Last month, Royal Caribbean launched the Harmony of the Seas, which is currently the world’s largest ship. Also, there was the introduction of the new 180 days around the world cruise offered by Oceania Cruises. This is an exciting time for cruises.
Reasons not to go on a cruise
First off, I just want to mention that I am the type of person who gets queasy on the boat, but I actually really love going on cruises. So this will be a more positive oriented post about cruises. That being said, to be fair, I will still list some of the most common reasons to not go on a cruise:
- Bed bugs
- Difficulty sleeping
- Expensive excursions
- Food poisoning
- High potential for crimes to be committed and not being caught
- If you miss the boat, you are out of luck (you have to pay your own way to catch up to the boat)
- Lining up for everything and overcrowding everywhere on the boat
- Minimal time spent at the ports
- No way of communicating with anyone else on the ship because the Internet service is too expensive and overpriced roaming charges
- Not as “all-inclusive” as they advertise, lots of things cost extra
- Overly touristy docking ports
- Sea sickness and then being stuck on the boat while being sick
- Unhealthy food
- Unqualified doctors
- etc. etc.
I will add a personal complaint to the list. When I went on a cruise for my honeymoon, our room was bunk beds!! We tried to change our room, but they said it was already sold out, so there was no way to change rooms. Bunk beds for your honeymoon??
I wish I had a better picture, but you can probably see the bunk bed clearly enough below:
And yes, I still really enjoyed my overall experience, fun times!
The list of negatives can go on forever. That being said, there are always ways to mitigate some of the concerns listed above, which I will try to address in today’s post.
What is actually included in the “all-inclusive”
Personally, I have been on 3 cruises, East, South and West Caribbean on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines respectively. I can tell you from personal experience, the only things that are really included in the package is the amenities, your room, basic drinks (tea, coffee, juice, not soda, alcohol) and all-you-can-eat food.
There are ways to purchase some pretty reasonable deals for cruise packages. If you time the deals, you can find package that cost less than $100 USD per day, per person. If that is how much you are paying, then I think it’s fair to say that our expectations can’t be too high.
On the flip side. If you are just going on a cruise because it is a good deal, then you probably will experience a lot of the concerns listed above. The problem is, some times you can be on a boat where someone paid $5,000 and someone paid $500 to be on the same boat. But a lot of the experiences on the boat are going to overlap. Overcrowding isn’t really going to change.
There is no sugar coating this, if you are willing to pay for the more luxurious cruise experiences, you probably will have a better experience. What I mean by this is, that if you want things to be more equal for everyone on the boat, you may want to look into the more luxurious overall cruise lines like Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. These cruise lines are not as kids friendly, which also means, a more peaceful and up-scale experience because they do not need to cater to kids.
My suggestion is to always try to pick a larger cruise ship, as they will offer more amenities, which also probably means more overcrowding. Overcrowding for sure transitions to a lot of other problems that you may encounter. Unfortunately that’s a huge trade off to having more variety of amenities. Some of the more popular ones include:
- Bars, clubs, lounges
- Basketball / Volleyball court
- Fitness centres
- Ice-skating rink
- Movie theater
- Pools & whirlpools
- Rock-climbing walls
- Waterslides and waterpark
Personally, I tend to play a lot of basketball on the cruise when we are ate sea. That’s my way of working up an appetite. I usually get my sun and swim in on the islands on the beaches.
I think that it is well documented enough that just hanging around the port, all you will experience is a maxed out touristy experience. I would always recommend going on cruises with an excursion budget. It will feel like you are overpaying for the excursion, but they do offer a lot more fun. Be sure to read the reviews of the excursions, there are always some niche good ones to pick from.
Check out this picture, I had a lot of fun at the Mayan Ruins on one of my excursions, which was a 2 hour drive away from the port.
The whole excursion covered the full 7 hours. What’s great about the excursions is that the cruise ship is guaranteed to wait for you if we are delayed.
Cruises is definitely not for everyone. They are definitely not perfect and if you focus more on the negatives, then there is no question that you will probably even hate it. But if you go in with managed expectations, then enjoy it for what it is!
Last thought is that if you really enjoy spending time with your family in general, in addition to immediate family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, I find cruises to be really amazing family trips. Definitely less headaches to worry about on the cruise. You all do your own thing during the day and meet up at night for dinner to talk about what to do the next day.