Why You Should Try A Cruise Holiday

We will soon be going on our fourth cruise so I think I can probably now admit to being a bit of a fan.  However, I really never thought that this would be the case.  I very reluctantly agreed to go on our first cruise holiday when Master ATWWAH was eight months old and it did reinforce some of my negative stereotypes – there were quite a lot of older people (we were cruising from Southampton in March to the Canary Islands so I figure there is a good reason why there were lots of pensioners) and it was a bit too organised in terms of set dining times.

A year or so later we decided to try a Greek islands cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and it did change my opinion of cruise holidays so much so we recently got back from a Mediterranean cruise and later this summer we are off on another one from Barcelona and heading to Italy, Majorca and France.

Now I’m a cruise convert it means I become annoying when people talk about cruise holidays and why they wouldn’t want to do one and I have become a bit evangelical so here is the lowdown on why I think you should try a cruise holiday.

You can visit four or five countries in one holiday but only unpack once

Even a 7 night cruise usually involves four or five port stops which means you can visit a range of different places on the same holiday – on our last cruise we started in Venice, went to Dubrovnik, then onto Athens, with a day in Kusadasi, back to Croatia with time in Split and finishing back up in Venice.

It means that every day is an adventure as you explore somewhere new.  And, being on a cruise means you can decide how independent you want to be.  Every port stop has excursions which you can book through the cruise operator or even at the destination so you can be a proper tourist if you like and have someone show you all the highlights so you don’t miss anything.  Or, if like us, you don’t like the idea of being herded around on your holidays you can explore somewhere at your own pace and go and see what you want to do.

You can get a taster of where somewhere is like

We loved Dubrovnik and Split on our last cruise which has meant we would now like to go to Croatia and explore some more using one of those places as a base.  Port days usually last a few hours, although some cruises do have extended port stays either overnight or for a couple of days, so you do get a feel of a what a place is like.

Croatia

How could you not fall in love with Dubrovnik?

If you don’t like flying you can get a cruise from your home country

We have only cruised from the UK once but it was really easy.  We drove to Southampton in the morning, unpacked the cases from the car onto a luggage trolley, left the car in the car park, checked in and were on-board within an hour and the holiday had already begun as even though we hadn’t left the UK we had already arrived at our accommodation.

When we got back to Southampton the ship docked at about 6am and we walked off the ship at about 8am after a leisurely breakfast, collected our cases from baggage reclaim and went straight to the car and drove home.  It was brilliant.

And, another bonus when you are travelling with babies and young kids is that there isn’t really a baggage allowance when you go on a ship so if you are sailing from the UK you can pretty much pack the kitchen sink if you want.

There are lots of different accommodation choices

Cruises are still not the cheapest holidays although you can get some great deals if you book last minute and off-peak.  But what they do offer you is a range of accommodation options which can suit lots of budgets.  They are great for the single traveller and a couple of cruise operators now offer studio accommodation with no premium charged for being a solo traveller.

The majority of ships also offer family accommodation in the form of suites and villas or if your budget is more limited you can get inter-connecting or facing rooms.

Admittedly the décor on some ships is a bit cheesy although I stopped noticing it after a day or so on the Norwegian Jade.  And cruise operators are trying to attract more families and singles so often refurbish their older ships and make them look more modern.

There is tons to do on-board

When you’re not in port there is no excuse for anyone to say they are bored when they are on the ship.  There is so much to do, both indoor and outdoor.  Not only do you generally get what you’d expect from any five star hotel such as a good sized swimming pool, gym, library and spa there are extras such as climbing walls, viewing platforms, waterparks, ice rinks, cinemas, shopping arcades, casinos, running tracks, theatres and bowling alleys.

Not forgetting that almost all cruise operators now operate kids clubs from the very youngest children to teens with whole programmes of activities to keep them entertained and help them make friends.  The kids clubs are often open late into the evening too so that parents can go and eat without the kids or enjoy a show without worrying about the older kids being bored.

theatre

Mini ATWWAH, rice cake in hand, waiting for the show to begin

There are lots of dining options and you don’t have to sit with strangers or eat at certain times

Most cruise ships have more restaurants on-board than you have days in your holiday so there should be no excuse about getting bored at the holiday buffet by day 3.  For the more traditional cruise holidaymaker you can eat 24 hours a day in certain restaurants and get dressed up to the nines for dinner.  But operators have cottoned on to the fact that if they want to attract a wider market they need to cater for people with more relaxed approaches to dining – flexible dining times, no dress codes in certain restaurants and sitting with the people you came away with rather than not sharing a table with strangers.

They are a good multi-generation holiday option

If you like holidaying with your extended family then a cruise is a great option as there is something to entertain everyone and lots of space on-board to do your own thing too.

It’s romantic

One night on our recent cruise Mini ATWWAH was fast asleep and I was sat on the balcony with a gin and tonic while Mr ATWWAH bathed Master ATWWAH.  They came out to join me just as the sun was setting and despite Master ATWWAH being there it felt so romantic and lovely.  We can watch the sun setting any day at home but there is something different about watching it from your own private outdoor space but in the middle of the ocean.  I felt like we were the only people who mattered but also so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

So, have I convinced you?  Are you going to click away soon and type ‘cruise holidays’ into your search engine?  If so, I have just one piece of advice for you:

Cruises are a bit like finding ‘the one’, you have to do a bit of searching around but the one for you is out there somewhere

Before you book, do your research.  If, like me, you don’t have the time to dress up for dinner every night as you are too busy looking after two children and a husband then check the dress code section for the ship you are going on.  If you don’t fancy sharing the ship with a load of pensioners then avoid off-peak sailings to the Canary Islands from Southampton.

There are loads of great places to look for honest reviews on cruises. I find this site helpful, a bit like a TripAdvisor just for cruises.  Some of the reviewers are cruise fanatics and use lots of jargon but there are great sections on first cruise holidays and so on which should give you an idea of what to expect before you book.

And one of my favourite cruise bloggers is Danielle at CruiseMiss, definitely worth a look if you want to find out more about cruises.

If you liked this post you may find these cruise related ones interesting too:

Things to do with kids on the Norwegian Jade

The Owners Suite on the Norwegian Jade

Our Greek Island adventure

 

 

 

 

 

29 Comments
  1. Sounds just fab!

  2. I completely agree! I visited four destinations in about six days on a Caribbean cruise with my daughter, then about 16 months. There is no way I could (or would) have done that on land. I haven’t tried NCL, although your descriptions are really tempting, but I’ve been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean and they are both fantastic with kids.

    I always think of it a bit like a large floating resort, so you have all the facilities (usually more), which then gets up and moves every night so you get a taste of a lot more places.

  3. My parents are recent cruise converts and now they can’t get enough of them, they’re even going on a mystery one in August and have them booked years in advance. They certainly agree that there’s so much on board, maybe one day I’ll try one – I like the idea of being able to see more without the hassle of airports! #mondayescapes

    • Thanks for your comment Stephanie. A mystery cruise sounds very intriguing, I’m not sure I’m that brave. I wonder where it will go?

      Cruises are definitely a great way to see multiple places in one holiday without lots of driving or flights. #mondayescapes

  4. Interesting – my mum loves cruises, as does my brother and his wife. Im coming round to it – and where you’ve been (especially Dubrovnik) looks beautiful! #mondayescapes

    • Thanks Megan. I think if you find an itinerary that interests you then a cruise is a great way to spend a holiday. #mondayescapes

  5. The idea of a cruise is really starting to grow on me!!

  6. Yes I’m one of those annoying people who says she will never go on a cruise holiday, but after reading your post, you have me intrigued. Actually, it sounds like something my kids would love. It’s so difficult to keep them all entertained while on holidays. I’m glad you got to visit Croatia and I hope you do get to return. It’s my favourite country to visit (my family is from there so yes there is a bit of bias in that comment!).

    • Thanks for your comment Natalie. I’m glad my post made you intrigued and I can’t imagine many kids who wouldn’t enjoy a cruise as there are loads of things for them to do on most ships these days.
      I loved Croatia, I hope you get to visit there often. We’ll definitely return.

  7. Great reasons!
    I still haven’t taken a cruise, but I certainly want to do it one day 😀
    I always wanted to do it in the Caribbean 😀

    Happy to have you on #MondayEscapes

  8. I went on my first cruise last year and it completely overturned my preconceived prejudices about cruising. I was with my daughter (15 at the time) and we both really enjoyed it. The best thing for me was being able to see so many different places in one trip, in comfort.

  9. Still haveb’t been on a proper cruise. Can’t wait to read all about your last one!

  10. You had me at the packing! Having just done a 2.5 road trip where we stopped in six different places I can now see the value in only having to unpack (for a family of 5!) the one time! I’ve heard good things about NCL so maybe it’s time for us to try one out.

    • Wow, that is a lot of packing and unpacking. I definitely recommend NCL for families, it’s just very laidback.

  11. I really could fancy a cruise holiday – we tried a mini cruise to Amsterdam over Easter and loved it. Not even that expensive on board. I think they are great as the travelling is actually part of the holiday too.

    • I’m sure you would all love it. And I agree about the expense. Most of the time you’ve paid up front for food and drink so it’s a bit like an all inclusive. Service charge can be a bit of a surprise sometimes but I think if you check before you book then it will be fine.

  12. Fantastic post. I have always wanted to have a cruise holiday and this post has made me want to go even more! Love that every day is an adventure and the options to see so much more is part of the cruise. Disney cruise would be top of my list 🙂

    • Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. You are brave suggesting a Disney cruise, I’m not sure I could handle so much Disney every day.

  13. I am absolutley converted after 3 magical weeks with Carnival as a family. I have my eye on Alaska and Norway now, such an incredible way to travel as a family. You are right, so many myths out there, yet the benefits to families are huge!

    • I loved reading your Carnival posts. We definitely want to do Alaska when the boys are older. They are a brilliant way to see the world and get tasters of a place.

  14. So interesting, because I am one of those people who would annoy you by saying that I didn’t really want to go on a cruise! My kids are very keen though and you do make it sound tempting. Perhaps I would be converted too….

    • I was exactly like you Sarah. I thought they were for old people, the ships would smell of furniture polish, be full of people who only want to eat etc……but I must admit the experiences we’ve had with NCL couldn’t be more different. Your kids would love it, they’re the perfect age for having some independence in the kids clubs etc and there is tons for them to do. Who knows, you could be converted? 🙂

  15. I love cruises, for me they offer so much for the whole family, we have cruised with a few different cruise lines and loved them all. I think we will probably cruise next year as we have missed this year and I am really feeling the withdrawal symptoms x

    • Mr ATWWAH wants to try someone other than NCL but I worry that the other cruise lines aren’t as relaxed as NCL with dining times etc. I’m sure they are though. I’ll take a look at some of your cruise posts to get an idea.

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