With the introduction of Princess Cruise's "Love Boat" television program in the late 1970's and early 1980's, ocean cruising simply became the rage. Then, cruising was hip and trendy, a bit more casual, and by all appearances, romantic not just for people in love, but for those in love with exploring new destinations.
Today, ocean liners resemble nothing like those we sailed on in the past. Everyday we see ships carrying in excess of 6,000 people on a 7-day sailing where it's a free-for-all people factory - a city with different neighborhoods, where the destinations are no longer the ports in which you stop - but rather the activities onboard. From bowling and ice-skating, to movie theaters to bumper cars, flow-riders and faux-sky-diving to extravagant entertainment, there isn't much you can't find to do on the ship. You really don't need to ever get off in a port to experience your vacation.
So does that mean that sailing on a cruise is your best vacation value, especially for families?
Ocean Cruising is NOT All-Inclusive
- Gratuities for the staff with daily amounts ranging from $11.50 - $15.50 per person per day
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (yes, even juice, soda, and hot chocolate) and specialty coffees and teas
- Certain snacks, ice creams, and desserts
- Specialty Restaurants (it is now the norm that aside from the main dining rooms and buffets, many ships are charging surcharges for all of your other restaurant choices)
- Room Service on some of the cruise lines is now an additional expense
- Casinos are now "cashless" which means you are generally required to upload money from your pocket or your room account to your cruise card
- Activities onboard the ship such as Bingo, Art Auctions, Water Sports, Wine-Tastings, Cocktail-Making Classes, Galley or Bridge Tours, and more
- Excursions in the ports
And all of this....is charged to your shipboard account because sailing is synonymous with a "cashless" experience. You don't need your wallet so it feels pretty good living it up .... until you have to settle your account and you had no idea that you or the rest of the family spent so much.
Let's Talk About Those Passenger Numbers and Safety
Now, take that same premise and imagine that your ship just pulled into port and everyone wants to get off the ship at basically the same time to maximize their day in port or to meet their excursion team. How long do you think you may be waiting in line so that you can courteously disembark? Perhaps you might also want to consider how long you will also be waiting in line to get back ON the ship at the end of the day. It's hot, everyone is tired, especially the kids, and people are just not quite as polite as you anticipated. Too bad - there are 6,000 other people in the same situation and everyone just has to wait their turn. Sure, people straggle on and off the ship all day, but for the most part, the majority of passengers are all on the same time frame.
And speaking of time frames - how annoying is it that you are ship's time, not your own? A time to get off and a time to get on the ship doesn't allow for the free-spirited vacation you were dreaming of, does it?
But You Love the Variety of Cruises...
Stay tuned this week for a blog on my top 5 recommendations for all-inclusive cruising experiences that will knock your socks off and make you wonder why you ever boarded one of those huge ocean liners to begin with!