If you've never been on a cruise before, you've probably heard stories from your coworkers, friends and family who have gone on cruises and shared photos and stories of their adventures, and you might have wondered, "Is a cruise right for me?"
There are several factors to consider when determining whether you would like a cruise -- and people sometimes have concerns about whether they would enjoy being on a boat for a few days or even a week for the first time. (Spoiler alert: many first-time cruisers who had these concerns before they planned their first cruise end up booking their next cruise before they even leave the ship.)
We'll break down some of the biggest advantages to cruising, and why it's an ideal vacation for many people. Let's face it: Cruising isn't right for everyone. But here are several reasons it might be right for you.
- Reason 1: You're looking for an affordable vacation.
- Reason 2: You're happy to leave vacation logistics up to someone else.
- Reason 3: You enjoy meeting new people.
- Reason 4: You're looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation.
- Reason 5: You don't want to be bored.
- Reason 6: You're traveling with a group.
- Reason 7: You're traveling alone.
- Reason 8: You want to explore multiple places.
- Reason 9: You hate packing and unpacking (and you love to bring lots of shoes).
Reason 1: You're looking for an affordable vacation.
If you tend to travel on a budget and are looking for a reasonably priced vacation, a cruise can be an excellent deal. Considering that this semi-"all-inclusive" vacation rolls in the price of your food, lodging and entertainment, the biggest cruise ships can offer a great value.
Yet, you can also choose how much you want to spend for smaller vs. bigger cabins, drinks, fancy meals and tours, so you can tailor the vacation to your budget and not pay for things you're not using. Cruise lines also allow you to save up for your trip and chip away at your final price in installment payments, so you have a more realistic idea of your total vacation cost (versus land vacations where all your costs are a la carte).
Reason 2: You're happy to leave vacation logistics up to someone else.
Many people get tired of the analysis paralysis that comes from having to make an overwhelming number of decisions in their daily lives. They are looking for a vacation that helps them to step away from having to constantly steer the ship, so they can truly relax and recharge. If this is you, a cruise is the right choice. Once you make a few basic decisions about where and when to go, the rest of your vacation is set.
Reason 3: You enjoy meeting new people.
Though theoretically you could go on a cruise and never get to know anyone new, part of the fun of cruising is mingling with your fellow cruisers, as well as the cruise staff. Many frequent cruisers have made new friends while cruising, whether it's the family they dined with every night at dinner, the partner they teamed up with at trivia or the Cozumel bartender they visit every year while in port.
It's not unusual to hear stories of former strangers meeting up annually for vacation with their now-lifelong friends. Cruise ships are like traveling cities full of people who are happy to be on vacation -- and this tends to lend itself to some great conversations with people from around the world.
Reason 4: You're looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation.
The beauty of cruises is that you can choose the one that fits your vacation agenda. Want to sleep in late and lie in the sun with a frosty drink most days? Choose a Caribbean cruise that offers plenty of beach time and days at sea, which can be the ultimate in no-stress, no-agenda traveling.
Some people get antsy at the thought of doing nothing (see Reason 5), so an ideal itinerary if you're like that might be one that hits a lot of major sightseeing stops, such as a European or Asian cruise. And choose a larger ship with plenty of daily activities.
Maybe your partner fits into one category and you fit into the other. This is another reason why cruising can be a great choice. One of you can lounge about the pool deck while the other runs from event to event. In port, you can choose different tours, or do an active excursion one day and have a leisurely stroll around town or beach day on another.
Reason 5: You don't want to be bored.
When you've had enough of dozing in the sun and relaxing in the ship's spa, there's a full slate of activities should you prefer some organized fun. Nowadays, cruises -- especially on the biggest ships -- offer so many options you couldn't possibly get around to all of them, even if you tried your hardest.
Onboard amenities include rock climbing walls, water slides, escape rooms and movies under the stars, while programmed activities range from sporting and casino tournaments to book clubs, cooking and wine tasting classes, trivia games and guest lectures. It's all available to you if you want -- or you can just continue to take up your rightful place on your deck lounger.
Reason 6: You're traveling with a group.
If you have ever traveled for a family reunion or taken a multigenerational vacation, you understand that the logistics of wrangling a large group of people can be headache-inducing. A cruise can be a great choice for you because it offers lots of options with minimal hassle.
Your group can plan out set meet-up times for meals or other activities, while also allowing flexibility for individuals or smaller groups to enjoy time by themselves. A cruise will have activities that cater to different ages and tastes, from the most active members of the group to the least. Plus, onboard childcare and kids' clubs are a huge draw for the people in your group with kids.
You can prearrange to have a large table or group of tables for your party at dinner, without making reservations at separate venues every night. Ships even offer cabins that connect or have multiple rooms to house families, as well as rooms at a variety of price points for group members on different budgets.
Reason 7: You're traveling alone.
Conversely, if you're traveling by yourself, cruises can also be a great choice. Solo travelers find that cruises provide a comfortable and safe place to make a home base from which to venture out and explore. When cruising alone, you can get to know other travelers according to your comfort level. Many cruise lines cater to solo travelers, offering mixers and seating solo travelers together at mealtimes, so traveling alone doesn't have to mean you're lonely.
Related: Best Cruise Lines for Solo Travelers
Reason 8: You want to explore multiple places.
Perhaps the thought of visiting many cities across Europe, Asia or Central and South America is a little intimidating. Not only is there a lot of research involved in where to visit, but you also have to figure out the logistics of getting from city to city, where to stay, where to eat and how to get around.
A cruise is a great entree into multicity travel. All of the logistics have been planned out for you already, so you can hit the ground running when you arrive in port, rested and well-fed. If you're not comfortable navigating on your own, you can sign up for a tour run by the cruise line. While we encourage travelers to sample local food in port, you can always come back to the ship for lunch if foreign food isn't your thing (or you're worried about explaining a food allergy in another language).
Reason 9: You hate packing and unpacking (and you love to bring lots of shoes).
Packing and unpacking is an unpleasant chore for most people, and taking a cruise allows you to keep your effort to a minimum. You'll pack before your trip; unpack onboard the ship; repack at the end. Easy.
Conversely, if you were to take a trip on your own that visited several cities, you'd be unpacking and repacking every few days. And you'd have to leave behind your collection of cute shoes and electronics in favor of lightness and portability. This becomes even more challenging if you're traveling across different climates.
The "unpack once" factor is one of the biggest benefits of cruising for many people. Cruise lines are continually working to make packing for a trip as painless as possible, by offering programs that ship luggage from your home to the ship and vice versa, and relaxing onboard dress codes.