Are Cruises Worth the Hype?: The Pros and Cons of Cruising

Ocean waves crashing against the ship. The breeze gently caressing your face. The sun spreading warmth throughout your body. The ideal beach vacation may have been your first thought. But what if it included multiple beaches with your transportation being a city on the water? That’s an option when it comes to cruising, but is it worth it to book?

There’s been a long time debate on whether cruises count as travel. At the end of the day, I don’t see why this is a debate. Choose what makes the most sense for you and yours and keep it pushing. Travel doesn’t come in one form, nor does one form take hierarchy over others. I’m a strong proponent of using vacation days. My motto: I work to live; I do not live to work. Any opportunity I receive to travel, best believe that opportunity seized. Unfortunately, we all know life is too short and tomorrow is not guaranteed. So live that life now!

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As with everything in life, cruises have their pros and cons. We’ll dive into them and hopefully that will help you decide whether cruises may be an option for you and yours. Whatever you decide, you won’t know for sure unless you try it at least once!

The Pros of Cruising

What are the good things about cruising? Obviously for each person that will differ and I’m sure there are people out there saying there is nothing good about cruising. Below I’ve detailed the positives I find when aboard a ship.

All-Inclusive on a Ship
Two cruise ships side by side in the harbor with rocks in the forefront.
Basically cities on a ship with different companies offering different amenities

One of the major enticing features of cruising is that everything can be included in one price. There will be optional add-ons such as speciality restaurants, drinks (if you didn’t previously include a drink package), and more. However, it is possible to pay one price and not spend money once on the boat. Food is included; lodging is included; drinks such as water, tea, and select juices are included; and entertainment is included. For those who are booking for a large group and/or for those booking way in advance, it’s great because there are payment plans.

Ease for Family or Group Travel
Larissa, her mom, and her sister standing in the ocean smiling at the camera. Larissa is in the background with one arm extended and has sunglasses on. Her mom has sunglasses on. Her sister is looking at the camera, sticking her tongue out.
Me, mom, and sister enjoying our time in the water at one of the ports

When it comes to family travel, I absolutely love cruising. We all have different travel styles and cruising is the best compromise to cater to all of us. I recently saw a social media post that stated there are “vacationers” and there are “travelers”. Haha I’m sure you can guess which one I am as my mindset is “I will sleep when I’m dead” and I want to do ALL the things. The rest of my family is definitely not like that at all.

With cruising, all the planning is taken care of. Where you’re going to stay; what to eat; where to go. As the traveller and planner of my family, it gets overwhelming very quickly when trying to find something for everyone. With a cruise, all we have to worry about agreeing upon before booking is the length and the ports of call. I also like that once booked, you can send the cruise to extended family and/or friends to see if they would like to join, but there’s no other action required on your part (aside from maybe sharing your room number if you’d all like to be close together).

The option for the group to divide and conquer to participate in activities of personal interest is endless. Or you can choose to do everything together. Between relaxing by the pool, shows from the artists and comedians on board, entertainment from the cruise director, shopping extravaganzas, and more, there usually is something for everyone.

Lastly, there is usually some time of club options for children 18 years and younger. This is great for kids to meet others on the ship similar in age in a supervised environment. I’ve personally never attended but I’ve heard great things for all the age ranges. And on our first family cruise, my sister dropped in to the club for the older kids and had a great time.

Ports of Call
Larissa taking a selfie in the ocean, wearing a teal bikini top and has white goggles on top of her head. A large cruise ship is behind her.
All smiles when I’m in the water

For those with a peaked interest in a destination, with limited mobility, or with limited time, cruises are a perfect option to see different places. Although time is limited at each port, with enough research it’s possible to maximize the time there and get a taste of what the port has to offer. It won’t be a true feel for the city or country, as port cities have a different vibe, but it may be possible to explore a bit outside if time permits. With those with limited mobility, booking a bus or vehicle tour is a great option to get around and see the sights.

The Cons of Cruising

Although you know I’m a fan of cruises, it still has its drawbacks. Below I’ve detailed the negatives I find when cruising.

Limited Time at Ports
Larissa looking away from the camera wearing a gray shirt, green overalls, black Chacos, and a black book bag. A Carnival cruise ship is in the background as well as a deck/boardwalk that has people sitting on it.
Snapping pictures with the time we have at the port

As someone who wants to maximize their time when travelling, I would love to spend more than 8-10 hours at a destination. That’s not enough time to explore the port and truly get a sense of the local culture. You constantly have to be monitoring the time to ensure you’re back on board on time, as the ship will leave you if you’re not back on time. And you need to make sure you’re time is coordinated with the ship’s time as they may not be operating on the time at the location if there is a difference due to time zones or day-light savings. I have been the last person back on the ship and at the time we thought we were getting back an hour early. Highly recommend incorporating ample time to get back to the port just in case.

Motion Sickness
A picture of a cruise ship
The view while riding the tender boat from the Sapphire Princess

One of the biggest cons of cruising is motion sickness. If you’re prone to it, I recommend choosing a larger ship as you’re least likely to feel the motion of the ocean. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen though and weather can change pretty quickly. If the seas become rough, you may find yourself feeling the rocking more than anticipated. There are a variety of methods to help combat sea sicknesses including sea bands, Dramamine or similar pills, or behind the ear patches (which I believe need to be prescribed). Personally, I take Dramamine. I start taking a pill a day two-three days prior to boarding the ship. Once onboard, I continue daily and then take for two-three days post trip.

Pricey Excursions
Larissa and her sister sitting in a yellow kayak in the ocean taking a selfie. They are both wearing sunglasses and blue life vests. There are kayakers in the background as well as a cruise ship.
Booked a kayaking excursion for me and my sister in Bonaire

Excursions are part of the fun when disembarking at a port. However, they can cost so much, especially if going through the cruise ship for peace of mind (so the cruise ship doesn’t leave you behind). And when you have a large group with you. The good thing is that booking excursions isn’t mandatory and there are typically free or more cost-effective options. Just make sure to do your research for the port prior to the cruise.

Stuck on a Cruise

There are some instances when being stuck on a cruise ship doesn’t sound so bad. But as we saw with COVID, there are definitely times where it can quickly turn into a nightmare. With an outbreak of an infectious disease, the germ in question can quickly jump from passenger to passenger effectively taking an entire ship down.

My Personal Experiences with Cruises

By no means am I an expert when it comes to cruises; however, I have gone on 5 different cruises to date. As you can with that statement, I enjoy cruising overall. In my experience, the pros outweigh the cons and they provide an excellent vacation option. I recapped my cruise experiences below:

First Cruise: Family Cruise Aboard Carnival Glory
Larissa and her parents taking a selfie, smiling into the camera. Her mom is wearing a blue, white, and purple striped shirt. Larissa and her dad are both wearing gray shirts. The city of Miami is in the background as the ship heads out to sea.
Not sure where sister was for this pic, but our first cruise!

This cruise was the first for me and my family. We embarked on a seven-day adventure on the Carnival Glory. As we never cruised before, the experience exceeded our expectations. We flew down to Miami the day prior to embarking. We also made sure to stay the night in Miami once we got back in case of any unforeseen circumstances so we wouldn’t miss our flight. I documented our time via YouTube if you want to check it out.

Second Cruise: Best Friend Cruise Aboard Carnival Ecstasy
Larissa and her best friend take a selfie in front of a cruise ship, smiling into the camera wearing sunglasses. Larissa is wearing a black and white patterned romper. Her friend is wearing a gray and whit tank top with blue shorts.
Bestie and I in front of the ship

Ever since my best friend and I met in college freshmen year, we have been taking spring break trips together. We unintentionally continued the tradition once we graduated and once we realized what we were doing, we decided to deliberately make an effort to continue the tradition. One of the trips post-graduation was a five-day cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Carnival Ecstasy. We sailed out of the Port of Charleston, which I will personally never do again. I reviewed our entire experience here.

Third Cruise: Twin + Mom Cruise Aboard Sapphire Princess
Larissa, Marissa, and Marissa's mom smiling mouth open at the camera. They each hold a glass of champagne in their hands.
Cheers-ing to our sail off!

In college I met another friend, Marissa. Imagine our surprise when we realized just how alike we were down to the strokes we swam on the swim team. We joked we were long lost twins and to this day, the joke remains. When I found out her and her mom were going on a two-week cruise throughout Southeast Asia, I couldn’t not invite myself. So I found myself flying out to Shanghai, China to board the Sapphire Princess with my other fam. I reviewed the experience here.

Fourth Cruise: Family Cruise Aboard Carnival Horizon
Larissa and her family are smiling into the camera with a cruise ship in the background. Her mom is wearing a beige and black flowery tank top and a jean skirt with Birkenstocks. Larissa is wearing a gray shirt, green overalls, black Chacos, and has a black backpack on her back. Her dad is wearing an orange, blue, and white striped shirt with khaki shorts and black water shoes. Her sister is wearing a white tank top with a blue cover up and blue jean shorts and white plastic Birkenstocks.
The fam enjoying our time together

The next family cruise was an eight-day cruise to the ABC Islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. My immediate family booked the trip and then asked the extended family to come along with us. Two aunts joined the fun and we all had a great time. I briefly recapped each port on Instagram – check the links above to hear about each destination.

Fifth Cruise: Antarctica Cruise with Follow the Fro Tours
A small portion of our 60+ group out of the 160+ people onboard

This cruise was the most unique experience as it was an expedition cruise. The ship was built more so for function than for vacation and relaxation. There were not as many options as one would find on a “typical” cruise ship, but that did not take away from the experience. Being one of the first cruise ships to venture back to Antarctica post-pandemic, we saw the continent in such pristine condition. I recapped my experience via three blogs – Antarctica: A Guide to Visiting; The Ultimate Antarctica Packing Guide; and A Day in the Life in Antarctica. I also published several Instagram posts here and here.

Are Cruises for You?

Larissa has her feet extended in the ocean towards a cruise ship.
Enjoying the crystal clear waters near the ship

Although cruises may not be my top choice for a trip, there are definite opportunities where it’s the ideal option. For some people it’s a straight answer as to whether they want to cruise or not. For others, it may be a bit more complicated and depend on a number of factors. At the end of the day, do what makes the best sense for you and/or your group.

Also, I would like to note solo cruising is a thing! Make sure you do your research if this sounds like something you would like. Typically when you book a cabin aboard a ship, it’s based on double-occupancy. There are some cruise lines that are more solo-friendly.

Have you cruised before? What are your thoughts? Any other pros or cons you want to add? If you haven’t cruised, would you consider going on one? What’s holding you back? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thank you for supporting Life with Larissa. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

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