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Cruising…And What IS To Like

As a follow-up to yesterday’s blog — Cruising, What’s Not To Like? — we thought it made sense to point out why we do like cruising. Again, at the risk of stating the obvious, these come from a long list of “likes” that have emerged from years of being on cruise ships… 

The value: When you add up the costs of flying, renting a car and eating, you’re probably getting close to what you’d spend on taking an average cruise with an average cabin on one of the big ocean ships. If you want to spend more — as you would for business class or a bigger car — you can upgrade from inside stateroom to oceanview to balcony to suite, but none of that compares to sitting in a coach-class airplane seat for hours.

Seeing the world: There are usually borders to be observed (Caribbean, Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, etc.) but cruise ships make it easy to go to an area and see many places Venicethat would be more problematic to reach by air or on land. Beyond that, with re-positioning cruises you can really “do” a lot of places if that’s your motivation and while we haven’t been on one we imagine that around-the-world cruises are easier for the same reason.

Food: Another subjective one, but we could count the bad meals (or mediocre meals) we’ve had on cruise ships. Considering the mass number of people that have to be satisfied, with different tastes and allergies, cruise-ship chefs do a remarkable job of keeping everybody happy,.

Unpacking:  Whether it’s an ocean cruise ship or a river cruise ship, being able to unpack your suitcases and leave everything in the same place for a week or more is like staying in Room-Verandaa hotel for that length of time. The difference is that these hotels are on the move and consequently, so are you. Maybe that’s why people call cruise ships floating hotels!

Options: When you’re on a ship, you can do as much or as little as you like. We tend to do much. We’re more likely to be found in a theater for a show or on a shore excursion than sitting in a stateroom or a bar or library. But having all the options is appealing.

People: Everybody’s different, of course, but we’ve made many friends among crew members who work on ships. While we’re not anti-social, we do find people working on ships and living in ports more interesting than fellow passengers. We’ve made a few friends there, too, but the social aspect has never been a motivation for taking a cruise.

Getting there: In this age, flying has become much less fun. We usually still have to fly to get to a port, but imagine how many flights you’d take if you wanted to visit Peru, Chile and Argentina — or France, Italy and Spain — on one trip.

And those are just the high points!

Today at portsandbows.com: Check our our report from Vietnam on the Amadara

Holland America Veendam
7 nights
September 26, 2015
Quebec City, Charlottetown, Sydney, Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston
Inside: $729
Cost per day: $104
www.hollandamerica.com

Your Cruise Can Be Busy…or Not

One of these days, maybe one soon, we're going to go on a cruise and see how little we can do. It's not really our style, but maybe it's our vicarious wish.

That's one of the beauties of taking a cruise. You have options. Participate in as many activities as you can, or as few. We often tell friends who have never been on one that you don't have to succumb to all the features cruise lines use to sell you on being there in the first place. It's one of the few times in life where, really, you're in control.

Always anxious to find ways to make their ships into floating entertainment centers, cruise lines continually come up with what you don't expect on a ship because, for one thing, they want to attract passengers young and old, fit for fat, rich or poor. They want everybody.

So…

You can zipline, if that's your thing, or you can read a book (there's even a library).

You can dress up for meals at expensive and expansive restaurants, or you can dress down and eat at the cafeteria.

You can drop at seemingly supersonic speed down a chute they call a waterside, or you can sit by the pool and fall asleep.

You can party until the bars close and the music dies, or you can relax on your balcony while the sun sets.

You can get that cardiovascular workout at the gym, or you can practice your putting.

You can sit in the sea of activity that's on every cruise ship, or you can find a quiet spot on the deck where there is nobody.

You can go onshore and visit the locals on the way to taking a shore excursion, or you can stay on the ship and soak up the views.

After all, it is your cruise so you should do whatever you makes you happy, whatever makes it a good vacation for you.

Even if that's nothing.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Un-Cruising and wine on the river

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
September 8, 2014
Miami (return): Grand BahamaNassauGreat Stirrup Cay
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $42
www.ncl.com

Cruising With Teenagers — What a Trip!

In the never-ending pursuit of attracting families to ships, cruise lines are always searching for ways to appease the teenagers because, really, that's where the problem lies. Anybody who doesn't think so hash't parented a teenager.

We love teens, of course. What parents today have to tolerate is what our own parents tolerated: that the transition from being a kid to being an adult, and all that comes with it. Rebelliousness and rejecting authority are part of developing your own voice and your own beliefs, and part of growing up, aren't they? To parents, that sometimes is a black and white issue…you say black, your teen says white. Or vice-versa.

To assist families in the midst of bridging that growth to adulthood, cruise lines have developed a long list of activities. Rock climbing. Surf-riding. Zip-lining. Video gaming. Simulated sky diving. Private "lounges" without the alcohol. Water slides. If there is something the wise people at cruise lines haven't thought of yet, they will.

It's all designed to give families with teenagers the perfect vacation together by having something for everyone, so that every family member goes home saying what a great trip it was…even the teenagers.

Let us know how that works out…

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Surprise refurbishing for Carnival Magic

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas
12 nights
November 1, 2014
Cape LibertySan JuanSt. ThomasSt. MaartenCuracaoGrand CaymanGalveston
Inside: $899
Cost per day: $74
www.royalcaribbean.com

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