Can’t believe its been 3 weeks since my last post! So where have I been? On vacation with my wife!
For our first wedding anniversary we decided to try a cruise. We have friends who have gone and loved their cruise and swear they will go again. Besides, it sounded fun .. right?
Who wouldn’t want to just sit back and relax? On a cruise ship you just go with the flow.. or maybe feel like cattle being herded to the next destination.
I came home with mixed feelings about our week long Norwegian cruise from Tampa Florida.
Just a quick side note. My wife and I love to travel. We got engaged in Ireland and for our honeymoon we spent three weeks in Egypt. We have a trip planned to visit Israel over Thanksgiving and love to experience new places whenever we get a chance. That was one of the reasons why we thought going on a cruise would be the best of both worlds. We would get to travel on a huge ship and explore new countries over the next 7 days. I love spending time with my wife and I love traveling, but here are the reasons you should never go on a cruise .. if you love to travel.
Without knowing what to expect my wife and I boarded the ship early and as we entered the doors my excitement for what lie ahead grew.
Too Many People
This was our first time on a huge boat and we knew there would be a few thousand people. I guess you couldn’t really prepare yourself to be surrounded by so many people if you had never experienced it before. As the ship sailed away and headed for our first destination of Roatan Honduras we found ourselves crammed on the top floor with hundreds of people, loud music and food everywhere. I thought to myself, “I wonder how the rest of the trip will go”.
With 12 elevators, 13 floors and over 2,500 guest you can imagine what its like to ‘catch’ an elevator to your room. Luckily we were in the middle floor from everything and took the stairs everywhere we went.
In Belize our boat had to stay further out in the water and we had to ‘tender’ to land. This tender process will seriously put your patience to the test. Whenever you visit a country you have the option of doing a shore excursion or just wandering around town, shopping.
In Belize we decided on an excursion that took you through a Jungle and then down a river through a cave. (excursion cost – $119/each) Before we could even start our shore excursion we had to get off the boat. Our group was the very last to leave the cruise ship and still had a 20 minute boat ride to get to shore. Moving over 2,000 people off a cruise ship.. onto smaller boats.. to get to land, is no small undertaking!
Everywhere you go, you are guaranteed to be around a few hundred people. No matter what shore excursions you take or where you go on the boat, you will be surrounded by people. This is a complete contrast to our honeymoon in Egypt during the Riots of 2011. We basically got to tour Egypt all by ourselves and absolutely loved it! On a cruise ship you are touring and traveling with hundreds of people at one time.
I love food! But most of all I love great food! I’m really not that picky of an eater but if I had to classify the food on the cruise ship it would be mediocre. There really wasn’t anything that great about it. When you have to mass produce thousands of meals every day, its hard to keep quality up. I love bacon and absolutely hate microwaved bacon, which is what they served on the ship. It just has a flavor unlike fried bacon.
Our favorite meals where the times we ate off the ship and had authentic Mexican food.
Too Little Time To Explore
During our time in Roaton Honduras we got to spend time with Dolphins for about 30 minutes before being shuttled to a beach on the other side of the Island. (excursion cost – $159/each) (picture disc with dolphins – $50)
I had never been that close to a dolphin, nor had I ever touched a dolphin so it was a pretty cool experience. Being up close really made you see how smart and amazing those creatures are.
As we left the dolphin encounter we headed to the beach party where food, drinks and water sports awaited us. The beach was beautiful but finding a seat took some effort. We lucked out by find 2 seats close to a palm tree which we used for shade. The water was warm and beautiful and after a short swim we both took a nap under the tree.
About 2 hours later we were on our way back to the ship. Everyone had to be back on the ship by 4:30pm for departure to our next stop. Each stop gave you an 8 hour window to do whatever you wanted. How is that enough time to really explore the country? There is not enough time to explore and go on excursions, its one or the other. On our way back we had just enough time to buy a magnet (our family tradition for every country we travel to).
Fast Paced Vacation
As you can see the vacation goes by quickly. Spending 8 hours at each port, eating dinner on ship and waking up at the next Port, just to do it all over again, really makes for a fast paced vacation. We found it very tiring and hard to stay very active. Our last two stops we ended up going back to the ship and taking naps before going back out to shop.
Norwegian cruise lines is great about getting you from point A to point B as fast as possible, unless of course its ‘getting off the ship’. Each port gave you 8 hours to explore and then the last day and a half was traveling back to Tampa so we could be off the ship by 9am on Sunday.
One thing I hate is being marketed to. Having been in the marketing field myself I know all of the ploys and tactics to get a person to buy whatever it is being sold.
Five minutes before every nightly show, reps from the casino came to sell raffle tickets and scratch tickets. For some reason the $2,000 winner didn’t win until the last day!? Wait.. was the just coincidence? Yeah.. Right!
Not only were you marketed to for raffles, bingo, casinos, but also drinks, art auctions, excursions and they even had a small seminar every day on ‘how to properly shop at each port of call‘. It never stopped and if you went to your room to get away from the constant marketing, it would follow you there by the intercoms in the hallways and by the brochures conveniently placed on your bed.
You know how to make ‘towel animals’? Yeah, neither do I, but they sell a video for $10 on how to make animals out of towels! I am serious, anything you can think of and they had a price for it.
Every time you left your room and went to the main floor, they were having sales of 50% off ‘today only’!
Every time you left the boat they would take a picture of you with a local dressed up. While eating dinner they would take pictures of couples and if you wanted that picture, guess what.. you had to pay. Cost per picture $12.95-$19.95. Of course my wife and I bought the pictures, mainly because this was our first cruise together and we liked the pictures as souvenirs.
If you enjoy private vacations or enjoy exploring countries and if you are a true traveler, then avoid going on a cruise. You will hear people raving about how they have the ‘cruise bug’ and can’t get enough of cruising. All I think about are the amazing trips to Ireland, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Europe that I have been on and cruising cannot compare. You can’t compare the hours I spent touring castles in Ireland or the days touring 2 or 3 thousand year old monuments in Egypt. The same price you will pay for a 7-day cruise you can travel to most any other destination in the world and have a much better experience, explore more and have more time to enjoy the country.
My wife and I did have a good time ‘together’ and going on this 1 cruise was a good experience. We just know now what we won’t be missing 😉