For many, when considering their next holiday, the concept of going on a cruise is reserved for those retired or ticking off their bucket list. After taking four cruises I still wonder why this is the case.
Having recently returned from a cruise it is staggering to see how the split in age groups looks on a cruise. You’d be forgiving for thinking you’re lined up at the RSL on a Wednesday afternoon to get the cheap fruit cake during the check-in at your cruise terminal. Not having grey hair is a gift from the gods or a sign that you are colouring your hair. The age issue is so evident that the amount of people who leave on their cruise is generally less on the return, people literally pass away on cruises (not every cruise I’m sure, though).
So, why cruise then?
Well, why not?
Let’s look at why cruising is one of the greatest holidays you’ll take:
For multi-destination trips
On a multi-destination holiday you will need to fly, unpack, sightsee, pack, fly, unpack, sightsee etc. On a muti-destination cruise you check-in, unpack, visit multiple locations and spend every moment doing exactly what you want, no plane hopping, no unpacking and repacking at each hotel, and certainly no sleeping on buses during transit. Your queen sized bed is what you sleep on in transit to your next stop. This is something people often overlook, it is entirely possible on a cruise to leave the port near Rome and wake up in Florence the next day. During that overnight trip you will be able to have a fantastic dinner, attend an evening show, visit the nightclub and retire to your “hotel room” when you’re ready to sleep. The next morning your view outside the bedroom balcony is new and you can walk off the ship and begin exploring.
For the overall cost
On any holiday you’ll have three key areas of expenses; accomodation, transit costs (planes, trains, buses etc) and meals/beverages. A cruise will cover all three in the one upfront cost. Your accomodation is your mode of transport and all meals (for the most part, some ships have specialty restaurants that require a small extra charge) are included. Whats more is that the ship has at least two entertainment areas for shows, theatre, performances, comedy acts, and more. They’re included too. Essentially once you’re on board the rest is taken care of. Some extra costs will likely include alcohol, tours at your destination ports and shopping onboard however these are all optional.
For the efficiency
A few years ago we wanted to visit Europe and see family. While there though it makes sense to see some other parts of the region, we chose to do that with a cruise in the Mediterranean. In twelve days we managed to make 10 stops into five different countries. From Spain, to France, multiple stops around Italy, Greece and the Greek Islands, Turkey and back to Italy before flying home. To see all of those places on a regular trip you would be exhausted and rushed off your feet with multiple flights, hotel check-ins and messing about. This was the easiest and most efficient way to travel and really enjoy all that the Mediterranean had to offer. While you would be waiting at the airport to take your next flight to each stop on a regular holiday, you could be sitting in the spa sipping on a Long Island Ice Tea, your call!
Lets tackle some of the myths about cruising:
Nothing to do except play bingo
This isnt entirely true, yes, you can play bingo onboard, and the winnings can be high enough to pay off your holiday, however there is SO much more to do on a cruise ship than you think. Besides the multiple pools, spas, bars, shops, gym facilities, dining areas and deck chairs there is so much more to do than enjoy those facilities. Attending a show, generally there are two each evening, is not like an RSL comedy act, world class musicians, comedians, magicians etc are brought onto the ships to perform, stage shows are put together which you’d normally expect to pay over $100 at a regular theatre to see. During the day you will find plenty to keep you busy, some ships have a casino, a rock climbing wall, waterslides, dodgem cars, golf simulators and the list goes on. You won’t be bored on a cruise ship and generally not having anything to do on a holiday means you can actually just relax.
Only old people cruise
Hard for me to mythbust this one after my opening paragraph however not all cruises are going to be 90% over 80 year olds. Different cruise destinations and different cruise lines attract different crowds, your travel agent should be able to help. A cruise around New Zealand for example is unlikely to attract a group of singles looking for a wild time, a scenic cruise like this is more than likely going to be perfect for a retired couple to see a new part of the world stress-free. When we did the European cruise however the onboard nightclub was often very very busy in the evenings with 18 – 35 year old male and females. Some cruise lines accomodate children better than others with waterslides, kids clubs etc so they’ll naturally attract families and if you’re looking for a honeymoon cruise you should avoid them. Shop around, look at what is onboard and you’ll quickly learn which one suits you best.
The food is just a buffet right?
Nope. Cruise ships have huge buffets and they are among the most varied, well stocked, and delicious I have experienced – including those in hotels. With that said, you are not limited to the buffet! Dining rooms are open to seat you and give you the restaurant experience, have a three course lunch if you choose, have your steak cooked how you like it, your call. Many cruise lines carry an outdoor grill for that convenient burger by the pool, ice creameries, pizza cafes, and more. There are plenty of dining options so you wont be stuck at the buffet all the time.
I’ll get seasick
If you want to, go for it. It happens, but usually because they arent prepared. Taking ginger tablets prior to getting onboard and here and there during the cruise will make it a breeze – if the ship even rocks at all. On a Mediterranean cruise you are unlikely to even know when the ship is sailing or in port, the water is so flat and still. When we did the South Pacific around Vanuatu and Noumea though there was certainly some movement however it wasn’t a major issue. Just be prepared and look to the horizon.
After four cruises we would say we are hooked, we haven’t seen every part of the world or sailed on every ship, there are more trips to come. A cruise is something truly worth considering when planning your next holiday. I am writing this in an airport lounge while waiting for a flight to Tokyo. Sadly, I know there is a cruise leaving Sydney bound for Japan too…
We have a comments section below for anyone who has any questions and needs an honest answer from someone younger than 80. We have not taken any of these cruises as a gift or received sponsorship from a cruise company to write this article either. This is an honest and open story about cruising that needed to be written. Cruising can save you money and potentially provide you with a better holiday than you were planning.