From a recent Consumerist.com article: “There are two kinds of people in the world: people who take cruises, and people who have already made up their minds that they hate cruises.” The funny thing about those folks who have made up their mind that they hate cruises? Most of them have never taken a cruise. The article also cites a Bloomberg article that delves a little deeper into the industry problems, some perceived, some real. The best thing of all in that article? The comments section.
I spend some time in this space and in personal conversations working to correct a lot of misconceptions about the cruising experience, and I’ve met some of those people who hate (fear) cruises but have never set foot on one. I’m most happy when a first-timer acts on something I’ve said here and has an enjoyable cruise. In 35 cruises, I’ve never had any kind of gastro-intestinal illness, accident, or taken a trip to the ship’s doctor. MrsMJ went to the doc once for a sinus infection and was treated appropriately. In those 35 cruises, I’ve seen some great weather and smooth seas. On the other hand, I’ve seen waves slapping over the bow of the ship with water sloshing out of the pool and staff attaching bags of sick sacks to the stair rails…thankfully, not very often because the cruise lines actively work to avoid bad weather if at all possible. Meals have ranged from 2 star to 5 star. Service has always been at least good, mostly excellent. But those things are only part of the reason I cruise. Mainly, I cruise to get away.
If you are looking for immersion in local culture, do not book a 200,000 ton vessel with 6,000 passengers. If you are looking to get away from it all, disconnect from the grid, and chill with access to decent food, a spa, and a pool….then consider booking a larger ship. But cruising is more than buffet lines and thousands of passengers. Frankly, I like being at sea feeling the breeze blow through my hair. Some of you will get that joke, but I do love being at sea. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking so forward to our first trans-Atlantic cruise. There are small ship cruises with a few hundred passengers, or river cruises with even fewer passengers that sail the rivers of Europe, China, South America, and yes, even the USA. Others spend multiple days in one port so you really can get a little flavor for the culture.
Admittedly, I may be a little spoiled by loyalty. I can ask a concierge for assistance if I need it. I can hide out in a private lounge in the hours prior to dinner, and on some ships I can even take breakfast and dinner in that same lounge. Unless I’m booking a 3-night quick get away, I rarely book the cheapest cabin on the lowest deck of the ship which may positively impact my cruising experience too. Best of all, I’ve learned to manage the schedule of when I will actually set foot in the buffet restaurant. 🙂 In the end, a cruise is mostly what you decide to make it. If you’re considering your first cruise, find an itinerary, ship and cruise line that you think you’ll like and give it a try. If you wind up not liking it, at least you can say you gave it a try.
-MJ, May 27, 2014