Should you choose to cruise? Well, I guess that depends on what you’re looking for and who you’re going with.
Many say that there are two types of people: those who are cruise people and those who aren’t. I’m here to say that I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as some may think. While I think it’s fairly safe to say that T and I are not exactly what you’d call cruise people, and we have no plans anytime soon to set sail again on the open seas, I will say that choosing to go on a Bermuda cruise as a group of twelve friends was the perfect choice. Making plans as a large group was pretty seamless, especially since we departed out of New Jersey, so no flights needed to be arranged. In terms of minimal planning, convenience, affordability and finding something for everyone, a cruise accommodated our group’s needs exceedingly well.
For reference, we sailed on a five-day Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas cruise out of Bayonne, New Jersey to King’s Wharf, Bermuda, where we were docked for 1.5 days.
Like many types of travel, taking a cruise of course has its advantages and disadvantages. Below are a few worth considering if you’re deciding on whether a cruise fits your travel needs.
Cruises are extremely convenient and offer a pretty uncomplicated method of travel. Everything is self-contained and the only things you really need to plan ahead of time are your dinner times and any shore excursions. You can choose the type of cruise that’s right for you based on destination(s), duration, and of course, budget. You can be as active or inactive as you wish; a wide variety of options are at your fingertips ranging from pools, to fitness centers, spa, shops, casino, game room/arcade and of course infinite amounts of food and drink gluttony.
Great Value & Upfront Costs
Similar to many all-inclusive resorts, a cruise can be an incredible value since it combines all of your travel necessities (accommodations, food and drinks, entertainment, taxes, etc.) into one package and is typically less expensive than if you were to book each item individually. In addition, for the most part, all costs are upfront and there are no hidden charges or real need to budget during your trip, unlike with many other types of travel. Typically the only extra charges are the purchases of higher-end alcohol (if you choose), optional shore excursions, and of course any souvenirs and purchases you make while shopping.
Thing to note: We booked our cruise through Vacations To Go and paid a $200 deposit to secure the booking and the balance was due about two months before our sail date.
Great For Large Groups
For our party of twelve adults, going on a cruise turned out to be an excellent choice. All of our decisions were pretty much already made for us so there were very few decisions to make–which you know, when there are a lot of people involved, can sometimes get tricky. Logistics couldn’t be any easier: no-one has to drive, no Ubers need to be arranged and there’s a good chance that there’s something available for everyone. Cruises provide so much flexibility and choice, which can be ideal for most groups ranging from families to adults.
Visiting Multiple Locations
Although our cruise solely stopped in Bermuda, many cruises allow travelers to visit multiple islands/locations in a relatively short amount of time. Of course, if you are someone who prefers to spend more time in one place (like me!), then this aspect can easily turn into a significant disadvantage.
Endless Soft Serve
That’s right. Soft serve for days. And it’s wonderful. That’s all.
Oh and these incredible nightly sunsets weren’t too shabby either.
Limited Time To Explore
For me, this one disadvantage is enough to deter me from ever taking a cruise again. Once upon a time I was happy to visit somewhere new for a day just to say I had been there (during our first European trip together as a couple, we took a needless day trip from Barcelona to Perpignan, France just so that I could visit France for a few hours–of course not realizing that we would visit France again–and hopefully will again and again in the future!). Sure, we visited Bermuda. But we really didn’t see or experience Bermuda. Part of that was the our fault–we were with friends and our biggest goals were to find Elbow Beach (which we were on for about 20 minutes before it started to rain) and to eat and drink, which we did…we spent a nice long leisurely lunch eating and drinking at the very popular Mickey’s Beach Bistro. And yes, we decided not to book any excursions, so there’s that, too. But even if we did, our time would’ve still been greatly limited. Most cruises provide less than twelve hours at one destination, which isn’t a lot of time. There’s something about being on someone else’s schedule and having very little control over your time that I find unnerving. In addition, disembarking can be time consuming and even chaotic due to the mass exodus of passengers. A lot of time is wasted just getting off and on the ship.
So. Many. People.
I am anything but an introvert and typically don’t mind large crowds, but of course I also appreciate privacy and seclusion every now and then. That is pretty much impossible aboard a cruise ship. While the people watching is rather fascinating, the sheer number of people can be overwhelming and almost maddening. From scoping out lounge chairs at the pool to waiting in never-ending breakfast buffet lines, being constantly surrounded by strangers can get old rather quickly. It’s enough to make you want to retreat to your shoebox of a cabin. Which leads me to…
Cruise ships aren’t exactly known for their comfortable and spacious cabins. Sure, they exist and of course the more you are willing to pay, the larger your cabin will be, but for the most part, ship cabins are small. It wasn’t a big deal for us since we were hardly ever in our room, but it is something to keep in mind.
PRO/CON (depending on how you look at it)
Endless Amounts of Food
This section should really be titled the good, bad, and the ugly. Cruise ships’ reputations for their obscene amounts of food are pretty much spot on. And while it’s great to have a wide variety of options, it’s very easy to over-indulge and see your caloric intake skyrocket fairly quickly. Don’t get me wrong–I’m all for gluttony on vacations, but I do have my limit on the amount of times I can visit a buffet in a span of less than a week. It’s just too much.
On the other hand, while the idea of eating dinner at the same table every night didn’t initially appeal to me, there was something rather enjoyable about the familiarity and comfortableness of sitting at “our group’s table” and getting to know our friendly and hospitable servers. And I should add that the food, particularly at dinner, was rather good and much better than I had anticipated.
So will the Hill’s ever set sail again? It’s possible (I’ve learned to stop saying never, since there are so many damn things I do now on a regular basis that I used to say I’d never do–running, yoga, giving up meat…you get the idea). However it’s safe to say that cruises are not our preferred method of travel and there are only a handful that we would probably even ever consider going on again (Alaska and Scandinavia instantly come to mind). Did we enjoy our Bermuda cruise? Of course. And we would go on a cruise again with the same exact group if the opportunity ever comes again. Because this trip was really more about the people we were with rather than the actual cruise itself.
As the old adage goes, It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it’s who you have beside you.
Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas