When I told people I was going on a cruise with my family for spring break, a common response went something like this “Nice, should be fun . . . but yeah, I’m not really a cruise person.” To be honest, I never considered myself to be much of a fan either. My husband and I had been on one to Bermuda, and while we had a blast (it was our honeymoon, after all!), we prefer the less structured and more culturally immersive experience of land-based vacations.
Fast forward almost two decades to early 2014, and spring break was on the horizon, as well as my mother’s 70th birthday. We wanted to spend a nice, stress-free vacation with my mom and my step-dad, and our kids, 14 and 11, had been bugging us to take them on a cruise. After being dragged over the years through cathedrals, museums, and ruins on various overseas adventures, they wanted to veg out. And frankly, so did we. So, we booked a cruise to the Caribbean.
I’m still not a cruise convert, but you know what? We had a great time, and I’m pretty sure this won’t be our last cruise. Here’s why even non-cruisers will love sailing the high seas.
- No Fuss Planning: Most vacations involve many layers and months of planning – from finding flights and hotels, to researching rental cars, restaurants, and activities. To be honest, I really enjoy this aspect of traveling (almost as much as the vacation itself!). But sometimes it’s nice to have all this taken care of with one or two phone calls. With a cruise, you’ve got accommodations, food, and activities pretty much taken care of under one easy booking.
- It’s Multi-Generational. There’s no better vacation venue than a cruise ship when you’ve got seven to 70 year olds to please. There’s something for everyone to do on a cruise, and because the ship is self-contained, the members of your group can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Our family always had dinner together, but after, my husband and I would often “go out” to enjoy the nightlife, while my daughters hung out in the tween and teen clubs, and my mom and step-dad called it a night.
- Non-Stop Activities. There’s always something to do on a cruise – from trivia games and karaoke, to rock climbing and even ice skating. So, if you love non-stop action, a cruise will not disappoint. My husband and I went out almost every night – to boogie in the nightclub, listen to live music, see a comedy show, or just enjoy a drink at one of the many onboard bars and lounges. And if all you want to do is relax, no problem; there’s always a deck chair available.
- Everything’s Free. Ok, not really, but it seems that way. Because you’ve paid in advance . . . well in advance, you can eat and go out to your heart’s content. With the exception of alcoholic drinks, tips, and excursions (which admittedly can add up), we rarely had to open our wallets.
- No Wi-Fi. I know, sounds crazy to include this on my list, but it was truly a breath of fresh air to be disconnected from the world for seven straight days. Unless you pay a small fortune for the ship’s data plan, there’s no wi-fi, and that means no one is walking around hunched over glaring screens, oblivious to the world. Yes, people were still taking some pictures with their phones (myself included), but for the most part, the ship was remarkably device-free.
- Vacation Ideas. I have to admit that my biggest objection to cruising is the fact that it isn’t very culturally stimulating. When I travel, I like to spend a good chunk of time in one place, getting to know the people, enjoying the varied sights, and tasting different cuisine. Pulling up to one port of call for six to eight hours simply doesn’t afford that luxury. What it does do though is give you a taste of what a region has to offer for possible future trips. I overhead one of my fellow passengers refer to a cruise as an appetizer sample platter, and I think that’s an apt description. While we didn’t experience any one destination for very long or in any great depth, it was in most cases enough to forge a favorable or unfavorable impression. I can tell you, for example, that I will never take a vacation to Cozumel; it was that bad. But, I loved what we saw of nearby Playa del Carmen. It might even be “my next big adventure.”