Looking out at the turquoise waters of the Caribbean from the cruise ship, I think of all the advantages one has when vacationing on a cruise ship. I began my enthusiasm for photography while working on a cruise ship and have seen some unforgettable places. A different day in a different port; this was the life aboard a cruise ship. It wasn’t long before all I could think about was my photography and capturing the beauty of the next exotic location. I was hooked and photography had me.
I quickly realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Fast forward to present day and I am fortunate enough to be living out my dream. Even though I do not work on the cruise ship anymore, I still like to take cruise ship vacations with my family. There are many advantages to photographing on a cruise ship rather than a vacation where you remain on land. In this article I’d like to explain why your next vacation should be a cruise vacation.
Firstly, cruising allows me to see several places in a short period of time. When it comes to photography there’s just never enough time to see all the places you want. I often find myself wanting to see more destinations than time can allow. Cruising gets me closer to this goal. It allows me the opportunity to see a new port or city every day. I realize that cruising is not for everybody as many photographers and people really like to explore a place and get to know it intimately. On the other hand, there are photographers like myself who enjoy seeing as many places as possible. Each place or city offers its own unique perspective. Capturing the essence of each place and telling its story is what first got me excited about photography.
And this is what I try to convey in my pictures. In preparation for each place, I take notes, read books, and gather all the information I can. There are many travel books, travel forums, and sites that can assist you in getting familiar with each place. Also, I often will look at Lonely Planet books, Trip Advisor forums, and cruise ship excursion feedback to get all the information I need. Once I’ve gathered all this information, I choose a guide to privately show me the island, or an excursion set up by the ship to get me to all the places I need in the quickest time. Using a private guide helps me find the best places that often tourists don’t find in terms of hidden gems of the island. At the end of each day, I make a summary of where I went, what I like, and what I would do differently.
This helps me in the process of narrowing the places that I would like to re visit. From this, I choose one or two places I would like to spend more time exploring and do a vacation on land by way of a hotel. For example, I was able to visit Turks and Caicos by cruise ship and was enthralled with it. The color of the water, the friendliness of the people, and the variety of landscapes were absolutely amazing. I recently was able to revisit Turks and Caicos, but this time I stayed at a resort. This afforded me the opportunity to stay longer and really explore.
Secondly, an advantage to a cruise vacation for photography is the vantage points and perspective it will capture. To be more specific, the ship sails into port from sea and gives a perspective of the city at sea level. The ship’s height gives you the vantage point of shooting elements from high elevations. The high elevation of the ship gives the image an aerial look. Cruise ships come early in the morning to the ports, take advantage of this opportunity. Find a position high up on deck and capture first light. The combination of the early morning light and higher vantage point makes for outstanding photography. The other advantage in terms of perspective, is the port is usually located in the central part of town and gives you a good overview of what you can expect. To be more specific, it gives me a good lay of the land and gets me right in the middle of the action.I’m able to photograph the heart of a city in great light and from unusual perspectives.
The next advantage that I find while cruising is that it forces me to slow down. Often when I am on a land-based vacation, I am always going from place to place trying to get to as many destinations as possible. I find that I am so rushed that I don’t take the time to really tell my story. Photographing while you’re cruising give you an allotted time to photograph and then you are back on the ship and you can relax. This gives me time to reflect on what I photographed and really embrace the experience. It gives me the time to prepare for the next port and spend time with my family. I think many photographers feel a rush to capture everything and, as a result, don’t take the time to really enjoy the moment. The ship sets the hours I can photograph and allows me to relax when back on board.
Lastly, the advantage of cruising while on a photography trip is the people you meet. I meet people from all over the world who are curious to know what I’m doing and I like to share my experiences. Mutually, we learn so many things about each other as well as new places to photograph.
Cruising is not for everybody, but it does hold a special place in my heart. It offers me the chance to see several places in a short period of time, photograph places from rare perspectives in great light, and meet people from all over the world.