Cruising 101: Why Go On A Cruise?

Carnival Disclosure

I went on my first cruise when I was going into fourth grade.  It was an absolute blast.  We sailed around the Caribbean, and I remember some of the islands we saw, but I what I remember most was the kids’ club and the fun I had aboard the ship.  I was hooked from then on.

I didn’t cruise again until I was graduating college, but I’ve been on several cruises since then.  I spent three weeks exploring China via ship.  I sailed through French Polynesia on a cruise.  And I spent Y2K (remember that panic) on a ship in the Caribbean.  Since having children, I haven’t managed to get on a cruise again first fearing they were too young then being bitten by the theme park bug, but we are beyond excited to be heading out on a family cruise coming up.

Why should you go on a cruise?

Why do we love cruising?

You can see so much more.  I love to explore.  I love visiting new places and seeing new things.  While a vacation hanging out at a pool or the beach or skiing is a great time, I also enjoy seeing something new every day.  Even when I spent two weeks in Italy a couple years ago, we made sure to visit and see new things every day, exploring various areas of Italy from Rome proper to several little towns in Tuscany.  On a ship, you can visit a new port every day, seeing places you otherwise would miss.

You only unpack once.  While I love going from place to place, I’m not a huge fan of packing and unpacking my suitcase constantly.  On a cruise, I get to have my cabin where all my belongings stay.  I have the familiarity of the ship and where everything is located on the ship while still being able to explore other destinations.

I know what my cost will be.  A cruise is fairly close to all inclusive.  It includes your lodging and your food and entertainment.  Gratuity is advised upfront (generally $11.50 per person per day – but that includes your waitstaff, your cabin service, and more) and added to your cabin bill, though you can adjust it as you see fit.  While pop and alcohol are extra, as are the “fine dining” restaurants on the ship, you could have an absolute blast with everything that is included.  I know I’ll plan to do some shore excursions, but since I am investigating them ahead of time and planning out what I’ll do from the available choices, I have that cost mapped out, too.  I don’t have to keep reaching for my wallet every time I turn around, and I love that.  Many cruises now have all you can drink pop or alcohol packages, too, to help with cost certainty.  When you compare the cost of cruising to what you spend elsewhere on hotel and food and entertainment and transportation, cruising becomes more and more attractive.

There is never a dull moment – for anyone.  Especially with the larger cruise ships out there, you are unhappy aboard a ship only if you choose to be.  If you like live shows, there is everything from Broadway to comedy and more.  There are movies, mini golf, games by the pool, bingo, educational lectures, fitness classes, shore excursions, dancing, and that’s just a start.  Whether you’re going there to just hang out at the pool or to learn something new or to meet new friends, you can do it on a ship – even if that’s not what your spouse or sister or best friend wants to do.  The hard part is finding the time to sleep.

You feel pampered.   The cruise industry is all about service.  I have never met a crew member who didn’t treat me with absolute deference.  There is always a smile for me, and they do their best to accommodate my requests whenever possible.  They are there to make my day pleasant, and they tend to succeed.  They create an atmosphere of service and zen, and that’s exactly what I want from a vacation.

Cruises are great with dietary restrictions.  Like so many other service industries, cruise ship dining has evolved over the years.  It’s gone from the two seat formal dining with themed nights of my childhood to a variety that offers seated dining, specialty restaurants, casual grab and go options, and everything in between.  And with their large staffs, kitchens, and experience, they can accommodate vegetarians, kosher diets, dairy allergies (hello, Little Miss), nut allergies, gluten free diets, etc.  Best of all, when you use the standard dining, you have the same table and same waitstaff throughout your cruise.  They find out your preferences on day one of your cruise, and you don’t have to explain them every single meal as you do pretty much anywhere else, as even if you’re eating in the same restaurants at a hotel, you generally don’t have the same wait staff, nor do they remember you.

The towel sculptures.  This may be silly, but one of the things that makes my day every time I walk into my cabin are the elaborate towel sculptures the cabin staff make every day.  They are truly talented, and the whimsy just makes me smile.  They are somehow able to turn a plain white towel into an elephant.  Or a rose.  Or a monkey.  The magic of seeing what they’ve created each day is fun and something you just don’t get anywhere else.

So you can bet I’m looking forward to my cruise.  Next up?  How easy it is to prepare for your cruise!

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