In my experiences, I have met, and read posts of many "travel elitists" who turn their noses up at getting on cruise ships. Cruising has somehow been placed as a stereotype for the older generation. I, however, can attest to the fact that cruises are still a great option for vacationing. Depending on who you plan on vacationing with, and where you desire to visit, cruising can be just as fun as any other vacation.
Everything you need is essentially included on the ship, including lodging, housekeeping services, all meals (as much as you would like to eat), disconnecting from the world (unless you pay a hefty price for wi-fi or an International plan on your cell phone), you [and those cruising with you] can't get separated for too long, because...well, you're on a ship. Most importantly, you get to visit multiple locations within the span of your cruise.
I am speaking from the perspective of someone who has gone on cruises with large groups of friends, family, and also someone who frequently signs on as a guest of a crew member.
I recently just took a 7-day cruise through the Greek Islands, and I'd like to share with you all of the fun I packed in to each of the ports we visited.
First Stop: Kotor, Montenegro
The Island of Kotor is extremely beautiful. Simply looking at the surroundings from the ship was enough to take my breath away, but of course I was excited to get off and explore a bit. My best friend (who worked on the ship) decided that he'd take me up the stairs (really it was stairs on a mountain) to the Castle of San Giovanni. Read this clearly....THOSE STAIRS AINT NO PUNK! Everyone who was climbing them looked miserable. However, relief came whenever we stopped mid-climb to take in the scenery. After about an hour, we made it to the top, and it was well worth the climb! Though my friend did not feel like waiting at the top of the mountain for too long, I refused to be rushed after I almost died getting to the top. I was going to take as many photos as I pleased. After that excursion, I didn't have energy to do anything else but eat, guzzle water, and head back to the ship.
Second Stop: Corfu, Greece
The next day we arrived in Corfu, Greece. I was told by many crew members that Corfu was a bit of a boring island. They were completely right. All we did was walk up to the Old Fortress to take a look at the view.
Third Stop: Athens, Greece
On Day 3, we visited Athens. This was major for me, because I have always been a huge fan of Greek Mythology (translation: I studied it for a bit in Elementary school, and then didn't care about it again until the Disney movie, "Hercules" came out). We jumped on the Hop On Hop Off Bus and headed to the Acropolis where I could take one of the most epic filtered photos ever! If you take the Hop on Hop Off bus, you have to be pretty patient because it can take a rather long time to get to where you want to go. It was pretty rainy that day, so the clouds were intimidating. After snapping a few photos, and taking in the view, we went back down the mountain and took a look at the Temple of Zeus.
Fourth Stop: Mykonos, Greece
The island of Mykonos was up next! This was our "beach day." We took a cab from the port to Super Paradise Beach for €30. Once there, we laid out and waited for the sun to appear from behind the clouds. The water, like the other islands, has crystal clear water, and the beach was not crowded at all. Tip: If you want a drink, I recommend the piña coladas from the beach club. And, if you're friendly, the bartenders may offer you free shots.
Last Stop: Kefalonia Island, Greece
Aside from visiting the Acropolis in Athens, I was most looking forward to arriving in Kefalonia and trekking to the Melissani Cave that I read about long before booking the cruise. Four of us exited the ship as soon as it ported and headed to a car rental place. We rented a small automatic car for €70 and put about €15 worth of gas in it. This was more than enough for the 45-minute drive required to get to the other side of the island where the Melissani Cave is located. The cave is rather small, and you are finished touring it by boat in about 15 minutes, but the view and the pictures you can take make it all worth it! While on the boat, I broke out in a rendition of "Kiss the Girl" by Sebastian the Crab. Makes sense, right?
After we finished that excursion, we decided to visit the Drogarati Cave on the way back to grab lunch in the town of Sami. The Drogarati Cave wasn't as interesting as Melissani. There is no water. It looks just like any other cave with stalactites and stalagmites. I did, however, get a number of good pictures inside.
This was a great trip for me. I was able to squeeze so much activity, culture, culinary treats, and much more into just one week. Do not count cruises out when planning a vacation. I promise you can make the most of it and get a bang for your buck!