Ben and I just went on a 7 day cruise to Alaska. It exceeded my expectations, because to be honest, those expectations were fairly vague- not low, but not clearly defined. I did expect good food, but expecting it and actually eating it are two vastly different things. I expected to relax, I expected to be entertained, and I expected to see beautiful scenery and hopefully some wildlife. Actually filling in the lines of vague expectations with real-life experience was completely gratifying. Not only was this cruise gratifying, a week later, that vacation is looking even better in retrospect than it did at the time, because now that I’m back to normal life I realize how very, very good it was.
But since I’ve been back I’ve heard a number of times that you’re either pro-cruising or against it. Apparently its a black and white thing and I just hadn’t realized it before. I can see how cruising caters to the type of person that lives for self-indulgence. You are, after all, going to do more eating than anything else on a cruise. Well, I take that back; from what I observed, a good number of fellow passengers consumed at least as much alcohol as they did food. Its true that you have to be pretty pro-active about not giving in to over-indulgence…and you also have to be tactful about it. I learned that the hard way one night at dinner when Ben and I declined dessert. Our four dinner companions looked at us oddly, as did our waiter- come to think of it- which prompted me to try to defend our lack of indulgence by pointing out that since we’d been at sea all day we hadn’t gotten a lot of exercise like we had the day before, so we were better off refraining. Oops. I didn’t mean to insult the four of them, but I did. As Ben later pointed out.
But back to this idea that there’s a fence, you’re either pro-cruise or not. I decided I’m just going to sit on the fence, because when I look at my list of pros and cons, it pretty much balances out.
First Pro: You travel to some great ports and its much cheaper than trying to fly to and lodge at those ports.
Con: You only get to spend a few hours in those ports…and you generally don’t get to break out of the tourist pandemonium. You can’t honestly say you really got to know the place, because you only scratch the surface, along with the other 4,000 people that arrived at the port that day.
Pro: Amazing food, three times a day. Or all day, depending on how you want to do it.
Con: The average cruiser gains 2 pounds a day!
Pro: Great entertainment
Con: I don’t know…if you don’t want to be entertained, go sit in the hot tub.
Pro: The ship is pretty cool, and getting to travel like that is fun if you don’t get seasick
Con: You may get seasick. You may also suffer vertigo for up to 6 months in extreme cases. I’m on week 2 of vertigo.
Pro: You meet a lot of interesting people.
Con: You have to repeat the same conversation starter frequently…
Bottom line for me: Being stuck on the ship forced me to relax, and someone like me needs to be forced. I had an amazing time, no, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in Alaska…but, I loved what I did get to do. Would I do a cruise again? Absolutely. Would I do it every year for vacation? No way. I definitely want the vacation that involves the freedom to come and go, stay, explore, and be on our own schedule when we travel. But I’ll settle for both every now and then.