In Defense of the Cruise

The subject of cruise holidays seems to be a bit like marmite- you either love them or you hate them. Everyone seems to have an opinion on cruises, and many people aren’t afraid to let their thoughts be heard. The latest Huffington Post article by Adrian Brijbassi entitled ‘Why You Should Never Go On a Cruise‘ is no exception.

The title immediately had my hackles up. I recently wrote about how I hate being told the proposed ‘right’ way to travel, and this article tells me what I shouldn’t be doing before I’ve even read the first sentence. However, I read it in it’s entirety and by the end I couldn’t agree with a single point the author had made. By far the most baffling point made in the article is Brijbassi saying that a cruise to the Galapagos is one of the few reasons he is glad cruises exist, which seems to be contradicting the whole point of his article.
In Defense of the Cruise

One of the things that people seem to constantly fixate upon is the issue of safety, and this article did just that. Sure, there have been issues, problems and tragic accidents such as the Costa Concordia shipwreck in 2012 where 32 people sadly lost their lives. But there’s risk in everything, and statistically cruises are 8 times safer than simply crossing the street in New York City, but nobody warns you of that when you tell them you’re visiting the city. Cruising is statistically safer than getting in your car and driving to work, and it’s also far safer than flying. People simply must take notice of these facts and stop clinging to the unfounded notion that cruises are unsafe.

Brijbassi’s article compares cruise holidays with stays in luxury hotels, using the examples of the Ritz-Carlton and Kempinsj, saying they have ‘rarely, if ever, faced questions over safety and crime’. That’s all very well and good if all you plan to do is sit in your hotel room or relax in the spa for the duration of your visit, but if you venture outside of it you unquestionably put yourself at risk whether you realise it or not. By jumping into a taxi to visit a nearby attraction, by crossing the road to the museum and so on you increase the chances of something untoward happening and thus, using the issue of safety as a reason not to cruise is futile once you bring other factors such as these into consideration.

In Defense of the Cruise

The idea that cruise holidays offer nothing more than a ‘contrived and shellacked slant on luxury and excess’ is one which I also don’t necessarily agree with. I wonder how they offer more of a slant on luxury and excess than a week in a Ritz-Carlton in X or Y city? I believe that different people get different things out of travel experiences, and I would certainly get more of an ‘authentic’ travel experience in 12 hours in Barcelona visiting the Sagrada Famillia, eating tapas and strolling through the Barri Gotic than someone who stays in the Ritz-Carlton (or another similarly luxurious hotel) who spends all their time lounging by the rooftop swimming pool.

My point is that not all travel experiences are created equal. Staying in a luxury hotel and being chauffeur driven around a destination whenever you venture outside it’s 5 star confines certainly does not make for a more authentic experience than soaking up as much culture in a destination in the time you have ashore before retiring to your cruise ship for dinner and to be transported to your next port of call the following day. I’m not for a minute saying that this is what all luxury hotel guests do, but just because you’re on land doesn’t automatically make your experience better or more real. Similarly, is a cruise holiday any less authentic than booking a package holiday to Egypt for example, and spending all your time holed up in a resort drinking cocktails? I certainly don’t think so, but there never seem to be as strong opinions on this type of trip as there are on cruises. 

In Defense of the Cruise

Sure, on a ten day cruise visiting 8 different ports of call and spending an average of 12 hours in each, you certainly won’t do much more than scratch beneath the surface of a destination. You might not find the elusive ‘authenticity’ that seems to have become the latest buzzword in travel, but who says you have to? On the 13 cruises I’ve sailed on so far I’ve gotten a flavour of certain places I’ve visited and subsequently booked trips to return and spend more time there. I’ve also visited some places and realised 12 hours there was enough for me. The beauty of a cruise is that it allows you a snapshot of a place and you can decide for yourself whether you want to return and explore it further at a later date.

Of course there are negative points about cruising, but there are negatives to every travel experience. There are people who get on board and never leave the ship, only moving between the sun loungers and the bars and restaurants. There are people who don’t give a damn about experiencing other cultures and trying new things but you find these people everywhere. It’s easy to stereotype cruise holidays and their passengers but isn’t it time we stopped talking about how people should and shouldn’t travel and let people make their own decisions based on the style of travel that suits them. I certainly think so.

Brijbassi finishes his article by stating  ‘My advice when someone asks about going on a multi-day cruise aboard a mega-liner is always the same: Don’t go. Find a better, more authentic and ultimately more rewarding travel adventure elsewhere.’ Well, my advice is go for it. Give it a try and if you still don’t like it then so be it, but don’t dismiss something so vehemently before you’ve even tried it. 

In Defense of the Cruise

Safety statistics are taken from www.cruisesource.us

17 Responses to In Defense of the Cruise

  1. Shalu Sharma

    I remember the Costa Concordia shipwreck, its really sad. But I am not aware of any more incidences. Cruises do seem existing but they are overpriced and it will all depend on taste. But why not, its all experiencing.

    • Emma Gray

      There are actually a lot of great deals on cruises if you have a look. They can offer really good value for money if you get a good price!

  2. Lance

    Love your blog! I completely agree – there’s a time and a place for cruising. We do a holiday/Christmas/New Year’s cruise every year or two. It’s nice because we can take the extended family and everyone can do what they want. A cruise has its place and is an amazing financial value compared to hotels and restaurants.

    • Emma Gray

      I’m glad you agree, Lance! Cruises can definitely be an amazing holiday experience.

  3. William Skaggs

    I have several cruises under my belt But one with Royal Carib almost killed the desire to cruise. Although I booked a suite they impounded my Luggage because my wife had a bottle of Vermouth in our bag and I had to carry my own bags from the hold to the upper deck. I am diabetic and keep my insulin in the Mini bar but in our suite the mini bar didn’t work and despite repeated requests it was never fixed and I lost $100 worth of insulin for three days the toilets didn’t work and we had a miserable time We will cruise again but you can bet it will never be with Royal Carib!!!!

    • Emma Gray

      Wow, that is quite the poor experience, William. Sorry to hear that. I’ve cruised with Royal Caribbean 6 times and never had a single problem with them so it’s a shame to hear of your bad experience. I’m glad to hear it hasn’t put you off cruising completely though!

  4. Rick Garner

    I completely agree with you. Cruising is the safest way to travel, it gives you opportunities to sample travel destinations at a very reasonable cost, with most of your trip costs contained. And I absolutely love it. It lured us to Athens and Istanbull, where we possibly wouldn’t have dared otherwise, and we spent a few extra days in both cities as well. And it made French Polynesia much more affordable than it would otherwise have been, letting us sample the islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora, and more. Alaska is too remote of a location to visit properly other than by ship. Although after visiting, we may go back to select locations. And a cruise that included the Bahamas convinced us to spend more time there as well.

    I can’t understand those who blow it off without ever cruising. And I plan on many more cruises in the future.

    • Emma Gray

      Thanks for your comment, Rick. I’m glad you love cruising too and completely agree with your thoughts! Tahiti and Bora Bora are still on my to-do list, I’ll get there someday – maybe on a cruise!

  5. Cheryl Gruszka

    I have been on many cruises. As a young single woman, it was a great way to have fun with others in a a safe environment. I made lots of new friends with whom I still keep in contact. Once married with kids, Disney became our destination. After raising the kids to teen age, I tried cruising again as a family and loved it all over again. My husband and I could enjoy some alone time while they “hung” with other teens but we also had family time. It was great. We sailed on Carnival’s Valor a week after the Concordia incident and were not worried. Now, after seeing Carnival’s blatant lack of concern for passenger safety and comfort twice in one year: first with the Concordia Captain who “accidentaly fell into a lifeboat” (seriously?!) and now, how the poor passengers on the Triumph were treated, it is unlikely that I would sail with Carnival again but, cruising….absolutely!

    • Emma Gray

      I’ve heard so much about Disney cruises, I’d love to try one out as I’m a bit of a big kid myself haha! I can understand your concerns about Carnival completely, glad it hasn’t put you off cruising completely though!

  6. Jemma

    I hate the attitude that if you don’t travel to third world countries it doesn’t count because it’s not “authentic”. There are plenty of experiences to be had in this life, and I don’t see how sailing the seven seas on a luxury liner can be considered any less valid or authentic than getting hammered with other backpackers on Khao San Road. In fact, I’d probably go so far as to call a cruise more adventurous than that! Does my head in.

  7. Ann-Katrin

    I hope I never go on a cruise. Not because I don’t think they are safe, or because you go from port to port and only get to scratch the surface, but more because it is not my kind of travel. I don’t mind going from port to port, but I like to have the flexibility to stop somewhere would I want to. I am just not good at group travel and I am definitely not a fan of the type of life you have on a cruise ship. But then again, if you compare it with a fancy hotel and being chauffeured around, there is not a big different. I really don’t like fancy hotels and being driven around though, I much rather stay in a smaller place, maybe a hostel, where you get to mingle with people and where you can wander off whenever you want and how you want, and meet new people and go to wherever you feel like going that day, and that is the way I have travelled ever since I was 15. It is the only way of travelling that works for me. Resorts bore me to death. A Cruise ship is a confined space and I don’t do well with confined spaces. The trip from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Fredrikshamn, Denmark with the ferry takes just over 3 hours. That is plenty.
    Still, I like your article, for people that like that type of travel, cruises may be perfect – and I am all for people making the choices that suits them.

    • Emma Gray

      I totally understand your views on cruising, Ann-Katrin. Like you said, everyone is different and likes different things :)

  8. Tricia

    I completely agree with : The beauty of a cruise is that it allows you a snapshot of a place and you can decide for yourself whether you want to return and explore it further at a later date.

    We’ve been on 4 cruises over the last 15 years and just booked an Alaskan cruise for this May. It’s not our favorite way to travel, but it gives us a taste of an area & lets us know if we want to explore the area some more. We tend to avoid structured tours while on shore & try to explore outside the main tourist drag. Regardless of how you travel – it’s what you make of it. Enjoy yours!

    • Emma Gray

      I’m glad you agree, Tricia! Your Alaskan cruise sounds fabulous, any room for me to come in your suitcase?!

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