6 Sure-Fire Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Cruise

how to ruin a cruise mistake
Some mistakes are totally preventable. - Photo by John Foxx

Even if you’ve chosen the perfect cruise and the forecast is showing nothing but sun and blue skies, you can still derail your vacation with these simple mistakes:

1. Booking The Wrong Cabin

bad cabin no sleep noise cruise

Get better sleep with just a little bit of research before you book. - Photo by Minerva Studio

Why It's a Problem: Most of us can get over an obstructed view, a non-working appliance, or a little less space than we were expecting. But if your cabin is by an elevator or crew quarters or below a nightclub or galley, you might find yourself getting woken up throughout the night, and too tired to enjoy anything during the day.

"Rooms were noisy and [there] was poor planning in the design of ship. Engineers placed cabins adjacent to places where live and very loud music pulsated through the room. Should have thought that through a bit more. We moved cabins only to find the new location was worse!”


How to Avoid It: Consult deck plans to make sure your cabin isn’t directly under a bar or by places where people congregate (elevators and staircases), and don’t forget to check our ever expanding database of cabin reviews before you book.


2. Not Planning Your Onboard Entertainment

royal caribbean musical mama mia cruise

Royal Caribbean's Mama Mia sells out fast. - Photo by Royal Caribbean

Why It's a Problem: On cruises where the entertainment is a focal point, tickets to shows and events can book up extremely fast. In some cases, there’s so much going on that you may not even realize you missed your favorite show or activity. And when it comes to taking advantage of the onboard activities, don’t expect that you’ll be able to cram in everything on your last sea day. Plenty of other people will have the same idea, and your best case scenario is you’ll spend most of your time waiting in line.

"Wish some one told us to book shows in advance ASAP, we had no idea and only saw one!"


How to Avoid It: Many lines make it easy to book shows online before you sail, and don’t forget read your daily planner every day to make sure you're not missing out. If you want to get in a round of mini golf or a show off your skills (or your lack thereof) on the FloRider, stay onboard when you're in port and you’ll find the ship pleasantly empty.


3. Not Packing Essentials in Your Carry-On Bag

carry on luggage cruise essentials

Make sure you can live out of your carry-on bag in case you actually have to. - Photo by Dmitry Kalionvsky

Why It's a Problem:If you’re flying in to the cruise port, there’s sadly always a small chance the airline will lose your luggage. This isn’t as much of a nightmare if you’re traveling to a resort since the airline can deliver it to you, but once you’re on a cruise, you can say goodbye to the contents of your suitcase for the rest of your vacation.

“The airline (US Airways) mislabeled our luggage and we arrived in Fort Lauderdale with only our carry on bags. Thankfully the cruise line went above and beyond to help in any way possible. The stress this added to our first days on board quickly faded by the warm reception and positive staff onboard Oasis of the Seas.” 


How to Avoid It: Like bryantrobinson said, the cruise line will often work with you in whatever way they can if the airline loses your luggage, but it’s always good to make sure you have the bare essentials (change of clothes, several pairs of underwear, bathing suit, toiletries, medication, etc.) with you during your flight.


4. Eating Every Meal in The Buffet

buffet cruise  lido crystal

Unlike lifeboats, there aren't enough chairs for everyone on the cruise. - Photo by Crystal Cruises

Why It's a Problem: Ok, so maybe this won’t ruin your cruise, but it will certainly leave a (brace yourself) bad taste in your mouth. When we dug into our database of user reviews, we found that complaints about food occurred at double the rate of any other inconvenience, and that includes smoking and extra expenses. While though some buffets serve surprisingly good dishes, you’re never going to find the best cuisine a ship has to offer unless you branch out. 

“The food was only so-so...we prefer buffets for their casual atmosphere. On this ship, the dinner after 8:00 was mostly pizza and burgers.” 


How to Avoid It: Clearly this cruiser on MSC Divina didn’t try out Eataly. Fork over the extra cash to try a few of the specialty restaurants, and don’t forget to have a few meals in the main dining room where you can order as many different entrees as you like.


5. Overspending

spend overspend too much cruise

Sometimes plastic doesn't feel like real money. - Photo by tuthelens

Why It's a Problem: Research has shown that people spend more money when paying with credit cards than with cash, which is likely why cruise lines “conveniently” let you use your ID card for most purchases on board. It’s nice not having to carry cash around, but nothing can overshadow a week of fun like receiving a staggering bill out of the blue on the final day of your cruise.

“By the time I received my end of cruise statement, I almost fainted. In all my years of crusing, I have never received such a huge bill. Be careful, you may get a good deal on the initial cruise, but the cruise line will get you with all the nominal fees.” 


How to Avoid It: Keeping spending to a minimum is a lot easier said than done, but if you know you’re going to be spending a lot on drinks, for example, buy a drink package at the beginning of your cruise so your bill doesn’t come as a shock. You can also request an onboard account statement every couple of days to monitor your spending. 


6. Letting One Problem Ruin Your Cruise

ruin cruise sad on beach

There's way too much to enjoy to let a few issues bog you down. - Photo by Antonio Guillem

Why It's a Problem: Sometimes, everything that can go wrong on a cruise does go wrong, and only the most upbeat among us can maintain a positive attitude. Still, we can’t tell you how often we read reviews where a cruiser let a single problem (some big, some small) loom over their heads for the rest of their vacation.

“At the Port Canaveral (Orlando), [the] workers at [the] checking point took my daughter's water bottles, my daughter was so sad at the beginning. Then a man gave us attitude... [and] made my daughter cry. He even said "IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY, DON'T GO ON SHIP " What's wrong with him???? We don't like to spend money on a company that has worker treated us bad again. We will never cruise with CARNIVAL again.”  


How to Avoid It: Sure, no one likes dealing with rude crew members, but are you really going to let a bad interaction ruin your entire vacation? In this case, this cruiser wasn’t even interacting with a Carnival crew member, and yet it still led to a 1-star review. Stay upbeat and remember a cruise is what you make it.


Join the discussion

What one thing can ruin a cruise for you?


Posted by MrChocoholic

Lines. Long, boring, time-wasting lines. Line at Guest Services. Line in front of pizza guy. Line for stir fry. Line to get in the theater. Line to get on the tender. Line to get in the line to get aboard the ship. Note to the lady with the plate of food in one hand in line to get another plate of food in the other hand: stop following me!

Posted by ingsoc1984

I did not know where to post this, but I think it relates. Is there a brig on a cruise ship for unruly passengers? I was never unruly, but I am just curious.

Posted by Nikoshi

I learnt several lessons the hardway, but, it made me more prepared for the future. 1st I was on the NCL Epic leaving from Barcelona. We did not have a drinks package, do not know if it was even offered at that time. I was travelling with my GF and her parents as a Gold Anniversary present for them. I gave them signing powers as they did not have a credit card. 7 days later and the final bill came. Was only 46yrs old at the time but it was the closest thing to a heart attack I have come too. I did not realise that when they were drinking, they decided that bottled wine, top line spirits and champagne were top of their list. The bill for my cabin was 800 + / - USD including some shore excursions. Theirs was 1600USD. I only found out later that you could check in your room on the TV the actual accounts assigned to my credit card. Now I usually take drink packages, pre-pay gratuities and venture more into the onboard TV programs so that I have a better idea

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