Confession time. I never wanted to cruise. Twenty years ago when my husband and I were negotiating…er…planning a honeymoon, he wanted to cruise. I did not. We spent a week on the beach.
Fast forward about fifteen years. We were looking for a new vacation choice in addition to our then-annual Walt Disney World vacations. I had been hearing some amazing cruise trip reports on TheMouseForLess Yahoo group. When we were negotiating…er…planning new destinations, I suggested a cruise. Of course my husband, being a smart man, loved my new suggestion, and was happy I thought of it.
And so it began — our love of cruising. But after so many years of not wanting to cruise at all, what changed my mind? Probably several factors. The first was hearing from people I had come to know, albeit virtually, about their experiences. It sounded like a fun trip. The next factor was the appeal to see new destinations without packing and repacking. We have three children, and that’s a lot of stuff. Our ship bringing us to each location without more work seemed like a great idea to me.
Several years later, I’ve come to really enjoy planning and dreaming about cruising. So here they are, in no particular order, my Top Ten Reasons for Cruising.
10 . Unpack once. We seriously require a lot of luggage to travel, especially when the kids were younger. The ability to have a home base is very appealing. We get settled in while not being in the same place for the week.
9. See the world, one port at a time. Our vacation time is precious. I would not want to spend an entire week of vacation time in a place we don’t like. When we cruise, we get to see many different ports. We have come to find some are higher on our list than others. Without cruising, it would have taken quite some time to figure this out. Now we have a list of places we would like to see again, perhaps with our precious week, and some we are happy we didn’t spend a week exploring.
8. Something for everyone. Cruise lines create programming for the whole family. When our children were much younger, we spent many evenings prying our kids out of the children’s activities. Not because we didn’t spend quality time together as a family, but because they were having fun.
7. The ability for all of us to be together, yet have the vacation we each desire. We are on the ship together, explore ports together, see shows together. Yet right there, in our floating town, are activities for all of us. Need some time at the spa? No problem! Do the kids want some fun activities? We’ve got that covered! Do you want to spend time, rock climbing, playing mini-golf, watching a movie, etc.? The activities and entertainment are varied and meet all of our needs.
6. The amazing crew is there to help us make wonderful memories. Of course over the cruise experiences we have had, there have been some amazing crew members who stand out in our minds. People we may never see again, but make that vacation time very memorable. We cannot thank them enough for what they have given us. And then they turn around and make the next guests feel just as welcome.
5. Food. You didn’t think that we could talk about cruising without talking about food, did you? While the constant buffets may be a bit cliche, there are still plentiful food options on board. Something that is an amazing side effect is our children trying new things. We likely would have never had that amazing duck quesadilla appetizer anywhere else. Now something they look forward to on our next cruise is trying new dishes. Amazing!
4. The variety of ports. There is always something new to see when cruising. There are itineraries literally around the world. But even those closer to home are varied and offer many experiences.
3. The variety of ships. There are ships the suit everyone. We might like the biggest ships. Our friends enjoy a slightly more intimate setting. But no matter the preference, there is something to appeal to us all.
2. Personalized service. Although all of the crew help make our sailings memorable, some people got to know us so well, that we feel like the only people on the ship. Our stateroom attendants know just how we like things, and make sure that we have everything just that way — from ice in the ice bucket at night to the towel animals on the bed after dinner. Dining room servers remember our beverage selections after one night and have them waiting for us. It’s impossible to believe that they can remember all of the details each cruise for each guest. We feel as though it’s just us.
1. Lasting memories. Each cruise leaves our family with memories. From the server who referred to our son as “Mr. Alex” to the first time we saw the sweeping vistas of St. Thomas, or the time when we finally all snorkeled together, there are always details that stay with us. Our family may not always travel together as our children grow up and have families of their own, but we will always have this time together. The trips we have made have created memories and experiences that we will always carry with us.
I’m so glad that my husband finally listened to me about cruising. Cruising presents a great opportunity to relax, recharge, reconnect, explore, observe, be entertained, bond, and indulge — all in one fantastic vacation. So go out there, and make your own memories! Bon voyage!