By Christopher Woods

“Baby, let’s cruise away from here…”

In exactly seven days I’m flying to Barcelona, Spain to go on my seventh cruise with some of my best friends from college. We’ve had a countdown since we booked it in February of 2015. Since 2008 we have gone on a cruise every year except 2013 (when we were broke) and 2015 (when I went to Mexico and Brazil). I have vacationed at all-inclusive resorts, but I prefer going on cruises, and here is why.

Note: I have only been on Carnival cruises. The reviews below are based on those experiences. This is not a sponsored post, though I would gladly take their money or a free cruise!

The Ship

The group I travel with has chosen to cruise on the newest and largest ship each year we go with few exceptions. Cruise ships are like cities on the water. They have literally everything you need: a spa, a gym, restaurants, night club, comedy club, theaters for live entertainment, movie theaters, pools, hot tubs, convenience store, art gallery, computer lab, basketball courts, putt- putt, waterslide, etc. If you can’t find something you need on the ship you probably won’t need it for your vacation. I remember one year in the convenience store that all the laxatives and condoms were sold out. We laughed about that for days.

My favorite part of the newer Carnival ships is an adults-only section called Serenity. It has a private bar, hammocks and deck chairs where children are not allowed. This is my favorite place to read, relax, listen to my music, and reflect on how amazing life is while I’m sipping on whatever the drink of the day is with the ocean breeze in my face.

Carnival calls itself “The Fun Ships,” and they do a great job planning different events throughout the duration of the cruise to get everyone involved. We do karaoke (and slay), play bingo, gamble, and the Cha-Cha Slide. The staff is always friendly, and the customer service is always impeccable. The other passengers on the cruise come from all walks of life – and I do mean ALL walks of life.

The Food

There is so much food on the ship. It’s almost sickening. They have buffets for every meal, and you can eat 24/7 either from the various buffet lines or even order room service. There is pizza, burger bars, sushi, stir-fry, pasta, lobster, duck, etc. There is even a formal steakhouse that takes reservations. The dinners are three courses with several options for each course. If you want you can have all the options! My mouth is watering now just thinking about all the food I’m going to eat next week. Oh yeah, there is also ice cream.

The Locations

Listen, there is a cruise to just about everywhere on the planet, even cold places like Alaska. I have traveled to 16 countries in my lifetime, 13 of those have been on a cruise ship. Most of our trips have been to the Caribbean.  We’ve been to Barbados, Belize, Honduras, Aruba, Curacao, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands. We were supposed to go to the Mexican Riviera, but then swine flu happened, so they re-routed us up the Western United States (Seattle is gorgeous by the way). This year we are taking a Mediterranean cruise which will take us to parts of Spain, France, and Italy. Most places with a cruise port are already vacation spots, and you can take the opportunity to explore the area where the ports are like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, San Juan, and Barcelona.

Not only are the ports of call beautiful, if you get off the ship and go exploring you will learn about the different cultures and customs the world has to offer. Rather than purchase the Carnival sponsored island tours, we always found a local tour guide that could give us a more intimate experience. Imagine riding in a cab with a former professional soccer player in Barbados singing “Smash Into You” by Beyoncé as it plays on his radio.

The Price

To me, the price is one of the best selling points about cruising. They have cruises ranging from $150-$1500. You can cruise for as little as 2 days to as long as 13. Every day is packed with activities, and you get the benefit of visiting several places during one vacation. They also offer shore excursions, unlimited beverage packages, and deals on clothing and jewelry that you can’t get on land.

There is nothing quite like standing on the deck after a long day and watching the sunset over the ocean, or getting up early and eating your breakfast as the cruise pulls into the port. Most of the times when you’re not outside on the upper decks you don’t even feel like you’re on a ship. There was one night where the seas were especially rough, and we could feel the boat rocking all night – moment of silence for Aaliyah-, but I got the best sleep I’ve ever had that night.

All-inclusive resorts provide their own set of benefits, but I will pick a cruise any day. If you have the means I highly recommend you try both options, and figure out which one is best for you. There is so much beauty to see and experience on this planet. However you decide to see it, get out of your comfort zone and see the world from a different longitude and latitude.

PS: Shout out to Smokey Robinson.

“I love it when we’re cruising together…”

Photo Credit: Danny Sellers