Ahh, it’s cruise season again. No, I’m not going this year, but January and February, along with hurricane season in the Fall are GREAT times to get a cruise bargain. Why do I like cruising so much? Because it’s the ONLY vacation where mom really doesn’t have to do anything. Think about it…typically, wherever the family goes, mom is still cooking, event planning, doing laundry and picking up after every one. A cruise is the only venue I’ve found where I don’t do ANY of that…well, maybe a load of laundry or two…but that’s it! But isn’t a cruise expensive you say? Surprisingly, when you compare it to a land-based vacation…If you play your cards right, it can be cheaper AND less stressful.
For example, we took a 7 day cruise last year that cost our family of four just under $2,000. We also had a very nice balcony cabin, so in reality, it could’ve been at least $600 cheaper. So, let’s go with $1,400. Compare that to a trip to Key West we took last year, with the van piled up to the gills. So, I thought I’d sit down and compare the two on paper.
The cruise included all of our food and entertainment. We paid about $200 extra on tours, drinks and souveniers and $50 for gas. That brings the total, let’s say to $1,650 for a week of family fun. Now on the Key West trip, our lodging was pretty cheap. We stayed at the Navy Lodge down there. For a week’s stay for four people, that was about $500 in season. We did have our own kitchenette where mom did all the cooking and we tried to cut down on expenses by eating sandwiches for lunch most days…more work for mom. Add $300 for our commissary and PX foraging. We did do some restaurant eating, went on a few tours, visited a few museums, rented a boat and of course, got a few obligatory souveniers. That added up to a total of just under $1600. Now don’t forget the gas bill, which came to about $130 for a grand total of about $1800 . There were a few things that you can’t put a pricetag on, one being sitting in a van for 6 hours (which equals wasted vacation time)…our cruise port was only two hours away…the wear and tear on our van driving down to Key West and the hassle of schlepping down all that gear and stuff, whereas the cruise, we each had two bags.
So, which is the better deal? To me, without a doubt, the cruise is the better deal. Could we have survived on “beans and rice” to make the Key West trip cheaper….well, sure…but then it’s not really a vacation, is it? Can you also imagine how much more expensive it would’ve been had we stayed in a hotel rather than the Navy Lodge? Compare the Key West scenario to a cruise where all your food is included…hey, I took many trips up to the buffets, including the dessert orgies on our last cruise. I tried all kinds of new dishes and goodies. Where else can you have free breakfast on your balcony every morning? There were so many shows, clubs, games, classes and events, we couldn’t go to them all..not to mention a state of the art fitness center with every kind of aerobics class available.
But to me, the nicest thing about being on a cruise is the true ability to relax with my family. Moms don’t get to do that too often. I didn’t have to plan any activities or things to do. We could choose to do what we wanted to do. We could also choose to do nothing. My husband and I also had quite a bit of alone time. The kids’ programs were full featured and fun and kept the kids very busy. They learned so much about all the places we visited. Where else can you also wake up to a different scene, culture and new places to discover every morning? That is the true highlight of cruising. You aren’t stuck with just one vacation place. You get a taste of everything. Learn what you like and don’t like and maybe sometime in the future, you can go back to the places you really enjoyed.
What vacation would you say has been the best deal for your family? Where have you really been able to relax and have fun?