If you like going on cruises, don't get upset — let me explain.
I'm not knocking sailing around to beautiful places on a massive ship — I've been on several cruises and know they're a great way to visit a lot of different islands in a short amount of time. They can also be a lot of fun and a reasonable way to keep vacation costs down (though, an all-inclusive resort also does this) — but, at the same time, when you take a cruise you're missing out on a lot of what makes each particular island so spectacular.
I've highlighted four advantages to vacationing on an island and the drawbacks of cruising:
On a cruise you're constantly on a schedule, from the time you depart the ship's original port of call, to the time you disembark at the end of your vacation — and it isn't your schedule. Each day there's a specific itinerary to which guests adhere, that dictates when you can get off the ship and when you need to report back to board the ship — and it doesn't provide a lot of flexibility — miss the boat and you're stranded! (Yes, it does happen.)
Side note: The lines and check-in chaos that goes with getting on and off the ship each day provides its own annoyances and can often be a huge time-suck that takes away from your experience at each destination.
Even once your ship is docked and you're free to roam, you only have a certain amount of time allotted on each of the islands your cruise visits. Most of the time you'll only have a few hours or maybe, at most, half a day to explore, which doesn't give you the chance to experience a new place and all it has to offer. Trying to cram everything an island's treasures into one day is impossible — and if you attempt it, you'll be left feeling stressed out and exhausted.
When you stay on an island, you're on island time — literally — there's no itinerary or schedule to follow. You wake up when you want, eat when you want and explore at your own leisure. You actually get to slow down, relax and unwind — at the end of the day isn't that what a vacation is for?
Relax! You're on island time.
Cruises offer limited options when it comes to accommodations, excursions and bad weather.
Let's face it, staterooms can be cramped — even if you pay extra to upgrade to a room with a balcony or suite, there's only so much space on a ship. (Have you ever tried to get ready in the bathroom? The struggle is real.) On an island there are endless options to choose from when it comes to finding a comfortable and spacious place to stay that will also suit your every need. Want a private pool? A private chef? 5-star accommodations? Beach front property? Ocean views? No problem, you'll be able to find just about anything you could ever dream of.
Excursions are often the most exciting part of a cruise, but time constraints leave you limited to choosing just one excursion per island — pick the wrong one and you may leave with a negative perspective toward the region. With multiple days in one location you'll have time to truly explore your surroundings, get to see more of the area and take part in a wide array of activities.
If bad weather hits the day you arrive at a port it can greatly impact — if not cancel — your entire plans for the day. And because the ship is only docked for a day, you don't get to reschedule your excursions or come back at a different time or day. If you're staying on the island you've got the option to reschedule an activity for another day if the weather is less than ideal — instead of completely missing out on one of the scheduled stops.
Don't miss out on an amazing excursion because of weather.
Another advantage you'll get from spending your vacation in one place is getting to know the locals. They are truly a wealth of knowledge and can provide priceless information and recommendations. They know the ins and outs of the entire island and can give you the scoop on the best places to go — that tourists generally don't know about. There have been several times that I've ended up finding the most amazing places that have been way off-the-beaten path because of a local's suggestion. (One my best tips came from a taxi driver!) Whether it's a gorgeous view, secluded cove or undeveloped beach — you never know what local treasure you'll find out about from a native.
Spots for cliff jumping and hidden coves that only locals know about at Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
A stunning coral cove I discovered in Grand Cayman — all thanks to a local.
Even if you aren't a foodie, trying the local cuisine is a huge part of experiencing a new place and its culture — whether it's trying indigenous fruits from a local market or ordering a traditional island dish at a restaurant. Along with authentic food, a lot of the restaurants you'll visit also offer a unique atmosphere and stunning views that you won't get from a cruise ship. (I've even enjoyed dinner while sitting in the ocean. You can read about it, here.)
Tip: I encourage you to try local delicacies, even if they're a bit off-the-wall — you just might be surprised.
Staying put on one island offers the perfect combination of sight-seeing, excursions, free time and relaxation; giving you the opportunity to experience all the wonderful and unique attributes a place has to offer.
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