I just returned from a weekend media trip on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas. When I shared news of my trip with friends and followers, many people expressed how lucky they thought I was. But still others expressed a certain degree of cynicism – the same attitude I’ve seen echoed through many online comment threads about Quantum of the Seas, and cruising in particular.
Why cruise?, they wonder. A ship is just a giant floating resort/theme park/casino/(fill in the blank) packed with a bunch of gluttons/snobs/sick people/(fill in the blank).
Before I cruised for the first time last year, I never thought I would enjoy it, either. And – to be truthful – I enjoy others types of travel more. BUT, I have come to appreciate several things about cruising and I can absolutely see its appeal. Let me share a bit of that with you.
The Ocean Isn’t Anaheim
Maybe you can reduce a cruise ship to a floating theme park, but it’s pretty hard to reduce the ocean to anyplace else you’ve ever been. It’s incredible, being surrounded on all sides by vast waters and an open sky. It’s beautiful in a way nothing else is. The stars you see at night are unbelievable. Worried you’ll suffer from motion sickness? This is a valid concern, but you can prepare for and potentially avoid it the same way you’d watch for heat exhaustion at a busy theme park in the summer. The ocean is an attraction in and of itself with cruising.
The Ports Are Pretty Great, Too
Unlike my media “cruise to nowhere” (in which we just sailed out into the Atlantic and back), chances are you’re going to stop at some pretty amazing places during your cruise. Could you just pay the airfare and get to the same place? Sure, and rent your car, and your hotel room, and pay for your food, and do your own research on what to do while you’re there, etc. But with cruising, you almost get to enjoy a destination in a more concentrated way, since the rest of the leg work is done. If you enjoy the immersive experience of a certain port, you can always go back on your own some day.
So Much To Do, And See, and Eat, and…
Having stayed once at an all-inclusive tropical resort, I can’t argue with the fact that cruise ships are very similar. Lots of activities, entertainment, and great food. And something for just about everyone. Instead of pointing out how cruising is any different in this respect, I would just ask: is there anything wrong with that? On the short two nights we were aboard Quantum of the Seas, my husband and I tasted a variety of delicious cuisine, watched a comedy show, a full Broadway production of Mamma Mia, enjoyed listening to an awesome jazz/funk band, followed by (of all things) a Journey tribute band, rode bumper cards, played a LOT of ping pong, laughed, rested, took lots of pictures, and more. And all because everything was just a deck or two away. Talk about packing a lot of memories into a short period of time!
The People Are the Best Part
On my first cruise, more than half the occupants (about 2,000+ people) were members of a high seas motorcycle rally. On this weekend’s cruise, most of the people were media, corporate VIPs, and many of Royal Caribbean’s elite customers. Talk about a wide variety of sea mates I’ve sailed with! And I can tell you that everyone I met on both ships were fun, friendly, and entirely respectful. Maybe it’s a matter of like attracting like, but I have never met anyone on a cruise ship that I found to be rude, or a glutton, or a snob. I’ve had great conversations at dinner, on the elevators, even poolside with people from all over the world. I’ve discovered that cruisers are generally very nice folks!
The Power of Shared Experiences
I’ve been surprised both times I’ve cruised by the sense of camaraderie that occurs on a ship, and almost instantly. I’m not sure I can explain it, but being in closer proximity, trying some new and adventurous things (like riding the North Star on Quantum of the Seas!), or just even relaxing into something more familiar creates bonds with others who are having those same experiences. I’ve never felt this energy at a resort, hotel, theme park, or really any other vacation destination.
press photo of the North Star on Quantum of the Seas:
my own view from inside while riding it at sea:
That’s fair, I get it. Cruising has had it’s share of black eyes in the media, creating a sort of mass panic about getting sick on board or stranded at sea. I can’t really speak to that except to quote the CDC in saying there’s far more incidence of Norovirus on land than there is at sea (1 in 12 on land vs. 1 in 3,600 at sea). And even though many experts say cruising is a great way to get the most bang for your vacation bucks, it can be hard to put down so much money at once.
But – and I’m saying this as a former skeptic – there’s really a lot to recommend cruising. It’s very family-friendly, at the same time perfect for couples, provides memories of a lifetime and the opportunity for new adventures.
What about you – Have you ever been on a cruise? What would you say to someone considering it for the first time?