Cruising Q&A

Q and A: Laura who works in our overseas operations department  recently went on her first cruise and wants to challenge some of those cruising myths… let’s see if we can make you a convert…

  1. I don’t travel very well, would I spend all my time getting seasick? Modern ships are specifically designed and built to reduce motion as much as possible. It would be wrong to say you won’t feel any movement at all, but this is very limited and even in choppy November seas we didn’t experience much more than a gentle, rhythmic rolling sensation.
    All the same, your travel agent will be able to help you choose a cabin whose location will reduce the risk of seasickness (normally situated lower down in the middle of the ship and with a window or balcony), and of course there are many preventative remedies and medications on the market if you are still concerned (we took several with us but didn’t need to use any).

    Outside   our home for the week
    Outside our home for the week: “Splendour of the Seas” (Royal Caribbean)

     

  2. Why would we go cruising , it ends up being a really expensive way to travel because you still have to pay for everything when you get on board, don’t you? By the time we had factored in travel costs, accommodation, three meals a day on board (which was all freshly made and of high-end restaurant standard), not to mention the level of service and the fact we got to wake up in a new place everyday, the average cost-per-day was surprisingly low. Most cruise lines don’t include drinks in the price of the cruise and we found these to be relatively expensive on board, but drinks packages are often available. The cruise lines’ own shore excursions can be expensive as well but every place we visited had a variety of locally run tours at a fraction of the cost so we either booked onto these or just did our own thing. “Cruising has a reputation for being expensive but if you’re happy to travel in low season (as we did) or at the last minute there are lots of bargains to be found”.
  3. I don’t want to spend all my time socializing with people I may not like – how would we ever get any time to ourselves? The on board entertainment wasn’t really our thing so we did spend a lot of time out on our balcony when the weather was good (I’d definitely recommend upgrading to a  balcony cabin or suite if you’re likely to spend a significant amount of time in the room). There are plenty of bars and cosy nooks where you can relax away from the masses with a cocktail or a glass of wine, and we didn’t ever feel pressured to join in with the activities.  Your cruise will be whatever you make it so if the ship’s entertainment and social events aren’t really your thing, just steer clear.

    With one of our favorite waiters on board ship
    With one of our favorite waiters on board ship
  4. Why do I have to eat at the same table , with the same people every meal time?Whilst it is true that for some, dinner in the main dining room is a social occasion where lifelong friendships are formed over pate and pork chops, many cruise lines have cottoned on to the fact that we don’t all want to troop down to dinner at the same table at the same time every evening. ‘Open’ or ‘Flexible’ dining is now available on almost every ship, meaning that your main meal can be taken at a time to suit you,and if you happen to meet other people during your cruise that you want to dine with, you can choose when and where. Tables sizes can range from a private table for 2 up to a more sociable 10+, simply indicate your preference when you book.
  5. The cruise ship will be full of people much older than us… we were surprised by the range of age-groups on board our ship. As well as a number of others in our demographic (early 30’s couple), there were quite a few young families, small groups of twenty-something girlfriends and multi-generational family groups celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. The bars are open late and many ships have nightclubs that are open until the small hours so a younger market is definitely  catered for, and some cruise lines specifically target the younger traveller. Understandably, longer cruises tend to attract an older market as the retired generations have the time (and often the finances) to be able to take advantage of such itineraries.
  6. Won’t I get easily bored being stuck on a ship all day long? Our itinerary only included one sea day but there were plenty of activities and entertainment going on, not to mention special offers and reduced rates in the spa and beauty salon. I took a pile of books with me but our one sea day was the only chance I got to open them and as a bit of a people-watcher I found the cruise ship a fascinating place to be anyway. Having said that. we definitely cruised for the itinerary rather than the ship, and in the future we will continue to avoid itineraries with too many sea days.

    Outside the Parthenon on one of our excursions
    Outside the Parthenon on one of our excursions
  7. I won’t get to see very much when I only have one day at a time off the ship… Cruising is a great way to get a taste of a place, so whilst of course you only get a limited mount of time, it’s generally long enough to get a feel for the place. In the future we’ll definitely go back to Venice and Dubrovnik, but we’re happy that the time we spent in Corfu and Santorini was enough.

Cruise Myths …

Of all the types of holidays Cruising seems to generate a stir of opinion like no other, we asked our Overseas agent Laura whether it really is a love or hate kind of break.

 

“Despite a mutual love of travel, the idea of cruising hadn’t really appealed to us before” Like many people we had a stereotypical misconception that it would be really expensive, stuffy and full of people old enough to be our grandparents, In reality – it was none of those things.

Splendour of the Seas

Our decision to finally bite the bullet was determined by one thing: The Itinerary. As well as Venice, our ports of call included Dubrovnik, Santorini and Athens, all of which were high up on my bucket list , as well as the Greek islands of Corfu and Katakolon (Ancient Olympia).

The chance to visit all of these places in one go seemed like an ideal (if temporary) antidote to our growing wanderlust and the price was attractive too… (consider that it was low season). Despite the initial appeal of time spent on shore the notion of spending a week at sea also had a unique appeal.

On board, admittedly we tended to keep ourselves to ourselves but we were far from bored. Our packed itinerary meant we were only on board the ship for the evenings and one sea day so we spent most of that time relaxing. We took our time over long dinners (our later sitting meant we didn’t have to rush out of the way for the next diners) then worked off the waistline-busting meals with a few laps of the jogging track before breakfast.

We watched from our balcony as fiery sunsets lit up the ocean like fireworks and picked our favorite bars (OK, favorite  bar staff) and frequented those for pre-dinner drinks. And on a couple of evenings, reclined on sun loungers and wrapped in blankets, we watched old movies on the screen under the stars. To be honest, for ocean-lovers like us, just being out at sea with a cocktail or a glass of wine in hand, watching the distant island float by like clouds was bliss in itself and at one point we were even lucky enough to spot a pod of dolphins playing alongside the ship – you don’t get that in many hotels.

So, in conclusion, would we cruise again? The answer is a resounding, though cautious, YES – provided we picked the right cruise line as well as the right itinerary.There are so many cruise companies on the market today, each with their own slightly different niche, that the myths and outdated stereotypes that have hindered the industry for so long are being well and truly challenged.

So whilst we wouldn’t do it for every holiday ( we still prefer the freedom and the unhurried vibe of a timetable-free holiday), we’ll definitely enjoy figuring out which cruise line suits us best.