I’ve been to 41 countries on six continents, but until recently, the only cruise I’d taken was an overnight ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia. (I was eight at the time and spent my casino winnings on a fish tank.) So when Seabourn invited me on the first sailing of their new small luxury ship, the Ovation, I quickly booked flights. As a travel journalist, I’ve interviewed cruise experts and studied itineraries and deck plans for years. But it wasn’t until I stepped on board the Ovation that I realized how similar a cruise is to a resort vacation—but also how much better it can be, if done right. Here’s why:
You get a different place to explore each day.
A smart cruise itinerary drops you in a new and interesting place daily, mixing must-see and hidden-gem ports and cutting out the tedium of long drives between them. My cruise stopped in Montenegro, for instance—a pocket-sized country that, frankly, I was unlikely to see any other way. Given the Ovation’s relatively small size (it carries about 600 passengers), we were able to anchor close to land and had just a three-minute tender ride to shore. In the ancient walled town of Budva, I wandered into a tiny, homespun-feeling archaeological museum that displayed delicate, Roman-era glass vessels that have miraculously survived for nearly 2,000 years. In Kotor I left the crowds behind to follow stray cats in the maze of alleyways around the main square. Adriatic cruises on a luxury small-ship line like Seabourn often combine a day in Montenegro with days in Croatia, Italy, and Greece too, with a schedule that allows time to eat dinner in port, after the day-trippers and other cruise passengers have gone home.
The view from your room keeps changing.
Think back to your all-time favorite views out the window of a resort. Now imagine getting them all on a single trip. On a cruise, your view isn’t static—and you don’t have to crane your neck to find the sliver of ocean that was promised to you in the room description. If you book through a cruise specialist on The WOW List, they’ll know which side of the ship will have the most interesting panoramas and can advise whether a balcony is worth the additional cost. Every cabin on the Ovation has a balcony; my 300-square-foot Veranda Suite (the smallest category on the ship) was also large enough to allow for two separate sleeping areas, separated by a curtain.
So many logistical hassles of travel are eliminated.
It’s been said many times that taking a cruise means you only have to unpack once. But the removal of travel stressors goes far beyond that: No checking in and out of hotels, memorizing a new room number every day, familiarizing yourself with each hotel’s layout, guessing at the right choice from yet another breakfast buffet, or jockeying wheeled suitcases over cobblestoned streets and through train stations. On the right ship, you can also avoid the annoyance of crowds: I only had to line up once, when boarding the tenders to Kotor; and while deck chairs never became a precious commodity, I found a particularly quiet spot to the aft of the ship’s Sun Deck.
Dining options abound and room service is free.
Many boutique resorts have just one or two dining rooms. On the Ovation, I had five varied and excellent restaurants to choose from; I never had to eat from a buffet if I didn’t want to, and the only restaurant requiring a reservation was the Thomas Keller-helmed Grill. There was no charge for room service, which the wait staff was happy to bring in courses, and complimentary Champagne and caviar were available 24 hours a day. Seabourn’s all-inclusive pricing includes a wide selection of complimentary wines, and I learned that if I wanted something different from what they were pouring that night, all I had to do was ask.
You can eat al fresco in your bathrobe.
It was over breakfast on our balcony that my travel companion fell hard for the boating life (see I Thought I Was Too Cool for Cruising). Remember that ever-changing view? It can be the backdrop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And while the dress code on Seabourn rarely goes beyond a collared shirt or a blouse, terrycloth will do just fine on your private veranda.
Next time you’re looking for a restorative getaway but you’d rather see more of the world than the confines of a single resort, you might consider a cruise. I know I will.
Disclosure: Our writer was offered a complimentary cruise on the new Seabourn Ovation’s very first voyage. In keeping with WendyPerrin.com standard practice, coverage was not guaranteed and remains at our editorial discretion. You can read the signed agreement between WendyPerrin.com and Seabourn here.