cruise pros and cons

Cruise ~ Pros and Cons

Are you thinking about going on a cruise? We absolutely love to go on a romantic cruise. Then again, I don’t believe we have found any travel we can’t embrace and enjoy. Being together and experiencing things as a couple in love is the highlight of all our trips.

I recently spoke to a lady trying to decide if a two-week cruise was the right fit for her and her husband. Another couple they vacation with wanted to take a cruise the following year and invited them to join. She was concerned about the uncertainty of cruising. Our conversation was the inspiration for this post.

Reflecting on our previous cruise experiences, I shared what I felt were some of the pros and cons of a cruise vacation.

A cruise vacation is a bargain based on your fare. You get all meals, hotel room, entertainment, and all transportation fees. You couldn’t do a seven-day land vacation for the price you will pay for a cruise.
Basically, the ship just about breaks even on the fare.
That said, they will try to sell you extra things, which is where they make their money.
You need to know that and plan accordingly. Know before you go what else you will be spending your money on.

  • Drinks
    Alcohol will cost you big-time. They will try to sell you ‘drinks packages’ at the rate of $50–60 a day, every day. Will you be drinking your way through the cruise? If so, go ahead, and figure on $300-$400 charge for this package when you are done.
    If you don’t drink that much, buy a couple of umbrella drinks and let that be it.
    Specialty coffees also add up.
  • Fitness classes
    Always wanted to try pilates? yoga? a spin class? These are fee-added events, so decide ahead of time whether you just want to use the exercise room or need these instructor-led classes.
  • Photo packages
    I admit to getting formal pictures. I never go near a photo studio at home, so a ship is the only time I will actually dress up, do make-up and all, and get a professional shot. They will try to sell you a package, but that will cost you, just like drinks packages. Get pictures taken on dress-up nights and buy just the one that you will treasure. Resist the high-spend. And by all means, resist the shots taken at the gangway with a crew member in costume. Take your own casual pictures!
  • Specialty Dining
    There are usually several specialty restaurants on board, with an upcharge.
    I only try these when it is something I cannot get at home.
    Steak house? Italian? I like what I have at home.
    Asian fusion? Makes a difference from the local Chinese takeaway, so I splurge for that.
  • Casino
    I’m not much of a gambler, so the casino leaves me cold. Besides, most slot machines are computerized, so I can play them on my phone or iPad just as easily.
    Know if this will be your big spend, and plan for it.
  • Excursions
    I usually take the ship’s excursions, so this is the big spend for me.
    I presume they know the popular sites in each port, and they guarantee they will get you back on time or the ship will wait for you.
    However, some ports I skip the excursion and just walk around taking pictures. Depends on whether I need the AC of a tour bus, or will be fine walking around all day.
    Warning: All cruise ship ports will have the same shops, like Diamonds International, and high-end shopping brands like Coach. They will be duty-free here, but are the prices cheaper here than at home? Know before you go.
  • Interior vs balcony rooms.
    Interior rooms give you the genuine darkness you need to sleep well; no light leaks from windows, etc. If you are a light sleeper, this may work for you.
    If you need to see sky, you need a balcony; ocean ‘view’ won’t do.
    People may say that they never spend time in their cabins, but I find the public areas of the ship are somewhat overwhelming, (people!) so I need a quiet calm cabin with a balcony to recharge. Your mileage may vary.
  • Entertainment
    I’ve never seen a fee added for entertainment, so take it all in! Big shows in the main theater, intimate shows in the lounges, energizing shows on the pool deck during the day.
    All free. Enjoy!
  • Gratuities
    You may grumble at the idea of forced tips but get over it.
    Your cabin steward and the wait staff at the dining hall are all working seven days a week for months at a time so they can support their families at home.
    Think of the difference between housekeeping at a hotel (unseen, impersonal) and the personal levels of service you get on a cruise. There is a difference. Share your happiness on the cruise with the cruise staff.

You can’t plan out everything on your first cruise, but if you know where the big spends are and plan around them, you will relax and enjoy your cruise more.

PROS:

Cruising is like vacationing at an all-inclusive resort ~ A cruise comes with many built-in amenities: nightly entertainment, a wide variety of food options, bar service, fitness centers, casinos, spas, massages, pools, shore excursions, to name a few. Everything is convenient within your reach, and you can return from vacation, feeling very pampered.

It’s relaxing, and someone else does all the planning. When cruising, you get to see many different sites and experience other places without having to pack,  switch hotels, and unpack. It’s nice to feel settled in for the entire trip in one place.

Romantic cruise sunset

Most cruise schedules have sea days. These are days where you are at sea, traveling to the next port-of-call. If you use this time wisely, these days can be delightful. This gives you a chance to sleep in or rise early and enjoy a sunrise over the ocean.  You could choose to enjoy some leisure time by the pool, get a massage, take in a movie, a live show, or even hit the casino. Cruising gives you a great variety of activity and entertainment options.

A cruise offers a wide variety of travel destinations. For us, this is one of the most significant advantages of cruising. In one trip we can see and experience several places. True, we don’t always get to spend as much time at each stop as we’d like, but it gives us a taste of various places. Some walk away knowing we will be coming back to explore more, and others end up with no desire to return.

CONS:

When cruising, you see many different places, but you don’t have room for spontaneity. You can’t just choose to stay longer and experience more at one location. If you happen to discover a place that wasn’t on your list to visit, you may not have the time to add it to your list. That cruise ship won’t wait for you.

Cruise ship food sculptures. I found at least ten different fruits/veg.

Look out for the extra pounds. Cruise ships are known for their wide variety of delicious food available at all day hours (even 2 am room service pizza). There are buffet-style meals in one of the main dining areas included in the cruise fare. Cruise ships also have specialty restaurants serving high-quality food at an additional price. If you are not careful, you can find yourself overdoing it.

In comparison to a resort, a cruise cabin is tiny. The good thing is you won’t be spending a lot of time in your cabin—one of the top priorities for us to organize our cabin right from the start. As soon as your luggage arrives, plan on unpacking. Our blog about Comfort on Cruise Ships will give you some excellent tips for making your room more comfortable.

For some, motion sickness can be a real problem. Fortunately for us, we have never been bothered by it. There are some precautions you can take. Put a call into your doctor’s office before your trip, let them know that you will be taking a cruise, and talk to them about motion sickness prevention options. Your ship’s crew will also know the best things to help control the problem should it arise at sea. My guess is they are well stocked on ginger.

Some of the crew from a recent cruise.

Cruise ships are not small. Throughout your cruise, you will do a lot of walking on the boat, not to mention all of the walking on the shore excursions. Your cabin might be on one end of the ship and all of the ship’s activities on the opposite end. Make sure to bring your most comfortable walking shoes that have are broke in.

Just like any vacation, there are pros and cons to cruising. It’s a personal choice that only you can make. We find that cruising is an exciting addition to our vacationing itinerary. If you have never cruised, we encourage you to stop procrastinating. Why wait for someday. Start checking out some cruise options today.                                                                  

Gary and Michelle Signature


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