Traveling by Land or by Sea – Which is Better? A Personal Preference

Traveling by Land or by Sea – Which is Better? A Personal Preference

When one decides to go to locations such as Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, or Europe there is often the choice of traveling by land or by sea. In taking this type of vacation, one usually wants to visit numerous cities. Which method of travel is better?

Traveling by cruise ship can be quite luxurious. It is very relaxing to sit on the deck of a large ship, which has good stabilizers to avoid sea sickness and watch the ocean, land bodies, clouds, sky and other boats move slowly by. One huge plus is after flying or driving to the location of the ship, passengers board, are directed to their cabins by stewards, handed a drink or snack and left to unpack. On a cruise, passengers unpack and repack once only.

Land travel can also be luxurious, depending on the level of hotel one is staying at. Or it can be plain and simple if say, one is staying in a monastery in Roma. The disadvantage is travelers have to unpack and repack numerous times, each time they travel to a new location. However, when traveling on a land tour, one can see many different cities. Or for example if it is a European tour, the tour travelers can see numerous countries in one trip. One might take a trip of the UK and see all England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales all in the same trip. Or take a trip to 5 Eastern European countries. In this example, the traveler would experience 5 different types of local, ethnics, language, food and entertainment.

On an Alaska trip, by land one could visit many more cities than by sea. Yet by sea, one can visit amazing places such as the Hubbard Glacier and get with a couple of hundred feet of the glacier. I remember standing on the deck of the ship, looking out at the glacier and actually seeing the ice falling in front of my eyes, from different heights and crags. That was an amazing sight! The weather happened to be perfect on that day, and the Captain’s voice came over the loud speaker stating he had never been able to steer the ship as close.

Entertainment is also something very different on ship or land. On a ship, there are usually productions in the evening of singing and dancing, places to dance and a movie might be shown that can be seen by any children abroad. A cruise might be a jazz oriented cruise or do Broadway musical productions. Entertainment choices are limited to what the ship can deliver. On one Alaskan cruise I took the same theatre was used for the Broadway productions, lectures from the Naturalist (these were excellent) and cha-cha dance classes.

On land there is no limit to the type of entertainment one can see. There would obviously be a choice of movies, though that might be limited to ones with English subtitles. There is opera, ballet, traditional folk singing and dancing for the country being visited, concerts in the parks, even disco etc. I recall traveling to Europe and seeing a production of Aida in Rome. It was in a famous outdoor theatre made of stone from hundreds of years ago. There were the sounds and sights of live elephants as part of the performance. It was a magical night with stars overhead. And I have been to a small café in Morocco with belly dancers, visited discos in Paris and seen traditional Austrian folk dancers wearing lederhosen and dirndls in Salzburg.

Another important point is dining. On a cruise there are scrumptious gourmet choices, and these are available 24 hours per day, all included in the price of the cruise. Dinner every night is 4 or 5 courses in a formal dining room, with an assigned table. The nice thing about that is one gets to know the others at the table and become friends. The food is generally spectacular. The waiter and busboy are the same and give excellent service. There are buffets for breakfast with vast amounts of fruit, pastries and entrees. The smell of the sea and the food is very enticing. A cabin service menu is available 24 hours per day. The biggest problem is not eating too much, and exercising daily to keep the weight off!

On travel by land some hotels, hostels, monasteries etc. serve breakfast in the morning and that is very interesting, depending on where one is. In Bangkok earlier this year I stayed at a 5 star hotel which included a breakfast buffet in the mornings. The buffet consisted of American breakfast standard items, but additionally there was a section of Chinese foods, Japanese foods and Thai foods. I did try out some of the Asian foods, but some looked very unappetizing to me. One is usually “on your own” for the remaining meals of the day, unless included in the tour package. This means going to different restaurants wherever one happens to be. Or the tour guide takes the group to restaurants he or she favors (and receives kickbacks from). However, many times a wonderful “hole-in-the-wall” local eatery can be found this way, and a great local experience will be had.

Overall, there are many pluses and some minuses to both means of travel. It is really up to the individual what type of travel experience he or she wishes to have. One is not really better than the other; it just depends on preferences. The best is to do both – tour by land and cruise by sea!