As soon as I mention the word cruise, I already know what you’re thinking – cruises are only for old people, or unadventurous people who don’t want to see the world. And I get it, I used to think exactly the same. I thought “I hate resorts, I hate travelling to a place and not having the time to properly see it”, or I assumed the people who go on cruises wouldn’t be my kind of people….but ever since I went on my first cruise with NCL last year (you can read about that one here and here) I realised I had got it all totally wrong. Or maybe it’s more that I was just looking at what a cruise actually is for in totally the wrong way.
They’re actually so much fun, and totally a holiday that could work for all kinds of people – I’d go with my family, with a group of friends, or even on my own!
When I talk to my friends about cruising, their first reaction is the same as mine was, but once I’ve told them about the time I’ve had they always seem to find themselves converted and wanting to go on one too! I think the thing is when you stop seeing it as an alternative to adventuring and immersing yourself in a place, you realise there are so many other ‘pro’s’ to it that you might not have thought of before, and actually they make for a really amazing trip! This year I was lucky enough to be one of the first on board the new ship NCL ship, the Norwegian Bliss, for their press intro trip, and it got me thinking it was about time I wrote a blog post about just how great they are, and why I do think that pretty much everyone should try one at some point in their lives!
1. Sea and Sun
It might sound silly, but the first reason is that a cruise is an ideal place to experience sea and sun. I mean, how many of us would book a holiday to a “hot holiday” beach resort we didn’t really care about the location of, simply because we wanted some good weather, the sun, and to lay around by the sea/pool for a week? Exactly. A cruise is the perfect place to kick back, relax and soak up some rays – I mean, when you’re out in the ocean with clear skies could there really be a better place than on top of a ship deck for sunbathing? Also: you are literally surrounded by the sea. This might sound silly, but as someone who literally feels happy just being able to gaze out on water anywhere (and I’m pretty sure most people feel the same), there is nothing so soothing. In fact I’m pretty sure I could go on a cruise and spend the majority of my time sat on my cabin balcony gazing at the ocean (and tanning, obv) then I would be entirely happy.
2. All inclusive
It’s all inclusive. And when I say all inclusive, I mean alllllllll inclusive. All tickets on Norwegian Bliss (and all the NCL ships) now exclusively come with their Premium All Inclusive option – which essentially means you can eat (and drink) as much as you want in any of their bars and all included restaurants. What that means in reality, is you can lie on your sun lounger, sit in a hot tub or rock up to any restaurant at any hour of the night (and yes, one of them is 24 hours – helllllo 4am chicken wings) and someone will bring you whatever you like. Of course there are speciality restaurants and exclusive drinks that you need to pay extra for, but you could easily stay for the week and not have to spend an extra penny (or lift a finger – unless you’re at the Buffet) while you’re there. If you had any doubt about the cost of the ticket before, surely that’s your incentive? And if you’re still not convinced, maybe just think “challenge accepted” on making sure you really make the most out of your ticket price by eating and drinking all you can while you’re there?! My personal faves are the poolside bars which have an amazing array of cocktails, and the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, serving up every flavour of Mojito you could imagine, with beautiful on-deck seating looking out to sea!
3. There’s so much to do
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about cruises, it’s that they’re essentially a giant adult playground. On top of being able to indulge in the eating and drinking sense, when it comes to experiences you can have on board the Norwegian Bliss, you’re spoilt for choice! If you thought you’d be bored on a “sea day” when you’re just on the ship all day, think again. There’s honestly so much to try, enjoy and explore that I can genuinely see why some people never even feel the need to get off the ship when it docks! On the Norwegian Bliss there are 19 restaurants, 20 bars, 5 nightly theatre and club shows, and countless different activities per day, from Salsa classes to health assessments and poolside talent shows! Plus Laser Tag and Go Karting on deck, with the world’s largest racecourse at sea! On top of that there are daily dance classes, gym classes, an on-deck running track, spa treatments, poolside entertainment, music, daily themed deck parties, and more! My favourite experiences from the 2-day intro trip were go-karting, laser tag, watching the Beatles tribute in the Cavern Club and watching the Jersey Boys musical whilst floating in the middle of the ocean!
4. Amazing Food
There are a whopping 19 restaurants on-board the Norwegian Bliss. Even if you were there for the full week I think you’d be hard-pushed to try it all (unless you went home a few stone heavier!) And the food is amazing. There are 6 restaurants included in the All Inclusive package, including the Garden Cafe Buffet, which has everything under the sun for you to pile up into one very uncoordinated plate. Then there are the speciality restaurants offering everything from incredible seafood to the biggest steaks you’ll ever see. My personal faves were the Texas Smokehouse Restaurant which is new for Norwegian Bliss, and the Teppanyaki where you basically get a comedy show (and sing-along, if you’re lucky) from your chef while he whips up your meal right before your eyes! We were lucky enough to have a lunch-time where all the speciality restaurants had their signature dishes up for grabs in the buffet, so we really could attempt to try it all – I’m not going to lie, I had to try 3 different plates to try and taste a bit of everything!
5. Seeing new places
After all the amazingness on board, what I’ve come to realise about cruising is that the stop-offs are actually almost a bonus to your trip rather than the main event! But, if you want to see a little bit of a few different places, then cruising is a great way to get a taster. If you aren’t sure about spending too long in one place and wanted to try it before deciding to re-visit on a longer trip, or want to try and fit a few European destinations into a single trip, then cruising is a great way to go! As much as only spending a few hours in exotic places grates on the adventurer bones inside me, I loved the opportunity to see multiple places in one trip. You can book all your off-shore excursions before you go, or chat to the reps on board for recommendations on half-day adventures to try when the boat docks and book on the ship while you’re there. Whether it’s a quad biking adventure, local tour of your destination or an afternoon of snorkelling in Mexico, there’s plenty of opportunity to book once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and cram as many into your trip as possible!
6. Meeting new people
As someone who is pretty much always a solo traveller at the moment, booking any sort of a holiday can be a bit of a minefield. It seems a lot harder to find places to go where you’re comfortable to travel alone, don’t feel weird having to go to dinner solo, but also have the option to easily meet other people if you get bored of your own company. A cruise seems like a great place to meet people, you easily get chatting in the bars because everyone’s in holiday mode, and because it’s essentially one big floating resort, there’s always plenty of people around and no problem figuring out where to go for your meals or night out! Any of the activities you take part in are a prime opportunity to meet other travellers too and have a bit of a laugh. It’s a similar vibe to a festival where everyone’s inhibitions are way more relaxed than on a normal holiday or city break, and travelling too doesn’t seem so scary or like so much of a taboo to other people! If you don’t want company, it’s prime opportunity to chill out alone, and if you do – whether you’re on your own, in a couple or travelling with a group of mates you’re pretty much guaranteed to make some new friends! Just watch out for the weirdos who seem to think that being in international waters mean that their wedding ring doesn’t mean anything…. (I’m joking, but also not joking)
All in all, I loved the Norwegian Bliss and would genuinely recommend trying out a cruise to anyone after the two experiences I’ve had. There are so many different options whatever your budget (I found out you can even book a super-bargain trip any time the ship needs to travel back to a different port to start it’s next trip – a 2-3 day cruise from Southampton to Germany or vice-versa can be under £100 because it’s not one of their proper ‘cruising’ routes. And that’s still all-inclusive!) So honestly, if it’s not on your list of things to do already I really do recommend trying it for the experience, a bit of down-time, or a wild few days with your friends! Have you tried a cruise before or would you fancy giving it a go? Let me know in the comments!
The Norwegian Bliss is cruising Alaska, The Caribbean, The Bahamas, Mexico and The Panama Canal in 2019. Click here to find out more or book a trip. Thank you so much for Norwegian Cruise Lines for inviting me on their Inaugural Press trip, I can’t wait for my next cruise experience!