If you read our last post, “Timeshares Rock, Cruises Rock (the Boat!),” you may have gotten the idea that we didn’t enjoy our trip too much because of the weather. Actually, that’s not true—we enjoyed it very much, in spite of the weather. It’s one of those trips that we’ll look back on and mostly remember just the good stuff–the stress and harried times will become just a blip in our memories.
Probably what this trip did was force us to look at cruising and compare it to timesharing—except that we’ve reached the conclusion that you really can’t. Granted, they are both methods or “styles” of vacationing, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Ever since doing 2 Disney cruises with the kids back in the late eighties, we’ve always maintained that people who can and like to travel should do at least one cruise in their lifetime. Whether they choose to do more would be a matter of personal taste (and availability of funds!)
That being said, we’ve put together some comparisons, which are really more like lists. These are purely our opinions, and subject to debate. We’re attempting to analyze our cruise experiences in conjunction with the timeshare ones.
These are some things that we like about cruising:
–Food is abundant, very good, and it is prepared for you. There are elegant entrees, beautiful desserts, and you can pretty much each all day long, if you want to.
–There are many activities offered on board, some of which are somewhat unique (towel-folded animals, cooking classes, professional-quality shows, etc.)
–Many amenities are available, such as spas, salons, fitness centers, basketball court, pools, casinos, theaters, gift shops, etc.
–Cruising usually takes you to exotic places, some of which may not be accessible by car. For example, the only way to really see Glacier Bay and the inside passage in Alaska is to go by boat. Usually your visits to ports are limited in time, giving birds-eye views rather than ones of more depth.
–It is easy to meet people, as the shipboard community is like a village.
–Very little planning is required for sightseeing, as the ship’s itinerary is pre-determined.
–A cruise is all-inclusive—you pay an upfront fee that includes meals, cabin service, tipping, shows, some activities and amenities.
Some things that we dislike about cruising:
–That all-inclusive fee really isn’t—it does not include salon and spa services, liquor, excursions, tours of the ship, photos taken by the ship photographer, etc.
–While not claustrophobic by any means, we found being on a ship at sea for 2 or 3 days at a time to be somewhat stifling. We found plenty to do early in the cruise, but toward the end we grew tired of it.
–The excursions offered by the ship were very expensive.
–Planning a trip (where you’re going, what you’re going to see and do, where you’re going to eat, etc.) is half the fun of it. When you cruise, there are few decisions to be made, thus eliminating some of the “fun.” Some may actually enjoy the fact that they don’t have to do any research or planning, but we love to do it!
–Cruising is expensive.
–As mentioned earlier, the time constraints of cruising do not allow in-depth exposure to an area.
–The accommodations are adequate, but similar to a small hotel room (unless you can afford the deluxe staterooms!)
Some things that we like about timesharing:
–It is a fairly economical way to vacation, especially if you buy resale.
–You can set your own time parameters, deciding how long you want to stay in each place.
–You are not confined for days at a time.
–Most timeshares have many amenities and activities.
–Timeshares offer a home-like setting, to include living areas, bathrooms, kitchen and one or more separate bedrooms. Some have decks, washer/dryer facilities, fireplaces, Jacuzzis and more.
–You can plan your sightseeing activities based on what you want to do, not following a pre-determined schedule.
–It is usually easy to meet people at organized activities, or just in passing. Most timeshare owners enjoy discussing their common interest—timesharing!
Some things that we dislike about timesharing:
–Bookings usually have to be made well in advance of a vacation—sometimes a year or even more.
–Some locations are very hard to get into—for example, Door County in the summer, Maui, anytime—unless you own there.
–Point systems, and booking systems in general, can be complicated and confusing.
–Maintenance fees and/or special assessments can sometimes get out of hand.
–Making last-minute changes can be difficult, if not impossible.
These lists are by no means complete, and we’re sure that our readers can come up with many more likes and dislikes for both cruising and timesharing. So where does that leave us? Which is better?
Neither is really better, although for us, timesharing is preferable and the benefits far outweigh those of cruising. Our choice is based on financial considerations (we would be hard-strapped to do a cruise more than once every few years!), but also the fact that we enjoy planning and researching our vacations on our own, and having the freedom to hop in the car and do our sightseeing where, when, and how long we want to do it. Plus, we like the “hominess” and spaciousness of a timeshare, and having all those conveniences that we’re used to.
That is not to say that we didn’t enjoy our cruise, the wonderful meals, and the pampering. As we stated earlier, everyone should do at least one cruise, just for the experience—more if you can afford it. Cruising is a special way of traveling, and the memories created can be just as wonderful as your timeshare memories—so why not do both???