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As Frequent Floaters most of us here on the blog, and especially the authors, love ship life. We can not wait for our next sailing and even when on a ship we are thinking about our next chance to get onboard. Yeah, we got the cruise bug bad!
But are there things we don’t like about cruising that you may or may not know about and especially so if you have never been on a cruise ship? We have a rather full list for you to consider. Take a look.
First up, like most things travel, there is no hiding the environmental impact of cruising. Cruise ships can produce significant amounts of pollution, including air and water pollution, and contribute to plastic waste in the oceans. Most lines are doing everything they can to reduce these kinds of impacts.
Then there can be crowded conditions. With many passengers and limited space, cruise ships can feel crowded and cramped, especially during peak seasons and this is talking just about the ship and the ports. Also depending on the stateroom you book you could feel very claustrophobic spending any amount of time there.
Plus there is always the risk of illness outbreaks in a confined space. Cruise ships can be a breeding ground for illnesses, such as norovirus, due to the close living quarters and shared facilities. Sanitation matters and even more so on ships.
If you have limited mobility a ship may present additional challenges for you. For passengers with mobility issues, navigating the ship and participating in activities can be more difficult. The cruise line does what they can to help you but there are always going to be hazards that may be frustrating.
There can be limited shore excursion options. Most cruise lines only offer shore excursions through the cruise line, which can be more expensive than finding alternatives on your own. Also know many ship sponsored ones, especially the popular ones, can sell out fast (like even before you sail).
Internet access. If you can not live without Internet – be prepared to be disappointed (at least for now). Most ship’s wifi is not that great and costs a ton.
Time changes. If you are sailing across the Atlantic, for example, you will from East to West get many more hours of sleep as you cross. However, going West to East you slowly get jet lagged over and over and over!
Living on ship time vs. your phone time. If you are like me, most of us use our phones as our watch. Well sometimes the ship’s time is NOT the same as the time of day of the port you are in. Confusing? You bet. But you better know ship’s time so it does not sail away without you (and yes it will unless you are on a ship sponsored excursion).
If you are on a longer cruise you may get tired of the same menu day after day after day. This is especially so for breakfast where the menu generally never changes. Keep in mind you can make special requests but few know you can do this.
Lines. Most get sick of lines. Lines to get into a show or dinner. Lines at customer service. Lines to get off. Lines to get back on. Lines to get on an elevator (granted, this encourages the use of stairs!) Waiting stinks and it is often part of ship life.
Personally I get very tired of some guests. Most of them are the ones who drink too much or are just rude and think the world revolves around them. It seems on cruise ships they find a home.
Smoking. Depending on the line some bars will allow smoking or in the casino. Even if you do not gamble the smell may wander up to other decks or you may have to cross the casino to quickly get to where you want to go. (FYI, vaping is considered the same as smoking so also off limits on your balcony!)
Next we have marketing. From “art”, and I say that lightly, to photos to jewelry – it seems like ships are more a marketing adventure than a vacation you have dreamed of. Being a Frequent Floater I just tune these out but it can take some practice.
Port fees and other costs. The cost per night looks so cheap to cruise until you start to add up port fees, taxes and or mandatory gratuities. That once cheap trip now is 2 or 3 times what you expected it would cost.
Skipping ports. Our man onboard a ship covered this topic well but it is sooooooo frustrating to have an amazing shore excursion planned only to be told we will not be visiting the scheduled stop and you now get another sea day.
Dropping anchor. At ports where the ship cannot dock and will have to use tender boats to get guests to and from shore, the anchor is dropped to maintain the ships position. The chains on the anchor are huge and when it drops it is LOUD and generally quite early in the morning. Be aware of this if you book a forward stateroom!
Engines. When coming in to a port the ship will typically use the maneuvering thrusters to get into the right spot. If your stateroom is aft you will likely hear the back and forth use of these propellers as well as feel some cavitation. Again, ships typically dock early so this can be an unwelcome wake up call if you’re not prepared!
Bad weather. For all your efforts to save, plan and get to the ship – the weather can be horrible. The ship may rock and roll way more than you expected and in port, as you can see from the top of this post, it could be pouring rain all day long and do so day after day after day!
Extra charges for restaurants. Most know the food on ships really is amazing. But for a step beyond amazing are specialty restaurants (on many ships). The problem is you could end up paying $50-100 per person on top of what you already paid for that day’s cruising. Not fun!
Beverages. Beyond the basics you will pay for a variety of different types of drinks, and I don’t just mean alcohol. Fresh squeezed juice is extra. Fancy coffee is extra. Soft drinks are extra. When you order a drink and the crew member asks to borrow your card, you’re paying for it and these costs can add up quickly!
Not enough deck chairs. Well most ships have tons but some may be only in bright sunshine and you would rather have some shade. Most times umbrellas are only for the private suite guest areas of the ship or those you pay an upcharge to access (yet another fee)! Also when guests place things on chairs to save them but never return to actually sit in them.
In-person muster drills. Once cruising resumed after COVID lock-downs most lines instituted e-Muster drills with quick check-in at your assigned stations. Now NCL, with others following, are bring back the old in-person drills that everyone hates on day one of your vacation adventure.
Well gosh this list makes it really sound like taking a cruise is not such a fun time after all? Don’t let me dissuade you from taking a cruise. Why? I can tell you one of the, if not the, biggest things I hate about cruising is having to GET OFF THE SHIP at the end of my cruise! – René
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