July 18, 2024

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SLOW CRUISING

A Relaxed Cruise Pace Enhances The Experience

Cruising can be a great way to travel and visit a variety of destinations.  My own cruising experience has been limited to ship cruising in the Mediterranean and Aegean areas and a great Yangtze River Cruise in China.(Click for  an article on the Yangtze Cruise Cruise) There are definitely some advantages to a cruise vacation.  One of my personal favorites is the simple fact that you only have to unpack once!  I travel a lot – but trust me – I don’t enjoy packing and I still haven’t found the perfect way to handle the task.  But on a cruise – well, it’s different.  Just move in to your stateroom, unpack, get comfortable, and your ship takes you from one destination to the next.  None of this getting up early, packing, and hitting the road to your next hotel. That’s great for me!

In addition to the packing advantage, cruises provide packaged shore excursions, great food, and on-board entertainment.  The social environment on a ship is a further bonus.  You meet lots of great folks with similar interests and they are sharing the same travel experience that you are. It’s like “instant friends and travel companions.”

Overall I’ve really enjoyed cruising. But  I have found the experience to have one notable downside.  There are so many things to see and do that the pace tends to be a bit hectic. Activities and options interfere with each other.  If you go on shore excursions you miss on-board activities – if you go on shore you miss the boat stuff . Since I travel more to see and experience destinations I almost always opt for the shore experience.   But “in port time” also tends to be rather limited on most cruises.

In this respect I’ve found cruising is,  in many ways, the sea-going version of the tour bus experience.  Instead of the “on the bus – off the bus” routine it becomes the “off the boat – on the boat” experience.  You hit port and then scramble to get to shore (best in ports where you actually dock, it’s a much bigger hassle if you must use tenders to get ashore). Time on shore is limited and then you have to hustle back to the ship. That can be a problem also.  On one of my cruises I was enjoying a run of extremely good luck at the casino on the Greek Island of Rhodes.  Unfortunately the ship was departing at midnight.  Really bad timing.  I had to cash in my chips and make a taxi sprint back to the ship.  I was literally the last to return to the ship which cast off moments after my return (Yes-they do keep track of who comes back. Had I arrived a few moments later I would have “missed the boat” quite literally!).  I still wonder how much I might have won that night if I didn’t have to cash out early.  I might have been able to buy that ship!  (Well, probably not.)

cruise 1Because of this potential rapid and rushed pace to cruising, I’ve learned to do my advanced research.  I try to find cruises which minimize the hectic aspects of cruise travel. I prefer cruises with more time in ports and a more leisurely pace.  True, such slower paced cruises may visit fewer ports. But for me at least, that is more than balanced by the ability to enjoy the cruise and the shore experiences in a more relaxed manner.

Perhaps with people like me in mind, Costa Cruises is offering what they call “slow cruising” on two of their ships – the Costa neoRiviera which cruises the Mediterranean and the Costa neoRamantica which sails Northern Europe.  These are smaller ships offering a somewhat more intimate cruise experience compared to the gigantic “floating cities” now plying the sea lanes. Being smaller, they can also visit ports unavailable larger vessels. Slow cruises feature longer itineraries which allow for longer in port stays. If you would like more info on Costa’s Slow Cruising you can download their announcement directly at Costa News.

For me, and many others I have spoken with, cruising is best enjoyed as a slow and relaxing experience, punctuated by the adventure of visiting interesting ports of call.  So do your research and select a cruise that allows you to maximize the pleasures of cruise travel.

Cruise Slow ……………And Enjoy the Adventure!

Dr.B., The Photo Trekker

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