When I boarded the Celebrity Cruise ship I had no idea what to expect. It was my first time cruising as an adult and I was travelling in a completely new way. I had no idea what to pack or what I’d be doing in my spare time so this post is for anyone going on a cruise or wondering if a cruise is for them.
It’s likely you’ll get hooked on cruising
I spoke to countless people on my cruise and every single one of them had been on a cruise before. “Cruising is addictive,” they’d tell me enthusiastically and most seemed to have cruised at least 5-6 times before.
I met a lot of North Americans onboard and for most of them it was a great way to see as much of Europe as possible in the short amount of time they had.
It can be exhausting
A cruise can be as active or relaxing as you choose but if you want to make the most out of your trip then be prepared for long days and lots of sight-seeing. Most cruises dock in a new place each day – that’s the main reason most people go on a cruise in the first place to see as much as possible– so it’s likely you’ll want to get off the ship and explore.
There will be excursions and tours provided by the cruise company and they’ll also offer transfers to the nearest major towns or cities. The excursions can be great because you get a local guide who can show you all the main attractions in the limited time you have. Bear in mind that a daily tour would be very tiring so pick your tour days wisely and use your other days to meander at a slower pace.
Very few people travel alone on a cruise
As this was technically ‘work’ I was travelling alone on the cruise, something I found to raise a lot of curiosity and surprise. I was told on numerous occasions that people rarely travel alone on a cruise and among the couples there were lots of groups of friends travelling together.
Having said this, cruising is very sociable and I only once had dinner alone. People are friendly and keen to talk about their previous cruises and share their experiences so if you are travelling alone, you’ll soon make friends.
There are endless possibilities for evening entertainment
Think you’re going to get bored stuck on the same ship for a few weeks? Think again. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes, each with a different style and theme and the evening entertainment is as diverse as the customers. I know it’s a cliché but there’s something for everyone whether you want a jazz club, a night club, comedy, theatre, a movie or a quiet drink on the deck. You could even curl up in the library with a good book, a cup of tea and a packet of fresh cookies.
It’s all too easy to gain weight during a cruise
Speaking of fresh cookies, the food on a cruise is amazing and there is plenty of it. As with any all-inclusive holiday, it’s hard to say no when you feel like you’ve already paid for it but after a few weeks you’re going to feel the pinch.
There area lot of health and fitness activities available
If you’re like me and can’t say no to dessert (or those fresh cookies – sorry to keep going on about them but they were really good!) then you may be interested in all the health and fitness options.
Most cruises will have a well-equipped gym, plenty of gym classes, a running track, spa treatments and multiple swimming pools. Combine that with all the walking you’ll be doing on your day tours and in theory you should go home as fit as a fiddle. In theory anyway…
It can be great value for money
Cruising is not a cheap holiday. I’m sure you knew that already but when you compare it to a similar holiday that would enable you to visit as many counties then you’ll have to agree that it’s undeniably good value.
You’re paying for the convenience of having a room you never need to leave with bags you never need to re-pack and also having as much relaxation time as you please.
Not everyone on a cruise is old
Yes, that’s right, cruise ships aren’t full of pensioners. Admittedly, I was one of the youngest people onboard but most people were around the 55 mark and I saw a lot of younger couples too. Most people seemed to be the type that loved to travel and see new places but could afford to do it in luxury and without all the faff of trains, buses and planes.
A couple of my girlfriends went on a cruise this summer and they all say it was the best holiday they’ve ever had. It was meant to be a family holiday but they tagged along with my friend’s parents and had a great time.
It can feel like you’re in a busy city onboard
This one came as a shock to me when I discovered I could walk around the ship each night and discover something new. There were new bars and clubs, live music, hidden booths, a library, an art gallery and designer shops. These all work in the same way as anything in a city. You need to make reservations in restaurants and book appointments for spa treatments.
You will need some formal clothes
Every single time I go away I pack something formal. You know, that ‘just in case’ outfit, the killer heels that look gorgeous but I can barely walk 10 meters in or the LBD that goes with everything. I’ve been packing these items for the past 10 years and never, ever wear them. And the one time I don’t pack them, guess what happens. Yep, I needed them.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Saturday nights are usually formal nights on cruise ships. Not everyone goes all out but you wouldn’t seem out of place in a floor length dress or a tux. And the best thing about being on a cruise is that you don’t need to walk too far so you can pack the killer heels!
Never, ever, call it a ‘boat’
And finally, as an 11th bonus, I thought I’d leave you with a little tip.
It’s a ship, not a boat. I learnt this lesson the hard way when I dropped ‘boat’ into a polite dinner conversation and the entire table looked at me like I’d said a particularly nasty swear word. Oops.