If you’ve ever been on a cruise before, you know that they can be a blast. Cruise ships are continuing to improve their attractions and entertainment in order to give their passengers the best possible experience on the water.
But, sometimes the advertising can be misleading. There’s no arguing that some ships are enormous and luxurious beyond your wildest dreams. But, others can be small and claustrophobic, with lackluster entertainment that doesn’t live up to the high expectations you’ve set. This article explores all the truths behind going on a cruise, so prepare yourself.
Boarding A Ship – What We Think It’s LikeYuri SmityukTASS via Getty Images
This is the most exciting part of the trip. You’ve packed all of your electronics, all of your best clothing, and pretty much everything else you can think of that you might need on a cruise.
You see the ship and it looks like everything you could’ve imagined. The only thing between you and getting on that ship is a long dock and a few elevators and stairs, right? Not so much.
Boarding The Ship – What It’s Really LikeImgur
The reality is, you have to wait in line for about an hour just staring at the cruise ship that you’ve been dreaming about for months. It’s basically like dangling an ice cream cone in front of a three-year-old’s face.
The boarding process takes a painstakingly long time. If you think waiting in line at Disneyland is bad, just wait until you have to be one of these people waiting to board.
The Pool Area – What We Think It’s LikeCG/VCG via Getty Images
The pool area is usually one of the biggest selling points of a cruise ship. Much like the hot tub, when you envision yourself at the pool on your cruise ship, you think of it much like a private pool on a beach with water slides.
It’s almost like a water park on the top of your cruise ship and you’re the only person having to wait in line. But, that’s not the case.
The Pool Area – What It’s Really LikeImgur
Instead, you have to realize that everyone else is thinking exactly like you. The pool is the number one place for all the vacationers. It’s always extremely jam-packed and the pools are always smaller than you think they are.
Some ships have multiple pools so you don’t have everyone surrounding one area, but it’s never going to live up to your expectations. I hope you like other people’s kids asking you for a piggyback around the shallow end, because that’s the reality.
The Bathroom – What We Think It’s LikeOscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Again, if you’ve never been on a cruise ship, you’re probably pretty confused as to what to expect with your bathroom. You probably differ back to what you know hotel bathrooms usually look like and then you get a picture in your head.
Will there be marble countertops? Maybe a jacuzzi tub so that you can at least live out your hot tub dreams that you expected to have on the rooftop?
The Bathroom – What It’s Really LikeTASSTASS via Getty Images
Unfortunately, what you end up getting is not even close. There’s not going to be any marble countertops. There’s nothing more than a gross bathtub that looks like it survived World War One.
If you’re about to go on a cruise and need a reference for what to expect, think about a bathroom that you’d see in a youth hostel. Of course, there are nicer bathrooms than the one you see here, but it’s important to curb your expectations.
Ocean Sightseeing – What We Think It’s LikeImgur
This is a huge hit for the older demographic who go on cruises. You think that when you’re sailing the ocean blue, you’re going to see dolphin pod after dolphin pod. You see yourself at a Sea World, but in the wild.
There are people who think that cruise ships travel on populated areas of the ocean like it’s some sort of whale watching tour. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Ocean Sightseeing – What It’s Really LikeImgur
If you’re being realistic about sightseeing on a cruise ship, you should probably get used to open water with literally nothing in view. People forget that the ocean is massive and there aren’t planted exotic ocean creatures doing acrobats for cruise ship passengers every hour of every day.
So, you need to get used to ocean, water, more ocean, more water, and pretty much nothing else. Sorry for the bad news.
Employee Life – What We Think It’s LifeImgur / hardontheNose
The thought of getting paid to live on a cruise ship sounds amazing. You get to interact with people who are mostly ecstatic to see you, AND you get to see lots of beautiful destinations along the way. It’s kind of like a glorified flight attendant.
On the outside, working on a cruise ship is luxurious and something of a dream. But, it’s really not all that it’s cracked up to be.
Employee Life – What It’s Really LikeAsif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images
First of all, if you thought that the bedrooms for the guests were jail cells, you haven’t seen the employee rooms. They’re even smaller and people are often sleeping on bunk beds because the rooms are so tiny.
They have to work long hours and don’t even get to explore the different destinations that the ship ends up docking at. Working on the ship is the opposite of luxurious and freeing.
Destinations – What We Think It’s LikeTwitter / @chaseTHEdonkey
A lot of people forget to mention this when they book a cruise, but going to sweet destinations is a huge reason why people end up booking in the first place. It’s not just the idea of getting to live on an all-inclusive boat for a week.
Obviously, the time spent on the boat is fun, but the places that you go off of it is just as exciting. But, the reality is that some of the places that cruise ships take you to end up being a huge bust.
Destinations – What It’s Really LikeA lot of people forget that when an island gets frequented by cruise ships every day, they also take on a lot of pollution from the boats. Not every island is going to be beautiful and scenic.
If you’re going to book a cruise, make sure that you research the islands that the boat will be taking you to. It’s important to look past the staged photos the travel company is showing you.
The Hot Tub – What We Think It’s LikeLoic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
What could be better than a rooftop hot tub on a cruise ship? You envision steam rising up from the water that floats through the glare of the neon lights. You can relax by yourself with an infinite amount of leg room to stretch out.
You can basically do a water aerobics class as you watch the other vacationers on the deck mingling with each other. But, we all know that it’s not the case.
The Hot Tub – What It’s Really LikeFrank Engel / Getty Images
Going into the cruise ship hot tub is about as anti-climactic as watching the fourth Harry Potter movie. Do you know that leg room that you were hoping for? Yeah, you can kiss that goodbye.
The hot tubs become a game of “how many people can we squish into this thing before one of us gets too claustrophobic?” So, if you’re planning on going on a cruise because of your love of rooftop hot tubs, prepare to be disappointed.
The Music – What We Think It’s LikeTwitter / @earthXplorer
Sometimes when you get onto a cruise ship, you will be surprised by the musical acts that come along for the ride. Entertainment is a big part of the evening itinerary and cruise companies will spend a lot of money to get famous acts onboard.
Some of the most famous people in the world have played cruise ships, including Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, and Madonna. But, you’re VERY lucky if you get professional acts.
The Music – What It’s Really LikeTwitter / @eerieplayer
If this is any indication of what you can expect your cruise ship entertainment to look like, you’re in for the ride of your life. It’s important to look into what performers are on your cruise ship before you even book, because you don’t want to be stuck with a lousy act for the week.
This guy is certainly no Taylor Swift or Madonna, but I guess he’s trying his best.
Seasickness – What You Think It’s LikeTwitter / @helenzoxo
If you’ve never been on a cruise, or a boat for that matter, you might not know what seasickness feels like. Whether you’re on a ferry, cruise ship, dingy, or sailboat, there’s always a possibility that you will get sick.
It’s easy to think that sailing on a cruise ship is simple when you’re booking online, but it’s not until you get out on the open water that you realize how bad it can really be.
Seasickness – What It’s Really LikeImgur
Seasickness is very real and it’s a horrible feeling. You’re trapped when you’re on a cruise ship because there’s literally nowhere to go to get away from the sway of the water.
The sickness can be as common as having to go to the bathroom. There have been many cruises that get completely ruined because a majority of people end up getting seasick if the water is rough. It’s horrible.
The Weather – What We Think It’s LikeReddit / hangred
The weather is usually the elephant in the room when it comes to cruises. Any tropical vacation is going to be affected by the weather, but cruise ships really rely on having good weather.
No matter what, promoters are only going to show you what the cruise is going to be like with perfect weather. The pictures can be tempting, but there are many times that weather ends up ruining an entire vacation on a cruise.
The Weather – What It’s Really LikeImgur / redhandedbeaver
You need to realize that mother nature doesn’t care about promotional pictures and the weather doesn’t adjust plans just for you and your family. We like to think it does, but it doesn’t.
It won’t matter how hot the hot tub is if you’re in the middle of a tropical storm and you can’t see five feet in front of you because of the downpour of rain. If you’ve never been in a storm while in the middle of the ocean, try to keep it that way.
The Dining Experience – What We Think It’s LikeLOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images
Some of the professional photos that we see on websites can skew how we think our cruise cuisine is going to be. Knowing that you have a vast amount of different foods to eat is one of the most exciting parts of being on a cruise.
You expect five-star dining for a three-star venue. You expect buffet tables to be pristine and exotic. You want to have to ask, “how do I pronounce this dish?” at every buffet.
The Dining Experience – What It’s Really LikeImgur / RealityTwinss
Some of what I said before might be true, but you have to remember that cruise ships are forced to feed thousands of people three times a day. That means they’ll throw quality off the ship in order to do so.
Unless you’re on some extremely expensive ship, you’re probably going to be eating from a cafeteria-like buffet for 80% of your meals over the week. You’ll need to prepare yourself for that.
The Age Range – What You Think It’s LikeImgur / EatinetR
One of the most tempting reasons to go on a cruise is to meet people. Just the thought of being surrounded by people your own age, and mingling with some others who are slightly older or younger is exciting.
If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re generally hoping that the other passengers are within five or six years of you. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…
The Age Range – What It’s Really LikeImgur
The big problem is that you really don’t have any control over who is going to be on the cruise with you. Unless you sign up for one of those specialty cruises (which are a lot more expensive), you’re probably going to be hanging out with a group of people that you have nothing in common with.
We’re not saying that there’s anything wrong with that, but when you have a fantasy that you’re going to be making best friends for life, just know that they’ll be in a different tax bracket.
The Ship Itself – What We Think It’s LikeAndrea Pattaro/AFP/Getty Images
If this cruise ship looks familiar to you, it’s probably because it’s one of the most popular models that is advertised on travel websites. We can certainly see why. It looks pristine and majestic.
The ship screams beauty and is something that we all wish we could board tomorrow and set sail for some tropical islands. But, not all cruise ships are as sparkly and clean as this one in the picture.
The Ship Itself – What It’s Really LikeHoberman Collection / Contributor
Okay, okay, you’re probably not going to get duped into getting onto this cruise ship (if you do, bless your ignorant soul). But, this is simply trying to open your eyes about the fact that there are some awful cruise ships out there.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a grey area that exists between the breathtaking cruise ships of the world and the brutal ones that are unfortunately out there.