You may not think you're a cruise person, but you might be wrong.
If you’ve never cruised with a major cruise line before, you may believe you are not a cruise person. Maybe you’re afraid your cruise cabin will be tiny and cramped, or you keep imagining yourself queuing at a buffet of tasteless food. Perhaps you have heard the cruising horror stories about Norovirus or ships stranded at sea. That’s all fine, but you should know that you should know that cruises are more comfortable now than they’ve ever been before. Plus, the food is much better than non-cruisers try to make it out to be.
Cruises are also insanely affordable — especially for families — as well as a whole lot of fun. And, those horror stories you’ve heard about? They may make buzz-worthy news stories, but they are extremely rare. If you’re angling for an affordable (and fun) family vacation this year, here are ten reasons to give cruising a try:
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Food and Fun Are Included
When you book a cruise, you’re booking a lot more than a floating hotel room. You’re also prepaying for a wide range of perks that would be pricey otherwise.
Benefits you receive in your cruise fare include three meals a day plus 24/7 dining options in my cases, nightly Broadway-quality shows and entertainment, transportation to various cruise ports, and all kinds of on-board entertainment.
Some cruises even come with special packages that include alcoholic beverages or on-board credits.
You May Not Need Passports
At over $100 each, passports can add significant costs to any family vacation budget. However, you may not need a passport at all when you cruise — even if you visit countries outside the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, passports are often unneeded for certain “closed loop cruises” that originate and end in the United States (e.g. a Caribbean cruise that departs from Miami). Check whether you need a passport with your cruise line before you depart if you want to avoid the $100+ per person expense.
You Won't Have to Buy Airline Tickets
If you are trying to keep your vacation budget in check, don’t forget that there may be a cruise port you can drive to. Popular cruise ports are dotted all along the coastal United States with cities like Galveston, New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Tampa within a day’s drive of parts of the U.S.
Even if you had to drive several hours or an entire day to reach a cruise port, you could skip over airfare altogether and save a bundle in the process.
You Could Travel for Seven Days for as Little as $1200+
Before you cross cruises off your list, make sure to check on pricing with popular budget cruise lines like MSC Cruises, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. MSC Cruises and Carnival specifically offer balcony cabins on some of their seven-night cruises for less than $600 per person.
MSC Cruises also lets kids ages 11 and under cruise free on select itineraries, making it possible to save even more. If you’re two adults traveling with two kids under 11 years old, you could cruise for as little as $1200+.
There Are Built in Babysitters
If you have ever been on vacation with your kids and prayed for a babysitter, a cruise can make your dreams come true. Many cruises offer supervised kid’s clubs that keep the little ones busy with games and activities so you can read a book, simply relax, or try your luck in the on-board casino. Also note that cruises that offer kid’s clubs include them in your cruise fare.
Everything Is Taken Care of
There’s something amazing about waking up each day knowing you don’t have to make a single meal, do any cleaning, or figure out activities to keep kids happy and the adults sane. Cruises take care of all the details for you by offering a wide range of activities and excursions you can book at each port.
Imagine spending an entire week on a ship with all your meals and entertainment included and set up on your behalf. You can even spend a day in the spa for the ultimate pampering experience.
You Can Sample Many New Destinations in One Trip
Another reason cruises reign supreme is the fact they let you see and do so much. Instead of spending a week in one spot, you have the opportunity to see multiple countries and explore what each has to offer.
Waking up each day in a new destination may sound overwhelming, but it’s fun when someone else is driving you around. And while you don’t get a lot of time to spend in each new destination, you get a small taste that can help you decide whether you want to go back.
But You Only Pack and Unpack Once
While going on a cruise does let you sample different destinations, you won’t have to drag your luggage around like you would with a land-based trip. Cruises let you check into your cabin, unpack once, and enjoy your travel experience without having to deal with the logistics — or hard work — multiple destination travel usually requires.
If you travel with kids, you know just how important this is — and what a pain it can be to move around too much while you travel.
Activities and Nightlife Galore
Many cruise lines offer Broadway-style shows that feature singers, dancers, and acrobatic feats that will take your breath away. And remember, these shows are free once you pay your cruise fare.
Some of the newer cruise ships with cruise lines like MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival offer amenities such as water parks, splash pads, zip lines, bowling alleys, and movie theaters. Plus, nearly every cruise ship that sails the sea has an on-board casino.
Total Freedom to Vacation Your Own Way
While all those activities may sound enticing, it’s also possible you’re craving a low-key trip. In that case, a cruise is also ideal. While there is so much to do, you don’t have to do a thing!
Book a balcony cabin and watch the world pass you by with a good book in-hand. Or, sit on the cruise deck to watch people and soak in some rays.
Whatever you want to do is entirely fine because it’s totally up to you. And, isn’t that how vacation should be?