Please follow Simone di Santi on twitter: ARoadRetraveled
Traveling Girl + loaded camcorder on adventures= travel shows! Producer & host of A Road Retraveled & Traveling Tidbits.
Follow Me: It's My First Time at Sea
I'm not a travel writer, I let my video camera show you what words can never accurately describe. But I am taking this opportunity to share with you some thoughts about my recent cruise aboard The Crown Princess, on a twitter press hosted by Princess Cruises. I won't tell you all about the cruise since that will be (or currently is, depending on when you are reading this) on the A Road Retraveled and Traveling Tidibits travel shows, but I'd like to tell you what I learned about taking a cruise as opposed to traveling independently (which is what I normally do).
I never took a cruise before because my impression was cruising is for people too old to travel the old fashioned way, it would be too restrictive, limiting, boring, unlimited bad food, lack of on-land adventures, and an entire litany of what seemed like legitimate reasons. But after a week at sea, I abandoned my skepticism and became a convert!
1. Cruise ships are resorts at sea, with every imaginable amenity: pools, gyms, spas, cafe, dining rooms, art galleries, game rooms, sports, casinos, bars, night clubs, shopping, theater, movie screens, you name it, they will probably have it, and much more you never imagined!! I lacked for nothing my entire week at sea.
2. You don't have to sacrifice on-land adventures. Day excursions at ports of call provided an exciting 4×4 caravan tour of Grand Cayman and a thrilling Harley Davidson Safari in Cozumel Mexico. I've had more excitement in one action packed week cruising through Western Caribbean on Crown Princess than a month on traveling on land!! And if you book day excursions through the cruise line, like Princess Cruises, you not only secure your spot on a tour, but deal with legitimate tour operators and agencies who meet the required criteria by the cruise line. Although great experiences are not guaranteed, at least you know you won't get scammed by unknown operators on land.
And if you're on a budget or organized tours don't rock your boat, you can do your homework ahead of time, and find out what's fun and exciting to do on land. Or, just play it by ear and explore it yourself. Whatever you choose, be sure you don't miss the boat. It WILL sail without you! Another reason why I like organized tours at ports of call is they get you back to the ship on time and you don't have to worry about arriving late.
3. Sometimes even adventurous travelers need a vacation. As we hopped from one country to another through the Caribbean, not once did I have to pack, unpack, catch a train, miss the bus, get on a plane, check in and out of hotels — all of which are my least favorite parts about traveling. On a cruise ship, your "hotel" travels with you!!
4. You don't have a food budget on a cruise. One of my anxieties when traveling independently is finding a place to eat that doesn't have a tourist menu, it's not over priced and over rated, and it's not too far out of my way that makes getting back to my hotel a hassle. Then there are other issues like not knowing who cooks your food, if the food is fresh and clean, or if the kitchen is up to par with the health department standards so you won't go home with a bad case of food poisoning.
On Crown Princess not only did we meet the ship's Executive Chef Giuseppe Pollara, but we went on a tour of the galley where our food stored and prepared, and visits from the health department are public knowledge since if the ship fails inspections, it will be immediately docked. And it a huge bonus that the Executive Chef is Italian too…I love Italian food!!
5. Anyone with health issues, worried about adequate medical facilities abroad, or qualified and English speaking doctors would be happy to know that cruise ships like Crown Princess have state of the art medical facilities prepared to handle any kind of emergency that doesn't require surgery, and are run by qualified English speaking medical staff. If you loose your medication, they carry most prescriptions on ship. Let's hope the worst health issues you'd ever experience on a cruise is a mild case of sea sickness!!
6. When we set sail, Tropical Storm Idea threatened the Caribbean, and we were scheduled to follow its path. If I was traveling by land and found myself in the middle of an approaching tropical storm or hurricane, I'd have to either cancel my trip and be at the mercy of cancellation fees or travel insurance, evacuate, or spend my entire time there in horrible weather. All of that was avoided (except, for one rainy day in Roatan, Honduras) when Princess changed course and itinerary and avoided the path of Ida. When I previously wondered how would a cruise ship fare in the middle of a tropical storm hurricane, I realized it's easy: it just changes course to keep the passengers safe and in better weather to enjoy their time at sea.
7. I'm not fond of the idea of going to a night club when on vacation, drink one too many, and then make your way back to your hotel. A lot of bad things can and have happened that way. On a cruise ship, you can party till wee hours in nightclubs such as Crown Princess' Skywalker Nightclub, drink to your heart's desire, and NOT worry about how you'll get to your hotel because the most you'll have to do is take the elevator to your stateroom. And with so many crew members on board, you know you're safe 24/7. Another bonus: You don't have to worry about drinking and driving on a cruise either!
8. Unless I'm in NY, I don't have the opportunity to see a Broadway style theater performance after dinner….either there aren't any theater performances available in the area, or they're so out of the way that trying to make it on time after dinner was never a possibility. And there's the whole transportation issue of getting from point A to point B, taxi, traffic, parking, etc. I was thrilled to enjoy two theater performances on Crown Princess right after fine dining downstairs. How much simpler can it get?
9. I was previously also under the impression that being on a cruise ship I'd be denied international companionship like I enjoy when traveling on land. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is getting to know people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. I was pleasantly surprised to have met wonderful crew members from all over the world, and although time was limited because they were on duty, I'm very happy to have had the time to meet and talk to them. They were transformed from crew members, to international friends.
10. Just because you're at sea, it doesn't mean you're out of touch with family and friends. Not only Princess provides a telephone number if someone on land needs to reach you during the cruise, but with a 24 hour a day Internet Cafe and wi-fi for your laptop or smart phones, you can stay in touch with the whole world even. It's important to keep in mind that internet on cruise ships is a recent technology, and it's still very expensive and the internet via satellite is slow – so uploading videos or chatting via skype is not possible at this time.
Travel is not just about opening your mind to different destinations, but to different modes of travel as well. By limiting yourself to one way of traveling, or the way you've always traveled, you're eliminating vast possibilities for unique opportunities. You may not like every every mode of travel, just like you may not like every destination you've traveled to…but in the process, you might discover something unexpectedly fabulous!
Until next time,
Ciao for now!
Who would have thought #followmeatsea would have brought us together? I am so thankful to Princess Cruises for our new friendship!!
I appreciate you for indulging my begging and pleading to put your fingers to the keyboard and share your insights to why cruising can be a fun way to travel for everyone. Thanks so much, Simone! —Stephanie aka TravelDesigned