We recently returned from a week long Caribbean adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. The ship was spectacular and my children had a pretty epic adventure. In my son John’s words, “it was literally the best thing ever!”
My husband and I, while we enjoyed various aspects of the experience a great deal, aren’t convinced that cruising is for us. There are things that I think every family should know before making what can be a fairly expensive investment- so I thought I would round up some of the things to consider if you’re planning a cruise experience. (And if you are looking for my candid thoughts both good and bad, check out my YouTube video here).
To you decide if a cruise is right for you, here are some things to consider:
1. DO CROWDS MAKE YOU ANXIOUS?
With six kids, getting from point A to point B anywhere in life is an accomplishment. So I really don’t like crowds and try my best to avoid them. By the nature of how a cruise ship is designed (like a mini city on water), crowds are inevitable, and I think unless you spend a ton of money and go for the exclusive level rooms / clubs / restaurants, expect to wait in line, deal with crowded elevators, etc. wherever you go.
My husband is an introvert and I kind of feel like cruises are designed for extroverts! So do keep in mind your tolerance for crowds when you pick a ship- look for smaller ships for a less crowded experience.
2. ARE YOU A BUFFET PERSON, OR A SIT DOWN RESTAURANT PERSON?
Many cruises offer incredible buffets included with your ticket fee, with a great mix of healthy foods, treat foods, and cultural foods.
I love me a good buffet, don’t get me wrong, but what I really enjoy is being able to converse at a languid pace with my family at the table and really just be present and have great conversation. It’s just not the same with a buffet with everyone getting up and down (and of course trying to balance kids plates and your own plates is a logistical experience).
While many ships have beautiful sit down restaurants, the sit down restaurants are often at an additional fee, so if you value a sit down experience be prepared to spend. Some ships offer value packages when you pre-pay for these specialty restaurants, so do look into that to save some money.
3. DO YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE CULTURAL HIGHLIGHTS OR GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH?
While at port at a destination, you typically have one or two days, depending on your length of cruise. The ships do a great job of curating various experiences you can do while on land within these cultures, but they are definitely the “highlight reel” so to speak- definitely offering value, but you can only experience so much in a few hours.
If exploring off the beaten path is more your jam, I think you could still do that within a cruise experience, but there is something to be said of slow travel days, spending time with locals like other resort or Eco-tourist type experiences can gain you.
4. DO YOU GET OVERWHELMED IN MESSY, SMALL SPACES?
As an interior designer, the space I sleep in, and having a tidy space, is really important to me. I knew it was going to be a challenge to live in smaller quarters than we are used to at home, but thought that we would be ok for a week.
We were not. Clutter really impacts my anxiety level and I found it challenging to keep our room clean and our stuff organized. I would definitely advise looking into the cost difference between a standard room and upgrading to a suite, as this can have a large impact on the way you relax.
As I mention pretty candidly in this video, I am not convinced a cruise is the right fit for our family, but I would be interested to see what a smaller ship experience would be like, or if we returned to a larger ship, if the cost of upgrading to larger accommodations would be worth it to me.
What about you? Do you cruise and love it? Or are cruises not for you? Love to know in the comments below and for more of my thoughts traveling with family, check out these posts here and here. And for lots more thoughts on cruising, hit play below.