Cruising Vacations — A Great Bucket List Item

River Cruise Ship
Ama Waterways River Cruise Ship

Norwegian Breakaway Mega ship

For many of you out there, the 72 percent of you who have never taken a cruise according to the Cruise Line Industry Association, the idea of getting on a ship for vacation might seem awful to you. I admit that I would likely not  found out how much I would like cruising unless my parents had taken my sister and me on a cruise while we were in High School. My father was a WWII Navy officer, who loved ships. My mother was probably a bit scared about going on a ship. We kids just wanted to get away and have fun. Our ship was the Federico C, a 600 foot, 22,000 ton ship from the line that became Costa Cruises. The ship was the old style with three classes of tourists who had access to three different dining rooms. The ship was 10 years old when we made it our vacation destination. There were a couple of bars, and three pools, each the size of a large hot tub. Three dining rooms served the three classes of tourists.

I found people my age on the trip, and we had a blast together. We also visited 14 ports in the Caribbean and South America, and it was only my second visit to the Caribbean at that time. There were no kids activities like today, and the crew spoke mostly Italian, which made it difficult to communicate. My sister and I shared an inside cabin that was so tiny you had to go outside to change your mind. But it was the best vacation I had taken so far, and for the next 20 years, I took many other vacations and kept thinking about how great this trip was. I did not take my second cruise until more than 20 years later, in 1994.

My second cruise was on the NCL Windward before it was stretched into the NCL Wind. This was a medium size ship which our family took to the Caribbean. I was hooked on cruising after spending time on this ship. The food was great, the service even better and we visited 5 of the Caribbean islands during our 7 day trip. The Caribbean and similar locations are perfect for cruise ships since many islands are so small you can see them in less than a day. And so if you are interested in sightseeing islands without having to pack and unpack, this might be the right vacation for you.

As I travel and meet people on vacation, I often meet people who love all inclusive resorts but will never set foot on a cruise ship. Too confining, they say. Too rigid. Like being on a tour bus. Well, having been on 25 cruises on 9 different cruise lines, I can tell you that they are a great experience under the right circumstances. The cruise industry delivers vacations for millions each year, and satisfaction levels and repeat client percentages are very high. Still, according to the Cruise Line Industry, only 28 percent of US citizens have taken a cruise. So what is keeping the other 72 percent of you from cruising?
The key is matching the right cruise that matches your needs. Worried about seasickness? Try a river cruise. Hate crowds? Love going to out of the way places? Then small ship cruising is for you. Have a group from kids to grandparents? Then a larger ship with multigenerational accommodations is for your family. Love Jazz/Rock/Country Music? Then try one of the jazz/rock/country themed cruises. Love to dress up? Pick a ship with formal nights. Hate to dress up? Pick a ship with a relaxed dress code. Care more about the destinations than the ship? There are cruises where the activities on board are minimal, and the destinations are the real stars. There are ships and itineraries that cater to seniors, families, LGBT, scuba divers, country music fans, ecologists, economists, horticulturalists, physically challenged, and many other groups.  There probably is a ship that would fit you, the trick is finding the right fit. For that, you need a travel agent to assist.
The biggest advantage of cruising is the ability to see many different destinations without changing hotel rooms. The Caribbean is a good fit with cruising. Many of the islands are so small that you can visit all of the interesting places ashore in a day or less. Caribbean cruising is great because you can see almost a different country each day. This is true of the river cruises, which stop at a different city every day.

A common objection is,” I (or another family member) get seasick. I will never take a cruise.” For those people, if they like to visit smaller cities and get wrapped up in the culture, I would recommend a river cruise. These ships experience so little movement, that you are likely to miss that the ship has left port unless you look out the window. Another objection is “We would get bored on a ship.” For that couple, I would recommend one of the larger cruise ships with more activities than you will be able to pack in to your day or night. Another might be “We hate crowds and we don’t want to go to a place where a large cruise ship has docked.” For that couple, I would recommend one of the smaller yacht or sailing ship cruises. These are some of the ways a travel agent can help you find just the right cruise for you.

Our family has cruised on large ships, small ships, sailing ships, and river ships.  I loved all of them, but for different reasons. In other blogs, I will provide some insight into each of these cruises here.

Trust the travel consultants at Schilling Travel to help you get on the right ship at the right time. Call us 612-332-1100.