6 Reasons Why Cruise Ships Suck

And 6 more reasons why they don’t.

Boarding a cruise ship and heading south to island hop with a few hundred strangers has never appealed to me.  There are a plethora of reasons why, which I’m happy to share and examine with you in hopes of changing my own mind.  Close minded people stink and I realize on this topic I’ve been close minded.

It’s not like I’ve never taken a cruise before.  On the contrary I cruised the Greek islands twice when I was a kid growing up in Athens.  I had a swell time, as far as I can remember.  And it’s not like I’m a stranger to water. I attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for college.  I spent a year at sea as an engineer. (Who in their right mind would want to work in hot dirty bowls of an old ship?).

It’s not like I don’t enjoy being at sea and all things nautical.  After college I was a Naval Aviator and had the time of my life flying jets off the USS America.  The Navy was always great to me and my time in and around the ocean was spectacular.

It’s not like I don’t know anything about the cruise line business.  When I graduated from business school Disney recruited me to help them build their new ships and cruise line business.  Something I ultimately didn’t do, instead I built theme parks and hotels.


Disney Image Flickr - by Scott Ableman

So what’s up with not wanting to go on a cruise?

  1. Anti-Group:  When I’m in island  mode I don’t want to be herded around with the masses and I certainly don’t want bullshit rules or timelines.  That’s not what being in the islands are all about is it?
  2. Cocktails

    Cocktails Image Flick - by sarahwithoutanh001

    Bar Tab:  When I’m down island I tend to enjoy a few additional rums and have been known to crack a few extra bottles of beer.  My fear is that my bar bill at the end of the cruise will be magnitudes larger than the cost of the cruise itself.

  3. Dress Code:  I’m not going to bring nice pants with me on a cruise to the Caribbean.  As a matter of fact I’m not going to bring any pants with me at all.  It’s a rare day I’m even wearing underwear.  For that matter I won’t have any shoes with me either.  In order to gain access to the nicer dining rooms, I’ll be required to dress up.  I don’t want to wear cloths that civilized society (read people who live in cold climates and don’t like rum) has determined acceptable.
  4. Port Time:  I can waste (invest is a better word) an entire day sitting on one bar stool at a beach bar.  How am I supposed to take in an entire island and still roll with the chill irie vibe of island time?
  5. Hidden Charges and Sucker Tax:  There are additional costs to cruises people don’t budget for.  Want to do something fun once you are in port?  Pay up.  Think you’re going to get a deal when the local taxi and tour operators know you just got off the white goliath in the harbor that just tripled the population?  Think again.  They know you are time limited and you’re going to get screwed in the process.
  6. Lines:  I don’t do lines.  Lines remind me of the Cold War and Soviet style queuing in order to buy a loaf of bread.  Standing in line is like going to the DMV and pulling my hair out when I don’t have the right paperwork.  Lines are a waste of life!  I’m not wasting mine in line.

Hawaii Image Flickr - by Chris Restan

All that said, this is not meant to be a negative article.  On the contrary, I’m writing this as a way to examine and challenge my own thinking.  Believe it or not, I really want to go on a cruise.  Here are some things I think I’m overlooking.

  1. Ship Choices:  Today, there are multiple cruise lines.  At least there are multiple brands even if they are owned by the same company.  Each has a distinctive focus and attracts different types of people.  They also differ on the size of their ships and itineraries.  Maybe I can identify which brand(s) fit me the best.
  2. Drinks Included:  Some lines are now offering a drinks package to help avoid the slap in the face when the bar tab arrives at the end of the cruise.  I know I drink a lot, I don’t need to be reminded of it when the fun is over.
  3. Dress Code:  I do own dress cloths I just prefer to not wear them.  It’s possible I could get over my bad self and put them on for a good meal.  But only if people promise to not take pictures.  I have a reputation with my readers to uphold. As a side note, I’ve been told that many ships have topless sunbathing.  Now we’re talking.  Maybe I can sell some of my bikinis to the lovely ladies onboard.
  4. Port Time:  I’m not sure there is much getting around this one.  My only saving grace here is that I have a lot of contacts in the islands and could line up my itinerary weeks, maybe months in advance to ensure I’m taking full advantage.  That would also help me avoid the up charges and sucker tax.
  5. Lines:  It might be smart to pay for concierge level packages.  Many of these give you head of the line privileges as well as access to exclusive facilities.  Sort of a cruise within a cruise.  Just like with anything however, pay up or shut up, right?
  6. Friends and Themes:  It easier to overlook the negatives when you are surrounded by a big group of friends or are on a cruise with a specific theme that captures your imagination.  I will venture to say that going on a cruise is the best solution for vacationing with friends.  There is so much to do, it is easy to go off and do your own thing and still enjoy the collective fun times as well.

Such is my down and dirty examination of taking a cruise.  My home is currently in Florida, so getting to a ship is relatively cheap for me.  Of course, most of the cruises that I’m attracted to leave from Puerto Rico and go as far south as Barbados, so a plane ride is in order.

It is fairly likely that I will finally let go of my old beliefs about going on a cruise and just do one.  If you see an under dressed, drunk guy who is cutting every line and hanging out on the topless deck you’ll know that you were lucky enough to choose the same ship I did.  Bon voyage.


Princess Image Flickr - by Kabacchi

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4 Responses to “6 Reasons Why Cruise Ships Suck”

  1. Team Cocktail July 29, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    So we’ve got you really thinking about this cruise thing. I understand all your reservations about cruising. Some of them you can’t get around…but all in all it is a great, affordable way for large groups of people to travel the islands together. Vacation is always what you make of it…and if you don’t have fun…that’s your own damn fault. :) I’d venture to bet big money that if you went on a cruise with Team Cocktail, your attitude about cruising would change. Or at least you’d have such an awesome time you’d forget about the things you hate, you will have drank the crap out of your all inclusive bar package, and be ready to book your next one before you got off the ship! Fingers are crossed that you’ll be cruising with Team Cocktail in January!


  2. lynn February 19, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    I’ve been on 6 cruises. NEVER AGAIN! Got stuck next to a SCREAMING BABY, IT SOUND LIKE A COLIC BABY, NO SLEEP FOR 7days.

    The cruise b4 that I got majorly sick because they do drills and I was packed in with 15+ ppl one was sick.

    The 2nd and 4th cruise I was on was NASTY! I found ants and hair constantly in food.

    I find it’s heard on your body while the boat is moving. Gravity pressure, sea sick if the waves are rough.

    The drinks are outrageous priced

    They made me pay 200-400$ in tips bc they don’t pay their staff

    You never get enough beach time!

    I lose weight, food is pretty bad!

    If you complain Disney is the ONLY CRUISE THAT RIGHTS WRONGS


    POA….. ALL INCLUSIVE CAN BE JUST AS CHEAP WITH DRINKS INCLUDED:) I’ve had way more fun with a sandles.

  3. Shawn Martin
    Shawn Martin February 19, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    I didn’t write this one Lynn but I agree with you 100%. Personally I would prefer to actually experience an island rather than just have a few moments before having to run back to the ship. To me you can’t possibly get to know a place this way; its little more than a layover. Give me a cottage in the hillside and a locals bar any day!

    I have been on cruises and I imagine I will one day again, as I do always have fun with whatever I do. But if given the option I will always take the other choice.


  4. bunmicatering.com April 9, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    “6 Reasons Why Cruise Ships Suck | Coastlines & Tan Lines™”
    ended up being a fantastic post, can not wait to
    read through more of ur articles. Time to squander some time on the
    internet lol. Thanks for the post -Leo

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