Go on a Sea Cruise
Cruising can be a great vacation option for many people.
The first time we did cruising, we did so with many reservations. My idea of what cruising meant, all came from movies and TV, and the portrayal was not something I ever saw as a positive thing. Cruising seemed like it was a bunch of tacky tourists being looked down on by the elites in their luxury cabins. The shuffleboard, the poolside parties, the formal dining, and the ‘disco night’ parties all seemed a bit much to me. There was no appeal in cruising for me what so ever. “Count me out”, I said.
In 2009, I was presented with a very inexpensive opportunity to take a cruise, and I couldn’t say no to the price. It was the perfect way to be introduced to what cruising is, first hand. Our cruise was a Norwegian Cruise Line trip to the Caribbean in winter – so great destination itinerary at the perfect time of year. Don’t get me wrong, all of the reservations I had, were still present (except formal dining), but overall, the first cruise was so much better than expected. This experience leads to us booking more cruises in the future.
The service on the ships is exceptional. We have never been on a cruise where the service was not above par. There are room stewards who spend their entire day ensuring your room is perfectly clean, your supplies are well stocked, that you have towels folded into fun animals, and that you have everything you need. Your room steward will often be so attentive that they will know you by name/face even when you are not in the room. There is always someone who is happy to serve you at every turn. The staff are there to provide you with the best cruise experience possible – wait staff, bartenders, concierge, cleaning staff, food service, and much more. They are all too happy to do whatever it takes to make sure you enjoy your cruise as much as possible.
There is so much food on the ship, that it will make your head spin. There is room service, main buffet halls, smaller temporary / event buffets, regular dining restaurants, small snack bars, burger joints, pubs, and fancier restaurants, and much more. The food is absolutely free in every one of these establishments, with the exception of the select few – steakhouse, Japanese Tepanyaki, a Brazilian steakhouse, etc. but even there – the price Is very reasonable. There is an unwritten rule, that there is so much food- that you gain a pound a day per cruise. If you are like most people, this will be the case. In a future article on ‘tips for first-time cruisers’, we will discuss the perils of overindulgence. The quality of the food has always been very good to excellent. They have executive chefs at every restaurant, pastry chefs creating fabulous desserts, and speciality restaurants serving up some great cuisine from around the world. Our favourite tip for food is to enjoy something that is local or representative of the area you are visiting.
If you enjoy your cocktails, like we enjoy a good cocktail – then definitely get the unlimited drink package. There are so many opportunities for great drinks on board. On a typical ship, you will find many bars – from the pub to a craft brewery, cocktail bars, and much more. There are bars dedicated to mojitos, on one ship, there was a whiskey/bourbon bar (one of our favourites), and don’t forget the daiquiris. There are often theme events you can attend while on the ship as well from wine tasting, Margarita/tequila tasting, Ice Vodka parties, and more.
While on board the ship, there is so much entertainment, that you can fill up your days and nights with something fun every day. The ship will have a printed itinerary in your room every night for the next day so that you can plan what you will be doing. The most enjoyable is the world-class shows including Broadway musicals, Cirque de Soliel type circus shows, magic acts, and even movies. On one ship we watched the Broadway touring production of “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” 4 times – for free. That is the best part. All of your entertainment is included in your fare. You will never be bored if you know what to look for.
I admit it – I am not much of a shopper. However, if you are looking for great perfumes, duty-free alcohol, watches, trinkets, clothing, etc., the ship will have it for you. It is amazing how much retail space they can fit on the ships. They have high-end jewellery and clothing stores, but they also have more affordable items as well. There are souvenirs galore, so if you forgot to get something for someone back home, you are sure to find a nice item onboard. There is always a ‘special sale’ day, where you can buy handbags, watches, jewellery and more at discounted prices. This can be dangerous if you are on a budget, but great if you are looking for gifts.
Ports & Excursions:
The best part about cruising is the places they take you. From the port of departure to the various ports that you will be stopping at along the way, your vacation is all about the memories you will make. Depending upon the length and type of your cruise, the number of ports of call will vary. At each port, your cruise line will have a selection of various excursions & activities for you to take while you are there. They offer different levels of activity. Not every excursion will be good for every type of traveller, so plan the excursions that suit your needs and abilities. You can explore Mayan ruins in Mexico, do wine & food tastings in Tuscany, Glacier hiking in Alaska, a road trip through Morocco, or a guided shopping trip in the port with your cruise director, and much more. Make the memories that are right for you.
As with anything in life…you get out of it what you put into it. Cruising can be all of those ‘undesirable’ aspects you have heard about, but with a little planning and flexibility, it doesn’t have to be. We like to refer to cruising as a RoadTrip on water. You see many different places, without the hassle of traffic, parking, gas, motels, etc.
In future articles, we will discuss destinations, itineraries, tips, and much more to help you make the most of your cruising adventure.