Cruising is divisive.
But many people who think they hate cruising, haven’t been on a cruise. They just think they will hate it.
Perception doesn’t always equal reality. The things people think they hate about cruising can be turned around with good research and ship selection.
You don’t have to go big
Some cruise ships are really like skyscrapers on their side. The lettering of the cruise ship name could be bigger than you. We get it – that can be daunting. Many people who say they hate cruising often have a fear of being stuck at sea with hundreds of other people and never being able to escape.
But you don’t have to go on a huge cruise.
Some cruise ships have dozens rather than hundreds of passengers on board.
Smaller ships allow access to more remote areas. These ships won’t have the Broadway-style shows and the mid-night ice-cream bars. But they will allow you to experience destinations in a way that can’t be done on land. Think watching slow-moving tortoises in the Galapagos Islands or witnessing the power of Western Australia’s Horizontal Falls. Both of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences are best done on a small cruise.
You can escape
Even if you do go on a large ship – you can escape the crowds.
At any given time, a cruise ship has multiple places to go. You can hang out in the restaurant, or the pool. With so many different locations, you’re never actually confronted by the sheer numbers of people on board.
Really, this is no different to a land-based resort. It’s just all-inclusive. And on water. And it has all-day ice cream. The kids love it. Plus – many cruise ships have Kids Clubs and Adults Only areas. So you can escape from the kids for a while.
Some places are better by sea
Some places in the world are just better by ship The wild glaciers on the coast of Alaska, the Antarctic, the Norwegian Fjords or Australia’s Kimberley Coast are three places that come to mind.
In Europe, many cities were actually designed to be approached by water. Think Budapest and Venice. You don’t get that experience when you fly into a city and drive along a dull freeway.
A cruise is the only way to see the Galapagos. This island has no humans. It’s an ecological blip that has wildlife seen no-where else on earth. You won’t see it unless you cruise.
On smaller expedition cruises, you can expect expert-driven excursions with scientists, historians or seasoned pros. You will learn more about the destination on a cruise than you could learn on your own.
Imagine how cool it would be to see dolphins with a marine biologist? You can do that on a cruise.
A cruise is a sample
A cruise is like snacking on a country. You sometimes see parts of a country that you would never have known to plan. You will often find hidden gems that you love.
In sampling a country – you can find what you want to come back and see. You can also build in more time in the big cities you want to see at the end of the cruise.
Pick excursions that suit you
If you hate the idea of masses of tourists swarming local towns and pushing all the prices up – don’t do that type of cruise.
You can find smaller cruise ships that travel to ports most cruise ships can’t get to.
Un-cruise adventures, for example, has adventure and river cruises on eight ships that hold between 22 and 88 passengers. This line doesn’t do huge port stops. They prefer to pause at inlets and bays that offer greater exposure to nature and wildlife.
The point is, no matter what type of adventure you like – there’s probably a cruise ship that does it. You need to find what works for you rather than rule out cruises completely.
Imagine taking a holiday and not having to actually plan much of it at all. That is cruising.
The cruise company will help plan the trip. You don’t have to worry about food or how to get from one place to the other. It’s all done for you. All you need to do is show up.
Plus, you can see multiple destinations and only unpack once. And anyone who has had to pack a child’s suitcase after a few days in a hotel knows – that is a huge advantage.
If you have been on a cruise, you then get a heads up about other exclusive cruises. Some of these cruises are so popular they are booked years in advance.
At sea days – what to do
At sea days are sometimes the best part.
It’s not like you are in prison. Cruise ships have plenty to do – just as much or more than any resort.
On sea days, you are forced to relax in a way that you may never do. You don’t have a sense of guilt – thinking you must be off visiting another famous landmark. It’s totally OK to read a book and drink a cocktail while the kids try out indoor skydiving.
The kids love using the ship’s facilities. Every parent knows kids often say the pool or the resort waterpark was the best bit of the holiday. On a cruise ship they have so much to choose from – surfing, skydiving, waterslides, pools, the games room.
Slow down – ditch the WiFi
Sometimes forced disconnection is great for you.
You can pay for WiFi on board – but it can be expensive. So why not limit your web access. On cruise ships, you will notice fewer people are scrolling Instagram on the sun lounge. You won’t see everyone on their phones. Limited internet access forces you to live in the moment. Read a book. Pay attention. Be present.
Embrace the uncool
If you go and sing karaoke in front of a bunch of 70-year-olds and embrace the moment with a few cocktails – you’re going to have a great laugh. Let go. Don’t worry about how you look. Those moments make incredible life stories.
You don’t have to rush
Some people worry they will be rushed on a cruise. If you think you don’t have enough time in a city, you can always go back. On a cruise, you can sample, dip into a place for a while. If you like it, you can come back. If you hate it – you are gone in a few hours.
Do your research
You don’t always have to do the guided tour. If you do your research before you go – you will know what you want to see. That way you can decide when to use the cruise tour and when you don’t really need them.
If you feel the need to be in control – you can plan your own shore excursions – just make sure you get back to the ship in time.
Pick the right room for you
If you are worried about seasickness, you will want to be close to the middle of the ship – that’s the most stable part. The bigger the ship – the more stable it is.
Speak with a cruise expert before you book. Family Travel has one – call 1300 404 100. They can help you find the right room for you. Not all rooms have windows. Some fit big families, others are built for solo travel. Balcony rooms are great because they allow you to have your own space and a place to sit down away from the other passengers.
Seasickness and much dreaded stomach bugs are two big reasons people tend to shy away from cruises. If you suffer seasickness a visit to the doctor before you travel should see you armed with plenty of anti-seasickness medication that will alleviate the worst of it, even on rough sea days.
And when it comes to stomach bugs, from what we’ve seen, cruise ships are actually up there with the most pedantic when it comes to cleanliness, hand sanitiser and health practices. Make sure you educate your whole family about best hand washing practices and you should be able to enjoy your cruise healthily and happily.
Of course, if you’re looking for more detailed information about how to be cruise aware, Smartraveller has a whole section dedicated to it on their website. Check it out for more detail here.
Travel allows you to get outside your bubble. It makes you realise there are other ways to do things, and that’s OK. Plus, I am a huge fan of skiing and for the best powder – you need to head overseas.