So, you're thinking about taking a cruise
for the first time, and as anyone should, you have questions. What is cruising really like? Is it right for me? Where should I go? What can I see?
Welcome to our Introduction to Cruising 101. By the time we're done, you'll be a Cruise Guru and probably be able to wrote these columns and articles yourself! Ready? Here we go!
Who is a typical cruiser?
We don't believe there is a "typical" cruiser. Cruisers are as wide and varied a lot as the ships that they sail on. Some are young, some older, some are looking for non-stop fun and some want cultural enrichment. Unlike in the days of yore - pre-1976 (about the time the original "Love Boat" was on TV), cruises are not just for the elderly and wealthy. Back in the 1960's and 70's, when cruising was in its infancy, the majority of cruisers were more mature, had plenty of money and plenty of time. It was not uncommon for a ship to depart New York City for a three-week jaunt to the Caribbean.
But over the years,
cruising has evolved into "everyman's holiday". On a cruise ship today, you are likely to find passengers from all ages, income levels and backgrounds. According to the Cruise Line International Association, the majority of cruisers today are under 60 years old and has an annual household income of $60,000 or less. In fact, the average age of cruise passengers has decreased year over year to the mid-40s and cruise lines are re-tooling their on board products and offerings to appeal to even younger and more active passengers. In fact, many of the cruise lines are now recognizing the Gen-X'ers (25-35 years old) and the Gen-Tech'ers (15-25) as the two age groups that hold the most promising prospects as future cruise customers.
In actuality, on a typical 7-night Caribbean cruise,
you are likely to find the majority of the passengers in the 35-55 age range, but a good rule of thumb is that the longer the cruise, the older the average age will be. Of course, on shorter three and four night cruises, you may find a younger crowd but it is just as likely to be a widely varied lot with younger and older couples, singles, families and seniors.
Is cruising right for me?
Well of course it is!! Cruises offer something for just about everyone. Some people cruise just for the sheer joy of being at sea. It's a magical feeling of relaxation, elation and freedom from the stress of everyday life. Or some cruise to experience the convenience of visiting up to six different ports of call in one week, all without having to worry about packing and unpacking, making hotel reservations or catching flights. The ship is your floating hotel and magically transports you from one exotic destination to the next.
What do people find so appealing about a cruise?
Cruises offer excellent value as they include your accommodations for the length of the cruise, meals and entertainment. On board the latest generation of cruise ships you'll find multiple dining options ranging from formal sit-down restaurants, to pizza, a grill serving hot dogs and hamburgers, casual buffets and informal bistros. You'll also find a myriad of entertainment options with lavish Broadway and Las Vegas style revues, live rock and country-western bands, cabaret, jazz, piano bars, discos and casinos. You'll also be able to keep up your workout regimen with the state of the art fitness facilities and spas, not to mention jogging tracks and swimming pools. On some ships you will even find ice-skating rinks and rock climbing walls!! Today's modern ships also follow and feature many of the popular trends found in world-class resorts and major cities such as Martini, Champagne and Caviar Bars, Cigar Clubs, cozy bistros, Coffee Bars and Internet Cafes.
The myriad of on board activities can range from napkin folding and vegetable carving to sports competitions, lectures on the fine arts, politics and world famous authors. Then there is the simple, yet hedonistic allure of simply relaxing in a deck chair with a view of the sea and being waited on hand and foot by your ship's onboard staff.
So, as you can see, life on board ship is not so different than vacationing at a large resort or in a large city. You can have and do it all or do nothing at all.