I’ve been on a total of six cruises before, ranging in length from three-seven nights, all with Disney Cruise Line save for my second ever cruise which was with Carnival. While I’m hardly a cruising expert since I know there are some people who have been on 100+ cruises, I’d thought I’d offer up my personal pros and cons of cruising.
-You board the ship with your luggage on the very first day, unpack, and don’t have to worry about it again until you disembark. You’re not having to schlep it anywhere, it’s simply stored and forgotten about (on the longer cruises I also tend to unpack which alleviates the space constraint issue since cruise staterooms are typically smaller than the average hotel room, save for those Parisian chambres). I’ve taken two (land based) trips before where I stayed at multiple hotels in the span of a week (Peru was the winner as I stayed at four hotels in the span of a week). While obviously that trip was exhausting on many different levels (in-country flights, high altitudes to contend with, constant on the go physical activities), it was also tiring constantly unpacking, packing back up, rinse and repeat. My cruise to Norway was great as I got on the ship, unpacked, and simply stowed my suitcase under the bed.
-For most cruise itineraries, you get to see multiple destinations in one sailing. Gone is the logistical legwork of you trying to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B; the work is done for you and each day you wake up in a new destination. Although a lot of the Mediterranean ports are not near to the destinations they advertise for (i.e. the port of Florence is actually the Italian coastal city of Livorno which is over an hour’s drive), when you go on a Norway or Northern Europe cruise, the ship docks right there in said cities which means maximum time for you to enjoy the destination. As I had never been to Norway before, I loved that on my cruise to there, I was able to see four distinctly different destinations-two fjords, and two cities, one of which is quite unknown outside of the country.
(The following more applies coming from an American perspective)
-If you’re interested in visiting a country or area known for being expensive, cruising is one way to get around this simply because you’re paying for the cruise in your own country’s currency and not having to deal with exchange rates either. Norway is known as being one of the most expensive countries to visit, especially in regards to hotel rates. Well, since the cruise ship served as my hotel, I didn’t have to contend with the very strong Norwegian Kroner rates or stay at some mediocre lodging simply because it was more affordable. Not to mention, it’s a lot easier to budget for a cruise vacation since you know all of your meals and snacks are included in your sailing rate.
-Well, something that’s a pro can also be a con. While cruising is nice in the sense that you can see multiple destinations in a short period of time, it also means you probably won’t have as much time as you would like at each destination. On average, most cruise ships are in port anywhere from 7-10 hours (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter). While maybe this is fine for some ports in the Caribbean (i.e. they’re smaller), in Europe and I assume this is also the case in Asia, eight hours (and that’s saying you’re the first person off the boat and one of the last to board coming back), is no nearly enough time to do a major city justice, especially if you have to also factor in time getting to and fro the port to the city. While I by no means regret visiting Edvard Grieg’s villa and seeing the live recital too, this did mean less time in the city of Bergen. We definitely saw the highlights but we had passed by one restaurant advertising Norwegian food and this was something I so would have loved to have done, we just simply didn’t have the time to stop and dine there. It’s a tradeoff for sure.
–Cruise staterooms are known for being small, the bathrooms even tinier. (Here’s a tip-Disney Cruise Line staterooms are a lot bigger compared to other ones in the industry, another plus to sailing with them.) These are often one reason why cruise haters never want to go on one. When possible, I always try to book a more deluxe room, and in the case of Disney Cruises, this means getting a split bathroom (shower and sink in one, toilet and a second sink in the other). Sure, I’d love a bigger stateroom when sailing, but it’s just something you deal with since it’s not at all a surprise in regards to their size and you also have how much of a ship to simply be.
(The following more applies to Disney Cruises since they’re the company I’ve sailed with the most)
-It’s slightly disappointing when dining menus haven’t been updated in years. Yes, I know this is definitely a problem of one’s own making when they sail with the same cruise line. Our cruise to Norway didn’t suffer from this since it was a seven night cruise and featured different menus once past the three night mark. However, on our second Disney cruise (the three night Bahamian sailing which was our third time doing it in four years), the menus were exactly the same. Obviously for dishes that you love, it’s not that big of a deal and yet you can’t help but wish a little creativity would go into making some changes to the menu. To me, having the same options after four years just screams “conveyer belt.” I know I’m not in the industry, but I would think implementing menu changes is probably one of the easier things that can be done on a cruise ship.
Like everything in life, cruising isn’t entirely perfect. Whether or not to cruise boils down to one’s individual preferences. For me, the pros outweigh the cons and also, I’m still not someone who ever will just do one option (exclusively cruises or exclusively just land based trips). To me, I just want to keep seeing the world as much as I can, whether via ship or some other mode.