Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Pros and Cons of a Cruise Holiday

Silver Wind and Viking Sea docked in Antigua

Are you weighing up the pros and cons of a cruise holiday or wondering if you'd like them at all? In this post I share five advantages and five disadvantages of booking a cruise to help make the decision a little easier for you...

Room service on Viking Cruises on a private veranda
Princess Cruise main pool and bar area with cinema screen

1. SLOW TRAVEL IS EASY
Cruising is a very relaxing way to travel the world, most of today's large modern ships have stabilisers to reduce the rolling motion so it's easy to forget you're almost always on the move. If you opt for a no-fly cruise the check-in process is usually a lot smoother and quicker than an airport, plus there's no baggage weight limits to worry about.

Rain showers at sea

2. THE WEATHER CAN BE CHANGEABLE 
The weather at sea can be a little more challenging to forecast and the conditions can change by the hour when you've set sail. Even though places like the Mediterranean is more reliable for light winds and hot weather, there's sometimes a sea breeze up on deck that can make it feel noticeably cooler than nearby land. There's also a small chance you'll encounter rough waters or a sea swell (even in the summer) which may unsettle those who suffer with motion sickness.

Further reading: Emma from 'Cruising Isn't Just For Old People' shares her experience of dealing with seasickness on cruises

View over St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands
Exploring the old doors of San Juan in Puerto Rico

3. YOU CAN EXPLORE LOTS OF PLACES
Cruising allows you to explore many places in a short space of time, opening your eyes to places you've not thought about visiting before. Thanks to cruising I've discovered destinations like Palma de Mallorca, Lecce and Barbados that I'd be interested in returning to on a traditional fly-holiday.

Further reading: Exploring the West Indies with Viking Cruises

P&O Britannia docked in Antigua before a Transatlantic Cruise

4. THE STOP OVERS CAN BE SHORT
The flip-side to seeing all these places in one holiday is the short amount of time you get to spend in them. Some ports of call may only be for 6 or 7 hours which is not really enough time to immerse yourself in the local culture, particularly when you add in transfers to and from the ship.

Buffet dessert selection on Independence of the Seas
The Chefs Table dining experience on a Viking Cruise

5. CRUISE CALORIES DON'T COUNT
... or so I'd wish! One of the first things I do once onboard is head to the buffet (start as you mean to go on). The food on cruise ships is an obvious highlight with plenty of bars and restaurants for all tastes and the option to eat around the clock.

Further reading: Cruise bloggers share their must-try dining experiences at sea

Royal Promenade on Independence of the Seas

6. SOME AREAS OF THE SHIP CAN GET BUSY
Though there's always somewhere to relax on a cruise ship, there are certain areas that can get quite hectic. The breakfast buffet on a sea day is usually very congested with empty tables hard to come by and the queues on and off a ship can also be a little testing, particularly if you're required to take a tender boat into the port.

7. THE ENTERTAINMENT IS GOOD VALUE
Broadway and Westend shows, TV hypnotists and established singers and comedians, the 'cheesy cabaret' style that dominated the early days of the cruising industry is being replaced and refined to appeal to more age groups. I've seen Grease and We Will Rock You on Royal Caribbean ships for no extra charge and have enjoyed some incredibly talented guest performers.

Further reading: A Western Mediterranean Cruise on Independence of the Seas

Viking Sea docked in Saint Marteen
Shore excursion from Nice to Saint Paul de Vence

8. THE SHORE EXCURSIONS ARE USUALLY EXTRA
A cruise holiday in peak season can be quite pricey for a family (I usually keep my eye on last minute deals or travel off-peak), but when you add on the price of some shore excursions then the overall cost can really rocket. I usually do my research to find out what ports are easy to get to by yourself by local transport or on foot, and how much time you have there. There are some cruise lines however, like Viking, that offer shore excursions at no additional charge.

Further reading: Kayak, hike and snorkel excursion in St. Thomas USVI

MSC Aurea Spa
Anthem of the Seas docked in Vigo Spain

9. THE INNOVATIONS ARE EXCITING
The cruise industry is booming so bigger and better ships are always in production to compete for your loyalty. The things I've been able to do on these new ships is mind boggling, from ice skating and indoor sky diving to dodgems and drinks in an ice bar - far more than you'd find in your average holiday hotel!

Anthem of the Seas Sports Room with Dodgems
Britannia sailing in to the Caribbean sunset

10. THE ITINERARIES CAN GET REPETITIVE
Even though larger cruise ships have more to offer onboard, their size limits the destinations they're able to dock in meaning you'll likely end up cruising to the same destinations on your favourite ship, or compromising on the ship for different ports of call.

MSC Musica anchored in Santorini
Food on cruise ships

For me, the ability to visit many places and only having to unpack once whilst enjoying lovely meals and entertainment makes cruising a one of a kind experience that cannot be fairly compared to a traditional land/fly holiday. If you or a family member are still unsure, I recommend trying a short 'taster' cruise (around 2-4 nights) and seeing how you feel about it.

Further reading: Is a fly-cruise right for me? (via Cruise1st)

I hope you've found this helpful! If you have any questions or want some more advice on cruising, feel free to leave a comment or drop me a message via email or social media.
Thanks to Miss Nicklin for contributing images for this blog. 
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© Explore With Ed | Wales based Food, Travel and Cruise Blog

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