Cruise Trips: Adventure over Relaxation

Despite the relaxing image, a cruise trip can be as adventurous as any vacation, depending on the ship and itinerary.

Real travelers want to visit world-famous sites and experience the local culture, but for many travelers the idea of a cruise trip evokes only visions of sun-soaked tanning time. Au contraire: A cruise ship vacation can be just as culturally fulfilling and adventurous as any other travel option. Arguably, in many ways cruise trips are the best way to see the world.

One misconception about cruise ships is that because they are sea-bound, they don't go to the places sophisticated travelers want to see. Don't you believe it. I have been on cruise trips that visit many places the most ardent adventurers covet. I have seen calving glaciers in Alaska, the mummy of Tutankhamen in Cairo, sharks in the Bora Bora lagoon, the Palace of Versailles, the Great Wall of China, the Moscow Circus and Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Many world travelers feel the only way to really experience a foreign destination is to rely on the local options for meals, accommodations and transportation. But I contend you can experience all those things without sacrificing your personal comfort and convenience. Let's compare the logistics of a typical foreign land vacation to a cruise trip. You'll see that cruise ship vacations have advantages many travelers never realize.

The Local Experience A typical European land vacation is a package deal where you fly into one city -- Paris, Rome, London or Prague, for example -- stay for a week, and return home. If that is all you want, fine; but most people who are flying all the way to Europe want to stay on the continent longer and see as much as they can. Two to eight weeks is far more common.

Typical travel options for European visitors include a car rental; railroad passes good for several weeks' passage; or guided tours by bus. Your choice depends on your budget, what you want to see, and considerations for comfort and convenience.

Most travelers prefer to keep moving in order to see as much as possible, depending on the location; but special cities such as Rome or Venice require several days to take in all the attractions. Other sites worth visiting can be absorbed in a few hours. (I am thinking of Argenteuil on the River Seine, which inspired many of Monet's most famous paintings.)

A Teenager Backpacks Europe As a teenager, I toured Europe with a group of 18-year-olds escorted by three high school teachers. We traveled by railroad, bus, hydrofoil and subway from Rome to London, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. Every day or two, we packed our bags and loaded them on a bus to the railroad station. Hours of travel later we claimed our luggage again and were shuttled to another hotel. We unpacked, dressed and paid for dinner in a nearby restaurant, and went to bed.

On sightseeing days, we were led around the city on foot until we were exhausted. After paying for another meal, we packed all but our jammies to prepare for an early departure to a new destination. Spending hour after hour on trains, many of us tried to nap or find sustenance from the snack car or whatever food we could hoard away. Food was usually expensive and not nutritious.

Continue Article >> A Teenager Backpacks Europe (Cont.) (Part 2)

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