The moody Douro in Portugal.
I wasn’t always a cruiser. Oh, I went to Alaska in 2002 with a girlfriend on a big cruise ship with a couple thousand passengers. I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t fall in love with that cruise vacation. Or cruising in general.
It was my husband, an experienced ocean cruiser, who introduced me to cruising and showed me its many advantages. So let me share some of the reasons I think you should cruise for your next vacation.
1. Unpack once.
I have traveled all over the world on various tours, mostly really nice ones, and also independently without a tour. One of the biggest aggravations is having to unpack and pack again every few days and sometimes every day. But when you cruise, your hotel goes with you and that is so convenient!
On a cruise, we unpack, slide our suitcases under the bed and don’t see them again until it’s time to go home. We don’t have to interrupt our vacation to pack and unpack and our travel time each day is negligible. That means we get more out of each day: more fun time and less travel time.
The Seine, of course.
You can do a hybrid vacation, too, with time on your own and a cruise on the same trip. We cruised the Seine in 2017 and wrapped our own visits to Paris and the Loire Valley around the cruise. What a wonderful combination!
Of course, you don’t get a deep dive into a location, like I did when I spent a month in Rome. But the “survey” of various places has its own delights.
2. The price is right; the value can’t be beat.
A lounge on a Viking riverboat. Every public area has huge windows.
There is a cruise for most vacation budgets and even better — cruises are usually all-inclusive, except for alcohol. That means meals and also many professionally-led excursions are included in the one price. Sometimes they offer 2 for 1 airfare, as well. When you tote it all up, it can be a very cost-effective vacation.
Every cruise line is different. Be sure to look at outside reviews to avoid surprises. Cruisers have lots to say about size of ship, the excursions, the food, the entire cruise experience. There will always be bad reviews, but put them in context of the other reviews and decide from there. I am a fan of CruiseCritic.com
I think Viking river cruises are some of the best deals around, and they’re not paying me to say it. We’ve been on three, are taking another in September and and are cruising the ocean to Norway’s fjords and northern Scotland with Viking this summer. My first ocean cruise! So yeah, we like them.
The food is mostly quite good, the cabins are well-designed–far more spacious than I thought, with canny little cubbies for everything. Plus I’ve had great tour guides on Viking. The best historian and tour guide I ever had took us to Nuremberg for a memorable day during a Viking cruise. He was riveting and made the city and its trials come alive for me.
But there are many good cruise lines and cabins come in all price ranges. It all depends on where you want to go and what you want to spend. Viking draws the 50+ crowd and since we are in that bracket, it works for me. One cruise I dined with an 80-something woman who had been an RAF pilot–so interesting!
3. It’s relaxing.
My husband does not like to figure out what he wants to do every day or how to get there–he wants a menu of ideas and transportation. He doesn’t want to drive or plan. “No logistics!” is his rule.
I’ve done my share of internal trip logistics, but he’s taught me how much a vacation can relax you if you are not stressed about finding a site or getting there on time. And far more time for a leisurely coffee in a cafe!
When we cruised the Douro River in Portugal a few years ago I sat on the deck and watched fairy-tale castles go by. What a serene way to spend a few hours!
Or see more in less time. We cruised the Danube at Christmastime one year and got to see many of the famous Christmas markets in multiple ports — without worrying about getting lost–it was so much fun!
4. There’s something for everyone.
I think this is Porto, Portugal.
Pick a cruise with no kids if yours are grown. You won’t regret it. Pick a kid-oriented cruise if you’re bringing your family–and there are plenty.
There are big ships and small ships. Ships with entertainment and without. Themed cruises. Ships with spas and onboard activities. There are opportunities to be social or not–your choice.
Some cruises allow you to skip the planned tour and make a port visit on your own–river cruises don’t always do that, because the ship often travels down the river while you are out. You’d have to get your own transportation to the next port. But sometimes that’s not the case.
There are cruises with bike tours embedded, adventure cruises, safari cruises. Cruises come in all flavors and sizes. You can cruise for a week or even a month or more.
Check it out online–you might be surprised!
5. See exotic places.
We like to cruise Europe but you can cruise in Asia and South America too—all over! It’s a great way to see multiple places easily.
Got questions? I”m always happy to answer them! And happy cruising!