Cruising is not for me. Or so I thought. I was convinced cruise ships were the equivalent of five star resorts on land. A place you go to be served and pampered – and equipped with blinkers for what goes on in the outside world. I also had vivid images of people stuffing themselves with too much food, drinking too much wine, and generally acting as ignorant as only a certain type of tourists do.
Much to my surprise, I was invited along on a press trip by the Azamara Cruise group. And even more surprisingly, I accepted. People that know me, had a hard time believing it when I said I was going on a cruise… but after all, you don’t turn down an invitation to cruise the Med for one week, all expenses paid, right?
To my relief, Azamara believes in a casual approach to cruising. There’s no formal dress code, and the staff are as delightful as they are top notch.
Waitress: Would you like some more wine, ma’am?
Me: No thanks (it was lunch time and I was planning a run on the treadmill in the afternoon).
Waitress: Why? Are you going to drive?
Me: Ehhm… no.
Waitress: Go on then. Enjoy yourself!
Me: Alright then! (Needless to say, I never made it to the treadmill)
I spent seven days aboard the Azamara Quest, and I can honestly say they were the most relaxing days of my life! No exaggeration. I did my fair bit of sightseeing when we were docked, and I did stop by their fitness room almost every day. But still, it was such a smooth, relaxing way to travel that I would easily do it again. In fact, I’m off on a journey with the Norwegian Epic this May. And who knows, maybe I will just have to become a travel writer specializing in cruises from now on!
I was proven wrong on three of my biggest misconceptions:
1 – Only pensioners go on cruises
The majority of my fellow cruisers were in fact pensioners, however, some couples in their early thirties were on honeymoon and quite a few couples in their 40’s were just enjoying time off.
2 – You end up in a great big line whenever you want to eat or get off the ship.
This very much depends on the size of your ship. The Quest only has 694 passengers, and consequently, I never had to line up for anything. The only time I found limitations in the offers on board, were the day we had scheduled at sea. I would’ve wanted to indulge in a deep tissue massage that day, but of course, so did most others. I had to settle for having my massage on another day. Life sure is hard, eh…
3 – You don’t get to see anything
As a traveler being used to exploring to my heart’s content, traveling on a cruise ship can quite easily let you down. You are always on a time limit, and you will have to settle for exploring the places dictated by the itinerary. In other words, don’t expect to unleash your inner adventurer. On the other hand, you are free to explore during the hours the ship is docked, and whether you decide to follow the footsteps of the masses, or go off on a mission of your own, is totally up to you.
I saw corners of Malta that left me in awe, I discovered the sweetest little shoe shop in Sorrento where they sell handmade sandals to DIE for, and I woke up one morning to see Mount Etna covered in snow. It took my breath away…
Here is one of the articles written about how cruising is so me now!