Is cruise ship travel a viable alternative to flying for a backpacker?

As a budget backpacker, and someone with a major fear of flying, I am always on the lookout for ways to travel without jumping on a flight that won’t break the bank! Whether it’s train, bus, ferry, bike, or car share, I really don’t care. If you can provide me with an affordable means of transport that results in me not having to go through take off and landing, then I’m sold! However, despite all this it was only recently that I really started to consider travel by cruise ships.

Cruise holidays, or cruise ship travel is something that within the backpacker community can have a big of a stigma. They are usually seen as something more for older people, with more money, and who only want to stop in a place for a few days at a time. The complete opposite to what most backpackers are like! It’s true that a lot of these characteristics do apply to many cruise ship customers, however, lately I have been reconsidering my stance on the whole cruise ship travel idea.

Why is cruise ship travel an alternative to flying for a backpacker scared of flying?

There are certain areas of the world where flying it seems is the only option. For me, this became apparent when I began thinking of travel to North and South America. When you’re coming from Europe, travel to the America’s involves crossing an ocean. Even when I looked at transatlantic travel by cargo ship, it didn’t really seem like a viable option compared to a flight. You can easily get a return flight from London to New York for around 300 GBP, however a 10 day one way trip by cargo ship will usually cost you around 80 GBP per day. There is also the fact to consider there are usually only a few spaces available per ship when travelling on freighters, you have to book waaaaaaaay in advance, and there is also nothing to do on board! It was at this point I began looking for alternatives, and I stumbled across cruises.

Admittedly, cruises do typically cost a lot more than a flight. There is no getting around it. A typical trans-atlantic cruise will usually cost you at least 500 GBP per person, sometimes a lot more. However, for that you get so much in way of service, it does really feel like you are getting more of your moneys worth than with the freighter travel that backpackers seem to get so excited about. On board a typical cruise ship you will usually have things like a swimming pool, several bars, a cinema, internet access, and other types of entertainment. You really do travel in luxury, and even if this isn’t really your style of travel, if you are scared of flying like me but you still want to visit other countries across oceans, then it does become an attractive alternative in my eyes.

But what do you think?

Like anything though, it’s always important to go with what you feel is best for you where travel is concerned. Would you consider travel by cruise ship as an alternative to flying? Would you travel by cruise ship anyway? If so, would you go for something more short term, or do a round the world adventure on one? I’d be interested to know what the community thinks, and if anyone has actually experienced cruise ship travel too.


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