7 Reasons Why Everybody Should Go On A Cruise*

When people think of a cruise they often picture lots of senior citizens playing cards and going to shows. Young people tend to avoid them because they don’t think that it’s for them, but that’s a big misconception. There are a lot of different types of cruises to suit different tastes, and cruising is a much better way to travel than flying. If you haven’t been on a cruise before, these are some of the reasons you should consider it.

Photo by Peter Hansen on Unsplash

It’s Good Value For Money 

Flights are often one of the most expensive parts of travel, and then you have to consider your accommodation on top. But with a cruise, it’s all rolled into one and it’s good value for money. You can get some great deals from companies like Bolsover Cruise Club if you shop around and book in advance, and you don’t have to worry about any extra costs on top because your food and drinks are often included. If you are looking for a cheap trip, but you don’t want to sacrifice on quality a cruise is the ideal choice.

Less Travel Delays 

When you fly, there is always the danger that you will have to deal with a delay. Flights can be delayed by a lot of things, but with a cruise it’s not as likely that you will be delayed. In some cases extreme weather may make it dangerous but most of the time they can plan around it and your trip will still go ahead as planned.

Avoid The Airport

The airport is the worst thing about traveling. Trying to navigate a busy terminal and then waiting in line to go through security is always stressful, and that’s if everything is on time. If there are delays then you will be waiting around for hours. It’s the worst way to start and end your trip, but if you go on a cruise, you can avoid all of that. It’s also ideal if you’re terrified of flying but you still want to be able to travel to some amazing destinations. 

See Multiple Destinations 

The best thing about taking a cruise is that you get to see multiple destinations. You could still do that if you were flying but it means navigating the airport, checking into hotels, and packing and unpacking your case every time. But with a cruise, you can sit back and relax while you travel to your next destination. If you are going to a part of the world that you have never visited before, a cruise is a great way to see a lot of different places and really get a sense of the whole region, instead of trying to decide on one place. If you don’t like a destination, it doesn’t matter too much because it’s only one small part of your trip and you will be moving on to somewhere else soon enough. 

The Journey Is Part Of The Experience 

Usually, the journey is the frustrating part that you have to get out of the way before you can enjoy exploring an exciting new place. But on a cruise, the journey is part of the experience. Big cruise ships have so many onboard activities so instead of sitting on a cramped plane or spending hours on a long train journey, you can kick back and relax with a cocktail or go for a swim in the onboard pool. The journey becomes a fun part of the experience, rather than a necessary evil. 

It’s More Sociable 

Meeting people is one of the great things about travel, and if you are on a cruise, you get so many more opportunities to do that. You spend a lot of time with your fellow travelers on the ship and you can really get to know the people that you are traveling with. This is great for solo travelers that are looking to meet new and interesting people along the way. By the time you reach your destination, you might have made some great new friends that you can go exploring with. 

It’s More Scenic 

The inside of a plane isn’t exactly the most picturesque environment and even though you can get some good views from the window sometimes, you mostly just see cloud cover. But on a cruise ship, you get a far more scenic experience. There’s something special about being on the open ocean and when you get closer to your destination, you can see the incredible coastlines of the country as you pull into port. 

If you haven’t considered a cruise because you didn’t think it was for you, it’s worth reconsidering because it’s a great way to travel. 

Holiday Post 5: San Francisco

We ended our holiday with a three night stay in San Francisco. It was late when we got there on the Sunday so we didn’t get to see much of it (we took a detour via the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Factory!) but we did get to drive in over the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the sun going down after getting stuck in some traffic and getting very hangry!

After rolling in to town we dropped off our rental car as we didn’t see a benefit to keeping it in a busy city where parking is notoriously difficult/expensive. We picked up an Uber to take us to our Airbnb- we went with this option rather than a hotel because we were able to get something MUCH nicer for our money with what little budget we had left and it was a winning choice. Hotels in San Francisco are expensive, and somewhat dingy if you’re on a budget. On the flipside, our Airbnb which was a converted basement in someone’s house, was immaculate and our hosts were perfect- friendly and on hand to help if we wanted it, but happy to leave us to our own devices. As a first experience of Airbnb it was perfect.

We were located somewhere downtown with little around in terms of dining options so we took a 10pm stroll to a nearby grocery store for a makeshift dinner. It was quite daunting at first as it was our first real city experience outside of Vegas but very interesting (and hilly!)

Our first morning in San Francisco saw us getting another Uber and heading down towards Fisherman’s Wharf, via IHOP which Bob was desperate to try (it was good!).
We don’t actually feel like we got the best experience of SF as it was freakishly hot whilst we were there- up to 37 degrees. This is not ideal temperatures for exploring a busy city and we definitely didn’t see as much as we would have liked as it was unbearable to be out for too long, but we’re already planning our next road trip which will see us back in San Francisco before driving up to Seattle.

One place we absolutely loved was Musée Mécanique- a vintage penny arcade located on Pier 45 on Fisherman’s Wharf. We spent a very happy couple of hours here playing on the old school machines and posing in the photo booths- 100% recommend a pit stop here if you’re in town!
We also took a tour of SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a WWII Liberty Ship as Bob and I are both war history buffs. This was an awesome experience and well worth the entry fee we paid. It was however far too hot to spend long on board.

We didn’t visit Alcatraz this time as we didn’t book in advance, which is a must and it was fully booked. We saw it from afar though and it’s on the list for next time.

View of Alcatraz Prison from the SS Jeremiah O’Brien.

After some lunch grabbed from a 7-11 (love those places) we headed to another famous pier- Pier 39, known best for it’s sea lions. Again it really was to hot to fully enjoy this, but it has a buzzing atmosphere and super cool vibe.

A few hours wandering this part of town and we were beaten by the weather. We headed back to our apartment to have a siesta and cold shower before going out to a fairly local shopping mall for an easy dinner (Panda Express, yum!) and a bit of retail therapy.

Day two dawned slightly cooler and we decided to get an Uber to Golden Gate Park. We picked up some breakfast in a supermarket which we ate on the beach before setting about our mission to cover as much of the massive park as we could on foot (next time we’ll hire bikes!)

We made a pretty good dent in the park as well, but there are so many zones to explore you really need a couple of days to get the most out of it.

As an aside, this was on the Tuesday and not one person had mentioned that at noon on a Tuesday they test the emergency alarms, so when they went off there was genuine terror and visions of us about to be engulfed by a tsunami, especially as our Uber driver had kindly told us this freak weather scared him as it made the chances of one much higher! Consider yourself warned!

After about four hours of walking we got yet another Uber and went back down to the beach for one of my favourite parts of the entire holiday.
Before we went I had posted on Facebook that I’d be in San Francisco and this actually presented itself as the perfect opportunity to meet up with one of my most longstanding online friends.
It’s so wonderful to be able to turn an online friend in to a real life one, and our afternoon with Meghan was perfect. We drank cocktails at the Beach Chalet then took a walk on the beach to dip our toes in the Pacific.

It was the most idyllic ending to the holiday of a lifetime and I hope that when we go back to the states we can meet up again.

That evening we headed to another shopping mall, ate more Panda Express (we were so taken by this chain, and we were priced out of local restaurants by this stage in our trip!). We also finally visited a Trader Joes and loaded up on snacks to take home- England needs Trader Joes asap!

Shopping and dining done we headed back to our Airbnb for an early night ready for our epic day of travelling the next morning.
The flights home were smooth sailing, although we didn’t get an minute of sleep so we were slightly delirious by the time we landed in a cold and rainy Heathrow, and we had four days of truly horrendous jet lag. But we had the absolute best time and came home to a very happy to see us Pablo, a house full of engagement cards and balloons, and of course, a wedding to plan!

As I mentioned earlier in the post, we’re keen to re-visit San Francisco in more normal weather conditions. We were a bit overwhelmed when it came to choosing where to visit and what to see, so although it won’t be for a couple of years now we’d love some recommendations.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little holiday re-cap series! Hopefully there will be more travel posts, both UK and overseas in the future, we’ve certainly got the exploring bug!

Holiday Post 4: Mammoth Lakes*

After the happiest moment of my life to date; getting engaged in Yosemite National Park it was time to get back in to our rental car and head to our next destination; Mammoth Lakes.
The pass we needed to get from Yosemite to Mammoth Lakes was still closed due to snow (so hard to imagine on a day where temperatures were in the mid-twenties), we only found this out at the last minute so after a bit of advice from a friendly park ranger we set about on a bit of a detour.

We set out with plenty of fuel in the tank, but it soon became clear we’d need to fill up. No worries we think, there’s a gas station before we hit the Sonoma Pass…except when we get to the town where the gas station was meant to be located, there was nothing. Just an empty shell of a gas station and the burnt out remains of an area completely destroyed by last years forest fires.
Still, not panicked we reasoned there would be another on the way and we technically still had enough fuel in the tank. We hit the pass, climbed and climbed and climbed (10,500 feet elevation at it’s peak) and watch the fuel dial plummet.

By the time we had made our descent the tank was empty and sat-nav showed 40 miles to the next gas station. We hoped our car had a good reserve tank as we had no phone signal and there was barely anyone on the road- and a serious lack of houses/general civilisation. That gas station was closed, and at that point we went from celebrating our engagement to sheer panic. Luckily our car had a seemingly bottomless reserve and we made the next 30 miles to an open gas station- an hour further from our destination and back in Nevada. That sense of relief was insane. It was 10pm by this time, we grabbed coffee, figured we’d find something to eat when we got to Mammoth Lakes and got back to it.

At midnight we rocked up to our hotel, obviously check-in was closed but the owner had left the key out for us, alongside a triple underlined warning about bears…we had a very cautious trip back to the car for our belongings!
We pretty much crashed straight in to bed after that drama, fuelled on some car snacks we had salvaged and a strange sense of delirium.

The view from our hotel entrance.

We woke up the next day full of renewed engagement excitement and finally got to tell our family and friends. We had a spot of breakfast at the hotel before heading off, keen to make the best of our one full day at Mammoth Lakes, starting with a hike around Convict Lake.

There are no words to explain how stunning Mammoth Lakes was. Surrounded by snow capped mountains even in June, during the colder months this is a popular ski resort, and during the summer a place of outstanding natural beauty and opportunities to be at one with nature.
It’s somewhere I am desperate to go back to, for at least a full week just to see and experience more of it, you can even get a flight there, with a quick airport transfer to your destination.

Hungry again after our walk we headed to local supermarket Vons for some fuel. I’m still in awe of American Supermarkets- I actually got some of the best sushi of my life in Vons, freshly prepared in front of me.

We spent the afternoon driving around and checking out more of Mammoth Lakes but we barely made a dent. Our plans of a second hike were scuppered when, as the only ones on the trail, we saw evidence of recent bear activity- we’d had enough drama!

Determined to break our run of fast food/chain restaurants we decided to splash out on a special dinner at a local restaurant called The Mogul. Here we had some of the best food of our holiday and I’m sad I didn’t think to take a photo but if you do happen to find yourselves in Mammoth Lakes I highly recommend the Ahi Tuna!
We then headed back to the hotel to celebrate with champagne in plastic cups that we’d purchased in Vons (the hotel bar closed really early) and settled down for another early start, and a reluctant departure from such an amazing place.
Our holiday was rapidly approaching it’s end but we had one final destination to reach.

Holiday Post 3: Yosemite

We may only have had half a day there but Yosemite National Park made a massive impression on me. Out of the entire holiday, right from the start this was the place I was most excited to visit, and I’d love nothing more than to go back there for a week or so to properly explore.

We headed to Yosemite from Carmel by the Sea, it was an interesting drive, taking us through a very agricultural part of California, through Vineyards, and as the journey progressed, through some quaint old towns that were almost frozen in time from the Gold Rush days.

The second we drove in to Yosemite and paid our entry (which gives you access for a full 7 days) we were blown away. We stopped multiple times on the way to Yosemite Village to try and drink in some of the incredible scenery.

I don’t actually feel like there is an awful lot I can write in this post because the beauty of Yosemite just defies words.

There is of course one part of the visit I have to write about, and the real reason why Yosemite will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Bob and I had just paid a visit to the gift shop, picking up some gifts for our loved ones, and for each other.
It was a warm day so we decided to grab a coffee then head on one of the shorter trails as we only had a couple of hours before we really needed to get back on the road.
We picked the lower falls trail, which was incredible. We got soaked by the waterfall and went and found a secluded little spot by a creek to dry off and soak up some more scenery before heading back.
Whilst we were there we were laughing and joking and both saying how blissfully happy we were.
Bob asked if I wanted another surprise, having already given me one in the form of a hoodie in the gift shop. I assumed he’d bought me something else, as that’s just what he’s like, so when he told me to close my eyes and hold out my hands (our usual tactic when presenting one another with a gift) I happily obliged.
He then told me to open my eyes, and when I did he was down on one knee with the ring in his hand. I just burst in to tears and hugged him, before realising I probably ought to give him an answer. I couldn’t really speak so just nodded then grabbed the ring off of him!

The spot where Bob proposed
About one minute before he proposed.
The last selfie as a non engaged couple!

After that we casually strolled back out on to the path and walked back to the car, beaming big soppy smiles (and I just kept asking if this was real!)

It was back to the car after that, and on to the single most eventful part of our trip…watch this space!

Holiday Post 2: Ventura, Santa Barbara and Big Sur

Following on from my previous post, where I left off in the Mojave Desert, we continued our epic drive in to California. This was the longest drive we did, if I recall correctly, with a total of around 11 hours in the car…did we tire of it? Not really, the scenery when you drive through America is incredible vs. what you see in the UK and because everything was new to us it was all incredibly exciting. The worst part of the drive was through LA and Hollywood- somewhere we elected not to stop in favour of other places within the time constrains of our trip. The traffic was INSANE, as were the other drivers- we were both relieved when that leg of the journey was over.

It was late by the time we made it to our Hotel in Ventura (we stayed at The Amanzi Hotel) so we didn’t get a chance to explore the town much. We did head down to the beach after breakfast though, but it was super overcast so we just had a meander down the pier before driving on to Santa Barbara.

The novelty of facing the beach looking one way and the mountains when you looked the other never really wore off.

By the time we got to Santa Barbara and parked up the sun had started to come through, showing us what California beach life was like. Santa Barbara is such a pretty place and although we didn’t have much time to explore we walked the pier, grabbed a coffee and spent some time watching surfers head out in to the ocean.

Surfer heaven?
The clouds finally lifted!

The next part of our journey was probably our favourite drive of the holiday, with some of the most incredible scenery along the way. We drove through Vineyards and past mansions on the way to one of most anticipated pit-stops and somewhere we wished we had stayed much closer to, and for much longer.

Big Sur and the Californian costal route in general is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen. Throughout this trip I found myself constantly in awe of nature and it’s ability to create such stunning scenes.

As one might expect, staying in Big Sur was expensive and therefore we elected not to, with great regret. Our next overnight stop was pretty beautiful to though, we drove a further hour to a place called Carmel-By-The-Sea. This was a town like no other I have seen, really pretty and quaint with enviable houses and a real air of affluence (the local shops included Kate Spade and Tiffany!)
We found the local dining options out of our price range- a common story for many parts of this holiday so we headed to the Del Monte Shopping Centre in search of food. We settled on California Pizza Kitchen which proved a worthy choice in terms of value and deliciousness- I’d never considered brie, chicken and grapes a pizza topping up until now but it needs to be a thing!

We bedded down in a more authentic American Motel that night ready for our most hotly anticipated destinations of the trip- Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes.

Looking back I realise we didn’t take nearly enough photos on this part of the trip. We only took our phones with us and we spent so much time drinking in what we were seeing that taking photos didn’t really occur to us until after the event. Thankfully the memories we made are ones we’ll never forget, but it would have been nice to have more visual memoirs of our dream holiday.