convenient. On port days, it can be very difficult to get an elevator, or they may have some of them blocked off to allow for deportation. Depending on the location of your room, you may have to take the stairs to get off the ship on port days.
Of course, I’m no expert on cruising, but I have been a few times and I have really enjoyed it. I’ve only been to the Caribbean, but I am looking forward to many more cruises, and to different locations. I am really wanting to go on an Alaskan cruise sometime soon. I’ve also never done a riverboat cruise, which I think could be a lot of fun.
I also want to try the different cruise lines to see which ones I like best. So far, I’ve been on Carnival and Norwegian. They have both been great, each has their own positives and negatives. But, I have enjoyed them both.
So, what do you think? Have you been on a cruise? Want to go on one? Share your thoughts and experiences. I would love to hear them!
If cruising isn’t your style of travel, check out my post on camping.