I got home late last night from my first ever cruise, and, though it was tons of fun (see previous blog entries), I also feel inclined, for my future benefit and the benefit of others, to note that there are a lot of what I like to call "hidden costs" associated with cruising.
The 4-night cruise we booked was fairly inexpensive (about $300 something), and this does include all meals (including the choice of several different restaurant areas to choose from for breakfast and lunch) at no cost - you can even order as many different dishes (like escargot or shrimp) from the unique daily menu as you please, all "free" (ie, 'all included in the original ticket price') - and their dining room service is exemplary! And there are a number of onboard activities, such as swimming pools and hot tubs, and high quality nightly shows, to keep one occupied. Again, all free.
But what the ticket price doesn't cover are any special excursions to land: guided tours, rides, extra adventures, nothing. Nor does that initial price tag mention the air fare required to get to and from the port of departure, nor the cost of taxis to and from the hotel (from the airport and from the cruise - a total of four trips for us this past week), nor any specially elaborate or alcoholic drinks onboard, nor the added gratuities for the waiters and other servers onboard the ship (no dispute that they earned every penny, I'm just saying that the price isn't included on the initial figure).
And the price tag doesn't include what were, for me, the most significant expenses: the financial opportunity cost of taking a week off from work (which, for those of us who work several jobs - one in the day and freelance projects at night - this is significant), and the killer: the time spent away from loved ones. It was this last one that really got to me all week, not being able to be in email contact with my friends and loved ones back home.
So, worth going? Sure. It was an experience, reasonably fun, and now I know a lot more about how to prepare and what to expect for the next time. But I'm not going to go on a cruise again with only just friends. Yes, I'd want to make sure I had lots of friends with, of course, but frankly, the next time I go on a cruise, I want it to be shared with a significant other.