While cruise connoisseurs adore them, a cruise vacation is not the right fit for every person. And with a recent outbreak of bad PR, lately it seems that cruise ships have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. That won’t help anyone who is on the fence about the prospect. Cruise vacations certainly have some very valid pros (read my article here), but people have different travel styles and the cruise industry reputation has some blemishes that might be a turn-off too.
Here are the reasons why a cruise might not be right for you:
From the crowded elevators to the compact showers, there is a feeling of confinement that can leave you running to the upper decks or your room balcony for fresh air. The mega ships have a way of feeling spacious and large, while also being crowded with people. I can’t imagine the nightmare of being on a disabled ship and not having the space to get away.
EXPENSIVE ADD-ONS AND UPGRADES
While cruise ships are marketed as great deal, the reality is that very few people settle for the basic cruise package with a windowless room and institutional buffet food. To get the best experience, you will be nickeled-and-dimed along the way with upgrades and add-ons. You have to pay for specialty dining, room balconies, land excursions and cocktails. Travel agents love cruise bookings because they get solid commissions from cruise ships who make their money on the upgrades and additions that happen along the way. You get what you pay for.
TOO MANY PEOPLE
Cruise ships are geared toward group travel and if you are a couple on a cruise, it can be difficult to find personal space. With the balcony doors open, you can hear your neighbors. There are lots of lines, screaming kids, and a Spring Break/Vegas atmosphere for adults too. Getting on and off the ship feels like cattle herding. It is just not possible for you to like or respect everyone around you, and sometimes your fellow passengers can be the biggest con.
LACK OF INDEPENDENT SPIRIT
While some people like to let loose and release their plan to others, others don’t like someone else organizing their trips. From planned excursions to assigned dining time, there is a somewhat inflexible schedule that feels limiting and prevents spontaneous exploration.
Have a few drinks and that DJ and line dance might not seem so bad, but cheesy shows and dance parties dominate the activity style. Finding a quiet corner to avoid the pop tunes can be a challenge and sometimes the deck parties go late into the night meaning quiet moments on the balcony are also a challenge.
Between viral outbreaks and motion sickness, it seems like cruise sickness is not just a possibility but a fact of the experience. Sanitary signage and Purell dispensers are constant reminders of the odds.
LACK OF CULTURAL IMMERSION
Living on a ship means that you never really get a sense of place, and with only a few hours in each destination, you also never really get to experience a location fully. There are fewer opportunities to interact with local people and dine in a variety of their restaurants. In fact, many times locals charge cruisers more because they are seen as outsiders. Instead, living on a ship in a manufactured environment means that you miss out on the charm and authenticity of traveling to new destinations.
IT CAN BE UGLY
While the photos show blue waters and clear skies, the truth is that cruise ships do not have a high green factor. These floating cities leave behind a lot of waste (though to be fair air travel is also not very environmentally friendly). There is also a false sense of security on a ship, and with flowing drinks, sometimes situations are downright dangerous with drunken sailor dares and assaults.
So far, I am not sure that cruising is right for me. It drives me crazy to be part of a large group, not be able to make my own plans, and to have to search for a quiet, romantic corner. The food is good considering how many meals are made a day, but part of my enjoyment of travel is to enjoy local cuisine in its natural environment. Furthermore, I am not sure that I would have enough time to enjoy all the on-shore activities that we usually pursue on vacation. A typical cruise vacation doesn’t give you enough time to intimately know any one location.
At the same time, I can see how it would be fun to travel with my family or a group of friends. I did really enjoy being in our room with the balcony and the sounds of the water and birds in the early hours of the morning when everyone else was asleep. We also found a way to go in the opposite direction of the crowds, finding quiet spots away from the main dining and dance parties. And to be fair, I do not think that I have had a full experience yet since the trip was only one night. So I remain on the fence about cruise vacations and look forward to giving it another shot in the future.
What do you think about cruises? What are your pros and cons?