Sailing: It’s the Little Things…
The wind in your hair, the peaceful lapping of waves, the sun setting over the water. These are all experiences that have long been equated with relaxation and romance. Add in the luxury of having meals cooked for you and all the hard work taken care of, and you have a recipe for what many agree equals the perfect holiday.
Australia is one of the fastest growing cruise markets in the world, and there are many cruise converts who take multiple trips a year. However, it’s certainly not for everyone. So, how does cruising compare to a sailing holiday?
The crowd factor: The average cruise ship holds 2,000 to 3,000 passengers, although smaller ships and river cruise boats can hold as few as 100 to 200. In comparison, a group trip on a yacht or sailing boat will usually consist of eight to ten people including a couple of crew members, if you have them.
The destinations: A large cruise ship can visit many destinations over a short period, due to its capacity for speed. However, this usually means brief, crowded stopovers on multiple islands, with little time to absorb culture or meet locals. Sailing covers less distance but gives travellers more access to local people and culture through berthing in smaller ports and having the option to avoid busier, touristy areas.
All-inclusive: On a cruise ship, all meals, accommodation and most entertainments are included in the cost. Additional costs include day tours, extra drinks and snacks, and some entertainment options. Unless you charter a sailboat and do everything yourself, sailing tours will also include some meals with maintenance and port access all arranged, as well. You can include a skipper in your tour package, share the cost with the rest of your crew and enjoy a more relaxing holiday, or, if your qualified, you can skipper your yacht and crew for more adventure.
Safety: Sure, there was that incident with the Titanic, however, most cruise ships are stable and safe. Where issues arise, it is usually due to incidents fuelled by alcohol, virus outbreaks or small crimes such as petty theft. Sailboats are also safe and reasonably stable in the water, however, the smaller group size means other safety issues are extremely unlikely. You'll get more stability on a catamaran, so if its a concern for you, consider destinations where these are commonly used, like Tahiti, the Caribbean or New Caledonia.
The environment: The cruise industry is often criticised for doing a poor job when it comes to addressing air and water pollution. There are also mixed opinions on the impact of several thousand people all visiting a small island beach at the one time (valuable tourist dollars or harmful pollution?). Sailing into a small port, or remote beach, brings only a small crowd with no diesel fumes and minimal waste to dispose of.
In the end, it’s a matter of preference. However, for the sailing fans, it’s the little things cruising can’t provide that often tip the balance.