Advice

7 Warning Signs You Booked a Bad Cruise

warning signs booked bad cruise
It's too late to book another cruise, but you can take steps to mitigate the damage. - Photo by Shutterstock

Noticing a problem or two after you board isn’t always a guarantee that you’re going to have a bad cruise, but there are certain indications that should tell you to prepare for the worst. Here are seven signs you might have booked the wrong cruise, and what you can do to keep them from ruining your vacation:

1. Dirty Cabins and Common Areas

This filthy balcony was submitted by a very unhappy reviewer. - Photo by Cruiseline.com

Why it’s Bad: A dirty, poorly prepared room is probably the worst first impression you can get of the ship and its crew. The same goes for any onboard area: If you see dirt, stains or signs of wear and tear in the hallways, lounges or dining areas, either the crew is not up to par (see #3) or the ship hasn’t been properly maintained over the years.

What to Do: You’re not going to inspire the crew to clean the whole ship, but if your cabin is dirty, call guest services and let them know the state of your room is not acceptable.

 

2. Swarms of Children

kids cruise ships too many

We like kids, but if there are too many onboard they can easily take over the ship. - Photo by Shutterstock

Why it’s Bad: If you can’t take ten steps onto the ship without a crowd of unsupervised, screaming children nearly knocking you over, you may have made the mistake of booking a cruise during a popular vacation week. Even if you’re cruising with kids of your own this isn’t a great sign — that many children on the ship means the kids clubs will be super-crowded and you’re going to wait longer for onboard activities. Plus, adolescents tend to feed off of each other’s energy so it will be harder for your own youngsters to stay on their best behavior.

What to Do: Give up any hope of using the pools and hot tubs on sea days, and immediately locate any adult-only areas on the ship. If there’s a charge to use them, pay it. Trust us, it will be worth it.

 

3. Apathetic Crew

crew warning signs cruise

This is how the crew should look when you board. - Photo by Holland America Line

Why it’s Bad: The service on cruise ships is usually phenomenal, so if you board the ship and the staff looks tired and can’t be bothered to greet you with a smile, they probably aren’t going to bring their A-game.

What to Do: Project a friendly, positive attitude toward the crew and consider slipping your room steward a few bucks right away to help ensure good service.

 

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4. Lots of Drunk People

drinking cruise ship

Some people can't control themselves on vacation. - Photo by Kzenon / Shutterstock

Why it’s Bad: By no means are we against getting nice and tipsy on a cruise, but most people don’t want to share their vacation with roving packs of obnoxious drunks. If there are lot of people who are already visibly intoxicated within hours of getting on the ship, it’s only going to get worse as the day goes on.

What to Do: Try to find a quiet hideaway that isn’t near a bar as they generally won’t venture too far from the alcohol.

 

5. Bad Buffet Food

cruise ship buffet

It's hard to screw up a buffet, and yet it still happens. - Photo by Shutterstock

Why it’s Bad: Once you board, the buffet is a common first stop before scoping out the rest of the ship. If the food is cold or poorly prepared, it should be a big cause for concern. After all, if they can’t get the first meal right, what makes you think it will get better?

What to Do: Start scoping out all the specialty restaurants you can and make reservations ASAP.

 

6. Waiting Hours to Get onto the Ship or into Your Cabin

cruise ship luggage dock

After a certain point, it's the ship's fault. - Photo by Thinkstock

Why it’s Bad: In many cases, this is the fault of the port, not the cruise line. With that said, if you’re waiting in the terminal for several hours just to board the ship, or if the muster drill rolls around and you still can’t get into your cabin, it’s probably due to a lack of organization by the ship and its crew. And if your luggage isn’t at your cabin before you’re ready to go to dinner, you can probably blame the ship for that, too.

What to Do: Pack your patience. There’s not much you can do about any of these situations, so keep a positive attitude and try to enjoy the rest of your cruise.

 

7. Obstructed Views

obstructed view balcony

A very obstructed balcony. - Photo by Cruiseline.com

Why it’s Bad: Few things on a cruise can make your heart sink like walking into your room for the first time and realizing there’s a lifeboat hanging directly in front of your window or balcony. This one could be on you for booking the cheapest cabin without realizing it was marked “obstructed view,” or choosing a guaranteed cabin where the cruise line gets to choose your room, but we have heard stories of cruise lines “upgrading” passengers into these cabins without notifying them.

What to Do: Report immediately to the guest services desk to inquire if another stateroom is available. Ships tend to sail full, so you might be stuck with what you have. Next time, do your research and check out cabin reviews and photos here on cruiseline.com so you don’t make the same mistake again.

 

 

Join the discussion

Any warning signs we missed?

Posted by Johngold

The rowers are tired and the captain wants to go water skiing.

Posted by Finzleft

If I'm away from my desk and on a ship, it's a great cruise. I've never been on a bad one!

Re: kids, I was booked on a NCL cruise and noticed that they had a "Dora the Explorer" program of some sort. I cancelled and booked the same cruise with Princess, which has a bit older crowd anyway. It was one of my favorites!


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