Some people swear it’s the only way to travel – others turn their nose at the thought – is cruising really so controversial? There’s more to cruising than what you’ve seen in brochures or heard from sitting through your relatives slideshow of their 12th caribbean adventure. Keep listening to hear our take on both classic and lesser known ways to set sail and find out why cruising should be on every travelers bucket list.
Cruises are some people’s only way they travel and they turn off other people. But we think that if you’re never considering a cruise- you’re missing out. And we’re not just talking about Caribbean cruises, we are also talking about European cruises and adventure cruises. We’re going to go over all the ins and outs of the industry and who would love each type of vacation.
Caribbean cruises are great for people who just want to relax and see some great beaches in the meantime. These aren’t going to take you to the most authentic and cultural places, but they’ll be a fun, all-inclusive experience. These are fantastic for big groups of people, like family vacations, because everyone can go and do their own thing. These can also be an affordable way to vacation. We’ve seen them from as little as $700pp to, well as much as you want to pay.
Cruising in the Caribbean is really about the vibe of the boat (since they all go to very similar destinations), and they all have their vibes. Generally the major lines all have a boat vibe. Carnival’s vibe (and company slogan) is all about fun, but because of the low price, this can also be a bit sloppy- especially with drinking. Royal Caribbean is the family line- a general step above carnival in terms of price and amenities. Norwegian is in a similar price category to Royal Caribbean- you have to watch for hidden fees for both these lines. They advertise great deals but gratuity, taxes/fees, etc. add up. Disney is, well Disney. They have things like Pirate night, fireworks and broadway quality shows. The vibe is obviously- Disney. Moving up- Celebrity has a relaxed luxury type feel. There are kids, but it definitely feels centered towards adults. Great cocktails/food programs and a beautifully appointed ship. Princess is the highest ranked for Alaskan cruises. It has an older, more traditional cruise feel- but it’s definitely got that alaskan itinerary on lock! And finally- Virgin Cruises, the newcomer. Definitely a Miami nightlife vibe. Virgin is breaking the mold on cruising.
This is where things can get interesting. There are generally a couple of areas for European Cruise Itineraries- the Med (Italy, Spain mostly), Greek Islands (this can include Turkey, Croatia), Northern Europe (Norway, Denmark, etc) Quick cruises out of England and some transatlantic that can include Iceland, Greenland, etc.
Yes, we have our major cruise lines like we mentioned in Caribbean cruises, and those are great options. European cruises obviously drop you off in European cities which are generally easy to get around. This allows you to get out of the tourist traps right on the docks that you will probably be stuck in on Caribbean cruises without an excursion. Some of the major cruise lines give great deals and can be a great way to explore an otherwise prohibitively expensive destination, like the Greek Islands. We did a week in the Greek Islands for right around $3,000 and while you could find cheaper islands, Mykonos and Santorini are always going to be expensive, and island hopping in general is quite expensive.
There are also smaller cruise lines like Variety Cruises that are only 49 people tops. Because of the small size of the boat, they are able to port in smaller destinations. This allows you to explore places that would be very difficult to get to on your own. This cruise line goes all over the world but has lots of amazing European destinations- like Greece and the Maldvies.
You might think- well those are going to be crazy expensive, but they are very close to the same pricing as the bigger cruise company ships. I looked at a Greek Island Cruise- and keep in mind they don’t go to Mykonos, Santorini, etc. They go to small islands, but it was right at $3,000 as well. This is a great option for those who are not into the idea of the big cruise ship with thousands of people. If you can make it happen- you should try to explore the world by water at least once!
This is an up and coming area for cruising and I know we’re excited about it.
Adventure cruising is cruising that is specifically focused around exploring. You won’t necessarily find mini-golf on the top deck or a 24 buffet in the galley but you will find naturalists on board, sometimes labs are on board, specialists and destinations that you can’t get anywhere else. Some of my favorite companies in this space include- Hurtigertin, which has a northern lights guarantee, a Norway itinerary that follows the old postal route and true arctic cruising. Poseidon Cruises– small boats, around 100- great for antarctica. Right around 8k for Antarctica (good price- those are expensive cruises!). Has a great approach to sustainability. They also do many arctic cruises with up to 3 excursions a day. Quark is one of the major players in Antarctica space as well. Atlas Voyages is one to keep your eye on- they are new in the space and have some amazing perks like open bars, 24 hour room service and a top notch food program. They consider themselves a yachting program so they also operate with small ships to get in the lesser known ports. They also have a lot of deals right now as they establish themselves- like 2 for 1 cruise deals and no single supplement.
Need Help Planning the Cruise?
If you need help budgeting for cruises- check out our budgeting episode
If you’re looking towards the future and want to set up next year as your travel year, check out our very first episode on how to do just that!