Top 10 reasons why people really take a cruise vacation

There are dozens of reasons why millions of people choose a cruise vacation. Sure, people need a vacation, they like the almost-all-inclusive aspect and the unpack once routine. But what’s the real motivation to book a cruise vacation? I wanted more detail.

Carnival Breeze passengers partying by the pool at sailaway.
Carnival Breeze passengers get an early start on their cruise vacation. (Photo: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

Why Choose a Cruise Vacation?

On my last few cruises, I set out to learn some of the real reasons. I decided to simply ask passengers why they chose a cruise vacation. No mic or recorder and no promotional party-line talk. Just pen, paper and conversation. Here’s what I learned, in no particular order.

At the Martini Ice Bar on the Celebrity Reflection.
At the Martini Ice Bar on the Celebrity Reflection. It’s a huge hub of activity and a great spot to people-watch. (Photo: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

1. Party Time

With an “all you can drink” booze package and not having to drive home, these perpetually inebriated guests hoped to drink their way through the entire cruise, onboard and ashore.

2. Family togetherness

The folks with kids in tow said that this was the easiest way to take a family vacation. Their kids usually loved the youth programs and the parents needed a little down time by themselves without having to entertain their kids. They all planned to take the kids on active, short shore excursions, not all-day events.

3. No housekeeping

When I mentioned cleaning (and this sounds so 1950’s), it was the women who spoke up the most. They said their reason for a cruise vacation (both with and without travel companions) was no housekeeping or child care for a week. No beds to make, cooking, cleaning etc.

American Cruise Lines American Queen salmon dinner with parmesan crisps.
American Cruise Lines American Queendishes up regional fare. This was a cruise on the Columbia River in the Pacific NW.

4. Dining and Trying New Foods

“The food!” was a frequent answer, usually said in either hushed voices (too embarrassed to admit a pig-out week) or with unbridled enthusiasm. While many said they looked forward to the escargot and unlimited lobster, some people were going for the specialty dining options and had no plans to set foot in the main dining room.

5. Get Unplugged for a Week

There are a few brave souls who can truly power-down and unplug while on vacation. I targeted this question towards people carrying around actual books…not e-readers, tablets or laptops. Their mobile phones were in their stateroom safes and the laptop at home.

6. Gambling

Despite the fact that gambling on cruise ships is on the decrease, there were a few Vegas-type enthusiasts who would homestead in the casino at the same slot machine or blackjack table night after night.

When I asked, they replied that they simply loved to gamble. However, most said they usually just broke even or came away slightly ahead. It was their nightly entertainment.

The dramatic view of El Morro in San Juan Puerto Rico as ships enter the bay into Old San Juan port.
The dramatic view of El Morro in San Juan Puerto Rico as ships enter the bay into Old San Juan port. (Photo: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

7. History

This can be on an anywhere-in-the-world cruise. On one cruise I met a group of pirate buffs who were hot on the heels of Blackbeard, Bluebeard and just about any pirate lore. Their eastern Caribbean cruise brought them to Nassau’s famous Pirate Museum, Blackbeard’s haunts in St. Thomas, and pirate hangouts (and historic El Morro Fortress) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

8. Get Back in Shape

I know, it sounds odd to go on a food-crazed, sit-by-the-pool vacation and try get in shape, too. Standing in line to sign up for classes in the gym, I met a group of women from a hometown health club. Many had pre-booked their spa treatments before they left home, and once onboard, headed straight to the fitness center to sign up for daily spinning, yoga, pilates and dancercize classes. Good for them.

9. New or Adventure Experiences

While there wasn’t one particular repeat item, a lot people booked a cruise vacation to visit new places (islands), try new adrenaline-rush experiences like zip lining high above a rainforest canopy, parasailing, and off-road ATVs. One person even said she was booked on a mini-submarine tour, to overcome a severe case of claustrophobia. Go figure.

10. See the World Without Flying!

OK…I’ll admit it. This is my reason for cruising. Waking up at sea, sipping coffee on my balcony, no dogs/cats/kids to contend with, hours of uninterrupted writing time, plus exotic and historic ports around the world just waiting to be explored. Not to mention that I gave up flying 20 years ago.

In an industry with the highest repeat guest rate, there is something about cruising that gets you hooked early on and makes just about everyone want to return again and again. For whatever reason.

Read more:  Nine Best Tips for Your First Solo Cruise

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  1. Hi Jack, Thank you for your question…it’s a very good one! While I’m sure that every bit of linen will have either been replaced or completely sanitized, I do not know about the mattresses. I’ll try to find out and get back to you. You or your travel agent could call or email Norwegian’s customer service department or even ask the question on social media. Thank you also for reading my article. If I find out anything, I will add it. Have a wonderful cruise!

  2. Have you had any reports about the condition of mattresses and sheets on cruise ships that have been docked for two years. Musty sheets and mattresses are no good.

    I have reservations Cruise on the Norwegian cruise line the Pride. January 29, 2022. That’s will be the ships second cruise in two years.

  3. Hi Halle,
    Thank you so much. Please sign up for my newsletter from the pink sign-up box in the sidebar. I’m just about to put a newsletter together for tomorrow so please sign up at your earliest convenience. Thank you again for reading my articles.

  4. Hi Sherry. I LOVE your site. I look forward to following your cruise tips. Please sign me up for your newsletter.

  5. Hi Gerry,
    I’m so excited you and your grandkids are going to cruise to Alaska. Sounds like you’re thinking of a northbound cruise and then the land tour. I might make two suggestions. The first would be for at least you and your wife to have a balcony. This is one time to splurge. The sooner you look to reserve your cruise, the better the chance to get a balcony for you and an inside right across the hall for your grandkids (though they are older). My second suggestion is purely a personal choice and that’s to fly up, do the land portion and cruise south. The cross-Gulf day or two is a good time to rest up before you hit the ground running in Southeast Alaska. I hope this helps! Thanks for your email. Have a fabulous time!

  6. We are wanting to take 3 grandkids, ages 14, 16 and 22, on a cruise to Alaska June 2019. First time cruise for us all. We can depart Vancouver, Seattle or San Francisco. Thinking of cruise up and fly back after extended sightseeing for at least a week in Alaska.
    Want the kids in a room and us in a separate room close together. Inside staterooms ok? We were thinking of inside for the kids and balcony for us? Any suggestions?

  7. Hi – I’m glad that there were a few facets to your cruise that you enjoyed. If you didn’t work through a travel agent for your cruise, I would suggest finding an agent who is very familiar with cruising. Some cruise lines change alcohol policies when cruising in Australia/New Zealand, so you may want to double-check the offerings before confirming on another cruise.

    Thank you for your comment.


  8. To be accurate, some ‘All inclusive’ cruises are not…yes, all the food and transport and stuff, but on the M.V. ‘Millenium’ my wife and sailed on in New Zealand round to Australia, all drinks had to be paid for. They were not in the ‘All inclusive’ package we thought we had bought. The food was average, but plenty of it. The best bit of the cruise was the evenings in the very large ‘nightclub’ listening to a great Filipino Band. Would not cruise again at those prices.

  9. Thanks very much, Nicole! Please sign up for my once-a-week newsletter so you don’t miss any articles.

  10. All but 2 of these are all my reasons for going on a cruise along with the cost. Thanks for a great read. I really like your blog.

  11. #2 is big for us. My husband and I took our 3-year-old daughter on a Disney cruise last winter and experienced a wonderful time together.

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