• Rachel Shoemaker

Why I Love Cruising with Friends and Family

Last week I went to a conference held on an ocean cruise from New York to San Juan and I have to say that I embarked on this experience with a few preconceived notions. To start with, I wasn’t really sure if I would enjoy the experience. I thought that the ship would be busy, with crowds of people around, I thought that I might not like the food, and that I wouldn’t be able to get the full experience in the places we visited. Basically, I thought that as a traditionally land-based traveler, cruising just wasn’t for me. Well, I must admit, I loved it! The ship had a very open feel, so I never found myself in a crowd of people and I always had my pick of the deck chairs - and the food was wonderful. It was exciting to wake up in the morning and look out at the expanse of sea all around, listening to the ocean as I walked around on deck. Not to mention the excitement of pulling into port in the wee hours of the day, almost completely alone on deck and watching the sunrise over the hills of St. Martin. We even saw whales jumping alongside the ship!

Sunrise over St. Martin as we came into port

What really dawned on me during this experience was how much fun it is to cruise with friends. Since I was cruising for a conference, I knew a good number of people on the ship, and it was always fun to bump into each other as we went to different shows or grabbed coffee on the morning. The best part is that this is the type of travel experience you can enjoy even if your friends and family have very different interests. Maybe one day you go on a historic walking tour while some of your friends go snorkeling, others visit a distillery or sail on an America's cup yacht, and some choose to go ride an ATV to a zipline course. Then, over dinner you all come together and share your experiences that day! It was perfect.

After my experience I now know for sure that cruising with friends and family can really be the perfect addition to your travel plans. Even if you’re like me and tend to prefer a ‘deep dive’ into a destination, you might also be like me and have friends or family who can find that type of travel a bit… boring. Now I know that I can travel with these people in my life and every one of us can still have a wonderful time! So, if you have a group of friends or family who all have very different interests and you can’t imagine ever finding a trip that would make everyone happy then I strongly encourage you to consider cruising.

Now, before you jump all up and down and say that cruising ‘just isn’t for me,’ let me tell you that I can ensure you there is truly a cruise line out there for everyone. Some lines are laid back while others are very activity-oriented, some are expedition ships heading to the less explored parts of the world, and some are glamorous luxury cruisers who stop in only the most fabulous destinations. From the most rugged expedition ship to the masted sailing ships of Tahiti and up to the never-ending playground of the very largest ships, there is a cruise experience just waiting for you.

Expedition cruising can be luxurious too!

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