Now, I certainly don't believe that cruising is perfect. I understand the negative side of the industry (and if you'd like a sobering breakdown of many cruise negatives, check out cruiselawnews.com). But, I still believe that cruising is a great vacation at an amazing value with an incredible safety record. So, what I want to do here is set the record straight a bit and look at why you should still cruise, in spite of the Costa Concordia.
1. Cruising is the safest form of transportation.
Why has this Costa Concordia thing been such a huge deal? Because it NEVER happens. I know that now it has happened, and certainly there have been incidents in the past, but there is no way the fatalities from a cruise accident could compete with car travel, air travel or even just walking as far as danger goes. Think about it: even on this very ship which did have a horrible tragedy, more than 99 percent of the people on the ship survived. The images and realities of the accident are terrible, and I am not trying to downplay it, but let's think logically here. There are over a hundred mega ships sailing constantly with no incident. Have you even heard of Costa Cruise Lines before this incident? They are a huge line with 14 ships, and yet most North Americans had no idea who they were. I know it is easy to react to something like this with a snap decision "oh, well then I just won't cruise", but it really makes no sense if you look at the facts.
2. Cruising is a great value.
While cruising cannot really claim to be all-inclusive due to tips, port fees, shore excursions and other discretionary expenses, it still comes very close at a great price. Let's look at a 4 day cruise at $269 per person, a fairly cheap, but not unheard of fare I found. For a couple, you are at $540. For that price, you get a hotel room for 4 nights, 24 meals (and any snacks), plus at least 3 nights of entertainment, and transportation to some amazing places. Even if you are paying $100 per night, it is a great deal. You try to do that on a land vacation, and let me tell you from experience, you will be staying at Days Inns and eating at McDonalds.
3. Cruising provides a completely new vacation experience.
If you have never cruised, it is hard to properly explain how different a cruise vacation is from anything you have done before. One of the things that stands out to me is the service. I am not used to maid service in hotels being all that great. I almost never see them, and am hardly ever impressed enough with the job they have done to take notice. On a ship, they clean your room twice a day and often really attempt to get to know you. They do fun things like towel animals, and have always exceeded my expectations. Servers are there, waiting on your every whim. You never have to throw away trash or put away dishes; just leave it and they will take care of it. In fact, it is somewhat disconcerting to try and find a trash can when you actually need one because they are kind of rare. I have never felt as pampered as I do on cruise ships, even on value lines.
Another entirely new vacation experience that I think only comes from cruising is the social aspect. On the first night of our first cruise, we participated in a scavenger hunt and met people who we spoke to for the rest of our cruise. It was then that I began to realize how different this experience would be. I can't explain how cool it is to make friends on vacation that you keep in touch with later, to sit down and have a conversation from a different culture or to play trivia with a group of amazing, brash and sassy single ladies from New York City. (Shout out to 5 Girls and a Guy, the winners of progressive trivia on the very first Carnival Magic sailing!) Even people who aren't usually social find themselves being sucked in by the ease of meeting people on a cruise ship. Don't believe me? Just ask my husband. In fact, on our most recent cruise, the absolute best part of the whole thing was our dining room tablemates who we ended up spending entire days with. Where else is it not weird to hang out with complete strangers on your vacation?
I have one more thing to cite about cruising that sets it apart from other vacations, and that is the food. You can try something new with no risk because you can always order something new. Have you ever wished that you could order anything off the menu or two different appetizers? On a cruise, it is almost encouraged. Even people who don't wish for their entire vacation to be focused on food will appreciate the variety and availability aboard without having to consider the cost.