Having now completed 17 cruises I would like to offer a few likes and dislikes of my cruising experience. First and foremost I love cruising and like many others my first cruise was a “one off” and of course I got “Hooked”. So if you are about to book your first cruise, you have been warned!! Here goes then, first the pros:
Having arrived at the port, embarkation is usually quite quick as long as you follow the advice for arrival time. It can be 20 minutes or less. So compared to going to an airport, usually two hours minimum before your flight, it’s brilliant. As soon as you are on board you are on holiday, let the fun begin as you explore your ship.
You may be visiting several different ports in different countries but you only unpack once and of course as long as you didn’t fly to your departure port you can take as much luggage as you want.
You can’t please all the people all the time but I have to say in 17 cruises, with 5 different companies I have no complaints about the on board staff, they have ranged from good to excellent.
The food for the most part ranges from good to excellent with plenty of choice not only of food but of venue, if you choose a speciality restaurant there will usually be a cover charge. Just out of curiosity we went for a snack in Johnny Rockets on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the seas, It was brilliant, very efficient staff that every so often stopped what they were doing and did a dance for the customers, it was such good fun.
The entertainment on board all of my cruises was very good for the most part with just a few “average” shows. But of course it’s very subjective.
Anybody that say’s “I’d be bored on a cruise” obviously hasn’t cruised before, there is so much to do on board, Swimming, Line dancing, Lectures, cinema, table tennis, casino, ice shows, shops, quizzes, glass blowing, putting, the list goes on and on. (Not all the above available on all ships)
Then there’s the ports, remember you only unpack once, As an example in the Med one day you can visit Pisa and Florence, the next day visit Rome, then on to Pompeii, Venice, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Sounds expensive doesn’t it, Well we did all those ports and several others on a 14 night cruise in 2014 for just £60 a night each on Ventura, the price we paid included flights from Gatwick. Yes it was a last minute deal hence the price. So all the food you want to eat, as much or as little entertainment as you want bed for the night plus travel to another country for as little as £60 a night! even if you pay twice that much it’s still fantastic value.
Some of the staff on board ships amaze me, it’s happened more than once, you go into a bar order a drink and your friendly bar staff will oblige, the next day we went back to the same bar and on a ship with 3000 people on it the waitress remembered our names and what we drank the day before. Over the course of the cruise you will make friends with your hard working staff. We had a brilliant waiter on one cruise, his name is Rodelio, the following year we went back on the same ship and he came running up to us remembering both our names and was genuinely pleased to see us.
Now the Cons:
For the most part the captains on the ships go above and beyond what you might expect of them, giving important updates on progress and weather etc. One captain on P&O always had his “Thought for the day” and very amusing it was to. However, we went to the North Cape (Norway) on a 15 night “Summer solstice cruise” with Princess, we had no information from the bridge whatsoever for 14 of the 15 days, many passengers missed sailing past the north cape because no announcements were made, no weather reports or daily updates that are the norm on other lines. The captain didn’t even attend his own invite only “Captains cocktail party”.
Another thing I dislike about cruising is the way the cruise lines find different ways of pretending they are giving you something for nothing. You will see “Free Drinks Package” Free Parking” or “Now with extra on board spend”. There is no such thing as a free lunch! the prices will have been put up to cover the “Freebies”. A few years ago it was “Book an outside cabin and get a free upgrade to a Balcony” Rubbish! Before the offer the prices were “Inside £999” “Outside £1399” “Balcony £1799”
when the offer came in it was “Inside £999” “Outside £1799″ Balcony £1799”. So they just put the price of the outsides up to match that of a balcony.
The latest thing is “Buy one get second half price” Again Rubbish! We have a cruise booked for later this year, we booked it before the “Buy one get one half price” deal came in and they have put the prices up to cover this “Offer” In other words if we booked now we would pay the same as we did before the offer. There are other things that you can spend money on that you can do independently with big savings. Last cruise offered a shuttle bus into town for $15, at the port we got the local bus for about $3. All that said we love our cruises and if you get “Cruise wise” I am sure you will love your cruises as much as we love ours. Happy Cruising.