I love a cruise vacation.  I find the ocean extremely calming, and there is something about being in the middle of international waters that makes you feel like work isn’t going to find you.  The pace of the vacation lends itself for sleeping in and long afternoon reading books, and it is really nice to be able to eat restaurant quality food without having to shop for it, cook it, or get into your car.  Then there are the ports!  It’s fun to go out and explore a city that you never thought you’d visit.

But… there are bad reasons to choose a cruise vacation.  Here are five:

1)  You want to see a particular port.  Cruise itineraries are subject to change due to weather or port conditions.  Right now, it’s hurricane season, and ships are cancelling port calls on a regular basis.  Last summer, European cruises were scrambling to find alternate ports due to general strikes in Europe.   If the only reason you are going on a cruise is to see Grand Cayman, you will be very disappointed if the port is closed because of a hurricane.

2)  You want to visit friends in a region.   On a cruise, you usually only get one day in port, and sailing time could very well be 5:00 p.m.  If you have friends near Cabo, you might get to see your friends for lunch, but you are not going to have a lot of time with them.   So, it’s fine if you are going on a cruise, and you want to see some friends in the area, but don’t go on a cruise to visit your friends.

3)  You want to sample regional cuisine.  Honestly?  Cruise food isn’t that bad.  You won’t starve, and you may even really enjoy your meal. After my second cruise, I developed a desperate love of Carnival’s warm chocolate melting cake.  And on our last cruise, I had a really nice short rib.  Most ships have specialty dining, and some of those specialty dining venues are really good.  But, just because you are going on a cruise to the Caribbean doesn’t mean that you’re going to get Caribbean food on your cruise.  And when you are in port, you may not have time to find that great restaurant that is recommended by Zagat’s.  And if you do have an opportunity to go to one of those great restaurants, you’ll probably be eating lunch, because most cruise ships leave port before dinner.

4)  You want to meet people.  Oh, you have the opportunity to meet thousands of people on a cruise, and you may have a fabulous time with your dinner companions (if you choose to eat with others), but most likely, you won’t continue your connection with the people you meet.   And it is certainly possible that the only thing you’ll have in common is that you have booked a cruise.

5)  You want to win big in the casino.  Your odds are better in Vegas. The odds are probably better at your local Indian casino.

This week’s featured travel deal is a 15-night Hawaii Cruise on Celebrity for $1,099, plus $200 in cruise credit.  This deal is good for departures on April 5, 2012, and April 20, 2012.   Book before November 1, 2011.

This is a sea-day intensive trip, since it leaves from San Diego.  There are seven and eight day Hawaii cruises that leave from Honolulu, that are port-intensive.   The $1,099 rate is for an inside stateroom.   Plan extra costs for airfare to San Diego, gratuities, taxes and fees, port transfers, airport parking, alcoholic beverages, soda, spa services, and port excursions.