Cruising is my preferred choice of vacation but recently I’ve been reflecting on WHY? Sanna from Vegan Cruiser challenged me to share the 10 reasons I choose to cruise, which has led me to pause and think about the many reasons I enjoy cruising.
Reason 1: Cruising enables me to see the world
There are so many incredible places that I want to see in my lifetime – fact. In reality, there’s no way I’d have the ability (time or finances) to be able to visit all of the destinations on my list by doing land-based vacations alone. Granted, not everywhere is accessible for cruise ships to visit but cruises can offer the chance to visit multiple destinations in one trip. Not everyone is a fan of fast travel but it’s given me the opportunity to see so many amazing places including: Pisa, Jamaica and Hawaii.
I enjoy combining a cruise with a stay before and after in the ports or a stopover to break up the journey. On my way to my Hawaiian cruise I stopped in Las Vegas for two days and then was able to explore San Francisco after the cruise for a further two days. Hawaii is a long way to go from the UK and so I wanted to make the most of my time in that part of the world.
Another example of this is when we joined a cruise in Rome. It was very clear that Rome was somewhere we wanted to explore for longer than a day, so we decided to fly in three days early in order to take in the sights and food that the city has to offer – it was well worth it.
Reason 2: Cruising has made me braver
Before I started cruising (as an adult) we would take a lot of ‘beach’ vacations, which involved doing as little as possible. Cruising has made me prioritise the shore excursions I choose so I make the most of my time in ports. I ask myself, ‘If I have one day to explore ____ what do I really want to do?’ I try not to have any regrets, so I have just told myself to ‘book it and do it’!
Since cruising, I’ve had some truly memorable experiences in the destinations I’ve visited. It’s certainly one of my favourite reasons I choose to cruise. Here are some of my highlights whilst cruising.
These days, I’d rather spend my money on experiences like these than buy things, so on my last cruise I planning a private tour of Pompeii with an archaeologist, a trip to Petra and a hot air balloon ride over the desert in Dubai. I may only get the chance to visit these places once so why go by halves?!
Reason 3: Cruising is ‘luxury backpacking’
Travelling from place to place on a beautiful ship is much more luxurious than backpacking hostels and carrying your luggage around everywhere you go. You unpack when you get on and the next day, you wake up in a new destination. Everything is taken care of for you: transport, food, entertainment, sometimes even visas are included in the cruise fare. If you want to take the hassle out of your holiday then this is a good reason to choose to cruise.
Reason 4: I like cocktails!
I’ve got to be honest, when I’m on a cruise, I do like to sip a good cocktail on the lido deck. My cruise starts once I’m onboard with a cocktail in my hand! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a heavy drinker. At home, I can go for months without looking for a drink but a cocktail is one of my special treats when I’m cruising.
There is so much choice on offer on the cruise ship drinks menu, that there is sure to be something for everyone’s taste.
I was fortunate enough to be invited by Princess Cruises to visit Sapphire Princess and try its new and exclusive Sapphire Princess cocktail. My visit included a tour of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery to find out how the cocktail was created and it opened my eyes to the amount of time and effort that goes into making every cocktail. The bar staff onboard take immense pride in their jobs to prepare and provide a great service, which adds to the entire cruise experience for me.
Reason 5: I like good food!
A cruise ship has so many food choices available, it’s hard to resist.
The buffet is a great option for a casual snack or meal at any time of the day. Breakfast is something I usually skip at home but on a cruise I thoroughly enjoy it as there’s such an array of options to pick and choose. No need to rush and no need to prepare anything myself. I enjoy fruit, pastries, bacon and pancakes. My partner, Craig, prefers to opt for more continental options such as cold meats and cheeses.
The Main Dining Room is the opportunity to sit down to a three-course meal. It feels special and the food is beautifully presented. Although I’ve never managed it, you can order more than one dish per course, so if you can’t decide what to have, why not order two desserts?
Increasingly, cruise lines are introducing more and more specialty dining venues. I must admit, I do like to try the different restaurants onboard. On my Royal Caribbean cruise I took advantage of a five-night specialty dining package and enjoyed sushi, steak, teppanyaki and an Asian Wonderland.
I can whole-heartedly say, I’ve never been disappointed by the food in any MDR or specialty restaurant on a cruise. The quality of the dishes and the presentation is outstanding, particularly when you consider the number of passengers that the ship has to cater for.
I’ve even managed to celebrate two of my birthdays on a cruise. The cruise lines did not disappoint and I was treated to birthday cakes and singing.
Reason 6: I’ve made lifelong friends whilst cruising
I’ve always found that people on cruises are friendly. I enjoy chatting to fellow passengers about where they’re from and their previous cruise experiences. I met a lady who had travelled around the globe on different cruises (one each year, starting from where her last cruise finished), a couple from Australia who had been cruising for decades and an interesting couple from Hong Kong who now live in Canada.
There is a special group of friends who I’ve met and hold very dear to my heart. We became friends on a cruise to Hawaii and have since reunited in the Caribbean. Craig and I met: Jim, Ren, Julie, Rob, ‘Mom’, Sharon and Mark from the US in 2015 and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.
There is no doubt that we will organise to cruise together again. The biggest difficulty will be to coordinate a cruise with nine people from five different households to be on the same cruise at the same time!
Reason 7: cruising gives me the time to be active
At home, I’m guilty of not finding the time to be active. Work and day-to-day life gets in the way, so a cruise offers the gift of time. Time to visit the gym, time to do a Zumba class as a participant (I’m a Zumba instructor) and time to walk and not jump in my car. On a cruise, I can exercise in the morning at a decent hour and it sets me up for the day. Exercise on a cruise also makes me feel less guilty about the amount of calories I’m eating and drinking. I will never watch my weight on a cruise so in my mind, the chance to be more active counteracts my indulgence.
My first river cruise experience opened my eyes to active cruises. AmaWaterways prides itself on being a leader in the active cruise market and there were many ways you could be active. I opted for walking excursions, swimming and a dance fitness class.
Reason 8: I love being near the ocean
Nothing beats gazing out across the ocean. I’m quite happy to look out of the window or balcony on a cruise and just see water. This could be a land-lubber’s worst nightmare but for me it is mesmerising. There is a name for people like me I believe – a thalassophile. I’ve been lucky enough to spot whales and dolphins whilst looking out at the ocean, which is always a lovely surprise.
Reason 9: cruise ship staff are incredible
The staff who work onboard cruise ships are truly incredible. Crew can work up to 9 months with little or no time off and they always seem to have smiles on their faces. I’ve found them to be so helpful, friendly and patient with passengers.
We’ve kept in touch on social media with crew who we’ve got to know during our cruises. It’s been fun to stay in touch with them and follow their travels. I must give a special mention to Lucy, Vinay, Mihai and Ruth!
I’ve met crew members who choose to work on cruise ships because it helps them to give their family at home a better life. Many have met their partners on cruise ships and are saving to build a house or start their own business.
Reason 10: the options are endless!
I choose to cruise because there are so many options available. Someone I know once said to me ‘Don’t you get bored going on a cruise every holiday, it’s just the same every time’… er definitely not!
Cruise lines cater for different people, different tastes and a variety of motivations to cruise. There are endless itinerary options that can ensure that no cruise is the same. If you love good food there are cruise lines that specialise in offering the highest quality of locally-sourced dishes, if you like to stay active, there are cruise lines that include extra facilities, classes and excursions. You get the idea. The point I’m trying to make is that the cruise industry is always expanding its offer to ensure that there is something for everyone.
Try to do your homework on the cruise line you’re looking to book. Read reviews and find out if it’s what you want, it’s a cliche but, there is a cruise line to suit everyone. I’d also hasten to add that certain cruise lines are suitable for particular itineraries. An expedition cruise is on my list of cruises to do in the future, it will be polar opposite (pun intended) to a Caribbean cruise but I don’t want the same experience every time.
I’ve enjoyed writing this blog post and reflecting on my 10 reasons I choose to cruise. Life would be very boring if we were all the same and the beauty of cruising is that it offers so much choice.
These are my favourite things about cruising. If I was asked to pick my top three reasons I choose to cruise, they would be
- The opportunity to see the world
- The food
- The chance to be brave on shore excursions
I’d really like to find out the reasons you cruise. You are welcome to pop your thoughts in the comments.