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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

The ‘G’ Word: Gambling On Cruises

 

The subject nobody likes to talk about (or confess to) on cruise ships is gambling. Because of its addictive possibilities, because of its seamy stories of the past, because of its long odds…gambling is something that only others seem to do.

Okay, so we’re others.

We have gambled on cruise ships and lost. We have gambled on cruise ships and won. We have never been left with the impression that the “odds” of winning are any different than they are in land-based casinos — they’re never great — and yet there are people who insist the odds are different.

This week we read a Q-and-A answer in the Detroit Free Press, by Mark Pilarski. He seems to know more about gambling than we do, which is fine, but there’s a few things in his response to a reader’s question about slots on ships that we found…interesting and/or curious.

For example:

• “It is far more difficult to know who is setting and enforcing the laws at sea. There is an organization called the International Council of Cruise Lines that offers some regulatory control. If you have a dispute, you won't likely find an ICCL agent.”

While there are rules and regs for EVERYTHING on cruise ships, this is fair comment. Our experience is that the people who operate the casinos at sea are not casino people they’re ship people, so the way they do things is not exactly Las Vegas.

• “Cruise ships have no competition, just a confined audience. The casino knows you're a one-timer on a holiday and that your pockets are full of cash. It isn't looking for repeat business because you're probably never coming back. As a one-time player, you can plan on a bruising when cruising.”

Not true. All cruise lines want you to come back, if not to that ship, to another one ofd theirs and if you’re guaranteed to take a “bruising” you not only will avoid the casino on that ship, you won’t gamble on any of their ships.

• “Avoid playing slot machines…there are plenty of other activities to enjoy besides pulling handles.”

Partly true. There are plenty of other activities, but probably none which give you even a “chance” of helping to pay for your cruise…okay, maybe bingo, also gambling. However, rare is the cruise ship that has slot machines with handles.

And what do you think?

Today at portsandbows.com: Norwegian Escape — what's new

Holland America Veendam
7 nights
March 7, 2015
San Diego (return): Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta 
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.hollandamerica.com

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