CruiseCritic.co.uk, the leading cruise reviews and news Web site, is challenging common misconceptions about cruising with its list of the Best Cruises for People Who Swear They’ll Never Cruise. The Web site recently conducted a poll to reveal the most common excuses given by non-cruisers and discovered that Brits most fear they will be trapped with people they don’t like (21 percent) or will be stuck on a ship with nothing to do (20 percent). Another 15 percent believe that cruising is too expensive.
“Forget the view that one cruise is the same as any another—a sedate cruise along the Nile is a world away from an activity-packed holiday on a party ship in the Med,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of Cruise Critic. “There are more than 500 ships to choose from, as well as a huge choice of destinations, and prices are much more suited to budget-conscious travelers than in the past.”
So what is the solution for persuading a reluctant partner or friend to take his or her first cruise? Do plenty of research to find a cruise that fits his or her idea of the perfect holiday. From adrenaline-pumping adventures to relax-and-do-nothing holidays, find the right cruise, and we’ll bet that even the most reluctant cruise skeptic will be tempted. In the meantime, see why the skeptics are doubtful, and check out our excuse-busting recommendations.
1—Excuse: “I’ll be trapped with people I don’t like.”
Cruise Critic Advises: Trust us when we say that life aboard a large ship, which carries between 2,000 and 6,000 passengers, is more like a small city than a cozy village. You’ll be lucky to see the same people twice. And, if you opt for a cruise line that offers flex-dining, you can choose your own tablemates; many lines these days—including Princess, P&O, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean—offer this option. Port-intensive itineraries are also good bets because most passengers get off the ship each day to explore ashore.
2—Excuse: “I’ll be bored.”
Cruise Critic Advises: Choose an activity-packed fun ship, such as Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, where passengers can rock climb, play miniature golf, try surfing, ride a carousel, enjoy a spa treatment, work out, lie by a “beach” pool, fly along on a zip-line and more. Royal Caribbean’s Voyager- and Freedom-class ships and Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ships, Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Pearl, are especially good for activity-loving travelers. And, if enrichment—the cruise industry’s term for education at sea—is a priority, take a look at lines like Crystal, Holland America and Cunard, which offer outstanding programs onboard.
3—Excuse: “I’ll get seasick.”
Cruise Critic Advises: Well, you might, though most people don’t get seasick unless conditions really are stormy. Cruise Critic’s Carolyn Spencer Brown, who’s clocked more than 150 cruises in the past 13 years, admits to being especially sensitive to vibration but says anti-nausea medications do really work—so ask your doctor for a recommendation.
When it comes to choosing a cruise, look into the newer and bigger vessels. There have been major advancements in technology that further stabilize ships, so the newer (and bigger) the ship, the more stable it is.
Also, consider testing your sea legs first in quieter waters—the Norwegian fjords, Alaska and the Caribbean are all good bets. And, avoid places where seas tend to be rather rough more often than not; the Bay of Biscay, South America’s Cape Horn and the North Sea can be a little bit more choppy than other destinations. Finally, avoid North America’s hurricane season, which can impact Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and Atlantic Canada sailings. The season peaks August through October.
Or, avoid the waves altogether with a river cruise along European rivers, including the Danube, Rhine, Mosel and Seine. For more exotic cruising, try Egypt’s Nile River or China’s Yangtze.Check out the offerings from Avalon Waterways, Tauck, Uniworld, Viking River Cruises and Victoria Cruises.
4—Excuse: “I’ll get claustrophobic onboard.”
Cruise Critic Advises: Admittedly, most standard cabins are smaller than the average hotel room. Choose a large ship with plenty of activities and public spaces so you won’t need to be in your cabin, or upgrade to a balcony cabin or a suite. Princess Cruises’ newest ships (Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess) are spacious vessels with expansive sun decks, as well as a quieter, adults-only spa sun deck called the Sanctuary.
If your budget allows, choose a luxury line, such as Regent Seven Seas, which has two all-suite, all-balcony ships in its luxury fleet. Even the smallest cabins have separate sitting and sleeping areas, 49-square-foot teak balconies, walk-in closets and en-suite marble bathrooms.
5—Excuse: “Cruises are for old people.”
Cruise Critic Advises: Not anymore—old people, young people, singles and families all cruise, and there’s a ship for everyone. Carnival attracts a wide variety of ages onboard with its top-notch kids programs and festive onboard atmosphere. Royal Caribbean also caters to a younger crowd with its many active pursuits onboard and shore excursions like kayaking, hiking, cycling, snorkeling and diving. Do some research before you book, and make sure you are on the right ship for you. Disney Cruise Lines is obviously all about families, but P&O offers a range of ships, from the family-centric Ventura to its adult-only vessel, Artemis.
6—Excuse: “It’s unhealthy with all that food.”
Cruise Critic Advises: Cruise ships typically offer round-the-clock dining, but no one is forcing you to pile your plate high. In fact, these days, many cruise lines are trading in their midnight chocolate buffets for spa cafes and sushi bars, so ask the cruise line about healthy menu options before you book. Celebrity Cruises has led the healthy dining effort among cruise lines. Several ships offer a spa restaurant, where menu items include plenty of veggies, salads, poached fish and sushi. On all ships, you can order “spa” options off the main dining room’s menu.
7—Excuse: “Cruise travelers only get a superficial experience of a destination.”
Cruise Critic Advises: That’s true, and no one is promising otherwise. However, a cruise can be a destination-sampler, offering the chance to experience a number of places you may want to return to at a later date. It can also be an easy way to experience a hard-to-explore region, such as South America, Australia or Alaska.
As well, small-ship expedition lines do offer more intensive onshore experiences. Cruise West features nature- and culture-focused voyages to Alaska, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, and the U.S.‘s Columbia and Snake Rivers. Hurtigruten’s “Norwegian Coastal Voyages” let you experience the small towns along the Norwegian coast, and Lindblad Expeditions focuses on adventure and visits destinations like Antarctica, the Arctic and the Galapagos.
8—Excuse: “Ships depart so early that I’ll miss out on the nightlife in port.”
Cruise Critic Advises: That’s true. Most ships stay in port only during the day. But, if dining ashore and checking out the local bars and clubs is your thing, then Variety Cruises may be the line for you. The line offers overnights on its cruises to Greece and its islands, as well as Turkey and Croatia. Variety Cruises’ fleet consists of mega-yachts—some with sails—with only 22 to 36 cabins onboard. So, it’s easy to make friends onboard if you’re looking for someone to join you on your evening adventures ashore.
9—Excuse: “It’s impossible to experience another culture if you’re on a cruise.”
Cruise Critic Advises: If you want to avoid holidaying with a bunch of British tourists, book a cruise with MSC Cruises or Costa Cruises. These two cruise lines are Italian-owned and are proud to display their European heritage onboard. Passengers are from Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Portugal, as well as the U.K., so you can mix with many different cultures. Or, try a cruise out of the U.S. for an authentic American “vacation” experience.
10—Excuse: “Cruise ships aren’t real ships.”
Cruise Critic Advises: Cruise ships have been likened to floating hotels or resorts, but if you’re yearning for a more authentic sailing experience, check out lines like Star Clippers or Island Windjammers. These lines employ masted tall ships, where the no-frills accommodations and onboard amenities are offset by the thrill of sailing the open ocean and the attractions of the ports of call.