The Joys Of Cruising
Why Cruising Is So Popular
According to statistics, over 20 million passengers cruised in 2012, and forecasters believe the cruise market is set to expand despite the dim economic climate. The US cruise industry rakes in over 37 billion dollars a year, with an annual growth rate of 7. 4%. Of those polled, 80% thought that cruising is the best way to sample destinations, with the Caribbean being the favorite, followed by Alaska, then the Mediterranean. So, let us examine some of the facts and see why this type of vacation is so popular:
Cruising is economical
On an average 7-day cruise you may visit at least three countries. This would cost a lot more if you were to fly to each one individually. The cost of your cruise is all-inclusive, that is, your food, accommodation and most onboard activities are all included in your booking price. Therefore, you have the freedom to spend as much or as little as you choose. Shore excursions, champagne, jewelry, art pieces and other things you may purchase on the ship or on shore are all your expenses. If you are on a budget, leave your credit cards at home.
Cruising is educational
There is so much to learn on a cruise, either on the ship or on shore. I recently returned from a cruise to the Adriatic, which brought back all my history of Greece and that part of the world. Our knowledgeable cruise director gave presentations on the places we would visit the day before we got into port so we were armed with some information when we got there. In addition, every night we got a leaflet, showing the destination's history, currency, language and other pertinent information. Then on the tour itself, our guides were living, breathing encyclopedias. Even on sea days you can benefit from trivia classes, cooking classes, game shows, napkin-folding and other activities.
Cruising is healthful
I'm always amazed when people say they gain weight on a cruise. True, you are treated to more than a banquet at every meal, but you don't have to eat everything in sight. If you don't have time to prepare or eat healthful meals at home, you have no excuses on a cruise. You can choose from a variety of salads, fruit, grains, different types of breads, meats and fish everyday. And if you indulge in any of the delectable desserts, just head on up to the gym afterward or run around the jogging track. And when you are done, go to the spa for a rejuvenating massage or facial. But this you have to pay for.
Cruising is fun
There is nightly entertainment on every cruise ship. Comedy, singing and live theater rival anything Broadway has to offer. If you never have time to go out at home, now is the time to do so. Dress up, or down, as you please and take in a concert or show. If dancing is your thing, the clubs await you.
Cruising is restful
You can do as much or as little as you like. For me, my main reason for going on a cruise is to visit the destination so I go ashore at every port. When we return to the ship, I rest for a while before going to one of the shows. Not everyone goes ashore. On any cruise ship there are people sunning themselves on deck everyday.
Cruising is safe
In spite of what you may have heard recently, cruise disasters are still rare. According to Wiki, from 2005 to the Costa Concordia tragedy last year, there have been only 16 fatalities out of the more than 100,000,000 people who go on cruises. Compare that to the hundreds of vehicular accidents on the roads each year. Every passenger is issued an identification card which he has to show to get on and off the ship. This keeps people off who should not be on the ship and helps the crew keep track of their passengers.Cruise lines warn passengers to guard their purses and other belongings when going on shore, and follow the same precautions as they would at home.
Scared of contracting a GI infection? Cruise ships are very particular about this. Norwegian Cruise Lines post employees at the door to their restaurants with bottles of hand sanitizers which they spray on the hands of everyone entering the restaurant. Holland America will not allow passengers to serve themselves during the first three days of the cruise. In 2009 when over 13 million people took a cruise, there were just 9 GI outbreaks. In the five cruises I have taken, I never once felt unsafe or contracted any infection.
Cruising is family-friendly
Most cruise lines, anxious to get your business, allow children to travel free with their parents, so you don't have to worry about not being able to afford to take the kids. And when you get on the ship, there are all sorts of structured activities for kids of every age group. Some parents drop their children off to these activities just as if they were leaving them with a baby sitter and never see them again until they are ready. Isn't that wonderful? Buffet meals also make it easy for families to eat together in a relaxed, informal atmosphere.
Of course, like everything else, there are disadvantages to cruising. You may fall in love with a place and wish you could stay longer. Or, you may dislike the time restrictions when you go on shore. Or, you may suffer terrible motion sickness (as I did on one cruise). But these are minor when you consider the benefits outlined above. So, with the summer bearing down on us, you may still have time to book a cruise vacation. Go ahead, try it!
Map of Athens, Greece
The Acropolis is a natural fortress standing 230 feet above the city. It contains the temple of Athena, the goddess after whom Athens is named.