What are the Advantages of Travelling by Sea?

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There are many advantages of travelling by sea compared to other forms of transport such as planes, trains, cars and buses. We have set out the main ones below. There are also a few disadvantages that we have included to give you the full picture.


Travelling by boat can be seriously relaxing

Girl on a cruise ship

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If you travel by boat, you know it is going to take a while to get wherever you are going. Even a fast boat is so much slower than a plane, a car, a train or a bus. But actually, when you get onto a boat, you need to be buying into the slowness. The extra time to read, or socialise or just look at the water going by, is the real benefit of travelling by sea.

Whatever kind of boat you are on, whether it is a cruise ship, a yacht or a gin palace, the actually travelling is the main point of the holiday. After all, you usually start and end in the same place, so if the physical journey wasn't enjoyable, then you wouldn't do it.

Compare this to flying: you and your belongings are scanned, poked and prodded, before you are herded onto a tiny metal tube, where you sit elbow to elbow with whoever, before being subject to horrific levels of noise for up to 12 hours, while you watch films that you never thought worth watching in the cinema, or even at home. People definitely don't fly for the experience.

The first and principle pleasure of travelling by sea is the sea itself. Every day it is different, from placid to illuminating to violent; you can spend hours simply watching it go by. This is easier to do on a small boat, where it is closer, but you can definitely watch the waves on even the largest cruise liners. There is bound to be wildlife; depending one where you are, you might see dolphins, sharks. Everywhere you'll see and hear seabirds.

A second pleasure of being on the ocean is reading or watching movies. You can catch up on the latest Netflix series or dive into a serious book without any guilt that you should be doing something else.

The final point in this section is that boats are generally seriously comfortable, compared to other forms of transport. You won't be pushing past other passengers on the train to find a toilet, before plonking yourself back into a hard seat. No, for the most part, boats will offer you a level of comfort that are just a dream on other vehicles.

Boats can be a whole lot of fun

Sailing or cruising is almost always an adventure. There is a near infinity of things to see in the shortest trip. Even if you are travelling a route you've done before, it will be different; different weather, different season, different travelling companions. Depending on the ocean you travel, you might see icebergs, palm tree, penguins or parakeets.

If you haven't travelled much outside of your homeland, you might find the thought of organising a foreign holiday daunting. Then there are the issues of language and understanding a different culture.

Making your first overseas trip a cruise can deal with all of these issues. Your accommodation travels with you, any excursions to dry land will be managed by an experienced guide, and there'll be staff on hand to help with any issues.

If you are lucky enough to be on a yacht or a sailing boat, the physical excitement can be even more. The motion of the boat will be exaggerated and if the wind picks up, the speed will be exhilarating. If you are actively involved in sailing the vessel you can expect to be very active at times, especially if you are sailing into the wind.

Any cruise ship will be equipped to keep its voyager entertained. From sports to cinema, to fine dining, there will be few opportunities to be bored. When you book, just make sure that the cruise is suitable for the party going. Many cruises cater to the older generation. Bear this in mind if you are taking children in particular.

Travelling by sea is a great way of socialising

Party on a boat

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It is very easy to get to know people if you are on the same boat for two weeks. The proximity and the shared experience make it a breeze to get talking to your fellow voyagers. People on vacation, in new surroundings are generally more open to others in any case.

If you are on a sailing boat this will be even more exaggerated. I made a lifelong friend on a trip from Plymouth, UK down to Spain, going across the Bay of Biscay on a 40-foot sailing boat. The intense time together make the people and the journey unforgettable.

Of course, most of us don't go cruising alone, we go with friends and family. The time together can create some really special memories and help cement those relationships.

New friends that might be more than friends? Boats and the ocean have a way of making romance happen. Perhaps it is the balmy night air, or the bonding over a freshly caught tuna-steak - who knows? Whatever it is, it tends to happen more on the water than on the land.


There are also some practical benefits to a trip on the ocean compared to other ways of travelling:

  • If you are doing a road trip around a country, then every time you move there is the whole hassle of unpacking when you arrive in a new place, then hours or days later you are packing up again. On a cruise, you unpack at the start, then your floating hotel travels around with you as you see the country.
  • Cruises can be great value compared to other forms of holiday
  • Cruises can be great fun for families; a large ship will have things to entertain everyone from new-borns to ninety-year olds
  • Cruises are so easy to plan as everything in included. The only difficult bit is deciding which cruise to go on - there are so many with different boat sizes, entertainments, itineraries and shore trips

Boat may be the only way of getting to where you want

Boat moored by island

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There are some places where boat is actually the only option. A number of Scottish Islands for example can only be accessed by boat. If you are working or studying there, then it becomes a purely practical thing.

Disadvantages of travelling by sea

There are a few disadvantages of travelling by sea that you should consider as well:

  • Seasickness is a real issue for some people on boats of any size. You probably know if this you already. Whilst travel sickness on land can be dealt with by stopping the journey, this might not be so easy at sea. Fortunately, seasickness usually passes after a few days, and can be controlled by medication until that happens
  • Sea voyages take a long time. Well yes. I guess if you need to get somewhere in a hurry you should choose a different method of transport
  • Depending on where you are travelling, there is a risk of attack by pirates. For most commercial cruises this is a very remote risk
  • In the Covid-19 pandemic many cruises were quarantined and were not allowed to enter ports. The nature of shipboard life meant that infection was easily spread between passengers and crew. This disease and others remain a risk of cruises
  • Bad weather and storms can ruin any cruise. Apart from the increased incidence of seasickness, adverse conditions make the ship more dangerous and may cause the itinerary to be changed at short notice
  • You might be unfortunate with your travelling companions and others on the ship. If you fall out with someone, it may be hard to avoid them for the rest of the cruise. This situation would be particularly awkward if it is a romance that has ended badly
  • As you are on a boat, you will only get the see the ports and towns nearby as shore trips are typically only a few hours long. There might be lots of amazing things in the interior that you will have to see on another trip