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Is Cruising the Ultimate Vacation?

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Cruise Ship

I’m wrapping up my second cruise this year and although I’m by no means an expert compared with the veteran cruisers I’ve met recently (many whom have cruised more than 10 times), both experiences have led me to the same conclusion…

I’m not a cruiser.

Talking with people on a cruise, I feel like a minority. I’ve heard the phrase “cruising is the only way to travel” at least five times this cruise alone. I met a back-to-backer (someone who stays on the ship for back-to-back cruises,) a couple who have cruised over 40 times, and another who said “living on a cruise ship is cheaper than the retirement home.”

There is no doubt about it, people LOVE to cruise.

And part of me totally gets it. You are on a giant city with people waiting on your every need. There’s food available around the clock, a pool, a spa, a gym, activities, and in the case of the ship I’m on currently, even a rock wall to climb. There’s baby sitting services if you have your kids, a casino for those who like to gamble and a theater for shows and movies. All this is available to you while sailing to exotic destinations like Bermuda or the Caribbean.

On paper it all sounds amazing and for many, it is.

For me, however, it’s a floating resort I can’t escape. When I travel I like to be in control of where I go and what I see. I like to talk to locals and change my plans on a whim. I like to explore cities on foot, take pictures of the scenery and experience as many new things as possible.

On a cruise ship my exploration is limited, anything I want to experience costs an arm and a leg, and  there are only so many photos I can take of open water before I don’t even bother to take my camera out of the room.

Sure, most cruises include at least one port of call, but your time at them is usually quite limited and you can’t wander off too far in fear the ship will leave without you if you’re late or get lost.

Maybe I’m just too young for the allure of cruising, as my experience on both ships has been alongside many people twice my age. Cruising caters to those who want to simply relax and frankly, I may be too active for it. I want to wake up and run in a new city, not lap the upper deck a few times, weaving in and out of lounge chairs. I want to try new ethnic cuisine, and not the kind prepared for a buffet line. I want to explore new cities that don’t feel like their whole purpose is to take advantage of me. And frankly, I want to set my own daily agenda, not be confined by the cruise director’s attempt at fun activities.

Note: Yesterday I waited 30 minutes to witness a hugely disappointing belly flop contest.

At the end of the day I want to arrive at my vacation destination as quickly as possible (or be in control of my own road trip) and do whatever it is I want to do when I get there.

I feel like I’m being a grump about this but it’s the truth and funny enough, The Husband agrees with me. He even jokingly said, “It’s a once every 10 years type of vacation.”


Look at us. We had a AWESOME time. We just don’t have any desire to do it again anytime soon. For us, cruising is NOT the ultimate vacation. Is it for you?

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There are 16 comments so far. Join in on the conversation.


    May 3, 2014

    I'm 28 and my husband and I LOVE cruising. We def. think it's the best way to vacation - RELAXING. That being said, we alternate between "trips" and "vacations". What you described as your ideal is what we consider more of a trip :) . I can totally see how families opt for cruising. Reply


    May 3, 2014

    I couldn't agree more. Having said that, my husband and I are in the planning stages to go on a cruise with extended family but it will be our first in over 5 years. The only cruises we take are with lots of family members and I do think that it's great for family camaraderie. You can hang out and relax with family you rarely get to see all in one place. Most of the people that I know who do not like to travel or try something new - those that expect vacation to be a relaxing version of home - love cruises. My in-laws, my mother, sister and brother don't care if they see something new EVER ( which just kills me!) and they all love cruises. I , like you, can only take so many pictures of open water or find something new at the buffet. The traveling I like to do is to see and experience something I have never experienced before. Reply


    May 3, 2014

    I've never been on a cruise. It doesn't really appeal to me for much the same reasons you mentioned. Maybe someday! My husband and I did fly to Bermuda for a short three day anniversary trip a few years ago. I absolutely loved it! Although it's a small island I would love to go back to see even more of it. I'm glad you enjoyed the trip despite the cruise. Happy Anniversary! Reply


    May 3, 2014

    Eric and I completely agree. Did it once and we were good. An all inclusive is our choice now if its just to relax. Reply

    Thea @ It's Me Vs. Me

    May 3, 2014

    Dave and I love cruising, and the kids love it, too. I love the choices that are offered or that I can just grab a book and sit by the pool. The service is top notch and I like not having to worry about anything. I love that there's not always a lot of planning involved in terms of seeing several places, but not having to make several transportation/hotel reservations. I can definitely understand your point of view, though. For instance, we can say we've "been to Grand Cayman", but really we've been to the port and to one excursion and that was it. For us, cruising is almost like a sampler platter. There's places that we've decided we'd like to go back to because we've liked the way they looked. There's other places that we can say "been there, done that" and that's o.k., too. Reply

    Thea @ It's Me Vs. Me

    May 3, 2014

    I should note, that usually by the end of a cruise we're ready to go home. You can only eat dinner with the same people so many times before you're ready to not see them anymore, LOL! Reply


    May 4, 2014

    there were years when a cruise was awesome to me. experienced places i would never have traveled to. no longer as i would rather be at the place for a good length if time than on a ship watching other people!! Reply


    May 4, 2014

    It never sounded like something I would enjoy. Like you, I like to be a little more in control. I also have heard that some people gain a pound a day on a cruise because the buffet is just too tempting. If I went to Alaska (on my bucket list), I'd probably do a cruise, but try to get on a smaller ship. Reply

    Jeri Lyn

    May 5, 2014

    I agree with you Roni, i'm not much of a cruiser. My husband & I have done it twice once just the 2 of us & once with a big group of friends. It was definitely more fun with a big group. I think like you it's something we'd enjoy maybe every 10 years or so & we've decided not more than 4 nights, that's about the max we can handle. Glad you & the hubby still had a good time. Reply

    Karen Z

    May 5, 2014

    Me and my fellow leaders took our Girl Scouts on a cruise and we did have a great time. We (the leaders) spent a lot of time doing research so when we got to our port of call we had the three days planned out and saw and did a ton of stuff on our own. It was a lot more fun than I expected it to be but not my favorite type of vacation. Reply


    May 5, 2014

    I've cruised four times (twice to Alaska, twice to Mexico)--I love it but wouldn't want to vacation exclusively that way. It's great for Alaska, since it would be difficult to get to places like Juneau or Skagway otherwise, and those places are AMAZING, and worthy bucket list visits. Cruises can be great to get an idea about a destination to see if it's someplace you'd like to spend more time. They're also great for groups, as others have mentioned. Sometimes you need a vacation to be completely relaxing, and have a chance to nap and read, but still have things to do when you get restless. Sometimes my active vacations make me feel like I need a vacation when I get back! But cruises leave me feeling rested, and pampered. I do try to stay away from the buffet, since it's pretty low quality and too easy to overdo. I'm always amazed at how many people never eat in the main dining room, always opting for the buffet every night. What a waste! Reply

    Angela @ Honey, I Shrunk the Mom

    May 14, 2014

    You say this and I confess, I just put a down payment on our very first cruise this week (for Feb. 2015)! I hope we enjoy it! Reply


      May 15, 2014

      Dont' get me wrong, I'm sure you will have a BLAST! It's just not something I would do again right away. I need more control. :) Reply

    sunny lockwood

    July 2, 2014

    In 2012, my husband and I took a bucket list cruise through the Panama Canal. It was such an amazing experience that we actually wrote a book about it: Cruising Panama's Canal, savoring 5,000 nautical miles and 500,000 decadent calories. (available at amazon.com) We are both over 65 and loved the leisurely pace of our 17-day cruies. We had a day on board, then a day in port. We enjoyed exploring the various stops with our cameras and note pads. We also enjoyed getting acquainted with folks on baord. One of the things we loved about the cruise is that we only had to unpack once. And each evening, we returned to our cabin as if it was our own little home. Little is the operative word. But on our own, we would never have been able to go to Panama or to cruise through the 50-mile waterway between the oceans. Because of the cruise, we experienced one of the engineering wonders of the world... Thanks for your post on cruising, and for letting me share our experience. Reply

    Mindy Lee

    August 1, 2014

    I haven't been on a cruise but I think I agree with you nonetheless. I have been to Club Med (do they still exist, I don't know!) and really enjoyed that because you still get the opportunity to relax and lounge but you can also go explore. Plus they have a lot of free activities you can do with other guests. Also I think it would be awesome with kids. I love to take road trips and visit friends along the way and do some of my own exploring along the way. Sadly I haven't done a lot of travelling to cities where I don't know people. Add to the bucket list! Reply


    October 17, 2014

    If you go to New Orleans you need to stay in the French Quarters. At least a night or two. Reply