Are you wondering if a cruise holiday is right for you? While there are all the obvious benefits that come from a nearly all-inclusive vacation with a pre-planned destination itinerary, there are also many hidden benefits of cruising that might surprise you.
Cruise holidays are a vacation, a time to relax, to unwind, and to sample new places. Typical cruise ship travel includes all meals, world-class entertainment, enrichment lectures, spa, and health options, as well as providing transportation and accommodation. And this is just the tip of the iceberg (an expression I probably shouldn’t use when writing about cruise benefits).
With over 150 days at sea, we want to share some additional benefits of a cruise with you. These secret benefits of cruising are exposed below and still apply even in a post-pandemic world.
Seven Benefits of cruising – now or later
Whether you are cruising now or waiting, here are some benefits of cruising you might not have considered.
1. Visit off-the-beaten-path destinations without long layovers
While most cruises start in large cities and visit major ports, they often go to more obscure places too.
Some are tropical and wonderful, like Moorea (French Polynesia). Others are fascinating. We have seen endless rows of bicycles in Haarlem, Netherlands, toured an iron ore transport station at Port Hedland, Australia, and seen a unique wooden statue of Moses in a church in Itajai, Brazil.
Read next: 21 Picturesque Cruise Ship Ports Around the World
2. Cruising can convert transit time into fun
Heading off the beaten path, we get to amazing places. Onboard activity options keep our transit days fun.
It is quite the opposite when we try to get to these remote places on our own. The more obscure the destination, the more difficult it is to get there. On land, this often means long boring drives or, worse, airport layovers that are not quite long enough to go anywhere but too long to wait.
Which looks like fun to you?
I don’t normally kiss fish. It was optional and part of a line-crossing ceremony that converted us from pollywogs to shellbacks. Originally a naval hazing ceremony for first-timers sailing over the equator, cruise ships have incorporated a silly and fun version for passenger entertainment.
3. Learn something new
In addition to silly fun, no-cost enrichment opportunities are amongst the many benefits of cruising. We almost always participate in some type of dance lesson (ranging from ballroom to hula), trivia games, and attend some of the lectures.
But that’s not all. We always try something new. On our first sail with Azamara, we took up watercolour painting, while on our repositioning cruise, we learned to play the ukulele.
On one ship, the astronomy enrichment program included night star spotting on deck and an indoor portable planetarium.
4. Someone else does the planning and destination research
Pre-planning is optional. Every ship we have sailed on has a shore excursion desk as well as destination experts available for questions. For non-researchers, having someone else do the work is one of the secret advantages of cruising.
Intimately familiar with the port cities, the destination expert’s lecture will tell you all you need to know to visit a port. And, if you miss it, you can watch a replay on your stateroom television.
The cruise ship will offer fee-based excursion options at each destination. For those who want an effortless vacation, the most difficult thing you will have to do is decide between several fascinating options.
However, if you are willing to do a bit of planning, you can often save money and be in smaller tour groups if you book with an independent company. We typically use Viator, as many of their shore excursions have a worry-free guarantee that promises to return us to our ship even if something goes wrong (Read the fine print on each tour). Check options in the ports you will visit.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to explore a port city. Often, we walk off the ship and select one of the many cabs or tour companies perched at the dock. If you do this, remember to negotiate. Also, if you don’t like the offer, it’s okay to move on to the next driver.
5. Only unpack once
We travel light, often in all carry-on. Even for me, the idea of unpacking one time and spreading out a bit is paradise. In contrast, most people overpack. If this is you, the need to unpack once and still visit several different cities is a huge benefit.
6. Shop till you drop
Regardless of how you pack, once you reach the airline baggage allowance, shopping becomes an expensive hassle. Sailing one way to your home city is the perfect solution.
Here’s how it works: Fly to the port of embarkation with a huge empty bag folded neatly inside your luggage, being careful not to exceed the maximum allowable weight.
Here are the two bags we recommend:
- Foldable Travel Duffel: If you are strong and happy to carry your extra bag off the ship, then this durable duffel is perfect. Weighing in at just over a quarter kilogram (9.8 oz) it folds down into itself and opens to carry up to 40 litres. ⇒ Check reviews and get your foldable travel duffel here
- Expandable Foldable Suitcase with Wheels: This just might be the perfect bag to own, regardless if you are going on a shopping holiday or not. It meets the needs of anyone who prefers their bag on wheels. Plus, it is expandable to be a 20″, 24″ or 28″ bag. And, it folds down. On the downside, it takes up more space and weight in your outbound bag, but that is necessary for the wheels. It weighs in at 2.4 Kilograms (5.38 pounds). ⇒ Check reviews and get your expandable suitcase here
Now, get ready to shop till you drop. Remember, you are sailing to your home port. Therefore, there is NO flight home and no more baggage allowance worries. You are restricted only by the confines of your cabin and your budget.
7. Delicious meals prepared by someone else, and most ships even cater to food allergies
Mealtime is a highlight for many cruisers, with gastronomic excellence and usually unlimited quantities. Whether you choose dining rooms, speciality restaurants, or buffets, you will not go hungry on a cruise ship.
For me, catering to food allergies is one of the huge benefits of cruising, although to some, it might be meaningless. Even with simple food restrictions, every on-shore restaurant meal requires me to explain my food allergies and hope the server understands and translates it properly to the chef.
However, onboard Princess, NCL, and many other lines, I only need to tell them once. The maître d’ will talk to me the first night, and normally that’s it.
Best of all, most of the cruise lines we have sailed with don’t just remove allergy foods. Instead, they create masterpieces. It’s a real treat to eat so well that I forget that I am on a restricted diet.
Update: Our 2019 cruise on the Azamara Quest proved to be an epic fail, as I was served food I am allergic to on five of 15 days.
Bonus benefits of cruising – they are actually a good value
Cruising is the ideal vacation. It has it all. While the cost of cruising may look high at first glance, you need to remember it includes accommodation, meals, entertainment, and activities. And if you choose lines like Azamara, it also includes standard spirits, some beers and wines, and even specialty coffee.
If that’s not enough, the staff is there for all your needs, be it room service (free on many cruises) to dance lessons. Plus, there is the time value of money and the extra hours you save in having someone else do all the work.
A few final thoughts for today’s world
Here are two sites you might want to check out before booking a cruise in today’s unpredictable world:
- Cruise ship travel health and safety tips from CDC
- Vaccines, masks and testing: What cruise lines require now from cruise citic
Save on your trip and cruise with these resources
These are our go-to companies when we cruise. We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
- Cruise: We find great deals at Cruise Direct.
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Hotels: we use Booking.com (hotels at our end ports) or VRBO (self-contained).
- Cars (gas or electric): we use RentalCars to search for deals and dealer ratings.
- Set up private guides at the ports: Looking to maximize our limited time at a port, we often hire private guides from Tours by Locals.
- Travel Insurance: our go-to is World Nomads*.
Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
Don’t miss our best cruise tips.
*World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
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Which of these benefits of cruising surprised you?
This is awesome! There are so many benefits! We haven’t been on a cruise, but it’s definitely on the todo list!
Linda (LD Holland)
We are big fans of cruising. But we know many others who are quite skeptical. Especially after the pandemic horror stories. But your post reminds me of all the reasons why we cruise. We still do a lot of research for the ports to determine which of the many excursions we want to do. But love the variety offered. Sure missing the great food.
We’ve been on one cruise so far and loved it. It was however a small ship. We’re still planning on making one on a larger ship. The food sounds a good reason for taking a cruise.
Always wanted to go on a cruise – not sure about kissing a fish though haha
I’ve never been on a cruise, but you might have me convinced I need to change that! Traveling to get to a place is always so exhausting and definitely takes away from the experience, so I can definitely see how cruises would be the way to go!!
All of these benefits are SPOT ON! I especially love that I Get to be entertain/doing something fun while we travel, instead of just sitting on a plane or in a car!
It’s awesome that you talked about boat cruising and how it helps you avoid worrying about the planning. Recently, my fiance and I started to think about our honeymoon destination. We’d like to travel and know new places, and we believe a cruise might be the perfect opportunity to do both, so we’ll look into it! Thanks for the information on cruising and its many vacation benefits.
Corey | Fifi + Hop
I enjoyed reading this as I am not a cruise person at all – have never been on one. But you make a great case for why I should! All good reasons!
This made me curious, because my cruise experience didn’t exactly convert me… The only reason I’d do it again, is getting to faraway places in an easy way, and getting between places while I sleep 😀
Although I am still not convinced about cruising (I have seen the devastating effects in Dubrovnik and Venice), I realise that there really are some excellent perks!! What speaks to me is the ‘being stuck on sea’ part where you simply have nothing much else to do but relax, I guess that’s a luxury for me these days. I guess I’d go for a swim, a massage and then… FOOD!!
I can see that having a food allergy and being able to tell the cruise staff about it on day one would make every meal so much better and less stressful – a hidden benefit of cruising I hadn’t thought about before.
You make cruises sound so fun! I can tell you really enjoy this way to travel! I would be seasick the whole time, but I do see that this would be a great way to vacation for most people! The food looks delicious!
I’ve only been on one cruise but I loved it and would love to go on another one.
Great images & such helpful information!
Sounds like so much fun. I’d really love to go on a cruising trip sometime! It must be so relaxing.
It was all beautiful pictures, but me I’m a land person. I have got to see land in my sight or it’s no go for this person. I’ve taken little fairy boats and I even went in a canoe once, but where we went I could still see bottom. hahaha Pictures are fine with me and in movies… thanks for the pics!!!
What a fun trip you have here! I have joined a short trip and I think it’s about time we join the long cruising tip. I love it!
Get me on a cruise now. 😂
Welfare unto all.
You are preaching to the choir sister 🙂
I love cruising.
Rhonda, you know that I love cruising. My next cruise will be on the Celebrity Reflection. this will be my third time in a row. I agree with you that cruising gives you rest and relaxation with good food, many different things that can be done and you can have as many excursions that you want ( we take at least two ). Maybe some day we can meet on a cruise. Sounds good to me. See ya my friend.
Now I want to go to a cruising. These are all great points and make sense x
I am not very open to idea of cruising but this article certainly changed a part of my point of view. It sounds and looks so much fun! Thanks for sharing 🙂
I totally get the loving the travel time as fun time part. Although i still like a really good road trip because I think you can make travel time part of the fun and adventure. Whether to listen to new music or something else, travel time is part of the journey.
So many things to love about cruising! It definitely seems worth it to me! and I love the benefits getting from it.
kissing a fish !!. Some times cruise ships have very funny & weird passenger entertainment activities
I’ve never thought of cruising. But after reading this I sure wanna do it one day
I’ve actually avoided cruising for a while despite all my travels. I just havent thought that i’d enjoy it, but 2020 is the year I give it a shot, starting with a shorter cruise. Thanks for adding your take to help me decide to give it a try
I’ve never been on a cruise before but you definitely make it look tempting! The idea of being able to visit a number of destinations in one trip without the horrendous ordeal of airports sounds amazing…I might have to give it a go!
I have never been on a longer cruise, just a 24h one from Stockholm to Finland 🙂
I wasn’t a huge fan of cruising growing up but this article makes me want to give it another shot. It does seem like a cost efficient way to see the world!
Celebrate Woman Today
Never been to a cruise, but do agree with all the benefits you gathered. The most important thing is to pick the best company to cruise with!
I love cruises and cruising! I don’t do it all the time, but love to add a cruise vacation in the mix. Another benefit I have found is using it as reconnaissance – when trying to figure out which island in a group I prefer (like in French Polynesia or the Caribbean) by stopping for a day I can “test out” a locale!
I’ve never been on a cruise before, but you make a good case for trying it!
Gorgeous photos, too!
Lots of benefits there. Maybe one day I will give it a try.
I wish i wasnt sea sick ! Then would be doing this for every holiday !! Such a good writw up !
I really have never been Intrested in going on a cruise however after reading this I see that there is many perks and benefits of going on a cruise!
I’ve yet to go on a cruise! It looks like a lot of fun though!
L. Diane Wolfe
We took our first cruise in 2004 and loved it. They had so many vegan options for me. I definitely didn’t go hungry. The shore excursions were fantastic but you certainly aren’t bored on the boat, either.
Alex J. Cavanaugh
No driving for several days it was sells it for me. Getting to see so many spots without traveling effort – priceless!
There is something so easy about cruising travel that makes it calming. I love that you don’t have to worry about where you’ll get your next meal, or where you’re sleeping. I’ve been on a few cruises and totally agree with you. I just wish I had a bit more time in some locations to really explore.
That’s why we love Azamara cruises. On our upcoming cruise, we have three days in Bangkok, plus overnights in three other ports.
the Curious Pixie
I’ve never considered a cruise before. These points have made me think again. Some really great benefits.
I have not been on a cruise yet, but want to experience one. For me, a cruise is a place and time to relax and unwind from daily life. Where I can find new activities and leave my worries at the dock.
We just took our first cruise, albeit a small ship experience and we loved it! You are right, unpacking once and relaxing while you transit are huge benefits.