Why a cruise is the perfect re-entry to international travel after the COVID-19 pandemic


There are possibly two kinds of people you know: those who booked flights as soon as international borders opened, and those who are still apprehensive about overseas travel.

The amount of people still currently gallivanting around Europe suggests many of us know the former.

If you find yourself in the second category, here’s something to consider: perhaps a cruise could be just the thing you need to dip your toe back into international waters.

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Celestyal Cruises
Cruising is one of the best ways to sample multiple destinations. (Celestyal Cruises)

I recently went on my first cruise – with Celestyal Cruises on their Idyllic Aegean itinerary – and it changed my perception of the concept.

I’d previously thought cruising was mainly for families and, yes, people of an older generation. And maybe it’s because I am getting on in my years, but there were elements of being on a cruise that I could certainly get used to…

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Travelling is easier when you have one home for a week

I’m not usually one to properly unpack when I travel, especially if I’m only planning on being in a location for two-to-three nights. But because I knew I’d be staying in the same cabin for a week, I was able to relax and settle in. I hung up my clothes – my dresses actually had a chance to lose their suitcase wrinkles! – and lay out my skincare products in the bathroom.

There’s also something comforting about knowing your room is only ever a few flights of stairs (or an elevator ride) away if you’re on the ship and need something. While our cruise ship, the Crystal, had multiple public bathrooms on every deck, I often preferred to go back to the privacy of my own cabin – you know, to get more steps in.

You get to sample so many places

Some people may be turned off cruises because they don’t give you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in a city. This is true, but at the same time, the experiences on offer are still enriching and will create memories that last a lifetime.

Greek islands
Seeing the beautiful sights of Santorini, Kuşadası (Turkey) and Syros within a week made for a truly memorable experience. (Supplied)

On Celestyal Cruises’ Idyllic Aegean itinerary, we stopped at eight ports over seven nights, including Athens, where we boarded and disembarked. For most of the ports we were able to spend most of the day on land, but there was one day that included two islands, Crete and Santorini.

Think of it as a sample menu of the Greek islands. If I return – and I intend to – I know exactly where I’d want to do more exploring. I have hundreds of sunset photos in Santorini on my phone so I’m probably good for that, but I know I have so much more to see in Thessaloniki, which is the second largest city in Greece.

And we only got to spend a few hours in Crete, which is one of Greece’s more underrated destinations, so I feel I have some unfinished business there too.

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Santorini
Santorini at sunset in the coastal town of Oia. (Supplied)

A week feels like a long time on a cruise ship

I mean this in a good way. If you can’t take a month off for whatever reason, a cruise around the Greek islands will satisfy your Eurotrip cravings, especially in their summer.

The days are warm, sunny and gloriously long – seriously, by the end of the week the things we had done at the start of the cruise felt like they’d happened much earlier. It also makes the 22-hour travel time to get there worth it!

Moving between destinations is a breeze

Not having to wheel or carry your luggage around Europe during summer is a luxury. (I did three weeks of moving around Italy on trains after this cruise, which made me appreciate having one home for a week.)

Celestyal Cruises
Why deal with trains, ferries and lugging your bags around when you can travel between stops like this? (Supplied)

The travel between islands usually happens at night or in the morning, so you never feel like time is being wasted on the ship. It gets you from A to B, so the only thing you have to worry about is which cocktail you’ll have tonight, and at which bar.

You never have to think about food

I was worried I would need to be rolled off the ship with the amount I was eating. From the generous buffets to the à la carte menu, there was no shortage of food on the Crystal. I was also impressed with the variety of dishes on the menu – with à la carte, most of the options changed every meal. Everything I ate was extremely tasty.

If you want to save money during a land stop you can always return to the ship for lunch.

As for the snacks I bought pre-flight in case I got peckish? They were untouched by the end of the trip.

Cruising through the Greek islands
Cruising through the Greek islands on Celestyal Cruises. (Supplied)

The writer was a guest of Celestyal Cruises.

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