If you have been following along with us, you know that we have parked our butts in La Paz, Mexico to tell stories about some of the tropical islands, and the Azores… but what about that cruise that took up 14 days of our time?
Well, here it goes! In all honesty, we enjoyed the cruise. We had never been on one before, and after our first time seeing a giant cruise ship in the Port of Old San Juan a year earlier, (which is where we actually left from) we didn’t think cruising would be for us. But we still went in with open minds, and quickly learned a new truth:
Fourteen Days is a very long time to be on a boat!
It’s true, while 14 days can go by in no time in the workaday world, 14 days on a boat is a super long time. When we first started looking at our options for traveling, we came to the conclusion that taking a cruise was a little cheaper than flying two people to Europe. When you add having free meals, entertainment, and adding five Caribbean islands to the mix, it looked like a hell of a deal!
But after about the first full day at sea, which was my birthday by the way, we realized that a 14 day cruise is a long time, especially when I wasn’t feeling the best.
We loved the excitement that the cruise brought though – we were on a floating city of the sea! And we were definitely treated like celebrities. So let’s go through some of the ups and downs of our cruise experience.
The Pros and Cons of Cruising Across the Ocean
The overall value: All around a great value for the money. Even with the hidden costs (see below) it came to about $2,200 for two people for everything over two weeks. That’s little more than $75/day per person to be bathed in luxury, food (yes, I did take a bath in gravy – ak) and entertainment.
The awesomeness: Felt like a celebrity on the cruise! Seriously, it doesn’t matter how fancy of a room you get, you’re going to be treated very well.
The food: Always ate in the Windjammer Cafe (large eating area that is not the formal dining room) because the food was always tasty and exciting!
Las Vegas on the ocean: Endless, and I mean truly endless amounts of activities. From big shows every night (singing, music and dancing, comedians, etc) to even a handful of ice skating shows (yes, you read that right, they have an ice skating rink on the ship)!
- Beauty everywhere: The ship is truly beautiful and piece of art itself. But in addition to that, there’s beautiful artwork hung everywhere, large installation pieces, and we even had an artist-in-residence.
- The natural world: It might be weird that a boat this size would help bring the natural world to you, but every day there’s something: seabirds, dolphins playing in the wake, salty spray hitting your face, watching a storm race across the ocean, sunrises and sunsets, and possibly the best stargazing of your life.
- The schedules: Never ate in the formal dining room (it is hard to dine on their time when shuffling through time zones).
- Hidden costs: Beware of ‘additional costs’. For an example, housekeeping gratuity is $12, two times a day for each person – that adds up quite quickly!
- The drink package: We got away with not buying the drink package, which was around $800/person. That is around $60/day in drinks – we wanted to spend our money elsewhere. Unless you’re planning on getting eight drinks a day or more, the package doesn’t really make sense.
- Soft drinks not needed: We were told from my brother – Dave – that when we got on the ship we should look for “the cup”, you can have unlimited soda, and he recalled it was around $40 when he cruised. They raised the price to $90 (con)! We skipped that and found out they give you coffee, tea, milk, water, lemonade, apple juice, orange juice and iced tea for free (pro).
- Mass tourism: Only exposed to the Port town, meaning tons of duty-free stores, jewelry places, and souvenirs. Which is ok to a degree, but we really wanted to see more than just the port – but that is what you get with a cruise.
- The “Golden Age” of travel: Internet and Wifi is not cheap on the cruise ($.65/minute) which hurt our blogging, and makes keeping in touch with family and friends very costly. Phone calls are freakishly expensive ($7.99/minute) – so basically whoever you are cruising with – besides meeting people – is the only person you are going to talk with outside of the ship! It’s kind of nice getting a breather from technology, but we’re still putting it as a con since it was unexpected.
- Are we there yet?: We learned that 14 days is a very, very long time for a cruise!
- The tours cost a pretty penny: Excursions on port days can be fairly expensive (additional costs if you want to do something off the boat). The cheapest one we found was the butterfly garden in St. Thomas at a whopping $14/per person; Those butterflies better be fed greatly!
- Mass tourism (again): People hounding you to take their flyers, pose for photographs, buy their crafts and just basically want your money. I’m all about helping people in need. But please don’t harass me to get my attention, which happened in St. Kitts. We also didn’t like seeing the small capuchin monkeys the men had by the numbers there.
So there you have it; in the end it was a mixed bag and might not have been the perfect choice as a way to start of a long-term trip.
But please understand, boating across the ocean is a unique experience and we don’t regret doing it. In fact, if we were like most people there and the cruise was the focal point of our trip, it would’ve been completely amazing.
Now that you’ve enjoyed the crap out of our extensive bullet points, here’s your reward: the ship in pictures! Enjoy!!
Let us know if you ever have taken a boat across the ocean – we’d love to hear your take on it!