Are Negative Reviews Hurting Cruise Bookings?

I am reading so many negative cruise reviews.  I wonder if the service and food on board are really deteriorating or are passengers expecting too much? I do know that cruise lines are trying to keep down prices and instituting cost cutting measures wherever possible.  On the other hand, passengers are blaming the cruise lines for poor weather and the skipping of some ports of call for various legitimate reasons and downgrade their ratings for their cruise.  Are these negative reviews impacting your decision to cruise in general or on a particular ship?   

Tags: Cruise reviews cost cutting measures on cruises keeping cruise prices down

19 Answers

I continue to cruise as often as I can.  I do read the reviews but I also analyze them  and try to judge if the ratings are fair.  Even if ratings are generally poor, if I wanted to go on a certain ship, I would regardless.  Everyone does have different expectations and also very different experiences.  I continue to recommend cruising to friends and will continue to do so.  I still think cruising is a great value. 

When reading reviews, I really only pay attention to the 2,3 or 4 star reviews. This cuts out the "Fanboy" reviews, as well as the "Hater" reviews.

I do read the 1 and 5 star ones, but try to weed out the true reviews out of the mountains of ulterior motives.

For people that are experienced long time cruisers we know that 2 people on the same ship can have very different experiences.  I have read bad reviews because of the language used by the comedian in the "Adult hour comedy"  or that the comedian picked on one group,  Weather was bad, bad weather and missed a port so they gave cruise a bad review.  We have all read 2 reviews in a row about the same date, same ship,  one was "the worst cruise of my life" and the next was "Best cruise ever".

There are all kinds of things that can make a cruise not great to you but awesome for others.  I look for reviews that give examples to what the problems were and if the line could correct them.

I had read a review of the 4 night carnival cruise that was horrible.   The inside cabin was the size of a closet, the food was not edible, service in MDR was bad, the fellow cruisers were "undesirable" and  auto tipping put on the bill with not being told of it.   This was from a person that had taken over 7 cruises.   When questioned in the forum turns out this cruise was a gift from their kids,  they typically cruise Seabourn.

All reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt.

As a long time cruiser I know that cruising is not what it was 20 years ago,  but it is better then what it will be in 20 more years.  The price of a cruise has not gone up as much as everything else.   Think of a gallon of gas or a pound of steak 20 years ago to know.... 4 or 5 times as much,  a cruise has not gone up 4 or 5 times. 

As I have said before Cruising is not what it used to be but is better then it will become.

I think if a area of the cruise is given a bad rating the reviewer should have to give examples as to why.  Same if an area is given 5 stars,  give examples why.  The reviews that give examples are the ones that I pay more attention to.

I've seen two or three reviews for the same cruise, and they're all different. Reviews are subjective, and I like to make up my own mind. A negative review won't stop me from cruising.

Well said Jusme. I read the reviews to get an idea of what to expect. I do not let negative reviews sway my decision. I do not think they are effecting bookings.

Thanks everyone for replying.  I wish that first time cruisers would do at least a minimum of research by visiting the cruise line Website to find out what to expect on a cruise.  The information is there.  

I have noted this a few times in my comments here.  I believe the cruise industry is making a strategic error in the way they have structured themselves.  They induce booking with relatively affordable fares using advertisements which depict a "lollipops and rainbows" environment.  They add a few of these new features, like that pod that hangs off the side of a ship, diving platforms, etc. and build up expectations beyond reasonable levels.  Then, they get people onboard and startup the revenue centers to charge exorbitant prices for everything that isn't nailed down.  

Now, let's talk about customer service.  I have a theory that the level of customer service expectations in America are a lot different than that in other countries. I have no evidence on which to base my opinion, aside from personal experience.  The level of customer service on many cruise ships seems to be declining toward abysmal.  Basically, it is as if the ship holds its passengers hostage for the length of the voyage with an "oh you don't like that... we always do that and no one else complains, sorry that's the way it is" attitude.

This brings me to the media press releases from cruise lines that they are going to sail with less than 100% capacity and not give last minute discounts. Basically this sends mixed messaging but the main take away I heard was that of overconfidence with their new cost structure and revenue strategy.  To me, this signaled the coming of the "charge exorbitant prices for everything not nailed down" strategy. From what I am reading in recent reviews, this is exactly what has taken place.

There are so many things wrong with this approach that I can't begin to address each here. Sadly, I anticipate this will not only hurt the return customer rate, it will impact referral rate because more first timers will be turned off by their experiences and will share that dissatisfaction with anyone who will listen... word-of-mouth may well torpedo this strategy (npi). Another relationship impact is with high-tiered, long-term loyal clientele. These people have already begun to tire of the relentless decline in service and quality and moved to other cruise lines for a more enjoyable experience. . . this despite losing preferred status they have attained. It's definitely what my husband and I have begun doing because instead of NCL, RC or CC, we are only booked on Princess and Celebrity for our coming trips.  What happens as PC and Celeb begin to decline? We have already started to look at the next level.

Which brings me to my last point.  As we all know that at a corporate level, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian own multiple lines which provide varying levels of cruise quality and refinement.  Does anyone here not see the overall trend of pushing experienced cruisers toward more the expensive, supposedly higher quality lines as being an overall strategy? I see it in our own cruise habits. I don't appreciate what I see as another a clearly manipulative approach for boosting sales of the more expensive lines but will accept that before getting on another "fun" ship (or similar bargain line) any day if it means we will have a better cruise.

Ok... I'll shut my yapper for now and put my soapbox away. :)

No ! 

Mediocre food and poor service are hurting the industry.

How can you call Mac and cheese and Meatloaf mediocre ?

BAK1061 -  you raise an excellent point.  Food service and customer service quality are definitely on the decline.

JusMe... just LOL.  

 

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