And How to Overcome them!!
To Begin, please allow me to set the record straight. I love cruises. I love everything about cruises. My favorite cruise is my next one! I really love sailing on the ocean. I absolutely love things like the breeze from standing on the upper deck, or on my own balcony, or the warmth of the sun when cruising in Alaska or the Antarctica, or the Baltic’s. I enjoy things like fresh sea air, and being transported from port to port without having to pack or unpack but just once, let alone lugging bags around from place to place. I truly like that someone comes in and makes my bed every day.
So while it is safe to say that I am an avid and passionate cruise fanatic, I have to remember that a cruise isn’t the best kind of vacation for everyone. Statistic: Only 95% of first time cruise goers say they would choose to do it again. Example, for those who are on a honeymoon or romantic getaway, it may not afford the happy couple with all the privacy that they would like. (But where on earth would that really be any different)? Cruises can be huge budget busters for those who don’t properly save (because they don’t know up front), that cruises can bring lots of hidden fees may bust your budget. This is one reason why for first time cruisers it’s so important to use the services of a professional cruise planner. Find out here what’s maybe not to love about cruises.
1. Staterooms for some can seem small.
Standard staterooms on cruise ships are smaller than the smallest hotel room (with the exception of those pod hotels in Japan, and some European Hostel private rooms). You are likely to bump into each other in your own stateroom several times during the cruise, but since you’re in love you probably won’t mind. I have seen inside, no-window cabins that look like units in minimum security prisons with cheerful bedspreads. Cruise lines have been making strides over the last few years on making their rooms seem more user-friendly and spacious, but the fact remains that the average stateroom size for the less expensive categories of stateroom is normally 125 to 150 square feet of space.
Recommendation: Pay close attention to a cabin’s square footage before booking, get the biggest you can afford, and pack light.
2. Cruises while a good travel value, aren’t really all-inclusive.
Thirsty for a beer or soda? It costs extra. Feel like a spa treatment? That’s extra. Want to eat in the fancier onboard restaurant? Cough it up. Like a bottle of wine with dinner? Extra. Think that tips are included in the cruise price? Think again. Want to take in that really interesting port excursion you were reading about . Grab your wallet and hold on! While every cruise line is different, the majority charge extra for all these things, which definitely can add up to sometimes as much or more than the cruise fare cost, so beware! But here’s the good news. You Completely Control your spending.
Recommendations: Alcohol and sodas (while refreshing and fun) have lots of calories, or cause you to retain fluids (like you need that on a cruise), not to mention their cost. Prepare yourself in advance to drink lemonade, tea, juices, and water (non bottled) as they are all completely free from the dispensers, or set out for you in glasses. If you are the type of person who enjoys a glass of wine with dinner, then definitely take advantage of the on-board wine packages which can add up to huge savings over purchasing by the bottle, and especially by the glass. If you must have the soda (like for the kids) check out the soda cards which offer great savings over individual purchases, and in some cases are unlimited use. Be sure to consult with your cruise planner if any cruise lines or sailings offer any shipboard account credits to induce you to book.
3. The food seemed just so institutional like.
Large cruise ships hold up to 3,000 passengers or more. Feeding those 3 times a day, plus snacks and midnight buffets, is no easy task. That being said, on many ships there is one main restaurant and a self-serve cafeteria. You’d be surprised how many people never even set foot into the formal dining room, just because they wanted to wear cut-offs (or swimwear), and flip-flops during their entire cruise. Then if all you ate was the casual dining room food which (while plentiful), does not compare to the best restaurants on land. Then you deserve every taste you got! Most ships even have additional restaurants that charge a small extra fee. The fee has nothing to do with paying for the food, it is to handle the tip for the wait staff and the food preparation staff, that otherwise does not share in the shipboard gratuity program. The food in these venues is consistently superior to what passengers in “free” restaurants eat.
Recommendation: Get over yourself: Spring for a meal in a better onboard restaurant, or at least dress in normal casual attire and take advantage of the marvelous food (which you already paid for), in the wonderful formal dining room.
4. My fellow cruise passengers will be like “old”.
Every cruise line attracts a different demographic, but the average age of cruisers is in the 45-60 range. That means you may spend a week with many folks who are your parents’ age or older and you may not have much in common with them. However some cruise lines have far lower average age demographics, but remember those younger demographic ages are probably parents with children too, so you have to take the bad with the good. Still, on any given cruise, there will be people of every age group represented.
Recommendation: Everyone gets old. Consider your cruise a preview to the future!
5. Your dining time and table are pre-assigned.
If the idea of sitting at a table with six strangers at the same time every night and making conversation doesn’t appeal, then consider choosing anytime dining, or possibly a cruise line such as NCL or Princess where you have more dining flexibility. Otherwise your new best friends will save a place for you at the same table every night.
Recommendation: If you prefer to dine by yourselves, tell your cruise planner/travel agent to get you assigned to a table for two. There are a few in every dining room, but they fill up way before the ship has sailed. So trying to get one of those on board is like “fat chance”.
6. The entertainment is awful.
While my first instinct is to inquire; who died and made you Lisa Hartman. But I won’t say that. Maybe you saw one on-Broadway performance, (or maybe) you are a frequent show-goer-toer, just try not to hold every show you see especially onboard) to that standard. How much did it set you back to go to see that performance? Huh? OK I made my point. Most nightly cruise ship entertainment is somewhat stuck in the 1950s, where youthful, aspiring , energetic, and maybe not-yet-ready-for-primetime performers sing and dance their hearts out in themed variety revues designed to appeal to everyone. Well I know they don’t appeal to everyone. Outside the ship’s main theater there are often jazz, piano, or comedy performances. These tend to be better although they still aim to appeal to the widest audience and not offend. But beware that often times the comedy shows (especially at the late performances) are normally quite adult oriented. So don’t get offended.
Recommendations: Maybe you might wish to skip the big productions. Avoid harpist and sing-along’s at all costs. And make your own entertainment, in which case you should make your way directly to the lounge (of your choice) or the casino immediately after dinner.
7. Staff photographers are everywhere.
It’s nice to have a professional portrait taken when you’re dressed in your best. On a cruise that will be one of many, many opportunities to have your picture taken. Expect flashbulbs (nobody uses flashbulbs anymore) when you board the cruise, when you get disembark in each port, when you eat, when you participate in various activities. These shipboard paparazzi represent one more way for cruise lines to attempt to squeeze extra cash out of you.
Recommendations: Don’t stop for photos; walk right past the photographers. Pleasantly but firmly say no thank you! Or, if at meals, you should merely be able to flag them off as “not interested”. Finally, if you really wish for affordable memories, why not take your own pictures!
8. The infamous mandatory safety drill.
While we’ve all seen Titanic and know what a tragedy at sea looks like (at least in the movies). Every cruise today starts with a safety drill that requires all passengers muster at their designated point (generally near your lifeboat) and to stand around on deck, crammed in wearing bulky life jackets and listening to unintelligible commands over the loudspeaker. It’s a required safety measure, under maritime laws, but it’s still annoying.
Recommendation: Grin and bear it. Actually many of the cruise lines today are taking more relaxed approaches to the safety drills and focusing more of an “educational and instructional” format and less hands-on approach, where you no longer have to dawn the horrid orange life vest itself!
9. The staff can be at times over-zealous and intrusive.
Every cruise ship aims to get high grades for service, and much is invested in training (both time and money) for the crew. Sometimes foreign staffers tend to go — excuse the pun – “overboard” in their efforts to please. In a restaurant on one ship, we were asked the same question five times by mechanistic people-pleasers: “Did you enjoy your soup?”
Recommendations: Staffs are generally institutionalized (trained together) in their training sessions, where they are encouraged to ”buddy-up” to help each other, and many times they will mirror each other in their practicing. Many members of the crew are involved in learning this new language that we like to call English, so they will have a tendency to seem to be repetitive in their speaking. Oftentimes it’s the not knowing that makes us seem to be so offended, so now we can be a bit more understanding. Or IF NOT, try a cruise line that trains it’s staff in Europe (where some feel they never ask you if you liked anything about your meal), and come away from their cruise also offended. Here’s a simple suggestion;Enjoy your soup. (Just smile and nod if asked while eating) cause once you get home, no one there will care whether you like it or not. Who knows, you might actually miss it!
10. Excursions can be quite expensive, and sometimes rather lame.
Another revenue-grabber for cruise lines, are excursions which range from the sublime (helicoptering to the top of a glacier) to the ridiculous (touring a completely uninteresting port for hours in a school bus). A convenience for passengers who aren’t familiar with a destination, excursions are useful in that they provide ready transportation to a land adventure. Part of the purpose of an excursion is to immerse yourself in the customs and traditions’ of a land and its people. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to do exactly that. Some of my most informative stops at ports of call have been “On-my-own” type explorations.
Recommendation: Get off the ship and explore on your own. Hire a taxi. Or find a cheaper tour; they’re usually available close to the dock. You may wish to consult with your cruise professional about this subject matter.
Summary: While I truly hope that the vast majority of my readers do not hate cruising, maybe there is one or two things that just don’t set good with you. Please tell me, what things about cruising do you NOT like, and maybe we can do a followup article. And if there isn’t anything you dislike while on a cruise…………well let me hear from you too!
For more information on ways to overcome cruise dislikes, you can contact Mike via email email@example.com . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow Mike’s blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also edits his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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