Why Cruising is the Best Way to Relax

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cruising is the best way to relaxI embarked on my first cruise at 17 years old with my family.  Honestly, I was pretty underwhelmed by the trip.  Our ship hopped from one Caribbean country to another, beautiful beach after beautiful beach.  Theoretically, it should have been an experience of a lifetime.  It was my first time out of the country!  But, I was too immature at the time to appreciate it.  Now, that I have cruised a few times as an adult, I contend that cruising is the best way to vacation. 

 

Ambitious Europe Trip

Shortly after I got married, I had the opportunity to backpack through Europe with my wife.  We had a very ambitious schedule which resulted in visiting eight cities in seven different countries over 16 days.  It was a wonderful and unforgettable trip, to say the least.  We started in London and then made our way through Oslo, Stockholm, Prague, Vienna, Barcelona, Madrid, and Dublin.  Phew, I’m exhausted just listing all those cities out!  

 

Midway through the trip, my wife and I hit a wall and needed a break.  We missed out on truly exploring Barcelona because it was there when we decided we couldn’t continue on with our trip until we took a pause. Hindsight being 20/20, we definitely would have scheduled in some down days, but we had never done a trip like this before to know how exhausting it would be.  

 

Even though we dialed back some of our activities midway through our trip, we still came home completely exhausted.  My wife admitted that as fun as it was, she couldn’t imagine backpacking through Europe like that again.  So we figured out another, better option for us for future trips…

 

Unforgettable Alaskan Cruise

cruising is the best way to relaxA few years back, one of my close friends was getting married in Seattle.  I live on the East Coast and wanted to make the most of being in the Seattle area.  While researching, I stumbled upon an Alaskan Cruise departing from Seattle.  I brought this up to my wife, who was not thrilled about it.  Her idea of vacation was going somewhere warm and sunny, which was code for laying by the beach and doing nothing.  This Alaskan cruise was too great of an opportunity to pass up though; it was scheduled to leave the day after the wedding. To me, it was a no-brainer.  She eventually agreed to going, and before we knew it, we were boarding our cruise for Alaska!

 

I felt a little unsure during the first two days on the cruise.  The water was rough, and I woke up multiple times at night feeling uneasy and nauseated.  I normally don’t get sea sick, so I had not brought any dramamine but was regretting that decision.  The next day when we had arrived at our first port, I quickly forgot about the sea sickness as I soaked in the beauty of Alaska.  

 

If you haven’t ever been to Alaska, it is somewhere that I highly recommend.  It was too much beauty and purity to put into words, and at a perfect 70 degrees in July, it felt ethereal.  I hadn’t ever breathed air as clean and crisp.  Our tour guide confirmed to us that our lungs weren’t deceiving us– Alaska is known for it’s pure, clean air as many of its trees are left untouched and able to regulate air quality.

 

Excursions in Alaska

cruising is the best way to relaxWhile in Alaska, we had the opportunity to go on many exciting tours like whale watching, hiking glaciers, and soaking in scenic views while floating down a river.  One of our desires on vacation was to relax each evening and stay busy and active during the day.  It was so nice not having to find restaurants for dinner each night, especially when I remember that being difficult while in Europe.  

 

Food

Sure, food can be a huge part of traveling experience.  But, there is something to be said for not having to think about it so that you can enjoy other aspects of travel.  In my opinion, when traveling with 2+ people, issues like stomach sensitivities or pickiness can really pose difficulties in finding the “right” restaurant for each meal.  Of course, I have heard horror stories about cruise food, but honestly, we were well-fed and satisfied each day.  We even had delicious lobster and steak dinners multiple nights.  

 

Transportation

Another aspect that was nice not to have to worry about was transportation from city to city.  In comparison to our Europe trip when we had to board a plane or train and move out and into new hotel rooms almost daily, it was nice to fall asleep in one city and wake up in other on the cruise. To us, this eliminated a lot of stress and allowed us to enjoy the vacation tremendously.

 

Breathtaking Mediterranean Cruise

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After we went on our Alaska cruise, we were determined to go on another cruise.  We explored a bunch of different options and settled on a Mediterranean cruise.  The Greek Isles are amazing if you ever have a chance to go.  Seeing the beautiful blue domes in Santorini and walking around the cobbled streets of Crete were sights to see that we will never forget.  On top of that, before Turkey started to have heightened security issues, walking through the Biblical town of Ephesus where the Ephesians lived was truly amazing.

 

Booking Cruises

Something I don’t quite understand is why people prefer to book cruise trips through the cruise line instead of doing ten minutes of research on the internet.  I think starting with the cruise line is wise.  That way, you can get a price baseline.  Sometimes, however, going through a travel agency can save you quite a bit of money.  For example, we recently booked a cruise through an agency, Cruise Brothers, and it ended up saving us around $300.  And, it involved nothing extra from us other than taking a few minutes to call around different agencies until we found the lowest price.  

 

Booking Tours

trolley-831718I always start with the “Things To Do” tab on Trip Advisor.  There, you can quickly look through the best-rated tours and activities and read through countless reviews by fellow travelers.  Plus, you can even find tours that the cruise ships normally don’t advertise, which are almost always cheaper.  I found that on average, certain cruise ships markup tours by 50%.  

 

The cruise line also tries to promote these activities as the best of the best.  They assure you if the tour guide is late returning to the ship, you won’t get left behind.  One look on TripAdvisor will provide ample feedback of tour guides and activities.  And, if you think about it, a late return by a tour guide would result in essentially ruining their business with all of the corresponding negative reviews.  So, there is a huge incentive for them to abide by the cruise ship’s strict departure policy.

 

Affordability

In my opinion, cruises are extremely affordable vacations.  Plus, you can see multiple cities and countries in a relatively short span of time.  My wife and I scour websites like cruise.com, cruisesheet.com and cruisecritic.com to find the best deals before calling around to travel agencies.  The past two cruises we were able to book for less than $100 a day.  I’ve even seen last minutes deals on cruisesheet.com for cruises costing less than $50 a day to great locations.  It’s hard to say no to that price!  There is no way that we would have been able to afford these accommodations if we tried to book separate transportation, hotels and restaurants.  

 

cruising is the best way to relaxWith all that said, my wife and I recently had a baby.  I don’t know if we’re crazy or not, but we booked a cruise this fall to New England & Canada.  Since we have had such great experiences to date with cruises, we thought we’d take a chance.  On a quick side note, most cruise lines charge full price for a child of any age, so make sure you are aware of this before booking.  I’ll be happy to share my experience afterwards.

 

How do you keep your vacations affordable and stress levels low?  Finally, have you ever splurged on a vacation, and was it worth it?  I look forward to your comments below.

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8 Comments

  1. Great article!! I agree wholeheartedly cruises are the best value when it comes to convenience of food, transportation and service.

  2. I was sold on cruises (after just a couple of short european cruises) until I spent a week in Jamaica. I know that if I’d done a Carribean cruise, the excursion I would have done would have been Dunns River falls… and I would have left feeling fairly underwhelmed by Jamaica. A week there, and a number of other, better excursions made me fall for the island and put me off cruises for the time being. Last year, we hired a car and took in Porto, and Santiago de Compostela, with a few chill out days on the Galician coast. It’s a really tough balance between seeing the things you want to see and having the time to experience a place! I would love to go to Alaska and the Norwegian Fjords and for both places, I reckon a cruise will be a better bet.
    Sarah @tortoisehappy.com recently posted…Why your ‘simple’ resolution isn’t easyMy Profile

    • That’s really interesting that you say that. My wife and I have both done Caribbean cruises that we didn’t love. But have done European cruises that we absolutely loved.

      Having done an Alaskan cruise I gotta say it was absolutely amazing. The air in Alaska just smells differently.

      My wife and I visited Oslo a couple of years ago, my great-grandparents are Norwegian so my wife humored me and we went but I really want to visit the fjords in the future.

      There’s so much traveling that I wanna do an not enough time.

    • That was our favorite part too. Waking up in a new destination was fantastic. Having backpacked around Europe it’s definitely easier to wake up in a new city than jumping on a train or flying. So we are definitely big fans.

      Hope you all had a blast in Barcelona. We loved it there!!!

  3. I haven’t been vacationing much for the last couple of years due to the arrivals of my two kids. They are quite a handful and I still haven’t figured out how to make things work yet. I have never been on a cruise as I am afraid of getting sea sick. I would love to go on a Disney cruise with my wife and kids in the near future. How did you like your last cruise to Canada?
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    • I did a follow up on the cruise to Canada with a on year old. For us, while we enjoyed the cruise it was a bit hectic at times with an active one year old. So we’ll probably pass on cruises until he’s older.

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