I love to vacation, which is pretty obvious if you have read any of my previous posts on the subject. And I may have mentioned my husband and I enjoy to cruise, but I don’t think I have spent much time explaining why.
Before our honeymoon, it had been years since Ryan and I were on a cruise, and it had never been a vacation taken together. Each of us had done Disney cruises with our families, I had been to Central America while his family traveled to Alaska, but in our adult lives, it was not a way either of us had chosen to vacation.
Ryan and I are not big sitters. When we go to the beach it’s a struggle to lay out for 6 hours on a lounge chair without completely going nuts, so we usually have games like Washers or Corn-Hole to keep us entertained. For this reason I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of going to some tropical resort for seven days.
Don’t get me wrong, I have heard wonderful things about Sandals and some of the other all-inclusives, but we wanted more action and an experience that was unique to both of us, which is why we were determined to go to Europe.
I had always wanted to travel overseas, but never even fathomed we could afford to actually get there, and do all the things we wanted to do. But then I was watching the Today Show (I know I reference this program a lot but it really does have useful information!) and a woman from Travel and Leisure was featured discussing great summer deals. Of course my ears perk up for any vacation segment so when she spoke the word Europe, she definitely had my attention.
7-10 day Mediterranean Cruises for a little over $100 a day. No way. I was thinking there had to be a catch. These prices were probably for the oldest, dirtiest, most boring ships ever. There was no way they would charge that small amount, for all your food, entertainment, and accommodations, in a European paradise!
Reason #1 Why Cruising Rocks:
You know what you are spending right off the bat, and have some control over additional expenses.
Think about it. When you book a cruise you are essentially paying for food, most non-alcoholic drinks, a lot of the entertainment, facilities, and lodging while on board. Of course you can upgrade things, go to a “better” restaurant, order a spa package, DRINK, gamble, you know, pretty much anything imaginable, but for the most part, you can survive on the advertised cost of the trip.
Ryan and I do not go to the pay restaurants, we don’t purchase the soda cards, or gamble all that much, but we do enjoy cruise-line sponsored land excursions, a nice massage, and an adult-beverage, every now and then. The point is we can decide to include these extras or not, giving us control over our additional expenditures to make sure we stick within the budget. Pretty awesome if you ask me because there is nothing worse than coming home to a very large bill after you thought you had everything figured out.
So of course when I heard about these fabulous vacation steals, I looked into it right away! After a few hours of searching I was surprised to find there were even more options in a similar price range than I initially thought! Several cruise lines offered relatively comparable itineraries, but the tricky part came when I had to decide what specifically we were looking for in our ship.
Reason #2 Why Cruising Rocks
So many ships, so little time…
Have you ever looked on a vacation site and seen the number of cruise lines throughout the world? There are quite a good variety and they all offer different styles (I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials featuring Norweigen’s Free Style Dining???), sizes, themes, foods and activities.
When I think of the major cruise companies, my mind goes directly to Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian, probably because they are what I see most widely advertised, but there are tons that all offer their own niche. Viking, for example, predominantly hosts river cruises and is known for upscale luxury whereas the three I just listed are usually have HUGE vessels, most of which are very family friendly, and a relatively good bargain. So if you are in the market for one of these popular chains, since they cater to similar demographics, it all comes down to personal preference regarding specifics of their ships and where you want to travel.
Ryan and I have cruised with Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and enjoyed them both for very different reasons. Our first two trips to Europe were onboard Royal Caribbean’s medium Voyager Class, which was absolutely perfect for novice adult passengers. The ships were large and had an array of activities, but were not like some of the mega-ships that couldn’t possibly be explored in 7 days time. The service was good, food was standard as far as cruises are concerned (buffet breakfast and lunch, sit-down multiple course dinner…plus plenty more if you ask!) and we really enjoyed our guided excursions on days in port. We spent our sea days onboard but not much more and to be honest, needed a vacation from our vacation because we were exhausted from constant sight seeing. If you like to keep busy and have a little bit of luxury, Royal Caribbean may be the line for you.
Carnival truly lives up to its name, the FUN ship. It is constant entertainment from board game tournaments starting as early as breakfast, dancing and fitness on the decks, the comical sexy legs competition, and nighttime shows that rival some off-broadway productions I have seen. Our favorite part, however, was the comedy club. We went to shows almost every night, which unfortunately our Royal Caribbean ships did not have, but I have heard their newer, larger versions, do.
Carnival’s food choices were pretty amazing as well. We did the typical breakfast and lunch buffets, but they had a ton more options as far as a Mongolian BBQ, a Chipotle style Burrito Bar, Great American Grill that had out of this world veggie burgers!, an Indian line, make your own pasta station, deli, pizza shop, and ordinary style buffet. Dinner was the traditional cruise style of 3 courses with a few waiters and a nice white tablecloth.
The main reason Ryan especially liked Carnival was the SERENITY DECK…adults only area with the most comfortable lounge chairs and cabana you can possibly imagine. The man was reserving his seat by 9 AM every morning and napping by 9:15. We loved being able to enjoy a nice quiet day, overlooking the beautiful blue ocean, along with an amazingly peaceful breeze. It didn’t hurt that it was in close proximity to the water slides J
We personally enjoyed Carnival better, but as I said we were also on older class of RC vessels, and were in Europe so touring was a main priority. I would definitely sale on either liner again, and actually look forward to doing so in the near future. The point is, there are ships available for all tastes.
Reason #3 Cruising Rocks
You cannot possibly be bored onboard these floating resorts.
If you do get bored, then you aren’t participating, partaking in the bazillion activities offered, or getting off the boat, because even if you aren’t in port, there is always something going on.
I have touched on this earlier in the post but between rock climbing, mini-golf, fitness classes, cooking demonstrations, water slides, board games, trivia, gambling, and MANY MANY more, there is literally something for EVERYONE to do. And regardless of if you are a morning or night person the fun starts even before breakfast and ends almost at dawn.
Reason #4 Cruising Rocks
But if you want to be bored, you totally can be!
Maybe bored isn’t the right word, but you definitely can relax. None of the activities are mandatory, so just as with the type of ship, cruise line, and additional expenditures, YOU CAN CHOOSE, the speed of your vacation.
Some couples we encountered never actually leave the ship when we docked, didn’t really go to scheduled activities, but just enjoyed the sun, sounds and sights of cruising. Ryan and I like to do a mix of both, but that is our preference. Customize cruising for your enjoyment and just have a blast.
Reason #5 Cruising Rocks
The variety of ships is vast, but so is the selection of destinations. From Alaska toMexico, Europe to China,Australia,Hawaii and the Middle East, anywhere there is water; there is a cruise to be offered. You can literally see the WORLD from a ship. And trust me, I plan to do so!
Obviously there are many more reasons why cruising is a fabulous choice for travel, but these are just a few highlights to consider if you are looking to plan a new vacation. The bottom line is, cruising is all about CHOICES, VARIETY and FUN! From the most active of individuals to those just looking to catch some rays and possibly enjoy the scenery, cruising is an excellent way to meet your desire. If you ever have any questions about travel in general, please feel free to contact me for suggestions, advice, or even help planning! In another life I just might have to work for the industry!
What is your favorite vacation style?