The Pros and Cons of Cruises


Riley stands in front of an enormous cruise ship in Key West
Me on my first cruise to Key West and Mexico

Cruises are tough. It’s impossible to say whether I recommend them because they’re simply not for everyone. It’s not my favorite way to travel, yet I plan to go on more in my lifetime. The perks are sometimes too good to pass up. I’ve only been on two, and both were in the Caribbean, but I wanted to offer some tips for those who are wondering what they’re like. Below are some pros and cons to help you decide if a cruise is right for you.

Pro: The Cost

A sunset over the ocean in Mexico
You’ll be treated to beautiful sunsets such as this one

This isn’t always a pro; there are some really expensive cruises out there, and it also depends on what type of cabin you decide to stay in. But every once in a while, the deals are out of this world. For example, I recently saw a deal on a 19-day trans-Pacific cruise that stopped in Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Japan for only $1,199. That’s significantly cheaper than airfare alone to the same places, plus it includes meals and lodging and this particular package also includes adult beverages. How can you say no to that?

Con: You’re Trapped

A beach in Roatan, Honduras
A beach in Roatan, Honduras

This won’t bother everyone. After all, there are plenty of activities on cruise ships. But I don’t like being stuck. I find it very difficult to take part in cruises with a lot of days spent at sea. On these days, all of the activities usually have long lines that aren’t worth waiting in. Many of the amenities cost extra. The pools are stuffed full of people. You retreat to your room, but it makes you feel claustrophobic, too. I’m always left hoping the day flies by so I can quickly get off the boat and be in a new city. I want to disembark.

Pro: See A Lot in a Short Period of Time

Riley walking across a rope bridge in Honduras
Walking across a rope bridge in Honduras

In seven days, I visited Mexico, Belize, and Honduras. In just four, I headed to Key West and Mexico. That’s a lot of places to cross off your bucket list in a relatively small amount of time. If crossing items off of your list if want you’re interested in, cruising is perfect for you. Additionally, if you want to visit a place just to sort of test it out and see if you like it, this is the perfect way to do it. You can always go back and spend more time there later. Alternatively, maybe you’ll learn that one day was enough.

Con: Not Enough Time to Really See Places

Chacchoben, a Mayan temple in Mexico
Chacchoben, a Mayan temple in Mexico

This is the biggest reason that cruises aren’t my favorite way to travel. When I visit a new location, I like to get to know it as intimately as possible. I want to learn about the culture and visit the famous sites and see what makes the destination special. On a cruise, there’s just not enough time. You’ll often dock in a shopping center where tourists can buy cheap souvenirs and shop owners will hound you to visit their stores. It’s difficult to leave the ruckus.

Furthermore, cruises have tempting excursions to take you off on an adventure. Many of them are usually the same, particularly in the Caribbean (where I’ve done all of my cruises). Options are things like swim with dolphins, go snorkeling, visit a beach. I can do all of these things in my home state of Florida. I want to see the culture. I’m in a new country, aren’t I? Show me what it’s like! How do its people live? What do they do? Alternatively, I’ve had really great excursions. I went to a Mayan temple in Mexico (pictured above) and I loved it. But, I still felt rushed. I wanted to see more and learn more about their heritage. There’s always more to see no matter where you go or how you travel, but with so much to see, I would never cruise to a place I wanted to explore in-depth.

Pro: There’s Something for Everyone

At Xplor Park in Mexico, we went zip-lining and explored underwater caves

There are a lot of activities on cruise ships. Expect anything from huge waterslides to basketball courts to luxury spas. They’re filled with bars and restaurants. There are scheduled activities, like trivia competitions, comedy nights, and game shows. In theory, you’ll never be bored. The shore excursions have a lot to offer as well. There are options for people who want a leisurely escape and for people (like me) who want to go zip-lining and tubing in an underwater cave. Endless possibilities!

Con: Rough Seas

Cruising away and looking back at the Miami skyline
Leaving the Miami skyline behind

I feel as if I talk about getting queasy in every post I write. But, that’s how I roll. I can’t get around it.

Like I said, I’ve only been on two cruises, but on 50% of them, I was seasick. Other people were absolutely fine, some people were even worse than I was. The seas seemed particularly rough on that day than on every other. I remember walking around and stumbling due to the boat’s movement. If you’re like me, bring motion sickness medicine.

Pro: You Don’t Have to Carry a Suitcase Everywhere

A jaguar turns his back on Riley at the Belize Zoo
A jaguar at the Belize Zoo, completely uninterested in me

For me, the biggest hassle of traveling is luggage. Everywhere you go, you have to take all of this stuff with you. It’s so much easier when you have a moving hotel following you to various destinations. You can leave your passport and other valuables in the safe in your locked room and head off on an adventure with just the bare essentials. You can even unpack your suitcase if you want to – you won’t need it for the duration of your trip. It’s very care-free and easy, and it’s nice to not have to worry about it.

Con: Too many people

The Norwegian Star cruise ship we took on a western Caribbean cruise
The Norwegian Star cruise ship we took on a western Caribbean cruise

Just look at the size of that thing! Cruise ships are not small. There are thousands of people on board, including cruisers and the crew. Additionally, when you arrive at various ports, you are bombarded by people trying to sell you things. I always advise leaving the cruise port. It’s packed, and it will not give you a good idea of what the rest of the country is like at all.

A sign at the Belize Zoo states,
Public service announcement from the Belize Zoo