The cruise ship swayed with the waves while my sister and I watched Up on repeat. It was the third day of our four-day cruise to the Bahamas and we were at sea the entire day. The motion sickness medication wasn’t working; walking, sleeping and watching TV didn’t help my nausea either. It was 3 pm and I wanted off the boat but our cruise ship didn’t return to Cape Canaveral, FL until 4 pm the following day. I’ve never wanted a vacation to be over with so fast. While I enjoyed the time spent with my sister, we both decided that in the future, we’ll skip the cruise and head straight to a destination.The cruise to the Bahamas on Royal Caribbean was in 2009 and I haven’t booked a cruise vacation since. I’d prefer to fly to my destination and stay in an apartment or a hotel.
The majority of my friends enjoy cruising and I certainly understand the appeal. Cruises can make for great vacations if you want everything taken care of, from meals to entertainment. There are a wide variety of cruise ship vacations, ranging from family oriented cruises on Disney to mega cruises with malls and zip lines.
According to Cruise Lines International Associate, an estimated 17.6M people went on cruises in North America in 2013 and they’re predicting growth in 2014. It’s a huge industry and one that sees a lot of repeat customers.
What exactly is it that I dislike about cruising?
Lack of culture: My favorite part of traveling is immersing myself in culture and exploring out-of-the-way places. From shopping at local markets to eating street food, I want to spend as much time mixing with the locals as possible, not running into fellow shipmates. Most cruise ships only dock for a partial day or a full day, which usually doesn’t give you enough time to explore the hidden gems. Wandering through duty-free shops just isn’t the same as exploring a traditional Mayan market, for example.
You’re on someone else’s schedule: You’re exploring the port-of-call and come across a snorkel trip, only to discover that you can’t book it because the times don’t align with your cruise ships schedule. Sure, you can always book the cruise ship’s tour but then you’re stuck paying their inflated prices and you have to spend even more time with your shipmates.
Crowds everywhere: Ready to explore the port city for your allotted 6-8 hours? Not so fast. You have to wait in line to get off the boat. You also have to wait in line to get back on the boat, to go to dinner, book tours and so on. I hate lines and I prefer to spend my vacation time wandering around, relaxing on the beach or doing just about anything else other than waiting in long lines.
No quiet time: Unless you book a cruise with an older crowd or one full of honeymooners, you’re going to run into other loud people, particularly at the pool. Some people thrive on a spring break-style atmosphere. I tried relaxing by the pool on the way to the Bahamas but got up and left as soon as the belly flop competition started.
Cheesy entertainment: I don’t need Broadway-level entertainment but a comedian, singer or magic act that’s entertaining would be a nice way to break up the evenings. While there were a couple of good acts on my cruise, there was also plenty of scavenger hunts, auctions, trivia contests, miniature golf and more.
It’s expensive: Sure, the total cost of your lodging plus meals is a bargain but once you tack on alcohol, excursions and on-board activities, the price tag goes up drastically. On my cruise, a 60-minute massage was over $200, double the price of a massage at a high-end spa back home.
Sea sickness: Despite my precautions, I still got very seasick as our ship made its way through a series of storms off the coast of Florida. The waves were crashing over the side of the ship and it was bad enough that everyone on board was asked to stay inside for almost the entire day.
Annoying vendors: My cruise included a stop at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. I love islands with clear, beautiful water as well as sitting by the beach, reading or a book or taking a nap. Rest and relaxation was nearly impossible at the main beach on CocoCay. Every 5 minutes a vendor would come by singing “beer, beer, water, water, beer, beer!” This initial beach spot was not quite the relaxing escape that I had in mind. My sister and I spent 20 minutes walking to the other side of the island where we found an almost-deserted beach. There were no beach chairs, no vendors and very few fellow cruisemates. Bingo!
I’m not likely to book another cruise, unless someone else is paying but I would love to hear your opinions. Do you dislike cruises as much as I do? Do you love cruises?