I started cruising about 10 years ago and I never want to stop. Before that, I have traveled the world as well so I can tell you from my experience that cruising is definitely a better way to travel and see the world.
For a lot of you who have never cruised, I hear the same excuses that cruising is only for the “newlywed, overfed, or nearly dead.” Cruising is much more than that now.
The other excuse I’ve heard is that cruising is boring, that you’re stuck on a ship with nothing to do. Well, whoever told you that got on the wrong boat.
I’ve sailed now with four different cruise lines and with ships of varying sizes so I’ll tell you this… which cruise line you choose makes a difference. And, the size of the ship also makes a difference. Yes, I said it, size matters.
Think about this, the larger the ship the more amenities and activities the ship will have, right? If you sail with a small ship, well guess what, there won’t be much to do!
Besides the amenities and activities that are aboard the ship, cruising makes it much easier to visit more locations in one trip. You get on board, unpack once, and then next thing you know, you’re visiting multiple areas in Spain, France, and Italy all in one trip!
First, let’s start with the different cruise lines. I’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC, and Princess Cruises. Each cruise line tries to cater to different types of travelers so pick the right one or you may not enjoy your cruise.
Princess Cruises typically caters to the older and quieter crowd. Their ships have fewer amenities and activities than other cruise lines. The people who usually cruise this cruise line like peace and quiet and I certainly found that enjoyable at times, but it can boring for many others.
Carnival cruises are the complete opposite of Princess Cruises. If you want a party all the time, lots of loud music and drinking, then Carnival is for you. These are what I call the booze cruises.
MSC and Royal Caribbean are pretty much middle of the road. A little bit of everything for all crowd types. Royal Caribbean’s larger ships tend to have the most amenities and activities for all ages and it’s my favorite cruise line so far.
Types of Activities
Here’s a list of amenities and activities you’ll find on cruise ships. But remember this, not all ships include all of these amenities and activities.
- Vegas Style Theater Shows
- Guest Entertainers
- Comedy Shows
- Aquatheater Shows
- Ice Skating Shows
- Movie Theater
- Tons of Pools, Jacuzzies, and Bars
- Luxury Spa
- Fitness Center
- Kids Arcade
- Water Park with Themepark style Water Slides
- Rock Climbing Walls
- Miniature Golf
- Basketball Courts
- Ping Pong Tables
- Laser Tag
- Night Clubs
- Lots of dining options, many of which are Free
- Bumper Cars
As you can imagine from what I’ve said about the various cruise lines, Princess Cruises only have a small portion of the list of amenities and activities.
Royal Caribbean, which again is my favorite cruise line, actually includes ALL of the above amenities and activities on their newer and larger ships so I doubt you’ll be telling me that your cruise was boring if you sail on one of those ships.
Cruising isn’t just about the ship itself, it’s also about the ports of call. We usually book 7-Night cruises and then spend another week in or near the port of call to make our trip worth it. Basically turning it into a 2-week vacation. If it’s an international trip, you might as well make it worth the cost of the flight there.
For example, one trip we took to Europe a few summers ago was a 7 Night Western Mediterranian Cruise with Royal Caribbean. We flew into Barcelona Spain and first stayed a couple of nights before boarding the ship. Then we had this wonderful itinerary:
- Day 1 – Barcelona, Spain
- Day 2 – Marseille, France
- Day 3 – Nice (Villefranche), France
- Day 4 – Florence / Pisa (La Spezia), Italy
- Day 5 – Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
- Day 6 – Naples / Capri, Italy
- Day 7 – Cruising
- Day 8 – Barcelona, Spain
On this one trip, we visited the beautiful beaches of the French Riviera. Monaco wasn’t too far away from the port but we didn’t have time, unfortunately.
We drove through the scenic Tuscan countryside to get to Florence and Pisa where we visited the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral) and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
In Rome, we saw the Vatican, Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and many more areas.
In Naples/Capri, we took the ferry over to the Island of Capri and visited the Blue Grotto. Also, going to Naples and Capri, you had to have pizza. However, since I cannot have Gluten, I was surprised they had Gluten-Free pizza and I’ve never had a better Gluten-Free pizza anywhere else in the world since then.
After we got off the cruise in Barcelona, Spain, we took a short flight over to Paris, France. We stayed in Paris for several days to end our 2-week vacation and again, visited many wonderful sites there.
For the price we paid for that trip in total, you couldn’t have visited all of those areas in one trip without cruising.
What’s better than free food? Onboard these ships, you have plenty of options for food, many of which are FREE. You have a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have the main dining room where you get served 3-course meals. All included in your cruise vacation package!
The only dining options that are usually not free are the specialty restaurants and a few other venues. But there’s plenty of options for free dining that we’ve never felt the need to go to one of the specialty restaurants.
If you’ve never cruised before, my suggestion is to first take a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean. The largest cruise ships in the world are from Royal Caribbean and they mostly sail the Caribbean itineraries so it’s a great way to try out the ships with all the amenities and activities I’ve listed. Plus, with the calm seas, beautiful weather and pristine clear blue beaches at all the ports of call in the Caribbean, you can’t go wrong with it.