There are really two kinds of people in this world, especially in the travelling world – those who swear by cruising as the epitome of vacation and R&R and those who not only find it a plastic and artificial form of travel (and with a complete lack of cultural education) or who discount it due to safety perceptions. For the last one I don’t think it’s a justified argument – and I know no matter what I say it won’t change any minds – but really, you’re willing to take a plane with a far more accident rate than a city large tank of a shop surrounded by potential safety backups?
I’m somewhere on the fence on this whole argument (what else is new?) but I think there are merits in both. I agree that the cultural experience is somewhat stunted but the time you spend on the luxury liner watching shows and eating buffets that you can do in any resort in the world. True many cruises are no extending the city hopping components so you can savour more of the local culture in a compact day or half a day without getting bored – but for true travellers who want to see the country this is not sufficient, you can’t live like the locals do or savour the local cuisine in the wall holes that end up being a gourmet experience (being a foodie, trying out many local restaurants is 30% of the experience for me). You have to think, for everything you do on a cruise liner, or most of your cruise experience – can you not just do in a large Disney-esque resort in Florida for half the price and without the carbon footprint?
Most cruise liners in North America starting Florida anyway so you’re probably flying there from somewhere – why not just stay put and do the things you would be doing anyway like swimming, and tanning in a more stable setting? And if you want to experience more of the local culture in an authentic off the beaten path way – which makes for the memories you want really – you’re better off skipping the time it takes to cruise around just chilling on deck.
On the inverse, especially those with young kids or seniors with limited capacity for walking and having an immersive travel experience – a cruise is probably your best option. True it isn’t the only reason – I would think that a cruise is probably my guilty pleasure, because sometimes you truly just want to vegetate in a plastic artificial setting. And if you have kids your supervision focus is less (for a certain age) in a cruise because it is all encompassing which creates for a true break. Similarly for seniors it’s getting you out of your comfort zone but into another comfortable setting rather than an alien city where you have the added pressure of figuring out where to go and when with the least amount of rip off. Granted you can take tour guides but the attention span goes down as you age and the city hopping cruises allow is a great remedy for that.
In most cases for every 4 non-cruise ship I wouldn’t mind 1, and rather than stay in one resort it has more of a cultural fix than a one resort vacation. Cruises nowadays cater to all sorts of travellers including those with more hard-core immersive requests, the Alaska and Scandinavian cruises are world renowned, while the Mediterranean cruises have compact cultural fixes that would take years to take in. Antarctica is another future cruise destination that won’t have a non-cruise substitute. In the end I wouldn’t discount cruise travelling just yet, just depends on your circumstances and what you want to get out of your vacation – it takes all sorts, and I for one am happy the options are there.