Reason #1: I can turn off my brain. Well, if only. But I can certainly turn down the volume, clear the static, chuck the map, and revel in the fact that someone else is driving, cooking, and making my bed. Sure, a hotel also cleans up after guests, and restaurants on land are stocked with food, but cruising takes you somewhere without making you worry about the details. Even if it's somewhere you've already visited, the journey on a cruise matters as much as the destination.
Reason #2: I know the kids will have fun. My 7½-year-olds boys are at the perfect age for enjoying cruises, and as a family, we've tested out many kid-friendly cruise lines. My guys can go with the flow, and they aren't shy about making new friends -- on a recent cruise, their best friend was a Russian kid who didn't speak a word of English. The boys truly enjoy spending time in cruise-ship playrooms, whether it's the small and low-frills digs on a ship like the Costa Allegra or the over-the-top theme park-like spaces on Disney (www.disneycruise.disney.go.com), Carnival (www.carnival.com), and Royal Caribbean (www.royalcaribbean.com) ships. In port, my guys love sampling local ice cream and pizza, taking hikes, and giving local transportation a try (from tuk-tuks in Thailand to horse-drawn carriages in Naples).
Reason #3: I appreciate the comfort level. Just like a snuggly old quilt you wrap yourself in while watching TV, cruising over the years has become my travel equivalent of comfort food. I like the rituals of a cruise, from checking in at hangar-size terminal to walking toward the gangway with the anticipation of what our new home will be like for the next week or two. It's a cheap thrill to walk down the narrow ship corridors looking for your cabin, and then exploring the ship to see where everything is located. I know the cabin steward is always nearby to make sure everything is ok and that we're always just steps from restaurants, entertainment, and, of course, the sea.
Reason #4: I get a kick out of the other passengers. The tired old cliché about cruise ships being floating cities is very true. A cruise is a boatload of humanity in all shapes and sizes from all over the world. The people-watching is prime, and the opportunities to make new friends are plentiful. There's something about being literally stuck with a random community of travelers that creates a bond you'll rarely feel in a land-based hotel.
Reason #5: I love the shippy stuff. What is it about that ship horn moaning farewell to a port or the chirpy cruise director's voice announcing upcoming activities over the PA system? Call me a sap, but I like it. I like the hum of the engines, the sound of the wind whipping across the open decks, and the excitement of leaning over the railings to watch the ship being tied up at a pier in a new port.
Reason #6: I get into the dining ritual. While I appreciate that ships now have flexible dining options to accommodate everyone, for the most part, my family and I still enjoy heading for the main restaurant. We like getting dressed for dinner, strolling past the smartly dressed wait staff and the charming maÎtre'd, and finding our dining our table laid out beautifully with gleaming dinnerware and crisp linens. My kids like the friendly waiters and drawing on their kiddy menus, while my husband and I like perusing the adult menu and deciding which courses we want to sample (all of them, of course!).
Reason #7: I'm sucker for nostalgia. Though the cruise experience is getting closer to a land-based resort experience, many ships still have a strong whiff of the old world. The tradition of travel by sea is alive and well, with officers decked out in handsome uniforms and retro activities like Bingo and ballroom dance lessons still all the rage. I love sipping my sauvignon blanc in some dimly-lit lounge as a crooner tickles the ivories and sings Frank Sinatra songs. I appreciate the slow pace of ship travel and the way a vessel relies on the whims of nature.
Reason #8: I like being lulled to sleep by the rhythms of the sea. For me, the subtle movement of the ship as it rides the waves and the cradle-like rocking is relaxing. The movement feels organic to me and taps some basic need to feel connected to nature in a way that a car or an airplane can't manage. Better yet, come bedtime, the undulating rhythm of the ship on water puts me in snooze mood the minute I hit the pillow.
Reason #9: I value the safe and secure environment. While I definitely have an adventurous streak and rate hiking the Inca Trail and camping in Africa among my favorite experiences, I'm also drawn to security. The safety on cruise ships makes it a cozy nest to call home for a week and that feeling breeds a peace of mind that really is, after all, what a vacation is all about.
Talk with fellow Frommer's cruisers on our Cruise Forum.