Recently Heidi attended a press event onboard Royal Caribbean’s new ship Anthem of the Seas. She was blown away at how much this self-proclaimed “non-cruiser” enjoyed it. Now she can’t wait to go on another one.
I had long been on the fence about whether or not a cruise would be an enjoyable way to travel. Friends had raved that cruises were amazing, but I didn’t quite trust their claims that there’s so much to do onboard, you don’t even have to leave the ship. I imagined I’d feel a bit trapped and claustrophobic. But, I kind of wanted to try it anyway. At least then I could say, “I tried cruising, but wasn’t for me.”
You know where this is headed, right? I was wrong. After my son and I spent an incredible weekend on Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas, I became a full-fledged cruise convert. I daydream about cruises, I research cruises, I can’t stop talking about cruises. Have you read this article about the woman who lives on a cruise ship because it’s cheaper than a nursing home? That will be me.
If you have your doubts, though, about hopping aboard a cruise ship and sailing off into the sunset, allow me to share five reasons why a floating vacation is the way to go.
1. Fun for the Whole Family
Have a variety of family members to please? No problem! Cruises cater to all ages, with entertainment options that run the gamut from pools to plays to cabarets. My son and I never stopped moving when we were onboard Anthem of the Seas – we were determined to try it all! We went to concerts and comedy, saw circus acts and performing robots, played video games and tackled a Puzzle Break “escape the room” challenge. Anthem also offered iFly simulated skydiving, FlowRider boogie boarding, bumper cars, rock climbing, roller skating, and more. When our ship returned to port, my son and I lamented all the things we hadn’t found the time to try. We want to go back!
2. Food to Please Every Palate
The idea of traveling to exotic destinations with kids in tow can be intimidating, particularly if you have a picky eater or two. Add any food allergies to the mix, and exploring the world with littles might not seem worth the effort. But, cruises can be a game changer for international travel. Anthem of the Seas, for example, has 18 dining options, offering a wide range of choices from fast food to formal dining, and everything in between. Plus, you can submit any food allergies or restrictions when you book your cruise, so the chefs will be aware.
3. Endless Options to Stay Active Onboard
If you love the idea of eating your way across a cruise ship, but not the reality of packing on extra pounds, cruises allow you to work out while still on vacation! With state of the art fitness centers, outdoor running tracks, pools, and group exercise classes, you can eat that third dessert (almost) entirely guilt free!
4. First Class Accommodations
Before taking a cruise, I imagined staterooms would be tiny closets with almost no natural light. What I discovered on Anthem of the Seas was a luxurious bedroom with nary a porthole in sight! It was compact to be sure, but still larger than my last hotel room in New York City, and the floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to the balcony offered sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean that I could enjoy from bed.
The ship, too, was much larger than I expected. Anthem of the Seas is 1,141 feet long and 18 decks high. My son insisted on taking the stairs everywhere we went because of the unique artwork found on each level of the stairwell, so it felt like we walked several miles each day. With so much to explore–upscale retail stores, restaurants, theaters, entertainment and aquatic complexes, a spa, a casino, and more–the cruise ship felt much like a sprawling, luxury Las Vegas hotel.
5. Meet People from Around the Globe
On the last night of our cruise, I asked my son what he had liked best and he surprised me by answering, “The people who work here.” Anthem of the Seas has 1,500 crew members onboard, and every one we encountered treated us like we were visiting their home for Thanksgiving. They were such a friendly and welcoming bunch, making up a diverse family of sorts, from all over the world. The Eastern European gentleman in charge of our room checked on us regularly, to make sure we were comfortable during our stay. Our waiter regaled us with tales of his home in Africa. Mike, our British Puzzle Break guide, was so much fun that my son mentioned missing him a week after the cruise!
Now, you’ll notice that my five reasons did not even include the cruise destination, which of course should be the most exciting. So, I guess it really is true what they say. A cruise is so much fun, you never even have to get off the ship!
Heidi Gollub is the founder of the award-winning blog Free Fun in Austin. When not running around on adventures with her five children, she volunteers for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, helping tourists plan their dream vacations, and writes content for the local news. She frequently appears on television and was recently a speaker at Mom 2.0 and the Texas Conference for Women.