It's not what you might think!
For many, cruising might seem like the antithesis of travel: hanging out with a bunch of other Americans at a buffet while you watch the world pass by your ship windows. However, there are so many cruise lines that make it feel more like floating luxury hotel than a traveling carnival. There’s something to be said about the ease of sleeping in the same bed and never having to unpack and repack your bags while hopping between countries–it can become a pretty appealing means of seeing the world. It’s a cost-efficient way of seeing some parts of the world that aren’t so easy to get to. In other words: Climb down off the high horse and join the hoi polloi. The view is nice down here.
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Eat First-Rate Food in Specialty Restaurants
Cruise ships are stocked with great restaurants and can offer something for everyone from the buffets to steakhouses to Italian trattorias, Japanese cuisine, and a Chef’s Table gourmet meal. Of course, there’s also plenty of opportunities to go for local cuisine as well. For example, during a cruise of the Greek Isles, you might have an excursion to a farm in the Greek countryside for lunch. And while the tradeoff is that dinner is mostly on the ship, those lunches on land prevent the cruiser from feeling like they only eat the sanitized version of local cuisine. And the food is good on the ship to boot!
Explore Off the Beaten Path
The excursions on board a cruise ship are not required–it’s possible to just disembark and make your own adventure. Use your own guidebook and explore on your own. Even a “packaged” trip offers the opportunity for off the beaten path exploration if you are willing to chat with locals and do some extra legwork. Even better: returning to the same ship after a day of adventure feels extra nice.
Get Your Work Out In
When most people think of cruise ships, they think of piles of shrimp on the buffet, lazy deck drinks, and only getting the exercise of walking from your room to the bar. Not so. Many cruise ships have amenities like rock walls and a track that lines the deck. There are lap pools and yoga classes and a state-of-the-art gym with personal training available. There is no excuse to fall out of shape…unless you want to.
Travel With Kids—Without the Stress
Children on a cruise have major independence. There’s usually a game room and a kid’s club and a whole pool and slide just for children. There are friends to make and an entire pool devoted just to them. Some cruises even have mini golf on board. At night, movies play on a big screen by the pool so families can swim and watch together. There are endless possibilities for entertainment. Plus, children often like continuity. Switching hotels each night and taking five planes very rarely works well with children. A cruise is a great way to give them both stability and let them see the world.
Make Friends With the Crew
One of the best parts of any cruise is the crew. Most people wear name tags indicating where they come from, and a cruiser can have breakfast with Jiao from Brazil, lunch with Marie from Switzerland, snacks with Andy from Kenya, and chat with many other bartenders and servers and organizers from all over the world. It is especially enthralling to speak to the locals who can give you all the insider information from each port.
Find Opportunities for Romance
You, like Leo, can be “king of the world” on the bow of a ship (minus the sinking, of course). Cruises have a kid club, which means parents can have a nice meal alone while their kids are doing fun activities. They can have a lazy morning in the stateroom or a work out at the gym while the kids watch a movie on deck. Any cruise shame is quickly replaced by the fact that you are on an actual vacation–even with your kids.
You Can Make Your Own Fun
There is no requirement to play into the “cheesier” cruise activities. If putting on a veritable prom dress to take silly, posed photos with your spouse isn’t your cup of tea, hang in the bar that night. If seeing “less than Broadway” renditions of Broadway favorites isn’t exciting, bag the show. All the typical cruise fare is there–weird theme nights, overly dressed formal nights with cheesy photos, bad art auctions. None of it has to be part of your experience. You can just sit on deck and watch the world go by or choose to read in the den or whatever else works for you. There is no obligation.
But if you do give into the cheese…the shows and the entertainment and the crew are actually a lot of fun. It’s easy to have a good time once you get past the costumes and the ridiculousness.
Have a Peaceful Vacation
Sure, you might miss out on some hidden gems that are far from the cruise ship route, but being on a 12-day cruise where you sleep every night in the same room and can unpack and make yourself at home is really so much easier. There are no backpacks hauled through multiple airports, no 11 different hotel bookings, no planes, no trains, and no automobiles. There is something peaceful about knowing exactly where you’ll sleep every night and knowing you didn’t leave your hair dryer in that crappy hotel two stops ago.
See the World
A cruise is an opportunity to see more than you could on your own. Visit four countries in 12 days, only needing passports to board the ship. It may be sad to skip collecting stamps, but it makes the world feel so accessible to just hop from country to country without needing to go through customs every single time. You need the passport to get on and off the ship, but the lines move quickly and there is no stress involved. Visiting a new country is so much easier on a ship.