As someone who grew up traveling by cruise, I never really gave much thought to their pros and cons. Ultimately, they were the easiest (and most fun) way for our whole family to travel together. It only occurred to me when I was posting about my most recent cruise around Greece on Instagram that many people were curious about them. I will always love cruising because they played such a major role in my childhood. However, as I have discovered my travel preferences with age, there are also some things that I don’t particularly love about them. If you’ve never been on a cruise before and aren’t sure if they’re right for you, I am here to help! This pros and cons list comes from my experience on seven cruises and four different cruise lines.
You Will Probably Enjoy a Cruise If…
You are traveling with a big group
If you are planning a trip for a group of family or friends, then I highly recommend considering a cruise. Our favorite part about them as a family is that there’s something for everyone. Let’s say I really wanted to go to a comedy show but my sister was more interested in karaoke. We can go our separate ways and meet back up later because we are all under the same roof. Parents can rest easy knowing their children are safe. Also, because everything is in one place (dining, entertainment, room) you don’t have to worry about coordinating reservations and group outings at dozens of different locations. If planning stresses you out, then a cruise is going to be a great option for you.
Your group likes to be entertained
Cruises are so fun because even when you’re not docked at your destination, there is so much to do! If you are really interested in the entertainment aspect of cruising, then I highly recommend Norwegian. We did a Mediterranean Cruise with family and friends when I was in college, and they had Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil on the boat. It was amazing and made our trip that much more memorable! Most other cruise lines have plenty of entertainment options as well. I have sailed with Royal Caribbean the most of all the cruises I have been on, and they have fantastic shows like the Love & Marriage Game Show and Quest that take place on every ship. It’s something we always look forward to and enjoy going to together as a family!
You prefer to see a lot in a little amount of time
If you are someone who doesn’t mind traveling fast and wants to see as much as possible in a short amount of time, then a cruise is a good choice for you. We once did a Caribbean cruise that hit Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and the Bahamas all in one trip. I specifically recommend cruise travel when exploring the Caribbean for the first time. It allows you to get a glimpse into each island and decide where you might like to go back to someday and stay longer. Imagine you planned a week-long trip to the Bahamas and it didn’t end up meeting your expectations. With a cruise, you can get a feel for a lot of different locations on one vacation and leave with a favorite destination in mind to return to someday.
You are looking for the most economical option
From my mom’s perspective, cruises are the most economical option for traveling as a family. Coordinating flights, trains and ferries in between multiple destinations can be exhausting, overwhelming and expensive. Not having to worry about how you’re getting from place to place allows you to relax on those sea days and also save a buck or two. It would be very expensive to afford to show your family that many different locations in one trip without being on a cruise. You’ll be amazed by some of the cruise prices you can find, and you will only have to unpack once! Plus… the drink packages are a huge money-saver.
You appreciate quantity over quality in food
Oh, cruise food… if you’ve been on a cruise before then you’re probably already smiling at this section. The food comes in excess on cruises. Buffets galore that are open all day long. Endless ice cream at your disposal. Get ready to eat, eat, and eat some more. It’s not cheat day… it’s cheat week! It’s also just really fun to get dressed up for dinner every night and meet your dining staff from all over the world.
You May Not Enjoy a Cruise If…
You need time and flexibility when traveling
If you are someone who needs time to wander while you are exploring a new place, then a cruise might not be your thing. Personally, having time to explore is something that has become increasingly more important to me with age. Most cruises dock early in the morning at a destination and leave by dinnertime. That doesn’t give you a whole lot of time in each destination, so you will typically book an excursion or tour for the whole day. If you like to travel slow and leave feeling like you REALLY got to see everything, then a cruise might not be a good fit.
You like to get the “local feel” of a place
Because you have such a short amount of time in each location when traveling by cruise, it can be hard to get a real feel for the culture and people of the place. It’s constant “go, go, go!” on the days you are docked so you end up feeling exhausted by the end of the day. Since you are trying to knock out as much as possible in a short amount of time, you are always going to feel like a tourist. If it’s important to you to have time to dive deep into a place and really experience the culture, then a cruise might not be enough for you.
You get claustrophobic
Do you get claustrophobic and need space to stretch out? Then do not expect to enjoy your cruise room! The quarters are very small and you won’t have a ton of space to unpack and be comfortable in your room. The good news is that you won’t be spending much time there anyway, but it’s something worth bringing up if you can’t handle small spaces.
You get sea sick
I feel very grateful that I am not someone who gets sea sick, but I also know that it’s a real issue for many people. On cruises, there are going to be times where you can feel the boat swaying in rocky waters. I have never had an experience where it was too much to the point of nausea, but it has woken me up a few times. Be weary of this before booking your cruise and just in case, come prepared with motion sickness patches.
You appreciate quality over quantity in food
If the food is one of your favorite aspects of traveling, then cruise food might not impress you. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about quantity. The free food is subpar and you’ll certainly be full. However, you won’t leave saying: “Now that was the best meal of my life!” On most cruise boats there are nicer restaurants you can make go to and pay for to get a better meal, but it certainly won’t be the local cuisine of the place you are visiting.
All in all, it’s hard to say whether I recommend cruises because it’s entirely situational. However, a cruise could be a great fit if are traveling with a big group, want to see a lot in a short amount of time or just want to get your feet wet for travel or a particular location. If you are a more seasoned traveler, though, and need that down time and slow-paced experience, I’m not confident you would love it. If I were to travel alone or with my boyfriend, I probably wouldn’t choose a cruise. But if I were with ten of my friends or with my family, then it’s definitely how I would go. Whichever route you decide to take, traveling is life-changing and so important to personal growth and development. I hope this post helps you feel more confident with your decision either way. Happy cruising… or not!
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