There is a debate among vacationers who enjoy cruising and those who’d rather fly to a resort. And then there are those caught in the middle. Maybe they don’t travel much. Or perhaps they’re undecided about cruising from all the information being thrown at them.
If this describes you, we’re going to help make that decision easier. I’m going to give you 10 of the reasons I believe cruising is the best way to vacation. Then I’m going to explain why I feel this is true.
The reasons cruises are the best vacation are:
cruises generally cost less than staying at resorts
multiple cruise lines each with a different vacation experience
variety of price ranges to satisfy your budget
visit multiple locations without having to pack and unpack
can literally travel around the word without changing hotels
All of that has to be factored into the price of your stay at one of these parks. If you choose to vacation on an island, in Mexico, or other tropical destination, expect to pay more than you would for a resort in the States.
But before you answer the question of how much it will cost at a resort, we have two things to help you decide.
First, we’ll discuss what is covered in your fare for a cruise. And we’ve even put together a chart to help you see the differences side-by-side.
To keep things fair, I selected the exact same dates for all entries. The resorts are all in Negril, Jamaica. Jamaica is in the Western Caribbean. So all cruises sail to the Western Caribbean.
Also note that the prices reflect the lowest price available. That means for cruises, all prices are for interior cabins (I’ll talk about that in a moment).
As you can see, it is phenomenally cheaper to go on a cruise.
Keep in mind that these prices do not include taxes. And in the case of cruises, the price does not include port fees. Port fees vary. But for the Caribbean, expect to pay between $50 to $150 per port.
And remember, once you’ve paid for your cruise, everything is included.
That means your room is covered. All your meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks (tea, lemonade, coffee, etc).
Your entertainment is taken care of as well. We’ll get into that more below.
So far, cruising seems to be beating out staying at a resort.
I can already hear it through the screen, “Yeah, but you can’t go to an amusement park while on a cruise ship.”
That is (partially) true.
There are more and more ships that have theme park-type rides as part of ship retrofits and new ships added to the fleet.
It’s also true that some of the same cities where cruises depart and return to are the same places where the theme parks are.
Take Orlando for example.
Universal Studios and Walt Disney World are in Orlando, Florida. What’s also there are cruise ships that leave from Port Canaveral. Cruise lines that leave from Port Canaveral include MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Carnival Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International.
You could, however, visit the theme park after you return from your cruise. Either way, you can still visit a theme park and still go on a cruise.
Now that I think about it, that’s another reason why cruises are the best vacation. You can visit the surrounding city before and after your cruise.
But there’s another reason why cruises are the best vacation.
Multiple Cruise Lines With Different Experiences
Why is it that a family might choose to go to Disney on one vacation and Universal on another?
It’s because each park offers a slightly different experience even if the rides are basically the same.
Cruise lines are no different.
If you want a straight-up party, there’s a cruise line for that. Want to go to the other extreme and wear a tuxedo to dinner? There’s a cruise line for that too.
Even if you’re somewhere in the middle, going on a cruise will give you just the experience you’re looking for.
Here’s a chart we put together to show you the differences between the different cruise lines sailing from the United States. I omitted some cruise lines because we couldn’t in good conscience recommend them to our readers:
-Inside cabin (cabins are also called “staterooms”) -Ocean view cabin -Balcony -Suite
Here’s the breakdown of each:
Inside or Interior Cabin
This cabin is one that has no windows at all. Depending on the cruise line and how new the ship is, you may have a large display made to look like a window. It will project what is happening outside the ship to give the illusion that you have a window.
This is an awesome choice for someone who loves to sleep in complete darkness.
For someone claustrophobic or who needs to see what time of day it is, an inside cabin might not be the best choice.
Ocean View Cabin
An ocean view cabin means that there is a window in your stateroom. You’ll be able to see outside whenever you want. You’ll also have shades so you can block out the light to get a good night’s rest.
A balcony cabin is one that allows you to step out onto a balcony from your stateroom. They are normally large glass sliding doors. On newer Celebrity ships, they’ve done something a little different.
Instead of having a glass door separating your cabin from the balcony, these ships integrate the balcony into the room.
So, instead of a traditional sliding door, you get a wall-to-wall window that slides up and down.
What they’re asking is if you are good with seeing something like a beam or a lifeboat when you look out your window.
If you only want to see the ocean when you peer through your porthole, you want an unobstructed ocean view. If your only requirement is to see sunlight when the sun is shining, you’ll probably be good with an obstructed view.
Another category of stateroom you’ll need to qualify is a suite.
The details vary from cruise line to cruise line and between ships within the same cruise line.
Remember I said that some suites have two floors? The reason for this is because suites have different categories. And those categories will change the price.
The names will change depending on the cruise line, but a safe naming system for suites is:
-Suite -Junior Suite -Executive Suite
Obviously, the higher the category of cabin, the more you’ll pay. Keep this in mind when choosing your cabin. If cost is a factor, an inside cabin might be more suitable. If money is no object, blow it on a suite.
Let’s not forget why we’re talking about cabin categories. This is one of the things that makes cruising the best vacation.
No matter what category stateroom you select, you still get to enjoy the ship just like the person who opted to pay more for their cabin.
Visit Multiple Locations Without Changing Hotels
If you talk to experienced cruisers, this is among their top reasons for taking vacations on a cruise.
On your average 7-night cruise, you will generally stop at no less than three ports. Think about how awesome that is?
One of our favorite cruise lines is Norwegian Cruise Line. Particularly the 10-day itinerary in the Caribbean. On this itinerary, we stopped at:
Sailing across the Pacific Ocean, the next stops would have been:
Australia (Hobart & Sydney)
The last leg of the cruise would have taken you to the Southwestern Pacific Ocean with stops at:
Papua New Guinea
United Arab Emirates
This voyage would have lasted 116 nights. That’s almost 4 months. Granted, the average working person probably can’t take that much time off from work. But if you are in a position to do that, it would definitely be an unforgettable experience.
This specific type of cruise highlights why cruising is the best vacation you can take.
If you had booked this sailing, you would have had 15 shore excursions, mealtime drink package (meaning you could order alcoholic beverages at no additional cost), and meals prepared by 10 international celebrity chefs.
All for the price of your cruise.
That leads us to….
Food Is Included In the Price
This is one where it’s a tie for staying at an all-inclusive resort on land. On both a cruise and at an all-inclusive land resort, your food will be included. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks – they’re all included.
A common trend on cruise ships is to have specialty restaurants where you do have to pay extra. It’s nice to experience. We’ve done it on every cruise we’ve been on in the last 10 years. But it isn’t a requirement in order to get great food on a cruise ship.
One misconception about cruising is that the only place to eat on a cruise ship is the buffet.
Absolutely not true!
In addition to smaller venues where you can pick up casual food from pizza to salads, one of the best places to eat on a cruise ship – especially for lunch – is the main dining room.
That’s because there are a number of passengers who are of the belief that they have to eat lunch at the buffet. But the main dining room has excellent food for lunch and dinner. This means you’ll get served very quickly because everyone else is at the buffet.
Did I fail to mention that you can get as much food as you like?
Was that shrimp cocktail tasty? Order two more. Was that desert particularly satisfying? Go ahead and order another. No one will look at you in a weird way.
These are some shots I took at Le Bistro aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ship Sky. This restaurant doesn’t come with the cost of your cruise. But talk to your travel agent. You can probably get the package included at no additional cost:
Does that mean you only have one choice to eat on a cruise ship?
No, no, no. In fact, there are more places where you don’t have to pay extra for food than there are those requiring an upcharge.
Entertainment Is Included
This item also sits in the top 5 things among cruisers for taking a cruise.
You might be thinking, ‘Is the entertainment a woman and her husband playing guitar in a lounge?’
Yes! That is one of the types of entertainment. But it’s not the only one.
Many cruise ships have Broadway and Las Vegas quality productions. Take a look at this video I shot during a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas:
Some limit the type of beverage you can get to a certain number. With others, no such limit exists.
Most cruise lines have a top tier package that will allow you to get top shelf liquor with no additional money coming out of your pocket while on the cruise.
In any case, the concerns of being out with friends and having a drink go away on a cruise ship. No one has to be appointed the designated driver. That person can enjoy a sip along with everyone else.
Before going further, let’s put out the disclaimer. We’re not endorsing or encouraging overdrinking. What we are saying is that you can have drinks just like you would on land without the concerns of driving back to your room safely.
Incredible Views Only Available at Sea
Have you ever been somewhere that you only saw in pictures? How did you feel when you were standing next to, in front of, or in proximity of that place in person?
That’s what it’s like on a cruise! Check out this pic I took while on the Norwegian Gem:
I can assure you that photos don’t come close to capturing the beauty of being on the open ocean on a cruise. Go to the upper decks at sunset. Hardly anyone will be up there. You can soak in the beauty of the sunset with the air flowing over you.
It also creates a romantic setting should there be a reason to get down on one knee.
Meet New People
Finally, cruising presents the opportunity to meet new people.
This doesn’t mean that you have to or will make lifelong friends. Although that is very common. Some being “cruising buddies” and plan to take future cruises together.
One of the things you’ll learn about people who like to cruise is that they’re all pretty much the same. You’re familiar with each other even if you’ve never met before.
A good place to experience this is wherever karaoke is held on the ship. Sure, it’s fun to see people sing songs out of tune, particularly when they’ve enjoyed a few drinks.
But believe it or not, that’s not usually when you make connections.
At some other time during the cruise, you’ll run into people you met at karaoke or some other venue. It could be in the elevator, on the way to get something to eat, or just at the bar to get a drink.
Here’s what happened to us on the Norwegian Sky, a relatively small ship.
My wife and I were in the French restaurant Le Bistro and a group of women were seated across from us. We were receiving our main entre when they sat down.
The presentation was fantastic. So they wanted to know what we ordered to see if it was something they wanted. We had a great conversation for a short spell.
For the next few days, we would periodically see them as we made our way through the ship. We’d exchange stories of things we did. Some things we didn’t even know were available on the ship. Other things we shared with them that they added to their list of things to do.
The point is, these types of interactions only happen because of being on a cruise. It’s an incredible experience that is only felt by those that have been exposed to cruising.
The fact that you’re reading this and have gotten this far means that I’ve caught your attention.
Yet, you still may have some concerns based on what you may have heard some in the media or other individuals claim about cruising.
Let’s address them now.
Debunking Cruising Myths
Anytime the subject comes up about cruising, there will always be naysayers shouting all types of reasons why cruising is bad. Arguments range from cruise ships being petri dishes to ships sinking.
So let’s address some of the big reasons some give to support their claim that cruising is bad.
One of the first things people who are against cruising say is, “Who wants to be packed like sardines on a cruise ship?” I had someone actually try to make that point before admitting he’d never been on a cruise.
I’ll be the first to tell you – cruise ships can hold a LOT of people. As an example, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas can carry 6,780 passengers.
When a person who has never been on a cruise hears that number, their instant, knee-jerk reaction is that this is a confined vessel with over 6,000 people.
Therefore, they reason, everyone will be packed together like fish in a with no ability to move freely.
There are 3 things to keep in mind if this is your concern:
1. Everyone has a cabin
The first thing to remember is that every single person coming aboard that ship is assigned to a cabin. So all 6,780 guests are not going to be wandering aimlessly through the ship.
Harmony of the Seas also has 15 decks. So even if everyone was roaming the decks all at the same time, everyone wouldn’t be in the same place.
2. Multiple places go
At any given point on a cruise, aside from the middle of the night, it’s unlikely that everyone will be in their cabin. So where are they?
Since we’re using Harmony of the Seas as an example, let’s look at what there is to do on that ship.
Things to do on onboard Harmony of the Seas include:
After that, it doesn’t feel any different than being at a large Vegas Strip hotel.
3. These ships are huge
If you work in a high-rise office building or have been in one, do you feel like you’re a fish crammed into a can?
Because that building is so large and has so many floors with many offices on each floor, it’s impossible for you to feel cramped.
The same is true of cruise ships. It too has many “rooms” in the form of bars, restaurants, a casino, pool deck, cabins, etc.
Now, I used the example of a high-rise office building to make a specific point.
Since we’ve been talking about Harmony of the Seas, take a guess as to how long it is. We’ll give you a minute.
Harmony of the Seas is 1,188 feet long. As a comparison, the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall (not including the spire). And Willis Tower (Sears Tower) in Chicago is 1451 feet long (not including the spire).
Length in Feet
Harmony of the Seas
Empire State Building
Willis Tower (Sears Tower)
Comparison of Harmony of the Seas to famous high-rise buildings
Do you see the point?
Would any of the people who claim a cruise ship – regardless of size – is cramped because it holds so many people hesitate to visit or work in the Empire State Building or Willis Tower?
So why would a cruise ship be any different? And remember, the example I used is one of the largest cruise ships in the world. The average cruise ship holds anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 passengers.
That’s fewer people than you’ll be around for a professional basketball game. The Wells Fargo Center where the Philadelphia 76ers play holds almost 20,000 people.
And yet, cruise shamers have no problem going to a pro sports game and being penned up next to strangers for 3 hours.
As you can see, this argument is made by people who have never seen the inside of a cruise ship. Hence, the claim that cruise ships pack you in like sardines is simply not true.
We’re going to address this one in the following order:
How COVID actually spread around the world
Norovirus and what the CDC says is the most likely place to catch it
Protocols for dealing with virus outbreaks on ships
How COVID Spread Around the World
The news really focused on the cases aboard the Diamond Princess. One thing a friend of mine who decided to move to Mexico told me applies here. He said, “News organizations are entertainment outlets. The more sensational the story, the better.”
So with the Diamond Princess filling television screens with a new deadly virus emerging, it was good television.
But let’s stay with facts.
Here’s the timeline of the spread relative to the Diamond Princess according to the New York Times:
If cruise ships were petri dishes ripe with disease, why is it the last place the CDC says a person could expect to catch norovirus?
It makes sense that healthcare facilities would be number one on the list. It’s where everyone goes when they have illnesses.
Restaurants and catered events grab the number two spot because “infected food workers are frequently the source of outbreaks in food-service settings, often by touching ready-to-eat foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, with their bare hands before serving them.”
Schools and childcare centers are breeding grounds for norovirus because “close quarters, shared spaces, and high-touch surfaces make it easy for norovirus to spread in schools”. The CDC says that this has led to campus closures.
Finally, we get to cruise ships.
Instead of summarizing the situation for cruise ships, I’ll just quote it:
“However, norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships account for only a small percentage (1%) of all reported norovirus outbreaks.”
Let that sit with you for a minute.
With all the attention of illness on cruise ships by the media (norovirus is the most likely illness you would come down with), people who hate cruising use this as a claim that cruise ships are disease factories.
But remember what the CDC said. “Cruise ships account for only a small percentage (1%) of all reported norovirus outbreaks.”
That means your child, niece or nephew has a much greater chance of catching norovirus simply by going to school or daycare. Would cruise haters stop sending their children to school because they “might” get the virus?
Would those same people not go to a wedding reception or eat at restaurants? After all, the CDC itself says that you run a much greater risk of catching norovirus at a restaurant than on a cruise. Second only behind disease-filled hospitals.
And how many of these cruise haters would be so opposed to going to the hospital since this is the most likely place you’d catch the virus?
Hopefully, you see the point.
Cruise ships – despite the number of people on them – is the least likely place to catch norovirus.
Protocols for Dealing With Outbreaks
It’s not a coincidence that cruise ships, each carrying thousands of passengers around the world each week only produces 1% of all reported outbreaks.
The cruise industry has very strict protocols for keeping ships clean. It’s very common to see crew members wiping down handrails, the buttons in elevators – even the outside of the elevator doors.
Instead of giving you a rundown of the protocols, I’ll tell you what happened on a ship I was on where there was an outbreak of norovirus.
First, infected people were quarantined in their cabins. The captain got on the public address system and notified the entire ship of the situation, including the number of infected.
Multiple times a day each day, the captain updated the ship.
All buffets and restaurants where travelers can select their own food came to a complete stop. Plastic wrap covered the area when a person would normally get their food from the buffet. We told the staff what we wanted and with gloved hands they put it on our plates.
At sit down restaurants, menus were wiped down before they were given to us and after we handed them back.
Crew staff enforced the washing of hands and the use of hand sanitizing stations before entering restaurants and eating areas.
The cleaning in public areas was stepped up even more frequently than normal.
Because of the effort of the crew, the number of cases went from 25 halfway through a 10-day voyage with 3,000 passengers to single digits by the end of the cruise.
As you can see, claims that cruise ships are nothing more than floating petri dishes is based on uninformed opinion and misinformation.
Cruise ships sail all year all around the world. That means that there is a high probability that a scheduled cruise will be sailing when a hurricane forms.
Because of this, some people don’t want to cruise. Not because of the possibility of being caught in a hurricane. But because of the potential of ports of call being missed because of the storm.
Here’s a helpful tip: If you want to save money when you book a cruise, sail during hurricane season. Cruise lines will offer deals to get people on the ship. And it’s very likely that the ship will not be at full capacity.
Cruise ships have sophisticated radar systems that help them to detect storms and avoid them. Remember, these ships cost tens of millions of dollars to build. Losing one would cost a lot of money and prevent future sailings. Which would be a loss of revenue.
Therefore, cruise lines have a vested interest in keeping you as far away from hurricanes as possible.
Sinking cruise ships is kind of like plane crashes. Thousands of planes take off and land all over the world every single day. When a plane crash happens, it gets a lot of attention and people get scared.
The same thing happens with sinking ships. Ships sails all over the world every day and with no issues.
In fact, if you search on Google for “how many cruise ships have sunk in the last 20 years”, the most recent information is from 2018.
And the last ship to sink was the Costa Concordia in 2012. So, if fear of the ship sinking is one of your concerns, you need not worry.
Cruising Is Awesome!
It’s hard to put into words why people are so passionate about cruising. It’s kind of like seeing pictures of Mt Everest or a blue whale vs seeing it in person.
What I can promise you is this: no matter what cruise line you select, the experience of being on the open sea with the bright sunshine on calm waters or catching a sunset on the upper decks is something you will never forget.