To cruise or not to cruise?

Aug 21st, 2000, 10:09 PM
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To cruise or not to cruise?

Up to now, I have never wanted to go on a cruise because my impression of them is: lots of crowds, feeling confined, having to get dressed to the nines every night for dinner, cramped living quarters, and really bad cancellation policies. I have to get dressed up all year for work and social events - when I'm on vacation I want to get away from all that. Is there any such thing as a casual cruise that is still upscale and doesn't involve sailing the boat yourself? I would like to experience a cruise, especially the pleasure of seeing lots of places without having to pack & unpack. Some of the things cruises offer, like lots of good food, libraries and reading rooms, good fitness facilities, and being on the ocean are all right up my alley. But the other things I mentioned have kept me away. What do you think? And are there any lines that might have more of what I'm looking for?

By the way, I won't be offended if someone tells me I zhould stick to my islands.

Also, I tend to get seasick on small boats. Does the same thing happen on a large ship?
Aug 22nd, 2000, 03:59 PM
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Jace, can I suggest you investigate a freighter cruise? Even the captains wear polo or T-shirts, the food is good, served on good china on starched linens, but no buffets or casinos to be sure. The bridge and engine room are open for prolonged visits. Most have limited but adequate exercise facilities or small pools, and lots of deck to walk around; lounges with lots of books, videos, games, etc., a short wave set for the news-impaired, and very roomy cabins, much nicer than the cruise ship norm. Half the price per day of cruise lines. (Usually longer trips but not necessarily.) But the real attraction is the insight to a way of life some of us know little of, port calls in interesting, usually not touristy, places, fascinating talks with ships' crews from places like Kiribati or Poland, and incomparable serenity and disconnection from the world of suits and cells.

Big ships, especially freighters, hunker down in the swell and are pretty stable. Cruise liners usually have stabilizers, but they do sit high in the water (more cabins with views, ergo more revenue) so may still be prone to some movement.
Aug 24th, 2000, 06:44 PM
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What a fantastic suggestion! Thank you very much. I will certainly check this out.
Aug 24th, 2000, 10:46 PM
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I don't like being in enclosed spaces with crowds so feeling confined was a very much a concern, as was being on a rocking ship. When I finally took a cruise, neither was an issue. Traveling on the tail of a hurricane there was some slight shuddering of the ship but nothing to make me feel sick. Also, Holland America's mini-suites are not too cramped... and having a balcony helped. Dressing up didn't happen every night. Still, the freighter idea sounds interesting.
Aug 24th, 2000, 11:43 PM
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I jsut got back from a cruise on the Radisson Seven Seas ship, the Paul Gauguin, in Tahiti. It was fabulous, and there were no formal nights. My husband took a blazer, but he never wore it. The ship is gorgeous, and the islands are amazing. We had a beach day at a "motu" off the coast of Taha'a, and there was another motu off Bora Bora, where we ere anchored for two days. Also spend two days anchored in Moorea. Wow.

We love cruising. We like it that our hotel goes with us as we travel -- you just put your clothes in the closet and the drawers, and you are all set for the week.

On this ship, there were only 300 passengers. There's no tipping, they serve complimentary wine with dinner, they stock your bar with 3 kinds of liquor, and you never have to pay for bottled water or soft drinks. Everyone loved it.

I don't know what to tell you about sea-sickness. I used to suffer from it, but I love cruising so much that I had to find a way to make it happen. I use Transderm Scop patches, and they work great. But they make my eyes itch, so I only use them until I get my "sea legs." On the Tahiti cruise, the distances between islands are not that far. Mostly you are at anchor in the calm waters inside the reef. It's just too wonderful.

Aug 26th, 2000, 05:05 PM
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Jace - break down and book a cruise. How could you become crowded on a ship that is longer than 3 football fields and taller than the statue of liberty? If you pick on ship with lots of ports- you are only on the ship in the evenings - you have 1.5 hours of dinner, and 10 or so bars/night clubs, not to mention a casino and possibly 4 show in the evening. I am anything but bored or confined on a dinner.

The only day the ship seems crowded is the first day when everyone is checking in and hungry.

There are alternative restaurants on some ships that do not require dressing up. If you do these on formal nights - you are fine the rest of the dinners.

Rooms are small - granted but you know what - you are rarely in them - mostly only to sleep.

Sep 8th, 2000, 08:11 PM
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I've never cruised, but it seems to me that some lines are better than others. I imagine the cheaper ones cramming you into a buffet line and giving you assigned seats, while the nicer ones are fine. Try focusing your research to specific lines.
Sep 11th, 2000, 11:34 AM
Betty K.
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I have never been on a cruise, but I have spent many hours reading all the comments on this forum and checking out various websites on cruises. Everybody talks about cruising being such a great "value" but the prices I'm seeing don't seem that great to me. On top of the cruise price, there is airfare to Florida, trip insurance, tips, extra costs for beverages, shore excursions, etc. By the time I add all this up, I could spend twice as much time in Europe for what I'd spend on a 7-day cruise. Am I missing something here??
Sep 11th, 2000, 12:51 PM
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After 22+ cruises, I never think of cruising as a "great value". Obviously, the daily rates (total price, including airfare divided by number of days) vary by ship, but they're generally in the $200+ per day range. On upscale ships such as Crystal, I pay approx. $300 a day. So, they aren't bargains - even repositionging cruises, which are less expensive but still costly. I suppose you could go on a low-end cruise, and cram 4 people into a cabin, for $100/day, get what you pay for. So, a person should go on a cruise for the enjoyment of the sea and a ship - if you constantly think how much it costs, you'll have a rotten time and be no fun!
Sep 11th, 2000, 07:07 PM
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We were never interested in cruising for reasons similar to Jace's. We didn't want to dress up -- at all. We didn't want a casino or nigh clubs or the crowds that would be attracted to them. We decided to take our chances on a World Explorer cruise to Alaska last month. It was wonderful. A completely casual trip. The dining room service was formal but we all went in jeans or sweats. There was alternative dining for lunch and dinner which was buffet style, for those who wanted an even more informal setting. The food was good, although not extraordinary. The fitness center was adequate as were the cabins. Nothing was really luxury class, but neither were we! The best parts were the program and the passengers. The niche of World Explorer is "learning". So instead of other activities, we had lectures and classes about Alaska (history, anthropology, art, geology, natural wildlife etc.) from the 4 scholars who cruised with us and also provided running commentary. The casino had been converted into a library/computer center. The passengers were people who had come for this. (I understand that 75% of them had masters degrees or higher!) It made for interesting conversations and a very pleasant time...including for our 2 children. I recommend this trip highly. It got us hooked on cruising! Now we are looking for something similar in another part of the world. Does anyone know of anything? Can anyone recommend a really knowledgeable cruise agent who could help? How about for freighter cruising?
Sep 12th, 2000, 12:06 PM
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Well we didn't find cruising to be any real thrill,did it once to find out what it was like and went back to our regular procedure of flying to Europe or where ever we want. Cruising is nothing like the ads say -- the food is not all that great, mass produced really and you can get much nicer accommodations at any hotel. Kids run all over the ships now that families are welcome, making noise and disturbing others, the pools are overcrowded and you can never get a deck chair. We found it all simply overrated and the type of vacation we didn't like. You don't spend much time on the islands (we did Caribbean) and we felt like something was always being 'sold' to us, someone was always pitching something. A couple of hours in port is not seeing anything, sure you don't have to unpack but you also see very little. Dining arrangements are not all that great, if you don't want to eat with strangers there are very few places you can escape to. Sure some people are nice, but do you want to eat 3 meals a day with them for a week or more? No way! We were lucky, we had a table for 2 (one of the few onboard I might add) but dinners were continually spoiled by children running loose in the dining room and spilling things. Apparently all cruise lines love kids now, not just Disney, but if you want an adult vacation dont' do it. As for dressing up -- I can take it or leave it, mostly leave it, too many additional clothes to drag with you I think .. again, why get all fancied up to eat in a dining room with screaming babies .. you can go to McDonald's for that and not get dressed up. We paid a alot of money for our trip and don't feel we got nearly our monies worth out of it -- give me London or Paris any day! You can at least walk away from annoyances, where can you go on the ship? They may be big, but not that large!
Oct 10th, 2000, 09:55 AM
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Oct 16th, 2000, 10:16 AM
Never Again
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I agree with Linda (except for the part about the kids, because I love kids). The whole time, I felt very scheduled (dinner is this time, lunch is that time, the boat leaves at this time, blah, blah, blah). There were noisy general announcements to break up the peace and quiet. People always wanted to sell me something, particularly expensive on-shore excursions and middling photos of myself. The ports were a serious disappointment because there is no time to really see anything, and they are very touristy. The food was not great (luxury cruise, mind you), but offered often enough to tempt one to overeat. The need to dress up caused us to bring more luggage to cram into our cramped room. As far as the on-board amenities go, they were pretty much useless -- If you want to go to the pool, so do 1,000 other people. Finally, there simply was no good place to "get away from it all" and settle in with a nice book, because the whole place seemed too chaotic for me.

That said, there are some positives. You just book it and forget it, and nothing bad happened. But I think I am just the wrong kind of person for a cruise. I like adventure, and I like to check out the local culture and take my time to do it. Cruising will never work for me, I guess. Oh well. Live and learn.
Oct 17th, 2000, 04:26 PM
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The horrible cruise that Linda describes does exist. She is not exaggerating. I have experienced one myself. It feels like a theme park compressed into a twelve story mall. However, if you find cruise lines that are more subdued, you can have a quiet unhurried vacation. Some cruise lines, my favourite for example has less children on board. On any given cruise if there are less than 150 children, you dont see them. Wrap around teak decks, great gym facilities, classical music in a quiet lounge, disco for those who like it. Alternate Lido dining. On the nights that you need to dress up, you can eat in your cabin or on your balcony. The well planned ships have all kinds of places to be alone, away from crowds, and the price is average. Not cheap, not extravagant. You usually get what you pay for. I would caution you to do your homework and get an agent who will match your ship to your personality.
I used to fear cruising because I thought all ships were like the Love Boat on TV. Not so. Now I am hooked.
You must try it at least once.

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