I’ve taken a total of three cruises. Two were the same itinerary, just on different ships, all for less than five nights. Although cruise ships sail through most bodies of water and offer itineraries that visit all seven continents (there are no direct flights to Antarctica), I’ve generally always preferred land vacations for the following reasons:
1.) For European cruises, the advertised ports of call are often an hour or more from where the ship actually docks. Many Mediterranean cruises include stops in Rome and Florence but following their names is usually in parentheses the name of the real city where the ship docks-Civitavecchia is Rome’s, Livorno is Florence’s. So when you factor in the time it takes to get to and from the destination, paired with the already short enough stays in port, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to marvel at masterpieces in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery or throw a coin into Rome’s Trevi Fountain. I’ve noticed that a lot of cruises in the Far East are much the same in terms of ports not being near the actual “destination.”
2.) Your cruise rate includes all meals, snacks and some beverages depending on the cruise line. When you’re in port you naturally want to sample the local cuisine which means that the food you’ve already paid for is being squandered. I would much prefer to choose where and when I want to eat and know that I’m only paying for a meal once.
3.) Six to eight hours is not nearly enough time to experience a place. Although a week long cruise will often stop in half a dozen ports, each stop will generally only offer a fleeting glimpse into that place’s history, feel, scent, and look. Although I do want to visit as many places as possible, I don’t want to do it at the expense of never getting to really “see” a place.
Overall, I do prefer land to sea based vacations and yet I’m sure I’ll be on another cruise again sometime in the future. For there is truly nothing more captivating than gazing out at endless miles of sea, something a land vacation does not offer.