Some people out there still don’t want to take a cruise!! Why could this possibly be? “I’m worried about getting sick!” “I don’t wanna be cooped up on the ship!” “I don’t wanna be with a bunch of kids” or “I don’t wanna be with a bunch of old people!” or “I don’t (or do) wanna be on a ship with a bunch of partiers!” Well, let me give you a few reasons that will make you think differently about your brief stint as a temporary mariner! I will use the Caribbean as a backdrop as it is, most likely, the best expanse for first timers!
- Unpack once yet see assorted different places, cultures and topography! Just in the Caribbean you stumble upon multitudes of cultures from English, Dutch and French to African and Spanish to the indigenous Arawak, Caribe and Mayans. You can learn about the history, art and culture of all. Furthermore a variety of topographies can be enjoyed as well, from the cruise line owned “private islands” that are an oasis among the azure seas to the mountainous Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Tortola and Roatan to the flat but beautiful Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Nassau.
2) The food!! Oh the food!! You don’t have to always eat on the ship. In each port imagine the French, Spanish, British and Dutch influences mingling with Caribbean and Mexican!! Great little local places can be found on every island along with famous and soon-to-be famous chef’s. And, let me assure you, the vast majority of food on the ship is also awesome (and included)!
3) The ship itself. Believe me, you won’t feel cooped up on any of the ships as there is an abundance of things to do. Rest and relax as I have always found quiet places amongst the throngs. Sometimes you have to look around but they are to be had from the “closed” lounge to a the little section of unclaimed deck that could be hidden anywhere. On your “at sea” days you will find plenty to do. The slides and pools that include water coasters to The Abyss to more traditional twisty fun, rock climbing walls, movie theaters as well as “under the stars” movie screens and Imax, race car simulators, ice skating rinks, live theater productions, musical artists playing around the clock, comedians, magicians, Sky bikes, mini golf, numerous sports, carousels, casinos, trivia contests, karaoke, learning experiences, meet the officers, dancing, bingo and a whole slew more, too long to list here. If you don’t want to miss your daily exercise routine there’s always an ample exercise facility and a walking trail.
4) You can rest and relax like never before. There’s nothing like sitting in the aft of the ship and watching the wake! It’s one of my favorite things to do! If you’re up for spending a little more on your cabin you can even get an aft view balcony… simply sublime!! If you’re more of a spa person, some of the most beautiful spas you’ll find are on cruise ships. Relax till your heart’s content or get a treatment with a view of the passing sea! Have you ever had a pedicure while dolphins jump outside? Alas, if you have little ones, theres plenty for them to do and a lot of it will allow you alone time! Almost every cruise line has a kids only, supervised, section of their ships with planned educational, as well as fun, activities. Have some alone time while the wee ones have some fun of their own!
5) If you don’t have any children there’s plenty of places to go to spend time with other adults on the ship. Even Disney has an adults only club area with numerous assorted themes. Most ships also have an adults only area on deck, complete with pools, hot tubs and cabanas. Alas, most ships also have adult only comedy shows later in the evening and numerous other late night offerings!
6) The perks that some cruise lines give you. These perks can include free drinks, free internet, free or discounted shore excursions, free gratuities and many more. Imagine… all your food is already included and then throw in free gratuities (just to make it clear, I would always give extra cash to the servers and cabin stewards if they go above and beyond)!! Some of the high end cruise lines also include shore excursions in the price of the cruise. And, for you drinkers out there, some, like Norwegian, may offer your free drink packages. When I say free I mean FREE!! I’m not a drinker but on my last cruise, my uncle was with me, and he definitely took advantage of the drink package. On this particular line they even include a lot of top shelf liquor and beer, not just Bud, Miller, and cheap whiskey, vodka and rum. And, even if your ship doesn’t offer these as a perk then, rest assured, you can buy a variety of beverage packages.
7) As far as not wanting to travel with people outside of your age group or partying level… just do your research! Or, better yet, call your favorite travel advisor as they should know what ships and lines to recommend for your specific needs and wants. http://www.WanderOneWorld.com would be one of those advisers. Different lines have different “reputations,” though these reputations may be unfounded or what they “used to be!” Never trust these distortions! Ask people and read what you can to learn!
8) The service and the “little things.” Now, I’m not gonna blow smoke here, there’s almost always going to be little problems here and there but my definition of customer service is how those problems are handled! My experience has been that they’re handled better than most on a cruise ship. They will do everything they can to help make things better! I would say that the service on a ship is much better than most modern day hotels. As far as the little things you will find many on the ship. From the surprises the stewards leave in your cabin to the servers remembering your name and drink order each and every night to the nightly shows being better than you thought they’d be to that one crew member that goes above and beyond for you and your family and is also the one who told you about the green apple motion sickness cure… it’ll make your vacation that much more special.
9) Exploring!!! When I say exploring… I mean everything, like exploring the ship, the islands, the food and the culture! When you travel on a ship there are a variety of ways to traverse the locales that you will be visiting. First is the easiest and cheapest and that, of course, is exploring it yourself. Stay close to the ship and walk around or rent a bike or car and explore further. Many “taxis” will take you on an expedition as well. Just be careful and make sure they are reputable. The way utilized by most are the shore excursions directly from the cruise line. There are some great excursions that can be had and, a huge advantage to some, if an official excursion booked through the line is running late the ship will wait for them. This definitely can give you peace of mind. There are other excursion companies out there as well but, again, you just have to do your due diligence. Shore Trips is one of my favorites and has guarantees similar to the cruise lines! (Go to http://www.WanderOneWorld.com for some help on this.)
As far as the actual excursions there are numerous types for varying budgets and activity or adventure levels. Cave diving, foodie tours, snorkeling, beach getaways, all inclusive day resorts, zip lining, rain forest excursions, submarines, boating trips, shopping, party boats, catamaran rides, scuba diving, historic tours, Mayan pyramids and really, something for everyone! When i go to an island for the first time I love taking a tour of it! It is a great overview and a fantastic way to learn about everything it has to offer and its history. A local will be your guide and will bring you to the popular places as well as some local hangouts. They will also throw in some stories you’ll be sure to appreciate and probably repeat when you get home!!
10) Make new lasting friendships! Since you’re on a ship, you will see many of the same people for the length of the sailing. You’ll most likely even eat with the same people for dinner every night. You won’t make friends with everybody but, at the very least, you may learn a few things. Every time I’ve sat with someone I’ve enjoyed their company. Yes, there were some annoying people and some people that I shared no common bond, but I still enjoyed my time with them none the less. There are far more that I really got along with and had a lot in common. I’ve even spent time outside of dinner with a lot of them and a couple I still call friend to this day!!!
So… why not take a chance on something new and different!!! There’s only a handful of people I know that haven’t liked a cruise. They’re weirdos :)! Take a chance and get on that ship!!