Six things I like about cruises:
- Cruises are convenient. We happen to live in a state where we have five cruise ports, including one right in our own city. We can leave from our doorstep and arrive at a cruise port in 20 minutes if we wanted to. That makes it even better.
- Cruises are a good value. All you have to do is the math. Start adding up accommodations, meals and snacks, entertainment and activities, transportation, gas, and other miscellaneous expenses and you will soon find that the all-inclusive cruise cannot be beat.
- Cruises spoil you silly with the dining and service. Lobster tail, filet mignon, fresh fish, crème brulee, chocolate molten cake…need I say more. The dining menu is aimed to be varied, gourmet quality, and limitless…all day, all night. Your maître de takes good care of your dining experience. Your room steward takes good care of you making sure you have a clean and clutter-free room and timely turn-down service complete with surprise towel animals each day. No matter where you are on the ship, service staff is always on hand and attentive to your needs. It’s also nice to meet the staff, because they come from all over the world.
- Cruises offer a family friendly way of vacationing. There is something for all ages and lifestyles available by cruise. Our daughters love the age-based kids’ camps, and certainly that can be a perk for the hubby and I. My girls always make their own cliques among other kids they meet from all over the world on the ship. The camps have exciting activities going on for them both day and night. It is sometimes hard to pry them away. Hubby and I find our way to the casinos, cabarets, wine tastings, the Jacuzzi on the adults-only deck, lounges, and one of my favorite things–watching the sunset. As our girls have grown older, we often book two connecting cabins so we have our own little spaces to retreat.
- Cruises are a great way to get a taste of various islands. If you prefer spending a lot of time on one island then you should take a longer cruise (more than a week) or fly in instead. We like to get a feel of islands by cruise and if desired make plans to fly back to ones we like most. We have visited a number of islands in the Bahamas as well as the Western, Eastern, and Southern Caribbean. We like that each island has its own flavor. We enjoy island tours and beach day excursions the most. Our favorite islands so far have been The Virgin Islands…they are very picturesque.
(photo taken in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, 2012)
6. Cruises can meet different tastes and budgets. We have sailed Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. They each have their own flavor as well.
I like Carnival for the value. However, it is known as the party ship…you are likely to find a younger crowd. We happen to be VIP Platinum Club members just because we have booked this line the most when we would rather save a dollar or two, while still having a good time. They have good port itineraries. There are always plenty of activities on Carnival around the clock. I would not recommend the shorter (cheapest) cruise for families with children…it is a bit like Cancun during Spring Break.
I like Disney for the…well for the Disney experience. They have characters onboard just as the theme parks, and adults and kids can enjoy a thoroughly, magical experience. You will mostly find families with children. Disney has a standard of its own, but prepare to pay 2-3 times the cost for the ‘same cruise’ on a different ship. Disney does not have casinos (the hubby and I do enjoy playing a few rounds of roulette), and in general we seem to run out of things to do when the kids ditch us for kids’ camps. But when you really don’t want to gamble on a good time for the kids (esp. younger kids), Disney is the way to go. Their shows and dining experiences are top-notch.
I like Norwegian because it is a cruise with a resort feel. The activities and design seem to accommodate different comforts …singles, families, couples, and groups of friends. There are always activities and events going on such as the all-white party. Most of their cruises (even the short ones) include their private beach experience, and that makes it nice to have a beach experience without the typical shore excursion costs. Onboard, you do not have to go to dinners at set times like other cruise lines. You do not even have to dress up for dinner (although I like to dress up/formal for dinner, at least one night). Alternatively, you may choose specialty dining for a small but extra fee. It is slightly unfortunate that the most gratifying dining experience is not all-inclusive.
I like Royal Caribbean for the quality. It has well-defined designs and onboard activities. It seems that its target market is the active lifestyle cruiser. Their ships are known to have ice-skating, rock-climbing, basketball courts, fitness centers, running tracks, bowling alleys, and all of the sort. You will mostly find middle age singles, couples, and families. You will also find older crowds who may not be in to the amenities but are loyal to Royal Caribbean. I think the most important thing is to pay attention to the specific RC design and activities as well as its target market, and ensure it fits your liking.