07 February 2010

Why cruise?

Here is a question that I am asked often because I am a very seasoned cruiser.  That being said, I am also a bargain cruiser, and I am very confident that I can find the best deal on a cruise.  Here are the tips that I give to you about the reasons why to cruise in part 2 I plan on telling you how to find the best deal.

1.  Why do I want to go on a cruise?
Because in my experience, it is the cheapest vacation value that I have found.  You cruise includes your room and board, your meals, and varying destinations. 
2.  I think that I will feel like I am "trapped" or there will not be anything for me to do trapped on a boat for days, or it will be too crowded. 
Okay, you need to wake up!!!   These ships are massive!  Yes, the small ones hold about 1500-2000 guests and the big ones hold 5400 guests, but do you think that the designers did not take that into consideration when designing the ships?  A smaller ship is about 800 feet long...That is larger than a block in the majority of cities and that is just length not width!  There is at least one theater that will seat roughly half of the passengers at one time, at least 10 bars/lounges, MINIMUM 2 restaurants (most have many more than this), a shopping mall (even the small ships have 5stores or more), at least 2 pools (I just got off one last year with 4), many hot tubs, and many decks.  The largest cruise ship afloat, Oasis of the Seas is 1180 feet long, 154 feet wide, stands at 16 decks high!  Oh yeah, I can see how you think that you will be crowded.  Folks even Carnivals smallest ship, the Holiday stands at 733 feet long (again bigger than a city block). 
3.  I can't be on a ship for days. 
Well, unless you are taking a cruise to nowhere you will not be.  On the shorter cruises, you get off  the ship the next day in a new port.  On the longer ones, you might have a day or two at sea and then you get off the ship in a new destination.  The destinations are one thing that make the cruises GREAT!!!  Not only will you be traveling to places, but these ships are large, LARGE!!  They are like little floating cities, and on most ships I have found places that NO ONE frequents and I can draw, paint, write, sketch whatever in privacy!  It is all about the exploring and enjoying the ship.  It is NOT like a Holiday Inn that is a float, there are literally TONS of things to see, do, explore, experience, and people to meet.
4.  There won't be anything to do on the ship. 
Again, this is NOT true, if you want to do something there will be something for you to do.  Here is a sampling, Casino, library, shopping, seminars, shopping talks, bingo, classes, chances to eat (24 hours a day), swimming, "laying out", games (organized games that the cruise director does for the passengers), chances to meet new folks, drinking (there are bars everywhere), dance clubs, high tea, sing along bars, movies, broadway styled shows, comedians, entertainers, guest talent shows, adults only activities, adult only areas, arcades, places to just chill, and many more things; yes, I agree with you when you say "there is nothing to do"
5.  It is going to be too expensive.
This is the reason that I thought I could never do this, but once I looked into it I realized...it can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be.  This is where planning comes into play for the best deal, price wise.  Now there are things that will "add on" to the price....Tips!  Tips are taken off your shipboard acct, you may change the amounts, but please don't lower the amounts unless you have bad service.  These folks make a very small wage and these tips are what pay their bills.  Did you know that the crew sign contracts and work on the ships for 6, 9, or 12 months without ONE day off? 

Fancy dinners/desserts/coffees will also add to the cost! Keep this in mind.  Now, you get the dining room food included in your cruise price, it is the specialty restaurants that cost more.  What, but you said I could have nice dinners? Oh yeah, you will get those....4/5 course meals are included the fair will include lobster tails, prime rib, filet migion, Chateaubriand, Baked Alaska, Cherries Jubilee, fancy soups/appetizers, seafood, desserts that are out of this world...these are included and you can order more than one entree/appetizer/dessert...don't forget that...and it will cost nothing extra!  You will be told which things cost extra, just pay attention. 

Gambling, adult beverages and sodas and shopping...these are NOT included in your price...you will have to pay for them!  Be aware that beverages will include a 15% tip as well. 

Photos...there is always a ship photo willing to take your photo.  Take as many as you like, this part is free.  It's when you go to purchase that they add up quickly.  And 8x10 might cost you $20 so shop wisely.  Look for specials on photos and shop items, they have some type of special everyday.  Check the photos everyday if there is one you really want, later in the week the cruise workers start getting rid of some of the photos because they take so many. 
6.  I get sea sick.  
I can say that I have never experienced any "sickness" that comes associated with motion sickness while on a boat.  My husband did for a brief time our very first cruise, but took no medication to get over it, still it was a brief time.  I can say that the ships have huge stabilizers on them, that works to alleviate any vast shifts.  For the most part, I seem to notice the ships moving when we are traveling to  a far away place and they have to "book it" to get there (such as Alaska and Barbados).  On a Mexican/Bahamas cruise there is not a lot of distance to travel so you don't seem to notice that.  However, I love the gentle rocking that you experience when you are in the bow (front of the ship)....I never sleep as good as I do on a cruise ship when I have an aft room (front of ship).  Mid ship rooms seem (to me) to be the least likely to feel anything.  Stern rooms get a little bit of motion from the wake of the ship.  All in all though, I don't notice that it is much.  I have been on only 1 cruise where it was terrible!  It was on a older ship that did not have the stabilizers and it was a very small ship.  In my experience, I have noticed the bigger the better on the motion, I think the stabilizers are better or something.  I do notice many folks that wear the patches behind their ear, so if you think you might have a problem, bring the patches with you they are very expensive on the ship. 
7.  All those cruise ships get that norovirus.
Again a not true assumption.  There are thousands and thousands of cruise passengers every day...and much like a plane crash you only hear about the virus NOT the cruises where there is not an issue.  Many ships are using the sanitizers everywhere and requiring you to wash before entering a restaurant (Norwegian does).  I don't use these stations and have never gotten sick.  I do not use hand rails, let my hands linger on anything public (door knobs, elevator buttons, tables, etc....), but these are the things that I do on land.  I believe in hand washing of my own hands often and done well will prevent many of these illnesses.  NO ONE in my family have ever gotten sick on or after any of our cruises.  I do bring my own lysol wipes to clean the bathroom the first day, and we generally only use our bathroom and we take the stairs mostly.  Here is why, I take lysol wipes everywhere!!!!  I clean every hotel room that I have ever stayed in upon my arrival.  I take the stairs on the ships because I eat a lot and don't want to gain weight.  I have never gained a pound on a boat and have actually lost on some.  And we walk from one end of the ship to the other a lot too, we enjoy that. 
8.  There is nothing for the kids to do.
Somethings, yes the kids will not like.  They are not going to like a 2 hour 5 course meal (but I make them do it anyway and take a DS), they won't like waiting for food, but they will like being out in the middle of the ocean scanning for dolphins, and if you do Carnival they will LOVE the Water Works with the water slides and water park.  They will love the pools and hot tubs, and I can tell you that every line I have ever sailed has had a kids program.  I think Carnival has the best, but they all have them.  For the teens, they have the teen disco, they have scavenger hunts for all the kids, a program for the kids to be in or sit on the front row of, a wonderfully stocked "clubhouse" and a different one for each age group.  Sometimes, some lines will even keep them during dinner so you can enjoy that 2 hour meal alone, and all of them offer babysitting at a small fee.  There are shore excursions that are designed for the whole family too!  Yes, your kids will find tons to do.  Both of my kids cruised for the first time at 18mths old (They were both born in April and they each went on a cruise in Oct for their first one).  Once you know what to avoid and know the limits of your kid, you will be fine.  Some ships have even let us "check out" a box of toys to take to our room and keep the whole week.  I LOVE that!  We very much enjoyed that, and took those toys everywhere to dinner, on land, to the deck, to the shows, they were great and age appropriate.  They don't advertise this, just ask at the director of the kids program.  Also, they  may have a playgroup...check your cruise ship paper or ask the director.
Other tidbits:
Room service is part of your price, but you need to tip the person bringing it to you a dollar or two.

The ships are a cashless society...you will be given a key card that will double as your credit card.  Don't loose this and make sure your child's card is not activated or they will be allowed to buy things without your permission.