“How do I love thee?” With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, we are counting (some of) the reasons why we love to cruise!
Yes, we realize that nobody is sailing right now, and that it will be quite some time before anyone will do again. (More about that in a minute.) We are optimistic, though, that cruising will be an option worth considering once again! When that day comes, and you wonder why you might want to set sail, consider some of the reasons your crazy friends at TravelLatte love to cruise.
Before we get to particulars, the main reason that cruising appeals to us isn’t about the cruise itself. It’s the water. We love being around water and, honestly, aren’t even that picky about it! A cabin by a lake, camping by a river, or a beach-front resort all fill the bill.
What we enjoy most, though, is being on the water. (Like this time in Belize!) To borrow another quote, this time from Kenneth Grahame:
There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing
as simply messing about in boats.
The Day the Sailing Stopped
That may be a little dramatic, but the Coronavirus Pandemic was the first event in our lifetimes that literally stopped the cruise industry. All of it. Around the world.
Cruise lines were hard hit on multiple fronts. Financially, the industry was decimated, as most travel businesses were. Given the high-profile tragedies of the Grand and Diamond Princess ships, the MS Zaandam, and others, cruising took another hit to its reputation. Some even called for the abolition of cruising altogether.
It can’t be denied that the cruise industry often struggles with illness. Once a germ or virus is on-board, it can spread quickly, which is why the cruise industry has taken steps to mitigate the risks.
Frequent hand washing is almost mandatory, and everyone must complete a health questionnaire before boarding. (Yes, you can be denied boarding if you’re sick!) You’re not likely to get singled out for a sneeze, but the crew knows how to spot symptoms, and sick passengers can be quarantined.
Regular health and sanitation inspections are required, and we encourage you to check the scores for cruise ships you’re considering. We also suggest “any reason” trip insurance so you don’t feel pressured to take your cruise if you fall ill, or conditions aboard your ship become questionable.
Getting Back to Cruise Life
We don’t expect a quick return to the salad days of cruising, when industry growth was skyrocketing, and ships were sold to capacity. That’s okay. Ships will probably be sailing with empty cabins for a while, once they’re sailing again. That’s okay, too.
All of the things that we like most about cruising will return. They may even come back better than before, with new safeguards and guidelines. We are confident that the cruise industry will survive, and we will once again enjoy the all of these reasons we love to cruise, and more.
Seven Reasons We Love to Cruise
Most people think cruises are just all-inclusive resorts at sea. Ironically, we have always resisted all-inclusive resorts, largely due to poor reviews that seem to end with stories of drunken adults behaving badly.
Put us on a boat, though, and we’re all in for the all-in! Knowing that you’ve already paid and don’t have to worry about the budget is very liberating. There is no doubt that a good planner could eat for far less on a land-based vacation, but that’s really not our point. We’re all about not having to mess with checks and tips, and adding everything up.
Drinks usually require a separate package, but that’s okay by us. We enjoy a cocktail or two, but we’re not regulars at the bar. Same with the soda fountain. The economics don’t work in our favor, despite the convenience.
Some cruises also offer coffee packages, which we do take advantage of. Again, it’s a question of economy, and this works for us. Still, we find it very hard to believe that adding our lattes to the dining plan would kill the ship’s balance sheet.
Buffet Grazing & Fine Dining
Related to being all-inclusive, cruise ships are famous for having 24-hour buffets. You can eat what you want, when you want. And as much as you want.
This, of course, is a bad thing unless you’re a teenager with a raving appetite. We are not, despite what our will power seems to think. Pepperoni pizza at two-o’clock? In the morning? Don’t mind if I do! Thirdsies on the desert tray? Shyeah! Extra extra sides of bacon? Yes please.
The convenience is wonderful. The temptation is dangerous.
On the other end of the spectrum, more cruise lines are partnering with well known chefs for their signature and surcharge restaurants. That’s making critics rethink their opinions of dining at sea, and getting people out of the buffets and up to the good eats. Passengers have more and better dining options now, with fare and service on-par with land-based restaurants. (Seriously, the pizza on Princess Cruises really is among the best we’ve had.)
One of the most common fears that keeps people from cruising is what we call FOBB – Fear of Being Bored. We agree: Being stuck on a ship with nothing to do sounds horrid. Thing is, we’ve never been bored on a ship!
If you think FOBB is a very real thing, chances are your vision of shipboard life is laying by the pool all day long, and maybe a game of shuffleboard. (Which, by the way, is kinda fun.) You could do that, but there is more. Much more. So much more, in fact, that we keep hoping for more sea days!
Ziplining, rock climbing, and surf simulators only scratch the surface, with new attractions launching with every new ship. Try dance lessons, or a yoga class. Take a cooking or photography class. And then there are the on-deck raves. Every day brings new opportunities to have fun, learn something, and try something new.
“Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit.”
— Brooks Atkinson
Ports of Call
Let’s face it: Most cruises are about the destinations, not the ship. Those ports of call, and the excursions they offer, are the reason most people pick the specific cruise they do.
Stopping at different ports for just a day is also one reason many people don’t think they’d like a cruise. It’s true that you don’t get to see much of a city in just a day. People who love to cruise, though, see it differently. A cruise is like a sampler plate. You get a taste of something new each day, and see the highlights while learning a little more about what a city or country offers.
Another argument is that not every stop appeals to every cruiser. True again, but seeing the sights isn’t the only option. There are activities for those who stay aboard, while on-shore activities are just as varied as the cities: Zip lining down mountains on a Caribbean island. Snorkeling an underwater art gallery. Helping out at an Agritourismo. Something different every day, in every place.
Who doesn’t like a little pampering? Our problem is that, on most vacations, we go full on every day. “Spa Day” is not usually in our vocabulary. Except on a ship.
Ship Days have become our best friends. In fact, sometimes they’re better than the ports of call because we can commit to the gym or the pool without feeling like we’re missing something.
Want the thrill of being a (semi) high roller? Visit the casino. Or Bingo, if that’s more your speed. Dying for a good cigar and a Scotch? Hideout in the cigar lounge for a bit. Overdue for some romantic time, just the two of you? Spoil each other with a couples massage.
Granted, these are not all included in the price of your cruise, but they can be included in your itinerary without taking away from sightseeing or activities.
Leave those delusions of lounge bands and second-rate stage shows back on land. Cruise lines have invested as heavily in entertainment as they have on attractions. That means shows on the level of Las Vegas and Broadway, but at sea.
We thought Blue Man Group at sea was pretty cool ten years ago. Now you’ll find Cirque du Soliel performing on ships! There are entire cruises built around Star Wars and the Avengers. Others are dedicated to Jazz, classic rock, or just Kiss. (We are seriously not making this up!)
Even if you’re not on a music cruise, larger ships have several venues dedicated to different genres, from jazz to rock, country to karaoke. Whatever your taste or interest – or age – you’ll find the opportunity to dance till bedtime, and probably beyond.
Full Family Fun
Although we travel mostly as empty nesters, that isn’t always the case. In fact, our first cruise was with young teens in tow who absolutely loved it.
Cruising has become a family-oriented industry, and the larger cruise lines cater to every age. Kids clubs offer structured play and – surprise! – a chance to learn about oceans and the lands they’re visiting. Teen clubs often offer gaming, STEM programs, and workshops similar to what the parents experience. The environment is safe, and parents can enjoy their “me time” while the kids actually enjoy the trip.
What our teens valued most, though, was making friends with people from all over the world, some of whom they still keep in touch with more than a decade later.
That View, Though!
Finally, we love the view from a cruise ship!
We always book a balcony cabin. Some people say you should do that if you’re concerned about having a small room. The balcony does make it seem a little larger, but we book it just for the view. There is very little we like better than sitting out there with our morning coffee, watching the waves glistening in the sun. We also love watching as the ship pulls into port, or just catching some rays with a bit of privacy.
Up on deck, from all points, very little beats the view from a ship. Even when it’s just an endless horizon of blue water meeting sky, that view is one more reason we love to cruise.
“The sea, once it casts its spell,
holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
— Jacques Yves Cousteau
So there you go: a few of the reasons we love to cruise. There are more, and we’re willing to bet that you have other reasons, too. We’d love to hear them in the comments.
If you ever wondered if a cruise was right for you and your family, we hope this has helped you decide. Honestly, we were not sure we would like it the first time we booked a cruise. We took the plunge, though, and loved it. We hope you will, too!
As always, thanks for coming along for the read!