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Cruising means different things to different cruisers, but all cruising shares the following characteristics: living on the boat, traveling, extended periods of time (more than a week or two). To reduce fuel expense, the most common cruising boat is a sailboat.
Cruisers on the East coast of North America commonly visit the north (e.g. Maine, Newfoundland) in warmer months and travel south on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) as far as the Bahamas in the winter. On the west coast, a popular route alternates the Gulf of California in winter with the islands of Washington state and British Colombia in the summer. The Baltic Sea has terrifying equinoxial storms in the winter, but in the summer the coasts of Sweden and Finland have thousands of beautiful islands with well-marked channels. The Netherlands, the northern Mediterranean, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Australia, and the South Pacific Islands are other favored destinations with mild or predictable weather.
Many cruisers are "long term" and travel for many years, the most adventurous circling the globe over a period of five to ten years. Many others take a year or two off from work and school for short trips and the chance to experience the cruising lifestyle.
Due to the transient nature of cruising, Cruisers form their own community. Cruisers commonly, upon anchoring in a new area, will stop by nearby boats (in their dinghy) to introduce themselves and say "hello". The classic icebreaker is to hail a boat in an anchorage and ask "where there's good holding?" Many cruisers leaving an area are willing to trade charts with boats going in the opposite direction.