I’m sure the title is going to cause a whole legion of cruise connoisseurs to take up arms against me, but that’s ok. I’ve taken exactly two cruises in my lifetime, not counting cruises to Alcatraz or Milford Sound. No, I’m talking about real cruises with shows, buffets, and bingo. I went exactly thirty five years without cruising, but in the last two I’ve been twice.
I never really thought I’d like a cruise in the first place, but my dad was going by himself (again) and paying the price of two people (which I think is complete BS, but that’s another post). I decided to tag along. After all, it wasn’t costing him anything more, and we could keep each other company. We left out of Galveston for a five night trip with stops in Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico. The second trip was this past New Year’s. For our Christmas presents, my dad sent my brother, sister-in-law, two nieces, my husband, and me on a four night cruise to Mexico that included a single stop in Cozumel.
Before you think I’m sounding like a big-ole spoiled brat, I want to say that I am VERY appreciative of my dad and his generous gifts. I may hate the cruise concept, but I love my family. That’s why I went, and I’d go again if they wanted to. I had a great time with my family. We laughed, spent valuable time together, and ate a whole bunch. In a family effort, my husband was even crowned the sports trivia champion of the ship. Both cruises were wonderful in regard to time spent together, and they gave us memories to last a lifetime. For those reasons alone, I’m glad I went.
I just wouldn’t choose to take a cruise for one of my vacations.
And you know what? That’s just fine, because it takes all kinds. Some people loathe the idea of hopping on a plane for twenty hours and spending a month exploring. I think it sounds like heaven.
So what exactly is it that I hate about cruising?
I feel stuck: I like to blaze a trail when I’m on a trip, and walking from the ship’s pool to its casino isn’t the same. Wandering the streets of a city or hitting the open roads and exploring the countryside are the things I love about traveling. The short port-of-call stops just don’t cut it for me.
Cheesy Entertainment: Look, I love a good Broadway show as much as anyone, but I just don’t see the entertainment value in a cruise. I’m not expecting Tony Award winners taking the stage, but really, come on. When I look through the day’s itinerary and the only thing that jumps out at me is the hairiest chest contest, it’s pretty bad. The dance contests, scavenger hunts, karaoke, miniature golf, and trivia contests all feel like a middle school slumber party. This probably explains why my nieces had such a great time.
The Hustle: I know cruise ships have a simple goal, which is to make as much money as possible. I get it, but I don’t like it. Every little thing seems to have some sort of money-making goal behind it. An art auction? Really? Announcements come from the speaker proclaiming it time for the free wine tasting. Everyone hears “free” and “wine” but wind up spending a pretty penny when it’s all said and done. And while I’m on the subject of alcohol, geeze, I hate the idea of being at the mercy of the cruise ship when it comes to the cost of a drink. Their high prices and strict guidelines have turned otherwise honest people into boat bootleggers. Give me a neighborhood store in Rome where I can take a gallon jug and fill it up with red wine for 15 Euros. Not only do I get more bang for my buck, but I also get an authentic Roman experience.
Fellow Cruisers: For the life of me, I have no clue what makes some people lose all coothness when they get on a cruise ship. Just because the buffet is near the pool doesn’t mean it’s ok to get your Caribbean jerk chicken, black beans, and fried plantains while not wearing shoes or a shirt. Seriously! Rudeness abounds everywhere, but it seems to be magnified more on a cruise ship because you’re confined to such a small space. It doesn’t help that you have to see the same damn people every day. I particularly loathe this when it comes to the casino. I fashion myself an excellent blackjack player, and simply come unglued when players sit at my table and play crazily. With so few tables, it’s hard to find a place without such people. I can’t stand floating around with drunk, belligerent, or inconsiderate people who are only concerned with themselves and have no regard for others. I realize that I will and do encounter these people in all forms of travel, but on a cruise I’m stuck with them for the duration of the trip.
No Culture: Probably my favorite aspect of traveling is experiencing other cultures and immersing myself in them. Whether that be finding locals-only restaurants, hitting the markets, or just walking the streets, I don’t want to spend my trip with Joe Blow from Houston. I’m from Houston. I didn’t take time from work and money out of my bank account to rub elbows with somebody I could have met at home. And I seriously don’t like being herded like cattle through duty free shops while docked.
I’m sure I’ll get comments about how not all cruises are like the ones I describe. That there are European luxury river cruises that I’d surely love or that some ships stay in port overnight and stuff like that. Here’s the deal. If you want to put your money where your mouth is and send me on a cruise in an effort to change my opinion, I’ll gladly accept. Besides, it’s not like I want to hate cruises. It’s just that I’m not going to spend my precious vacation days or dollars on a cruise.
Did you know that this post led to an interview on BBC? Check out, “A Brush with Fame: BBC & My Cruise Contempt“.