We get asked often whats the best way yo travel: Flying, driving or cruising. Flying has the obvious advantage of getting you to the destination more quickly but sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Driving works for many that may, for example, want to enjoy the beautiful countryside of Europe while taking in the simplicity and charm of the small towns they drive through. Not to mention this allows for the ultimate flexibility with the addition of side-trips as your mood suits you. Then there are cruises. I recently returned from a 14 day caribbean cruise that journeyed to 6 countries. in this 14 day cruise we ventured to Cuba, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and the Cayman Islands. While i got a chance to cover quite a few places in a short amount of time, one question came to mind: is this the best way to travel? Lets examine the pros and cons of cruising.
All-inclusive Pricing: The all inclusive pricing leaves very little room for surprises. Since cruises usually include lodging , food and non alcoholic beverages the only extra money you will have to spend is on your shore excursions and souviners. Your core necessities are already covered so even if you spend a little too much on souvenirs you don’t have to worry about having enough money to sustain the rest of the trip. With other forms of travel this may not be the case since every meal depletes from the funds you set aside for the trip. On a cruise you can eat steak and lobster every night(like I did) without paying any more out of pocket.
Affordability: This is mostly a pro but can go either way as I have seen very cheap as well as very expensive cruise offerings. My first cruise with my girlfriend was only $350US per person for a 4 day carnival cruise. This was a great deal when considering what it would’ve cost for both of us to fly to the bahamas and pay for food, lodging and activities separately. Of course we ventured off the boat for a few excursions but as I mentioned before, the main necessities were already covered.
Meeting new Friends: on a cruise you’re likely to be traveling with people from your own country so communication will be a breeze. Plus your time on the ship breeds natural interaction these people can quickly turn from strangers into friends. I witnessed several people exchanging numbers at the end of my recent cruise and I even vowed to stay in contact with a few of the new friends I met from various places.
Short Stays: If you like to spend quality time in a destination and get to explore and meet people(like I do), cruises may not be for you. While I was able to technically see 6 countries on my latest adventure some of the ports were tourist traps strictly built to separate the cruisers from our money with little or no real interaction with the true culture. Simply put the short ports stays didn’t allow much exploring since on most days we had to be back at the ship by 5pm after docking at 10am. This left little opportunity to eat at more than one restaurant and no chances to explorer the night life. from a DJ’s perspective the nightlife is key absorbing local culture through music.
Lack of Variety: although ships nowadays off everything from casinos to nightclubs and broadways shows, after a week or so you may get tired of going into the same venues. While most cruise lines do their best to mix it up by providing themed activities and food, you’re still dining in the same restaurant only today they’re serving arroz con pollo in honor of your next port. It can get boring and it did for me as I found myself eating the same food over and over. It was good food, but definitely not the variety you get on land.
Unpredictable Waters: This reason actually prevents a lot of people from cruising in the first place so it MUST be addressed. Anyone thats ever been on a ship of any size can tell you sometimes the sea is kind and other times its not. While ships have specially designed systems to even out the roughness when you hit a period of rough seas you feel it and it can greatly affect the experience especially for older people and persons with sensitive stomachs. This was the case on my last cruise when after a week of smooth sailing in the caribbean we hit some rough weather. Although it didn’t affect me much I saw several passengers that were very uncomfortable and needed to take medicine to calm their motion sickness.
So what’s the verdict you say? The most cliche answer (and the most appropriate) is ‘Its really up to you.’ We all have individual travel styles and look for different kinds of adventures when we venture out so to some the booking ease and predictitability of a cruise ship might be for them. As for myself I tend to long for the flexibility that comes from flying. In my opinion it provides a balance between the convience of a fast arrival and the flexibility of being able to build your trip on the fly if the mood hits you. Of course this comes at a premium but preparation can soften the blow of unexpected expenses. So what’s your favorite means of travel? Roadtrips? Flying? Do you have an interesting travel adventure to share? Sound off in the comments below and let me know YOUR favorite travel style.