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Can A Land Traveler Become A Cruiser, and Visa-Versa?

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Can A Land Traveler Become A Cruiser?

I’m obviously talking to cruisers here. Since I’m writing for a Cruise Guide, it’s likely the majority of people reading this entry will be cruisers. However, of late I’ve been reading quite a lot about various forms of travel, and thought I’d stumbled across a topic worth some consideration.

Of course, I won’t be quoting from any of the articles about travel I’ve been reading because who needs to clutter the issues with facts… which might interfere with my opining, or contradict my opinions.

In my opinion there may be cruisers who also happen to be travelers. Yet, I’m hypothesizing the majority of people who consider themselves “travelers” view today’s cruising world as strictly a vacation, rather than travel. And as cruisers should we feel we somehow have reduced stature in the world of travel because our choice of means of travel is a cruise ship?

Travel writers, who normally cover land travel, love to get assignments on cruise ships occasionally. I think they view it as a paid vacation from their job.

Would someone who travels to far flung destinations to do an extended bicycle tour (and no doubt considers themselves a traveler) “look down their nose” at someone visiting the same area by cruise ship? Would someone doing a hiking and camping trip through Spain consider cruise ship passengers they might run in to in Barcelona travelers? I suppose the question I’m asking is, is there a marker, a definitive “line to cross” that “officially” qualifies a person as a traveler, as opposed to being a vacationer.

Those who consider themselves travelers seem to qualify their position (and self appointed elevated stature) by the amount of time spent on land, whether that land travel is by automobile, trains, air, bicycles, or by foot. They consider their choices more adventurous and intimate travel experiences. I think they consider us cruisers to be lazy because we’re unwilling to give up our creature comforts, and even think many of us only cruise because we can eat 24 hours a day They don’t seem to realize how arduous a task it can be to spend 1 ½ to 2 hour on a bus or train to get from a port city to visit an important site for 6 hours. And they have no idea of the sacrifice we make while on those tours, forcing ourselves to give up an hour of the six hours available, so we can eat lunch.

Cruisers aren’t often born cruisers. Many of us have traveled at least some before we became cruisers. And occasionally the less sane of us may go back and attempt other forms of travel for a change of pace.

While there are several cruise lines which specialize in adventure cruises to less accessible destinations that would make even the most dedicated land traveler green with envy, the bulk of the industry is structured to take us to both exotic and non-exotic locations, allowing us small tastes (appetizers if you will), while allowing us to not miss the next five courses in the ship’s dining room.

I often defend cruising to “other travelers” by saying cruising gives you a glimpse of different places, and lets you decide where you’d like to go back to, to spend more time. Honestly, it does. But to tell you the truth (don’t tell them), the only places I’ve gone back to, are the ones I’ve returned to on another ship.

Unlike me, in general I think many avid cruisers could relatively easily take a more serious interest in occasional land travel, and enjoy it. But I do believe those who consider themselves hard core land cruisers would have a more difficult time becoming cruisers. I think they’d resist enjoying themselves (or admitting to enjoying themselves). They’ll be willing to ride in the back of a banana truck on the back roads of Costa Rica, but worry that they’ll fall off of a cruise ship. They’ll believe they are somehow giving up on their allegiance to “real travel” by boarding a cruise ship.

Personally I’m willing to accept my inferiority complex in regard to traveler status in exchange for the ability to travel by ship, mostly carefree. I may never write a book filled with stories of exciting   misadventures, and how I managed to learn all of life’s lessons from dealing with them, but I’ll have many, many memories of wonderful trips, and the ease with which I experienced such a great variety of people, places and things.

Do you consider yourself a cruiser, a traveler, or both? As cruisers do you view yourself as an inferior traveler to the people who can spend three months in the Sistine Chapel studying brush strokes, or hiking the Chillicothe Trail, or getting arrested stumbling across the Iranian border?

– A View From The Kuki Side Of Cruising _



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Comment from Paul Motter
Time November 18, 2009 at 9:53 am


Here is the dealy-o…

I have worked on cruise ships and seen much of the world while doing so. My first assignment was 7-months on a luxury ship and I sailed from tahiti to the North Cape of Norway and on to the Baltic Sea.

When that cruise contract ended, I was in Bremerhaven Germany, and suddenly on my own with a backpack and a fair amount of money I had saved up during my voyage. I was ready to tour Europe, which I did. I bought a rail pass, schlepped my belongings to train stations and hotels – you know the drill.

Believe me – I saw far more, and much more conveniently on the ship than I did on my own – solely due to the convenience factor. The logistics of “traveling” as compared to cruising are horrible.

As you alluded, but did not say outright – you see the same sights whether by bus, rail or cruise ship. It is the same Collisseum, Monaco, Pyramids, et al. It doesn’t matter how you got there.

As a traveler, cruising is a fantastic way to see the world. River cruising is having a banner year, by the way, three-times more popular than just five years ago. Why? Because it is a great way to see Europe.

Yes – many cruise ship itineraries are not designed for sight-seeing – they are tropical getaways, like Sandals or other all-inclusives. That is an individual choice. Some people love being at sea, and being on cruise ships – some people like thatch-roofed bungaloes with mosquito nets (I guess, never been to an all-inclusive). But that is a different subject.

Yes – you can “put down” cruisers who only want relaxing tropical vacations if you want to. But you can also lump people who watch soap operas and eat potato chips in the same category, its escapism, which isn’t a crime. Its just looking for a little joy in life. In other words – do vegetarians have a right to criticize meat-eaters? Or do we all have free will and the right to do as we please without being judged for it?

Comment from Jim Sorgatz
Time November 18, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I personally love both. This year I am taking three cruises simply due to the great pricing. but most years I alternate between cruising and land travel. I love being able to sample the “appetizers” via ship as Kuki so nicely put it. And with cruise lines over the past several years ratcheting up the shore excursions to allow for some very adventurous days on land, I get my fill of both adrenaline and relaxation. What I appreciate about land travel is the opportunity to experience a country more in depth. Other than the opportunity to sample numerous countries/cities on the same trip, another big attraction for me with cruising is the sea days. I can think of relatively few times where I truly take time to relax. On a ship it is difficult not to lay out by the pool with beverage in hand and do absolutely nothing.

Comment from Mario Dube
Time November 23, 2009 at 3:07 pm

This is an interesting subject. I’ve always been a land traveler and I visited many countries on my own, often with a backpack, including most of Europe, Chile, Kenya, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Then two years ago I took my first cruise and loved it. Since then, I’ve never stopped reading about cruising and last month I returned from another cruise.

Like Paul said, the logistics of land traveling is somewhat complicated and I think that many people cannot or are simply unwilling to deal with it. But in my opinion, that’s the only way to visit a country in depth and get to know its people and its culture. Some places are as interesting at night as during the day, but how can you experience it when your ship leaves at 6pm? Can you say that you’ve been to St-Martin when you’ve been there only for a couple of hours during a call? Cities like Rome and Athens deserve more than just one day. How can you do a trek in the jungle of Thailand and sleep in a remote village other than by land traveling? How can you do a camping safari in Africa and hear wild animals roaring at night other than by land traveling? How can you visit Angkor Wat or Taj Mahal other than by land traveling? Some places are just too far inland to visit on a day tour. At best, cruise calls offer a glimpse of the country and a possible envy to return again.

But don’t get me wrong. I loved the two cruises I took so far. I find that there’s something very intriguing and fascinating about cruise ships. I like cruise ships, I like beeing at sea and I like to be pampered. I’m not putting down cruisers, cruising is fun and I think it’s a marvellous, legitimate and relaxing way to spend a vacation. On the other hand, traveling by public transport, sleeping in small hotels, eating in local restaurants at night, dealing with the language barrier or any other minor problem and taking the time to look around and feel the country is the best way for me to tour the world. I will certainly cruise again, not for visiting or traveling, but to relax, to be pampered and to enjoy the ship and the sea.

Comment from Paul Motter
Time November 23, 2009 at 8:43 pm


You are orf course, exactly right. Those are places you must see by land, and some by night (not so sur about St Martin, but…)

We have discussed this at length in certain posts. I can also name you many places you can most logically reached by ship and do not neeed more than a day, but are well worth seeing: Santorini, Delos, Majorca, Panama Canal, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Galapagos, much of Alaska (Glacier bay), Isle of Capri, Portofino, Venice, Dubrovnik, Malta, Isle of Rhodes, etc…

At the same time, I have been to both Rome & Athens as starting places for my Med cruises and spent three or four days there before starting my cruise. Well worth flying into and far less logistic hassle preceding on a cruise rather than rail.

And I haven’t even brought up European River cruising, such as my 10-day trip from Moscow to St Petersburg through the interior of Russia. Or my Nile or yangtze River trips.

Cruises offer all kinds of opportunities for travelers. And I have never bought into the the “its a taste of things to see if you want to go back” business. It is, but it also a taste of things you can see in one year you never would have seen in 10 years of backpacking otherwise.

both kinds of TRAVEL are equally valid, and hence I just get a little tired of people who treat cruising as if it is nothing more than a floating Disneyland.

Comment from Carolyn Sulcer
Time November 24, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Everyone’s vacation should reflect their personal signature. If you are into biking across Ireland and going to remote locations then you probably would not be excited to see that a cruise ship has just pulled in. I do agree that BOTH kinds of travel are important and valid. However, both types of travel are so different for the personal experiences.

I think it is more to select the trip that is right for you & want you want to do.

The best thing that we find is that people just get out there and see and experience. Then people come back with richer experiences.

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