Why I Will Always Choose a Cruise Over Any Other Vacation
Other trips can be fun, but traveling by sea has a special appeal.
As a travel writer, it's no surprise I spend a hefty part of the year on the go. Some of my favorite getaways have included pool deck lounging in Las Vegas, touring coffee farms in Hawaii, sampling street food in Amsterdam, and improving my dance moves in Latin America. There's also nothing like finding the perfect 24-hour diner in New York City or staring up in awe at Norwegian fjords. But I'm a fan of budget weekenders as much as I am luxury, five-star resorts.
As you can see, travel has been a big part of my life. I grew up road-tripping with the family across the picturesque Canadian Maritimes and driving south along the coastal highway to the Florida Keys. I then became a frequent flyer for the sheer joy of experiencing distant locales. And yet if I were to name my favorite mode of travel, it would have to be by sea. Read on to find out why I will always choose a cruise over any other vacation.
The value that comes with cruises is unbeatable.
If you book a cruise, it's possible to spend one flat rate and stick to that initial base fare budget because most meals, entertainment, and activities are included—in addition to accommodations, of course. When I compare these costs against doing something similar by land, cruises just seem like the best value.
For example, island hopping in Hawaii is a favorite getaway of mine, yet when I add up the costs for inter-island flights, multiple hotels, a car rental, and, of course, amazing dining experiences, that vacation price tag can quickly become unreasonable. Instead, I find incredible value in the dedicated Hawaiian Islands itinerary Norwegian Cruise Line offers. Every day is spent in a different region on the islands of Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and the big island of Hawaii, so the experience is incredible and a fraction of the cost of booking all those destinations in one land vacation.
For that reason, I appreciate the all-inclusive approach of cruises. While many choose to indulge in specialty restaurants or pay for excursions, I've often opted for the most economical route by enjoying all of the free offerings available. Yet, when I want an upgraded experience, I also appreciate being able to book my specialty dining or activities in advance. That way I know what my total vacation package costs upfront, and I pay just one bill.
There are endless itinerary options.
Whatever my vacation vibe, there's a cruise itinerary for it. In addition to wanting to experience multiple destinations, I seek out onboard wine tastings, Broadway performances on the production stage, trivia challenges, or just soaking up the sun on a pool deck.
For destinations, I tend to look for port-intensive itineraries with just enough sea days to relax, while having full days to stroll charming coastal towns in Alaska or Scotland. Some people prefer quick weekend cruises to the Caribbean whereas I favor 10- to 12-day sailings to maximize my introduction to different towns.
For instance, one of my favorite cruise experiences was sailing through Europe, Norway, and the Baltics. It was a month-long journey, and I loved every minute of it, sampling food and cultural highlights in two dozen countries. I landed on that particular cruise in part because, for my first visit to Europe, I simply couldn't decide on a single region to fly into. My cruise vacation didn't make me choose.
Instead, I got a wonderful overview of each area, that prepared me for potential future visits. This can be especially helpful when you're first visiting a new region, as a cruise offers a sampler of multiple cities. That way, you can see and sample the highlights, yet not feel committed to one specific town. By exploring three, four, or more cities in a country, you'll discover which location(s) might be ideal to revisit on another trip.
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Cruises force you to slow down.
On the flipside of a packed itinerary, cruises are my favorite vacation because they force me to slow down. You can find a way to party morning to night on a ship, but with sea days, there are only so many places you can go. And, during that time, there is nothing quite like the sound of ocean surf below, the shimmer of the sun above, and a wide assortment of leisurely nooks to simply kick back and enjoy the ride.
On land, I rarely make time to treat myself to a spa session, but on a cruise, I suddenly have time and access to a wide range of spa services and relaxation facilities within my budget. I also have a great deal of fun trying new ways to wind down, such as attending pamper parties with free DIY facials or joining a line dance lesson on the pool deck. While there is never a shortage of activities and events on a ship, I always seem to relax just a little more when at sea.
Cruises allow you to get out of your comfort zone.
Since cruise ships have a captive audience, there can be an overwhelming variety of entertainment, games, stage performances, and delectable eateries.
Each time I head out to sea, I aim to do at least one new thing—it's the perfect opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. Whether it means savoring a celebrity chef meal at Rudi's Sel De Mer on Holland America or trying out the race cars on the Norwegian Bliss Speedway, spending a week on a cruise ship is the perfect environment for broadening your horizons.
And there's not much risk or commitment involved. Ever wanted to play like a kid in a trampoline park? Carnival Panorama has a super fun interior Sky Zone for kids and adults alike. Want to learn salsa? Head to the Havana Club. Want to try surfing but you're intimidated by Maui waves? Give Royal Caribbean's FlowRider a chance.
Or, being adventurous could be as simple as trying the pomegranate cocktail "40 Is The New 20" at Carnival's Alchemy Bar instead of a traditional Old Fashioned. If you don't like it, that's what a drink package is for. With endless cocktail options, it's no big deal to discard one beverage in favor of another since it's not like you're adding more cost to this all-inclusive experience. Thanks to cruises, I've found a handful of new, go-to beverages. Each time you order your new favorite on land, you'll always be reminded of your first time trying it on a cruise ship–and memories truly do make the best vacation souvenirs.