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Is a Cruise Worth it? – Pros and Cons You Need to Know

by | Jan 6, 2024 | Cruise, Featured, Travel Tips | 14 comments

Are you planning a vacation and wondering, “Is a cruise worth it?” If you’ve never taken a cruise, you’ll want to keep reading for all the cruising pros and cons. This post will help you decide if a cruise is the right fit for you.

Is a Cruise Worth It?

If you’ve never taken a cruise before, you could be wondering what all the hype is about- is a cruise worth it? There are many reasons people love a cruise vacation and some travelers feel cruising is overrated. As a certified travel advisor, I have been on and helped many travelers with their cruise vacations. I have put together this post for you to use as a guide to help you decide whether a cruise is worth it.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click and buy I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Why Cruises Are Popular: The Pros of Cruising

A cruise vacation is a popular vacation for many because it appeals to all different types of travel. Whether you are traveling for a family vacation, group trip, honeymoon, or even a solo adventure, there is a cruise experience for all. Keep reading to see why so many people love to cruise.

Affordable

Similar to an all inclusive resort, your cruise fare will be inclusive of accommodations, meals, entertainment, and various onboard activities. This makes them a great value, especially for a big family vacation or for budget-savvy travelers. Many cruise lines also give cruisers the option to add the gratuity for crew members at the time of booking, which is a great deal.

If you’re booking your first cruise, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced travel agent. They will have information on cruise line promotions, that could get you free upgrades like a better drink package, internet package, or additional inclusions like flights or transfers.

Explore Multiple Destinations

The Alameda Gibraltar Botanic Gardens. Various green plants.

Unlike staying at a resort, a cruise is a great way to see different and new destinations in one trip. Each day you get to explore a different place. These could be places that you might not have otherwise had the opportunity to visit. A lot of people also appreciate that you can see so many places and only have to unpack one time.

I took a Mediterranean cruise one summer and was able to see four different countries in a week. An itinerary with many stops in different cruise ports is great for expanding your cultural horizons. For example, I can honestly say, I probably would not have been to Gibraltar had it not been for the Mediterranean cruise. A cruise is also a great way to determine which cities you’d like to visit again.  

Ease of Booking

When you book a non-cruise vacation that includes several different destinations, the planning process is extremely complex and takes a lot of time and hours of research. The good news is that you can have a vacation where you explore several different destinations without having to spend hours researching and planning. Booking a cruise vacation will save you so much time during the planning process and still allow you to experience different port cities.

Many cruise lines also bundle different parts of the trip. For example, you can book your roundtrip airfare, hotel, transfers to and from the ship, and your travel insurance as a package with the cruise line at the same time you book the base cruise fare. This makes the planning process much faster and so much easier. If the thought of planning still overwhelms you, you should talk with a certified travel advisor to help.

Activities and Entertainment

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship with multiple pools and lots of bright colors

Depending on the cruise itinerary you might have a day or more at sea, meaning you won’t be getting off the ship at a port of call. If this is your first time on a cruise, it would be normal to think sea days would be boring, but trust me, there is so much to do. A cruise is anything but boring.

Many cruise ships, especially the larger ships, are packed with activities. For a warm weather cruise, like a Caribbean cruise, you could easily spend the day relaxing on the Lido deck (the pool deck). The ship might have multiple pools, some with water slides, other pools are adult only, and there will always be music pumping and people having a great time. If anything, a cruise provides fantastic people-watching.

Some activities that are a little unique include the different classes to take, like painting or ballroom dancing. Some ships even have different seminars or lectures to attend.

Most ships also have a casino where you can play slot machines or games like blackjack or roulette. Arcades are also super popular. Some of the major cruise lines have ships that are so big, they have actual roller coasters and ice-skating rinks on board.

If you are into fitness, check out the fitness center for a self-guided workout, or take a workout like yoga or Zumba. A lot of cruise ships will also have sports decks, where you can find activities like basketball, tennis, and even a track.

The spa is another place to check out. You can choose from all types of different spa treatments- massages, body wraps, and facials, or even have a full spa day without ever getting off the ship!

As you can see, there is plenty to do to keep you busy during the day. The good news is, there is just as much to do in the evenings. You’ll find something for everyone, from Broadway-style shows to movies under the stars, and even live music. There will usually be a dance club, for those who like to keep the party going until the wee hours. The entertainment is always incredible, and you’ll never run out of things to do.

Make New Friends

One of the best parts of cruising is all the different people you meet. People from all over the world cruise, and chances are you’ll have the opportunity to meet some really interesting and cool people.

Participating in onboard activities, or offshore group excursions are two great ways to meet new people and make new friends. The best part about this is you might even meet people who you can plan future cruise vacations with.

The Food

The food from the Chef's Table Wine dinner on Princess Cruises.

Of course, the pros of a cruise can’t be discussed without mention of the food. Everyone knows a cruise is good for at least one thing- the food! That is because there is always so much available, and a wide variety too.

The main dining room will feature set menus that change daily. This is a great time to be adventurous and try something new. If you don’t like it, you can order something else because it’s all included. One common misconception is that the main dining room is only open for dinner, some cruise ships open the main dining room for breakfast and lunch. This allows cruisers to enjoy an elevated dining experience if they choose.

Also included in the base cruise fare, will be many casual restaurants and buffet restaurants. Don’t snooze on the buffet- talk about never-ending options!

For an extra charge, cruisers can enjoy specialty dining restaurants. The specialty restaurants vary from ship to ship but often include a steak house, Italian, French, and Sushi options. There might even be a Chef’s Dinner for which you could buy tickets.

The dining areas do have dress codes. So, it’s important to carefully read your documents and pack accordingly. In general, casual restaurants require casual dress whereas the main dining room is a little stricter. Some cruise lines are more lenient with the dress code than others.

You Create the Experience

One of the best things about a cruise is that you get to determine the type of experience you have.

If you want to participate in the various games and activities, you can! You can channel your inner social butterfly- party at the pool and make new friends. Another option would be to use the cruise as an opportunity to learn something new by taking one of the classes offered, like wine tasting or painting. Or you can choose to find a quiet place, start a new book, and relax. The cruise experience can also be a combination of all the above- the possibilities are endless.

Loyalty Programs

Another big perk for avid cruisers is the loyalty programs. Many of the large cruise lines reward cruisers for their loyalty. Each cruise line has a different tiered reward system, but some of the rewards include discounted rates, upgraded rooms, or free beverage packages.

If you find a cruise line you enjoy, it pays to enroll in the loyalty program.

Are Cruises Overrated? The Cons of Cruising

There are so many advantages to a cruise. It’s hard to think that there could be anything that one would consider a negative about a cruise vacation. Some travelers don’t understand the hype. I think it’s important that the downside of cruising is explained before determining if a cruise is worth it, or not.

Extra Costs

As mentioned above, the cost of the base cruise fare does include a lot. However, there are additional costs to be aware of. For example, most cruises do not include beverages outside of coffee, tea, and water. If cruisers want alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, or specialty coffees they will need to purchase a drink package.

While the food in the main dining areas is often pretty good, the food in the specialty restaurants is even better and will come at an additional cost. It’s also important to know that room service might not be included.

Wifi, excursions, and even some of the onboard activities might also be extra charges. There are different ways to save money. So, unless you are an avid cruiser, working with a travel agent who is experienced with booking cruises will help ensure you are getting a good deal.

Crowds

Crowds on a cruise ship pool deck

Cruises are very popular, and ships are operating at full capacity. Expect the ship to be crowded. Especially if you are cruising during a popular time of year, like the holidays or spring break.

If you are someone who does not like to be around a lot of people, a cruise might not be the most enjoyable vacation for you. You are on a ship. In the middle of the ocean. There is only so much space available. If you would like to give it a try though, my advice would be to avoid the mega ships you might be more comfortable on the small ships.

Limited Time in Ports

One of the best parts of a cruise is seeing all the different ports of call. This is also one of the downsides because you get a limited amount of time to explore.

There might only be 8-10 hours available to explore each destination. It can be a bummer to have to head back to the ship when you are enjoying the destination you are exploring. The best way to make sure you get the most out of your time is to research the destination and different excursions in advance.

I also used this as an opportunity to decide which cities I would like to visit again as a part of a non-cruise vacation. I found this to be the case more on a Mediterranean cruise I took, than the Caribbean.

Motion Sickness

The ocean is unpredictable. There is no way to determine if it’ll be smooth sailing or if rough seas are ahead.

If you suffer from motion sickness, I wouldn’t say that you should avoid cruising. But rather be prepared. There are so many different things that will help minimize seasickness. From pills to bracelets there is bound to be something to help.

When packing for your cruise, make sure you take a couple of different options, just in case one of them doesn’t work.

Expensive Excursions

Part of the allure of a cruise is getting to see different ports of call. The downside is that the cost of the shore excursions can add up quickly. In my experience, this is especially true for Alaskan cruises.

To help save some money on shore excursions, you could opt to explore the destination on your own. If you decide to explore on your own, make sure that you have done plenty of research beforehand, and have a general idea of what you’d like to do or see. If there are any tours you’d like to take, it’s a good idea to book them in advance.

Another way to save money on shore excursions is to look at options through third-party companies. Sometimes these companies will be a more affordable option.

It is worth mentioning, that there is some added assurance when you book your excursions through the cruise line. Most importantly, the tour operator will make sure they get you the ship in enough time, and if the tour is running late, the ship will wait. The same cannot always be said for tours through third parties. 

Unexpected Changes

In recent years, we have come to expect the unexpected. There is always a chance that anything unexpected can happen, and cruising is no different. While changes don’t happen often, it is a possibility.

Changes that could happen might include, changes in the cruise itinerary, canceled ports, or diverting to a different port. The reason for these changes might have to do with inclement weather, avoiding dangerous situations, or unexpected port closures.

Picking the Right Cruise Line

Pick the right cruise ship will make the cruise worth it. Virgin Voyages is an adults only cruise line
default

Another important factor when determining if a cruise is the right fit for your vacation is making sure you pick the right cruise line for the type of experience you want to have.

For example, if you are booking a cruise for a family vacation, you will want to make sure that the ship has plenty of kid-friendly amenities and family activities, like kid’s clubs, arcades, and water slides or splash parks.

Family Friendly Cruise Lines

  • Disney
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Carnival
  • Norwegian

There are also cruise lines that are better suited for adults. Typically, these cruises tend to be more expensive and do not have amenities that attract children. They focus on food, art, and culture.  

Cruise Lines Best for Adults

  • Princess
  • Celebrity
  • Oceania

Some cruise lines are adults-only, meaning passengers must be at least 18 years of age to cruise. This is a relatively new concept to the cruise scene but has really taken off.

It’s important to have an understanding of each cruise line and the type of vibe that can be expected on the ship. Some adult-only cruise lines are known for pushing boundaries- they have risqué shows, a vibrant nightlife, and theme parties. Other cruise lines focus on creating a culture of refinement and elegance.

Adults Only Cruise Lines

  • Viking
  • Virgin Voyages
  • P&O Cruises
  • Saga (minimum age to cruise is 50)

My Honest Opinion: Is a Cruise Worth It?

I honestly do believe a cruise is worth it. A cruise vacation offers a unique opportunity to create a truly customizable vacation experience.

The customization begins with deciding the cruise line that is the best fit. Cruise itineraries provide you with limitless options- you get to decide where in the world you’d like to cruise and for how long.

A cruise can cater to everyone’s vacation style, whether you are someone who prefers adventure and exploration or someone who prefers to use their vacation to relax.

In the end, only you can decide if cruising is right for you. For me, I find that a cruise is a great value for everything that is included, even taking into consideration that there are extra costs outside of the base fare.

Have you been on a cruise before?  What do you think- is a cruise worth it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Is a Cruise Worth it? Pros and Cons you need to now

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14 responses to “Is a Cruise Worth it? – Pros and Cons You Need to Know”

  1. wealthjourneycompass Avatar

    Great info, thanks for sharing.

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. Ann Avatar

    Thanks for this very informative post. I have not been on a cruise since I was in my twenties. I would love to take another one. I had so much fun and the food was awesome!

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      They are a blast!

  3. Vickie Moua Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing. My husband and I are debating if we should do a family cruise. This article is super informative because I’ve never done a cruise before. My biggest concern is if they allow pets, such as dogs.

    I feel more assured about doing a family cruise, and super excited!

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      I’m so glad you found this helpful! Most cruise ships do not allow pets, service dogs are allowed. I’m glad you’re excited! A cruise is a great way for the whole family to vacation together!

  4. Tracy McHugh Avatar
    Tracy McHugh

    This was such a great read for me! The last time I was on a cruise, I was 7. I’ve periodically looked into different cruise option but never got that far with it. All this info is really great to have for when I do take the plunge.

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  5. Catherine Kay Avatar

    This is great information! I always wondered if a cruise was worth it. I have seasickness issues, so I don’t know if I could ever go on a cruise. It sure looks like it would be fun.

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      They are a lot of fun! I get motion sickness easily, but didn’t do too bad on the ship! The bracelets really helped!

  6. Olga Avatar
    Olga

    I was on a cruise just once; it was short, only 3 days, but I loved it. I hope I will take my husband on a romantic cruise one day.

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      I hope you both get the chance to cruise together! They do make for a romantic getaway!

  7. Lani Avatar

    I was just thinking about this. Thank you so much for the information. At least I know now what to expect.

    1. katie Avatar
      katie

      You are welcome! I am glad you found it helpful!

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