To date I have been on five cruises and I highly recommend them.  Of the five, four have been on Royal Caribbean and one on Carnival.  I do plan some day to branch out and try another cruise line or two, but the benefits with picking a cruise line and sticking with it increase with each cruise you take.  Most, if not all cruise lines offer memberships that are earned with each passing vacation you take with them.  The benefits include anything from free drink passes to special lounges to wait in for departures (if you haven’t cruised before, this is a much bigger perk than it sounds) to discounts on future cruises.  Some of the other cruise lines you should consider are:  Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, and Disney.  Yes, Disney has a cruise line if you weren’t already aware and it isn’t just for the kids.  In fact, if you don’t have kids there are plenty of fun things for adults only.

Cruising is great for anyone and everyone because there is such a wide variety of things to do on and off the ship.  Just how wide is the range?  On one of my cruise vacations we went with some extended family, the age range was 18 to 85 and we all had a great time.  Depending on which line and ship you choose here are just a few of your options on board:  lounging on the top deck either pool side or over looking the waves, rock climbing, ice skating, mini golf, tennis, basketball, shuffle board, ping pong, gambling, and swimming.  Off the ship, it completely depends on the destination but some options may be to lay on the beach and soak up some sun, take a hike along a beach or through a rain forest, go sailing, museum tours, horse back riding, snorkeling or scuba diving, and so much more.  I’ll dive in to some location specific options in future posts.

The one thing everyone hears about is the food.  Is it really as good as they say?  Heck yes!  You have access to food 24/7 and with the wide range of activities available you’ll be glad to have food at your finger tips.  Some say they gain quite a bit of weight while cruising because of all the food, but it really just depends on what you elect to take part in on board the ship and your choice of shore excursions.  The midnight buffet is a must do at least once for the visual stimulation, it’s incredible what can be created with food.  Some cruisers haven’t been fans of the assigned seating in the formal dining room.  Personally, this is something even my introverted self enjoys.  I’ve met some interesting people that I wouldn’t otherwise have interacted with if I hadn’t been forced to eat my meals at the same table.

If you’re still concerned about gaining weight from the incredible meals, there is usually a running track on the top deck of each ship and all have work out facilities available on board.  Most often these are connected to the spa.  Spaces fill up quickly at the spa, particularly the day of and before a formal night, so make sure to book your appointment early.  Another amenity most people aren’t aware of is that there is a 24 hour medical team on staff should anyone become ill while on board.  This single fact is how we convinced the Girl Scout Council to let us take a mother/daughter cruise for our 8th grade trip.  🙂

When it comes to the rooms, I have only stayed in two types.  The interior room and a room with a balcony.  I’ve stepped into the rooms with an ocean view and they aren’t for me.  The interior rooms are 100% dark once the lights are turned off, it’s great for catching up on your beauty sleep.  Having the room and being able to visit several places without having to switch rooms is for me the main perk to cruising.  If you stop at a location you want to explore further you can always make that next years vacation as a destination instead of a port of call from a cruise ship.  On the flip side, if you stop at a location you really aren’t thrilled with, you aren’t stuck there for long.

Sea sickness can sometimes happen, for me the only time I felt less than myself was on a trip to the Southern Caribbean when we crossed the Intertropical Convergence Zone.  For the most part the ship’s stabilizers work like a charm and you won’t need to pick up that dramamine before you board.  If you find that you still need it, you can pick some up down in the medical center or in the on board shop (where you can also pick up just about any other item you forgot to pack from clothes to toothpaste).  With that worry out of the way head out to sea…