Hotels versus Cruises

Cruise Advice
By

It's true that we are at Mundy biased towards ship-borne holidays, but despite this commitment we have to admit that there might be some people for whom a cruise holiday is totally inappropriate. We have therefore written this short article in the interests of balance; in an attempt to advise those people who might prefer a land-based hotel of the potential pitfalls of cruising.

Distinguishing these people is not easy, but we have identified six different types of person who might fit this description, and they are:

1) Those Who Love Packing Suitcases

If you are the adventurous sort of person, then you will not be sedentary enough to want to stay in just one place for your few weeks of holiday every year (but see 2. below). Cruisers solve this problem by joining a ship which will (according to the cruise they go on) allow them to visit a number of different countries on any one voyage or allow them to visit a few countries (or maybe just one) in greater depth. During this time they will of course only have to unpack at the beginning of the holiday and pack again at the end.

But if you are one of those people who thrills to the sight of a suitcase waiting to be packed each morning, or indeed if you prefer your clothes to have that slightly wrinkled and overly-travelled air each evening, then be warned - a cruise holiday is not for you.

2) Those Who Like Sand & Inactivity

Don't get us wrong: there is nothing to stop you doing nothing on a cruise ship, (the whole point of any cruise holiday being that you can pretty much do as you wish, the parameters of which will be governed by what ship you book in the first place).

Nor is there anything to stop you visiting beautiful beaches and enjoying them; indeed one of the advantages of some of the smaller cruise ships is that they can take you to beaches that are very far from the beaten track, where land tourists simply can't venture.

But if your idea of a great holiday is to spend a couple of weeks going straight to the beach after breakfast and staying there doing absolutely nothing except toasting your skin until dinner, then we cruise aficionados must admit defeat.

On most cruise holidays you will find there are so many tempting and different things to do each day, both on the ship and of course off it, that your ambition to do nothing will be sorely tested. Best avoid, we say.

3) Those Who Don't Want To See The World

Contrary to what Disney might have you believe, it's not a "Small, Small World" at all. In fact it's a rather big one, with near enough a couple of hundred different countries and many many more cultures in it.

All of which frankly means that if you want to see the most of it (and often the very greatest of it) you are best advised to become a regular cruiser as soon as you can.

One single cruise can touch on a different country (and three quarters of the countries in the world have a coastline) every day, giving you a chance to get a very good feel of what it's like (and also a chance to assess whether or not you want to return there, to spend some more time seeing it in greater depth). And cruises can and do, of course, go to some of the more inaccessible parts of the world, where there are no hotels (be it the rainforests of South America or the wonderful tundra of Antarctica), but still allowing you to enjoy them in six-star luxury.

All of which is well and good. But we recognise that there are some people who don't want to see the world, people who are more than content to view the glories of the planet on a television screen at home. And if you are one of these, then really cruises are not, we promise, something you are going to enjoy. We thought it best to be honest here

4) Those Who Are Slaves To Routine

It's ironic that one of the charges filed against going on cruises is that you are not 'free' to do what you want, when in fact they are one of the more liberated ways of travelling that there is. After all, on many ships, once the vessel is in port (which can be every day of course) then the rest of the day is yours to do with as you wish, whether you want to explore with a ship's tour; or go your own way on a private tour; or just hire a car and drive about; or plain potter about. Never forgetting the option, of course, of doing absolutely nothing. (Again, see 2) . above).

We would argue that those who stay in hotels are far more victims of a fixed schedule. Every day they have to get up; look at the same view (not for them the delights of a new vista every day); find somewhere to have breakfast (unless it's the hotel restaurant yet again); decide what they are doing; get all their stuff together ready to do it; do some of it; find somewhere to have lunch; etc etc. It's dreadfully hard work every day isn't it? None of the joyous freedom of arriving somewhere and feeling like a fresh adventure is about to begin every day.

But that's just opinion of course, and we readily concede that there are some people to whom routine, and knowing exactly what they are going to do from one day to the next, is very important. Spontaneity is not for everyone, and in the same candid spirit nor are cruise holidays.

5) Those Who Don't Enjoy Dining

On a cruise ship you can enjoy some of the finest dining available for holiday-makers in the world, whether on land or on sea. And here we mean not just the quality, but also the sheer variety of types of cuisine on which you can feast on any one cruise, and the wonderful array of dining experiences in which you can enjoy them, (whether that is dining alfresco whilst watching whales play in an Alaskan fjord, or breakfasting whilst watching the sun rise over the islands of Tahiti).

In short, on a cruise every meal can be an experience in itself, which is why on the luxury cruise ships every care is taken to ensure that people can enjoy a wide variety of different ways to dine, from small, intimate venues to the grander dining rooms; from the private luxury of your own balcony to a friendly barbecue on a private island.

(Be careful though not to be distracted by many of the myths that have grown up around cruising, such as "You have to dress up for dinner every day" or "You have to eat at fixed times or places, like the Captain's Table". These are true for some ships, for those who enjoy such things, and not true for many others. There is always a choice for those who like cruising, which is why people tend to rely on advice from trusted experts such as Mundy Cruising).

Be all of that as it may, we do recognise that there are many people who will not be attracted by such stuff, as the growth of UK fast food restaurants will attest. (Not that you can't enjoy a magnificent burger on many ships if you wish, but you take our point).

So if your view of food is that it is but fuel for the body; that there is little enjoyment to be had from either food or the foody experience, then maybe (we say again) the luxury cruise experience would only irritate you with its excessive attention paid to getting everything to do with cuisine as near perfect as possible.

6) Those Who Are Lottery Millionaires

For those who like splashing it about without a care in the world, it will be an uncomfortable fact that most luxury cruises represent magnificent value for money when compared to their land-based equivalents.

The norm for hotel holidays is that the cost includes breakfast and a bed, and everything else (unless you want to include the toiletries) is extra. And then of course you have to spend the day doing things; and doing things can cost money, (so much so that it's our experience that the non-hotel costs on any land holiday can generally outweigh the actual hotel costs, especially if yours is a large family).

The converse is true for cruising, where it is the exceptions that are charged for; so (for example) the majority of luxury cruises won't make any charges for soft drinks; for coffees and teas; for drinks at the bar; for wine at the dining table; for late night dinner service; for complimentary coach services, and so on and so on.

And so if you have just won the lottery and are enjoying demonstrating to your friends (or maybe your enemies) exactly how jolly rich you are, then a luxury cruise holiday really is the wrong environment to make this point. First because you will rarely get a chance to actually show anyone any money (how can you when there is so little to actually pay for?) and secondly because it is all such superb value that they will probably think you are a very canny spender indeed, and not the engagingly wild spendthrift that you wish to be seen to be.

We don't like turning away people with the money to spend, but trust us : if you don't want great value then you don't want cruising.

* * * * * *

If you've got this far, then you might have guessed that our tongue has been ever so slightly in our corporate cheek. Not in our adherence to the great things that cruise holidays can offer, but more in our scorn for the outdated stereotypes of cruising that prevail.

The reality is that cruise holidays are (like hotel-based ones in fact) as varied and as different as you want them to be. Whatever it is you want to do, however it is that you prefer to holiday, there will be a ship out there to suit you. We know; we've been on nearly all of them.

Edwina Lonsdale
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

More about Edwina

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