“Aruba, Jamaica, oooh I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
Down to Kokomo
We’ll get there fast, and then we’ll take it slow,
That’s where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo” ~Beach Boys
Can you hear the steel drums playing? Imagine the palm trees swaying? Every time I hear this song, it transports me to the tropics. That’s where I wanna go…!
My husband and I recently returned from a week-long Southern Caribbean itinerary on the beautiful Celebrity Summit (see highlights and tips here), our second cruise as empty nesters, and our fifth overall. And we already have our next one booked!
Maybe you think cruising is only for the “newly wed and nearly dead” crowd. Those days are long gone! Today’s fleets of ultra-modern ships offer unique and innovative at-sea experiences appealing to people of all generations. Because of these innovations and new technology, cruise travel is exploding with a projected 27 million travelers in 2019 and even higher numbers beyond.
If you haven’t cruised before, if you’re a skeptic, or if you went years ago, read on, start planning, and get on board!
1. Budget friendly
The average daily cost per person is $212. 80. This includes accommodations, food (including room service), non-alcoholic drinks, daily entertainment, endless activities, use of spa and fitness center, kids clubs, and multiple swimming pools on larger cruise lines, and more. If you’re flexible with time, you can find even better deals. The good news is, there’s a cruise for most budgets!
TIP: Keep in mind that drink packages, WiFi, tips, excursions, spa services, specialty restaurants, and extra services are additional.
2. Multiple exotic destinations
Cruising is an ideal way to explore a handful of exotic destinations and see the world in one week or longer. Even shorter 3-4 day cruises offer interesting ports of call to explore.
3. Unpack one time
The days of schlepping a suitcase or overstuffed backpack around and unpacking/repacking every couple of days are over for me. Been there, done that! I’ll stick with cruising where I can move into my cabin, unpack once, and explore the world from there, thank you very much!
4. Endless activities or total relaxation. You pick.
If you’re the type who likes activity from morning to night, there are literally hundreds of activities every day—more than you’ll have time for! Choices include onboard sports, gambling, games, contests, stage shows, live music, dancing, art programs, and shopping. And these are just a fraction of options for activity seekers! Did I forget to mention exploring the ports?
On the other hand, if relaxing, taking in spectacular views, finding a quiet spot to read, playing board games with your travel companion, enjoying a spa day, or watching a movie is more your speed, the choice is yours. You’ll find plenty of quiet spots onboard, such as lounges, libraries and other hidden nooks and crannies where you can escape from the activity.
5. Ocean views all day
Watch the sunrise or sunset, or both, every day! Do I need to say any more…?
6. Mix & mingle with people from around the world
From crew members and passengers, to the six countries we visited, we met people from 24 different countries on this last 7-day cruise. Twenty four different countries! What a great opportunity to open your mind, increase your knowledge, learn about other cultures and customs, break down barriers, overcome stereotypes, make connections, and learn about the world through others.
7. World-class cuisine
When the subject of cruising comes up, what’s the first thing you think about? Did you think food…unlimited, mouth-watering food and delectable desserts around the clock? Yep. Same here! Recently, cruise lines have upped their game even more with incredible global cuisine and a variety of specialty or themed restaurants on board. Don’t worry about the extra calories…you can always visit the fitness center to burn them off.
TIP: Reserve dinner at specialty restaurants in advance as they are often fully booked at prime dining times, especially in peak seasons.
8. Drink packages
Gone are the days with unlimited alcoholic drinks. Much like the airlines charging for seat assignments, baggage, and food, cruise lines now sell drink packages. If you plan to let loose and drink all day, you definitely need to buy one. If you’re like me, having maybe one drink a day, then it is not worth the cost. Personally, I skip the drink packages and purchase drinks as I go, which makes me drink even less. I’d rather save my calories for the killer desserts!
9. Bring the bling!
Work attire, exercise wear, everyday clothes, or weekend garb—that’s the norm for most of us. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fun to get dolled up and go out. On a cruise, you’ll be in good company wearing your fanciest pieces, so bring the bling and wear it proud! See Cruise Outfits: What to Wear on a Cruise for style tips.
Of course you don’t have to dress up. Cruise ships have multiple options if your style is more on the casual side.
10. Something for everyone
Cruising offers an abundance of options no matter your age. Whether you’re a child, a child at heart, single, family oriented, or a grandparent, there’s something for all ages. Remember this when planning your next family reunion!
11. Theme cruises
These days, themed cruises are all the rage. Are you a foodie, fitness enthusiast, single, educationally-minded, music lover of any genre, sports or comedy fan, The Walking Dead or Star Wars buff, an explorer? Whatever your ‘thing’ is, there’s a cruise for it. There are even cruises for cat lovers. Really!
Last year, we berthed next to a Moody Blues-themed cruise! The passengers, adorned in their tie-dyed shirts and Birkenstocks, were having a great time!
12. Top-notch entertainment
Are you a fan of musicals, plays, comedy, and concerts? If so, you’ll be happy to know that excellent entertainment is offered every night and throughout the day in multiple venues on larger cruise ships.
13. Shore excursions
Have you ever wanted to visit a World Heritage site, snorkel with seahorses, rent a motorcycle, go truffle hunting in Croatia, or tour the Lamborghini factory? Shore excursions aren’t just about swimming with dolphins, parasailing, and Segway tours—although these are always options too. Peruse the shore excursion catalogue and you’ll likely find a few you won’t want to miss.
TIP: Prebook your shore excursions as popular ones fill quickly.
14. Enrichment lectures
Expand your horizons by attending lectures, workshops, or inspiring enrichment programs. Learn from notable experts or historians as they present on topics such as culinary specialties, wine or art appreciation, or participate in discussions about culture, music, history, and architecture. Lifelong learners will be delighted with the selection of enlightening offerings.
15. People watching
Who doesn’t like people watching? Take a break from all the activity, put your phone down, and just watch people. I guarantee you’ll see the person who’s the life of the party doing a belly flop or the Macarena and get a few laughs! Cruises are one of the best places to people watch.
16. Night life
When the sun goes down, you’ll find multiple entertainment options in venues across the ship. Dance the night away with live music, DJ music, or at a silent disco, where everyone dances to their own music choice using wireless headphones. Enjoy a variety of entertainers from comedy to stage productions, or mix and mingle at cruise bars, clubs, or lounges. Without leaving the ship, you can have the ultimate night on the town.
17. Duty-Free shopping
Shopping isn’t just for port days. On board, you’ll find a range of shopping from luxury boutiques and brands to souvenir shops with offerings such as exquisite jewelry, watches, fashion, whiskeys, spirits, art, and souvenirs.
18. Spectacular floating resorts
Newer cruise ships these days have all the bells and whistles you can imagine and more. Onboard spas, ice skating rinks, tennis and basketball courts, rock climbing, bungee jumping, shopping centers, theaters, multiple pools, and specialty restaurants are the new norm. Days at sea are the perfect time to explore and enjoy your floating resort.
19. No Need to carry cash on board
Stash your wallet in the safe because all you need is your Sea Pass, which is the size of a credit card. Just show your pass when you purchase items or when you eat at specialty restaurants. At the end of the cruise, you can even use it to tip cabin attendants. If you lose your Sea Pass, the service desk can easily replace it for you.
TIP: You must show your Sea Pass when disembarking and embarking in ports of call.
20. Everything is steps away
Another thing I love about cruising is how close everything is. You’re always just a few steps or a few floors away from food, entertainment, poolside lounging, shopping, or whatever. Something to consider if you or a family member has limited mobility.
21. Outstanding service
It’s nice to feel spoiled once in a while, isn’t it? That’s how you’ll feel on a cruise with attentive stateroom attendants, on-call concierge, pool butlers and servers who are always there with a smile and a helping hand to cater to your every whim. We all deserve a little spoiling every now and then!
Are you ready to set sail? If you’re trying to convince someone to go on a cruise, pass this on! Or, if you’re already on board and have more reasons to go on a cruise, I’d love to hear your questions or comments.