The popular view of cruises involves a great deal of expense, a great many elderly people, and a compulsory entertainments schedule. This idea is rooted in the past, and in fact modern cruises are one of the best ways to travel when you want to visit a variety of locations. There are many positive aspects to cruises, and if you haven’t been aware of them up until now, you’ll be itching to book a cruise for yourself by the time you finish this article!
First, those enduring myths about cruises. It is true that cruises do have an appeal for seniors, but that’s more to do with them being wise to the advantages of cruising over other types of holiday than that cruises are only suitable for the elderly. You certainly won’t be affected by the demographic of your fellow passengers; cruise ships are plenty big enough for you not to have to socialise with anyone else at all if you prefer, but if you do fancy living it up you have the chance to do that too.
Cruise ships do have entertainment such as cabaret, singers, celebrity performers and acts like illusionists. Many people find them extremely entertaining, and they are a highlight of the experience if that’s the kind of show you like. However, if the entertainment isn’t your cup of tea, you are in no way obliged to attend – you’re free to do exactly as you wish with your time.
Cruises aren’t generally cheap, but you can get some great deals – and you’ll spend very little on top of the price of the cruise as so much is included. If you’d love to go on a cruise but need some flexibility with your budget to afford it, read this helpful article about affordable credit options.
What’s so great about cruises? Here are some of the highlights:
- You can travel all over the world to all the inhabited continents and most countries. You can even take a cruise right round the world if you have eight months or so to spare!
- You can visit a series of countries making a stop at each one to get a taste of the place, for example, a Mediterranean cruise that includes Spain, Italy, Corsica, and maybe across to the North African coastal countries too.
- You can explore a single country, coastline, or island in detail, for example touring around Seychelles or the Norwegian fjords.
- You can also take a themed trip, such as an exploration of key sites from the world wars, a tour of historical monuments, or a wildlife tour like whale watching in New England or watching the Emperor penguins in Antarctica.
- You don’t need to worry about finding the route, driving on unfamiliar roads, or locating places of interest, as the cruise line does it all for you. The getting there part of the trip is just as much a part of your holiday as the arriving part, but everyone in your group is able to share equally in admiring the view rather than the driver feeling left out.
- When you dock, you can join in with the guided tours, or just head off on your own if you prefer. Even if you don’t normally take the guided tour option when travelling, in some instances it’s well worth it because you get so much more out of your visit, especially if you’re visiting a historical site or ancient monument.
As mentioned above, one of the joys of cruising is being on a huge ship travelling over the oceans and seas being able to see all sorts of sights as you sail along. You could be making your way up the river into Rotterdam, getting a great view of the Dutch architecture and landscape, the windmills, the brightly painted houses and all the other boats sharing the waterway with you. Or you could be out in the middle of a vast sea, no sign of land or any other human life, but with dolphins swimming beside the ship and exotic birds circling overhead.
If you get tired of hearing the whale song or looking out for low flying albatrosses, then the ship has plenty of entertainment facilities to keep you occupied. Cruise liners normally have a full suite of fitness equipment, and often swimming pools and badminton or squash courts too. There’ll be a range of shops to browse in, at least one cinema screen, a games room, spa facilities, beauty treatments and hairdresser, a library, the list goes on; and if you want to be alone or have a nap, even the cheapest cabins are quite luxurious.
Then there is the catering, which once experienced can never be forgotten. While the exact catering arrangements vary between each cruise line, a typical set-up would be one area reserved for formal dining with a full waiter service, while a separate area provides a twenty-four hour all you can eat buffet. Yes, you did read that right; many ships have a buffet that you can help yourself to anytime day or night, and it won’t be a few dry sandwiches and bowls of peanuts. No, it’s a dizzying array of freshly made culinary delights. It is a joy to behold, and also to eat.
If you’re wondering whether there are any downsides to the cruise ship experience, there are a few points to note. The travelling and the stops are immensely enjoyable and relaxing, but you mustn’t forget to be back on board before the ship is due to sail, or you’ll get left behind. You can always travel to the next stop on the route to re-join if the worst happens, but it would be a nuisance.
It can also get a bit wild if the seas are stormy during your trip. Even if you don’t normally get travel sick, it’s a good idea to pack some anti-nausea medications or travel bands just in case a bad storm whips up. On the plus side, being on a ship during a storm at sea is a thrilling experience. Cruise ships are very safe, so you don’t need to worry about the severity of the storm and the ship being damaged, just enjoy the crashing of the waves and being close to the power of nature.
These are the reasons why cruising should be on your bucket list; put simply, it’s one of the best ways to take a holiday.