Not everybody cruises for the food, alcohol, and lounge chairs by the pool. Some of us have slightly weirder ideas in mind.
My husband and I spend our summers working with guests at a lakeside resort. The hours are grueling, and by the end of the season we suffer from serious people fatigue. So we take a cruise.
There are lots of things people enjoy about taking a cruise. I personally like the right mix of solitude, scenery, and easily accessible food possible on an ocean liner.
Over the years, I have found that other vacationers have their own reasons for cruising — and a lot of them are a lot stranger than mine. Here are the strangest:
Some people cruise to make great memories. Others take cruises to make great memories… and a baby. (Photo: Thinkstock)
A former cruise bar piano player I spoke to says he’s met more than one couple who chose their itinerary based on whether or not the ports the ship visited would make good names for the child they hoped to conceive. So if you ever meet a kid named Cozumel, you can probably guess his or her story. Speaking of Cozumel…
Pill cruises? (Photo: ZhangXun/Moment/Getty Images)
I’m not making any recommendations, but there are people who cruise annually to visit the farmacias near the cruise terminal in Cozumel, Mexico, to stockpile their meds for about a third of what it would cost them in the U.S.
Let the waves rock you to sleep. (Photo: Jim Esposito Photography LLC/Photodisc/Getty Images)
I met a guy once who said he was just there to sleep. He was a serious insomniac. The rocking of the ship and the sound of waves helped him sleep more deeply than he could at home. He periodically booked a cruise alone to catch up on his sleep. He stayed onboard in ports, ate most of his meals in his cabin, and slept whenever he pleased.
Those who find getting there is more than half the fun should consider cruises. (Photo: Stefan Cioata/Moment Open/Getty Images)
Most people look on a cruise as a vacation. But there was a time when sea travel was a means of transportation. Before transcontinental flights became the norm, for instance, cruises were the most popular way for Americans to travel to Europe.
Instead of hopping a plane to your next vacation spot, consider cruising there. Repositioning cruises, where cruise lines move ships from one home port to another, often feature prices that are comparable to bargain airfares. A recent search on the website RepositioningCruise.com turned up a four-night sailing from Vancouver to San Diego for as low as $249 per person. For only $70 more than an economy seat on a plane, you get food and a fluffy bed for four nights.
(Photo: Stockbyte/Getty Images)
I have family members who used a cruise to reposition themselves permanently. They moved to China via a cruise ship because it was the most cost-effective means of transporting both themselves and their possessions. Some cruise lines have luggage restrictions similar to airlines’, but others offer more flexibility. Royal Caribbean’s website states, “Each guest is permitted to carry a reasonable amount of personal property.” That probably means you can’t unload a moving van at the dock, but “reasonable” certainly leaves room for interpretation.
Some people cruise to stock up on supplies. (Photo: Shekhardesign/Moment Open/Getty Images)
Any cruise line employee can tell you that some illegal things pass between ports, but there are also people who run honest import businesses by cruising. These people stock the shelves of their gift shops or online stores with unique items purchased (and properly documented) in each port.
Everybody hears about weddings on cruises, but what about funerals and memorials? Carnival’s website addresses the subject with a complete set of guidelines. They recommend that you coordinate the “dispersing of cremated ashes” with the ship’s staff. I have never seen a funeral onboard, but I was once on a cruise with a young man who was celebrating having survived a near-death experience. A year before the cruise, the strong current off Cozumel swept him away when his rented personal watercraft stalled. His rescue came after more than a day at sea. He booked the cruise purely because it would pass over the point of that rescue.
(Photo: Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr)
Theme cruises are all the rage. You can book a cruise with your favorite sports team, a band you love, or just the marketing guru you follow on Twitter. The best place to find theme cruises is Cruise Critic.
You can learn while you vacation. (Photo: Purestock/Getty Images)
There is no shame in learning the rumba or the fine art of creating towel animals, but if a deeper understanding of the world is what you crave when you travel, there are options like Smithsonian Journeys. If you’d prefer smaller doses of learning between island hops, mainstream cruise lines like NCL, Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America offer enrichment choices like foreign languages and personal investing.
It’s probably an urban legend that sailing into your sunset years by living on a cruise ship costs less than moving into an assisted living facility. But if you love cruising that much, there’s probably a way to make it work for you.
Yes, people do have their own strange reasons for hitting the high seas. But that’s the beauty of cruising — there really is something for everyone. Our advice: Go out and find your own reason to cruise!