The Love Boat: Is A Cruise Vacation For You?
Before you say, ‘aww hell to the nah’ about a cruise vacation, just read this. When you get to the point where your family has gotten so big that the cost of a vacation is usually equal to that of a small house, you will consider a cruise. I get different responses from friends when I ask them whether or not they would cruise. Some refuse because of their fear of boats. Others say it’s because of their fear of water. But for some, it’s a good option for a number of different reasons. For one, it can be a cost effective way to enjoy a family vacation. But before you go, there are a few things you should know if you are thinking about taking your chances at sea.
You get what you pay for. I get it. Many times, vacationers go with a cruise because there’s a good special. But the less money you pay, the less comfortable you will be. There is no benefit to booking a year or so in advance unless you are planning some sort of family together with a lot of folks, or there is a deal that is too good to beat. Last minute deals are usually the best ones. At this point, the cruise ships are just trying to get rid of the rooms so you should take advantage of it. Last week, I took a cruise that we had pre-paid six months ago. Two weeks before we sailed, the price was less than half of what we paid. Thanks Royal Caribbean.
Next, take your kids! Some cruise ships offer specials that include the “kids sail free” option. Yes, this is kinda like a scam to me. It sounds good, but if you think about it, those kids are staying in your room regardless. It makes sense to let them sail free. If your kids are in your cabin, then why should you pay extra for them? You’re already paying for the cabin! You don’t pay extra for them when you all stay in a hotel room–there is one rate and that’s it. Because you are paying for all the ship’s activities, they charge you per person, but if you can get a kids sail free option, that seems like the best way to go. Plus, you are really just agreeing to be more cramped if you take your kids so they shouldn’t charge you for that. Weigh taking your kids against how much it will cost to not take your kids. Guess what? It’s cheaper to keep them. I didn’t take my kids on this last cruise, and I regretted it. I think it cost me more to leave them with my mother (when you get to three kids, grandmothers start charging).
While on the boat, there’s usually a lot for kids to do, but choose a boat that is loaded with activities for the kids (and check the activities per age group). There are usually a lot of things for the family to do together (karaoke, comedy shows) and if you want to drop the kids off, there are kids clubs where you can leave them for a few hours. For the tweens and teens, there are scavenger hunts, and things that will keep your children entertained while you get your drink on. More times than not, the entertainment is kinda cheesy.
Did I mention drinks? If you’re “alcoholic” enough to buy a drink package, you’ll get your money’s worth. Drinks run you a pretty penny on a cruise, but that’s definitely one of the ways the ship makes its money. By the time you spend all that money on alcohol, you could have flown the entire family to whatever your destination city is and stayed in a room where your knees didn’t touch the bathroom door.
Speaking of the bathroom. Sigh. If you’re one of those people who need to sit comfortably on the toilet, then cruising is not for you. The bathroom is probably the worst part about any cruise. There’s a toilet that usually sits in the shower. Okay not really, but it may as well be. There is not much room in the bathroom or anywhere else for that matter, so don’t eat like crazy or you’ll be stuck in that closet of a bathroom. Oh yeah, and watch your step when you come out. I continually forget the bathrooms are raised up a bit.
And last but not least, the food. Please don’t expect a gourmet, fine dining experience. It’s a boat. It’s all you can eat. It’s a buffet. Stick to the basics and don’t get fancy.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a cost effective vacation for a bigger family, then cruising is a good option–unless of course, you don’t like the motion of the ocean.