Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Nicole
Many, many years ago, I swore that I would never take a cruise ship holiday. I imagined being packed inside a humongous floating hotel with thousands of strangers eating and drinking to excess, and I cringed. Fast forward 10 years later, and we have done three! In this blog, I focus on the best reasons to take a cruise for the first time. I highlight and discuss why you should be excited by the thought of taking your first voyage on an ocean liner.
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Although there are many reasons to take your first cruise, there are also lots of reasons to never take your first cruise ship holiday. For a discussion of those reasons, please see Cruise Holidays: Why You Should Avoid Them
If you are unsure about whether you should book shore excursions or what happens once you reach a port, please read 5 Best Shore Excursions for Your Next Cruise.
For those planning their shore excursions in Cozumel and Costa May, Mexico, please see my review of two amazing shore excursions:
- Cozumel Electric Bike Tour: An Amazing Shore Excursion With Kids; and
- Mahahual Beach: A Guide To The Best Costa Maya Excursion.
Finally, if you haven’t already booked your cruise and are open to different destinations, please see:
- Alaskan Cruises: Why You Should Cruise from the Beautiful Port of Vancouver; and
- Cruising The Galapagos Islands: Would We Do It Again?
Why You Should Take A Cruise Ship
Do I love to cruise? No, I do not. I have a complicated love/hate relationship with cruise ship vacations. There are great reasons to take an ocean liner or river boat cruise, but also avoid them like the plague.
It really depends on your motivation behind taking the cruise holiday. The ages and interests of your children (if you have any), your temperament, and everyone who plans to take the cruise with you.
One thing for sure, you need to manage your expectations. You need to understand exactly what you are being offered and what you hope to experience before you book a cruise ship vacation. Then, before you start your voyage, you need to remind yourself of all the opportunities that lay ahead, but also, the limitations.
The reality is a cruise is unlike any other traditional trip that you have ever taken and for that, you need to approach the trip with an open mind. You need to be ready to say “yes” to new adventures and experiences as they arrive. You need to be ready to share your space and your holiday with others, and delight in all the advantages that this offers you.
Best Reasons To Take A Cruise
Here are 9 reasons why taking a cruise would be a great choice.
Visit Lots Of Destinations Quickly
Our first cruise was through the Mediterranean in Europe in the summer of 2012. Over 12 days, we visited Venice, Athens, Istanbul, Ephesus (Turkey), Mykonos (Greece), Rome, Florence, Toulon (France), and Barcelona. At each port, we disembarked very early in the morning and had until 5:00 or 6:00 pm each day to explore the destination.
We booked tours in most cities to get the most out of our time. By the end of the day, we saw the famous landmarks of each place, learnt about the culture and history of the city, and left with lots of curiosity to one day return to see more.
Explore An Unfamiliar Region Or City
For our second cruise, we took a nine day journey in the Baltic. We started in Copenhagen, then journeyed to Berlin (the port was Weimar, Germany), Tallin (Estonia), Stockholm (Sweden), St. Petersburg (Russia), and Helsinki (Finland).
Unlike the first cruise in the Mediterranean, I had never been to any of these European cities. I was curious about them, but wasn’t sure whether I wanted to spend several days in any one of them.
This cruise allowed me to spend a day in each place (two days in St. Petersburg) and come away with a new appreciation about a region about which I knew very little.
A couple of the destinations, I felt satisfied with our time. However others, like Copenhagen and Stockholm, surprised me. To this day, they remain on my list of places to which I wish to return and explore further.
Unpack Once And Relax
A cruise ship vacation allows you to visit many amazing and diverse places without having to pack and unpack multiple times. You essentially book into your cabin like you would a hotel room and settle in for your holiday.
When my kids were young, I tried to avoid trips where we ended up living out of a suitcase. In other words, you move so often from one destination to another, and one hotel to another, that it isn’t worthwhile unpacking.
I believe that this type of travel is difficult on children of all ages. Children can certainly cope, but I believe that a holiday that has your family moving every night or two becomes tiresome and unenjoyable.
We have taken many trips where I have had a long list of places that I have wanted to see. However, inevitably, I have ended up skipping some as it would have required moving from one hotel to the next in order to make that itinerary happen.
This issue does not come up on a cruise. Once you have chosen the boat and an itinerary, you and your family unpack once and get comfortable.
Research And Planning Are Already Done
You do not need a travel agent or spend hours researching to create the best itinerary when you choose a cruise. Before you book your cruise vacation, you select your dates of travel and an itinerary that you want from one that is offered.
Once on the cruise, it is someone else’s responsibility to get you from destination to destination that matches your itinerary. Except for ensuring to return to the ship on time, you have little to think about if you disembark in port.
In addition, you do not have to worry about there being enough food, food when you want it, or food that everyone likes on a cruiseship holiday.
There are usually many themed restaurant options available to you onboard (like Italian, Japanese, French, and so on), as well as buffets with choices from around the world. Further, there is always at least one buffet open all night, and of course, room service.
As for daily activities, there are usually multiple amenities on most cruises, as well as huge selection of daily classes. And of course, many days when you leave the boat to explore a destination.
Each cruise ship offers different kinds of amenities. Generally, there are usually lots of pools and hot tubs, shuffle board, and ping pong. There is often a sports court for basketball or volleyball on bigger boats. Sometimes, you can find water slides, ice rinks, climbing walls, and putting greens (and more).
As for entertainment, there is usually lots of music all day long in many different bars, lounges, and outdoor patios for every musical taste.
In the evening, the fun continues with live bands, musical and dancing performances, dance parties in discotheques, and other events to fill your night.
Easy To Budget
A cruise is essentially an all inclusive holiday. You pay one set fee when you book and normally, this covers the essentials, such as your cabin, food, nonalcoholic drinks at meal times, and the use of most of the amenities (pool, waterslides, sport courts) and entertainment (shows, live music, discotheques) on board.
There are always additional items that cost more. This often includes alcoholic beverages, gambling at the casino, certain restaurants, spa treatments, or booking shore excursions offered by the cruise ship. However, you choose whether or not you wish to purchase those items. You certainly do not need to in order to fully enjoy a cruise.
Accordingly, a cruise ship holiday allows you to find a cruise within your budget and then, keep you on budget.
A cruise is typically good value if you use all the amenities, participate in classes and activities, enjoy the entertainment, and disembark in port and explore the destination. If you add up the cost of everything that you ate or did in a day, you would likely find that the cost of a hotel, each meal or activity would far exceed the daily cost of the cruise to you.
However, that would not be the case if you do not use the amenities or enjoy the classes or entertainment. Similarly, if you chose to remain on board and not explore the destination.
Alone Time for Parents and Children
My four children LOVE cruises. Once they get familiar with the layout of the boat and how to find our cabin, they spend much of their time on board enjoying the pool and hot tubs, and running from activity to activity. They meet children their age from all over the world and make very close friends very quickly.
My children were 7, 9, 11, and 15 years old when we took our first cruise in 2012. In January 2017, we took our third cruise with our three children (our fourth had to go back to university). They were 12, 13, and 15 years old at the time.
When my two youngest were 7 and 9 years old, I had to sign them in and out of the children programs. Otherwise, I kept loose track of them on board. Even at that time, they had independence not available at home to explore the boat or to go get their own snacks.
Now, my youngest is 12 years old, and on our last cruise, my husband and I hardly saw our kids! We had to book time with them to ensure that we actually connected with them throughout the day.
Overall, they had their experiences on board and we had ours! This allows parents to reconnect with each other which is a welcome and unusual opportunity during a family vacation.
Multi-generational Travel and Travel with Friends
We just returned from a cruise of the Caribbean with my parents, who were 81 and 77 years old. We took the cruise with another family of 5 whose children were 12, 10, and 1 1/2 years old. Her parents joined them, and they were 71 and 66 years old.
Even though there were 80 years between the oldest and the youngest in our extended group, everyone enjoyed themselves for many different reasons. Those reasons had to do with everything offered on the cruise ship.
On many cruise ships, there is something for every age. You might find a water park for young children at one end of the boat. Then, you might find an adult-only pool at the opposite end to meet new friends. You can usually discover it tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main pool area.
There is usually a library room and a separate and quiet card or games room. At the same time, the cruise is organizing a basketball scrimmage on the outdoor sports court. The boat might offer bingo in a lounge area or a bridge game in the card room.
There are many elevators for those who can’t walk well and stairs for those with energy for two. Most cruise ships easily accommodate large parties for dinner. They offer diverse menus that satisfy picky or delicate appetites.
However, some cruise ships, like Royal Caribbean and Princess, are more family friendly, and their programming and amenities reflect that. While others, like Holland America and Celebrity, focus more on adults and merely tolerate children.
Whether multiple generations travel on a cruise or simply your family, you must find out whether the cruise ship meets everyone’s wants and needs. There are lots to choose from, so be particular!
Every holiday cruise vacation deserves a good night’s rest, but that may depend on your budget. Accommodations and room service options are why I avoided adding cruise vacations to my first time bucket list items.
The small rooms from the movies and tall tales by our friends make cruise lines seem like a stressful trip. This may surprise most of you, but my accommodation was one of the most memorable cruise experiences.
I slept on an oversized comfy bed in a room on the top floor. Plus, it had big sliding windows and a balcony, all for myself! I woke up with lovely views of the sunsets.
Cruise lines offer luxury suites for guests looking for bigger rooms and exclusivity. You can find these types of rooms on the Norwegian cruise line or the Royal Caribbean. For budget-friendly options, you can always book group and inside cabins. Every year, cruise lines try to have cozier beds for cabin rooms to let everyone rest well.
You can sacrifice a little space by getting an indoor or outdoor cabin. If you want to get more out of your cruise line vacation, book big rooms with balconies, Jacuzzis, etc. Whether on a budget or wanting to go all out, cruises offer a variety of accommodations for your needs.
If you decide to take a cruise, I suggest reading another blog about choosing the best cruise room. Discover the cruise ship room perfect for you and your family – Cruising: How To Book The Best Cruise Ship Room.
Pamper by Attentive Crews
Crew members are ready at all hours to greet you with a smile and help. Your room is serviced every day. Room service is offered and usually free, and they are always ready with a solution no matter the problem.
There are lots of reasons to consider taking a cruise. Do they out-weight the reasons why I often avoid them? The answer is sometimes. It depends on what other vacations we have taken in the past year and what my family needs. Like everything, it is a very personal decision, and it is only relevant when you consider taking one. One year later, circumstances might have significantly changed for your family, and a different decision about taking a cruise might be the result.
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