MANY independent travellers take a dim view of cruises as a way of seeing the world and experiencing different cultures. You are following a pure tourist trail, the argument goes. You are not mingling with the locals and experiencing their culture at a meaningful level.
Backpackers in particular often view cruises as travel for older people, with more money, who only want to stop in a place for a few days at a time.
I don’t go along with that view. It seems to me a seven or ten-day cruise offers a fabulous chance, if you can afford it, to sample different countries and decide which you would like to see more of.
For instance, a Mediterranean cruise might offer the chance to visit Italy, Sicily, Malta, the Greek islands, and Turkey, all in the same trip.
On a Caribbean cruise you can take in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as well as Jamaica and various islands in the sun.
You aren’t obliged to use the tours sold on board the cruise ship. It’s often more fun finding your own way around. For example, a port stop at Naples in Italy offers the chance to visit Pompeii, possibly the greatest Roman site of all…… and you can do it by catching a local train.
In some cases it may be better to opt for the organised tour from the ship. A visit to Bethlehem or Cairo’s famous Egyptian Museum can be a bit intimidating without a chaperone who knows the area.
Follow globewanderer for a forthcoming series of articles about cruising. The next one will set out the options for people considering a cruise for the first time.
Choosing the right ship for you is possibly the most important thing of all so watch our for some helpful tips and advice. We will offer as much lowdown as possible an cruise ships and destinations around the world.