As a traveler who loves local experiences, I never saw the point of cruising. I had been on a few cruise ships and while I liked the experience, I preferred real travel. But, then last year, I took four cruises and my opinion changed. Not one of those four cruises was alike, and it was then that I realized not all cruises are created equal. Still believe you’re not a cruise person? Maybe you need to look beyond what you think you already know about cruises, and you just might find the one that’s perfect for you.
If you’d like to give cruising a try, but you aren’t sure you’ll enjoy it, here’s some of my advice:
Look Beyond a Traditional Cruise
Sometimes when we think of cruises, we think of the huge, traditional cruise liners, but that’s far from the only option. Last spring, I sailed on a river cruise, which felt more like a hotel than anything else. While Viking is the only river cruise I’ve been on, there are other brands and options. One I’d love to try is a river cruise in America on the Mississippi. Another great option is to take a cruise on a sailboat; I loved my trip last summer in Maine. Seals and porpoise can be seen along the way, and at night, you can stay up with a drink or tea and stare up at the stars. On a Maine Windjammer you aren’t likely to get seasick, so this is a great option if that is one of your worries. Not interested in Maine? There are other places around the world where you can travel by sailboat including cruises in the Caribbean and Europe on windjammers, tall ship, or luxury liners. The options are out there, and you’ll quickly find these are nothing like your average cruise.
Take Different Cruise Lines
Want to get a full understanding of what you may or may not like? Take different cruise lines. It’s almost hard to know what cruise would best suit your personality until you find it. I’ve cruised with Norwegian several times and even though I like to try new lines, I know I always have fun with them. Still, there are so many others I haven’t cruised with, and I’d love to see what they all can offer. As I grow older, what I am looking for changes and affects the cruise lines I am looking at. The options really seem endless, so I’d like to travel with every line at least once. Not sure where to even begin looking? There are plenty of sites online for advice, such as Cruise Critic, that will help you get started.
Head to Different Destinations
If you’re worried about not having enough time to explore, choose a relaxing cruise that visits the islands. You can even take one where the destination is only one place, for example to Bermuda where you spend three days in port. Want to travel to several locations? Well, cruises go just about everywhere these days, so the options are endless. Cruise to Alaska and see the state’s beauty from the water. Go for something exotic and cruise throughout Asia. Experience Europe with a cruise through the Mediterranean. There are many places to travel to, just pick one you’d like to see. My advice is to take a cruise to a place you want to visit, but aren’t sure about how much time you’d like to spend there. It’s the perfect way to test how you feel about a place before actually booking a whole trip there.
Take Your Own Excursions
The best advice I can offer you, if you plan on taking a traditional cruise, is to take your own excursions. This way, you will see the destination your way, and you’ll just be using the cruise as your transportation. In the past, I’ve taken plenty of excursions because I’ve wanted to go sailing or snorkeling, but on my most recent trip, I just wanted to see a place as I normally do. It was the perfect way for us to experience the destination and enjoy our time planning the day exactly the way we wanted to. Of course, if there’s an excursion you really want to take, go for it! You’re bound to meet some like-minded people and you may even make a few new friends.
Keep to Yourself or Make Friends – Your Choice!
Speaking of friends, when thinking of cruises people often think about being forced to make friends, at least that’s what I always thought. Yes, one of the reasons people love cruising is because they make a ton of new friends. But, if you’re not looking to make friends, you don’t have to. You can still make time for you and the person or people you’re traveling with and not make a single friend. If you want, you can even choose to eat all of your meals just with your group. I’ve made plenty of friends traveling, some of those even on cruises, including my friend, Christy, but on my last cruise I didn’t want to make friends. So, we kept to ourselves, except for dinner. We met two of the most lovely couples and even though we didn’t dine with them every night, we jokingly referred to them as our only friends. They had made other friends and thought it was quite funny, but for us it was perfect. A cruise can be as private or as social as you’d like, it’s really up to the experience you are looking to have.
Cruising still may not be for everyone, but there are a variety of options out there. From smaller boats with more personalized luxuries to massive cruise liners, there’s really something out there for everyone.
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