Not a flyer? Take a Cruise!

Air travel, it isn’t for everyone. Maybe it is a fear of flying. Perhaps the thought of breathing the same recycled air of 200 total strangers in an aluminum can, 30,000+ feet in the air is less than appealing. Whatever the reasoning may be, a cruise can be a rewarding alternative to flying.

If you are limited on time, cruises come in many lengths and depart from all over the USA. There are also a lot of destinations to choose from and during our long, cold winters it is a welcome reprieve to escape to the warm beaches of the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexican Riviera or Jamaica. There are lots of cruise lines to choose from. Some are geared more towards adults and cater to the over 60 crowd, while others welcome families with costumed characters, shows and games. There is a cruise line for everyone.

  • How much time do I need?

    • Many cruise lines have 2 or 3 days trips which will depart on one day, hang out at sea, then return the next day or the 3rd day. These can be great if you are very limited on time or money.
    • I have gone on 5, 6, 7 and 8 day trips. My favorite have been our 7 and 8 day trips. For me, I really start to relax come day 3 and with the shorter trips I find that it’s time to head home at the point I’m really feeling relaxed.
  • Will there be a lot of kids, or lots of older folks?

    • Personally, I have only cruised with Carnival. I have friends who have cruised other lines and find that they are either geared mainly towards kids, or the retiree crowd. Carnival is a great line for everyone. Families with children, 20 – 40 somethings, grandparents and retirees intermingle and there is entertainment for everyone at all hours of the day.
  • Will I be bored?

    • If you are bored on a cruise ship, then you are cruising wrong. (Ha Ha) There are many activities to get into on a cruise ship. You can swim in the pool (there is an adult only pool as well as the main pool), waterslides (on many ships), Mini golf, running tracks, giant Chessboard, Jacuzzis, a library with boardgames and playing cards, art auctions, comedy shows, musical acts, a casino and many bars. There are events that happen on some days/nights, interactive game shows, Karaoke contests and sing-a-longs in the piano bar or dancing in the nightclub.
  • Destinations?

    • You can head out to the Eastern, Southern or Western Caribbean as well as the Bahamas and Jamaica from much of the Southeastern USA (Florida, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama). From Ohio (where I live) it takes us about a day to drive down to a port for departure. Some favorites we (my husband and I) have visited are:
      • Cancun
      • Puerto Rico
      • Dominican Republic
      • Costa Rica
      • Grand Turk
      • St. Thomas USVI
      • Panama
      • Yucatan
      • Nassau
      • Half Moon Cay (Carnival’s private island)
  • Do you have to book tours to see things at the destinations?

    • You do not have to pay to book tours through the ship. In a lot of places you can get off the ship and explore mostly on your own. Doing some research on the destinations you will be visiting will be helpful. Plan ahead!
    • I do recommend scheduling a tour or two if you are going on a long trip or if you are visiting destinations that may be more difficult to navigate for tourists. Some of these are:
      • Costa Rica
      • Panama
      • Dominican Republic
      • Yucatan
    • You can book a tour ahead of time, or head down to the lobby and talk to the Shore Excursion desk.
  • I have dietary restrictions, will I starve?

    • You will not starve.
      • They offer gluten free options in the main dining room as well as vegan, vegetarian and low sodium. Just talk to your server at dinner on the first night and they will help guide you.
      • The buffet on Lido can be a bit more difficult to navigate but there is always fresh fruit and veggies to choose from. I have always found that staff is very helpful when I’m not sure if something is gluten free and low sodium for me. You can also schedule meals in the main dining hall for breakfast or lunch if you need to.
      • If you are not worried about cross contamination, the burger and burrito spots can make you something without a bun or flour tortilla as well.
  • Can I travel alone or is it better with a big group?

    • Travel alone or with a group, the experience is always different!
    • If you sit at a large table with other people, regardless of if you are a party of one or 5, you will make friends. Get to know the people at your table!
    • Talk to people at the bar, the pool, the casino (if you go), the piano bar etc. We have made lifelong friends on our cruises and let each other know when we are cruising next so that we can all try to meet up.
  • Will I get seasick?

    • Maybe. Maybe not.
    • Plan ahead, take Dramamine with you, drink lots of water and maybe get those patches for behind your ear.
    • The ship is so large that you don’t really feel the gentle tilting or rocking. You only really feel it if you hit some bad weather and. rough seas, even then I haven’t noticed it much though.
  • What kind of room should I pick?

    • Interior rooms – no windows, they get nice and dark at night and usually sleep 4 pretty comfortably. These typically have two twin beds and two bunks that pull out of the ceiling. These will be the most affordable in most cases.
    • Porthole/window rooms – will have windows and/or portholes that typically do not open. They will also sleep 4 comfortably and have two twin beds and two pullman bunks usually. These will be a little more expensive than an interior.
    • Balcony rooms – Comfortable for 4 or 5 people with two twin beds, one or two pullman beds and sometimes a sofa that folds out into a bed. (When this is the case, they usually have one pullman over the sofa bed.) The one wall is usually windows and a glass door that opens to a private balcony.  These are great for. sitting out with your morning coffee or in the afternoon with a frozen drink and watching the ocean go by.
    • Suites – These are much larger with a ton of space. They often sleep 5 or sometimes more, it just depends on the size of the suite. They will be the most expensive option but if you go in the off season, they are pretty affordable. Extended, larger balconies, multiple closets, a sofa, chairs, table and separate dressing area are some of the perks for Suite guests. Often these guests receive priority boarding, freebies and bonuses offered to premium or suite guests.
  • How much does it really cost?

    • That all depends. The cost of the cruise and taxes, travel down to the port, parking if you choose to drive, any souvenirs you buy, excursions you choose to add, anything you purchase off ship and any soft drinks or alcohol.
    • The room, meals and destinations are all included in the price of your cruise.

As the wife of a non-flyer, my travels with my husband are limited to where we either drive or sail to. The Queen Mary 2 leaves from New York and goes to Southampton and Hamburg, so Europe isn’t off the list. We just need a month to do it!

If you are thinking of cruising, do it! It is a great way to see several places on one trip!

“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wonder often for the world is wide and adventure awaits.” ~ Emylee

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