The Top 5 Pros & Cons of Going on a Cruise
Hey travel lovers! Today I will discussing the pros and cons of going on a cruise! When I did the “Ask Me Anything” box a few months ago on what information you wanted to know about going on a cruise, many of you never been on a cruise and wanted to know what are the pros and cons of cruising. So I am sharing with you 5 Pros and 5 Cons of going on a cruise. I feel that knowing some of this information ahead of time can affect the type of experience you have. There were some things that I found out when I got on a cruise that was surprising which did not make for a bad cruise experience, but had I known it ahead of time it would have been less of a disappointment. Also check out my other blog posts Tips for First Time Cruisers.
PRO: YOU CAN VISIT MANY DESTINATIONS
This is a definitely a PRO when it comes to cruising. Doing a Caribbean cruise, you can hit up multiple islands during one cruise which saves you a lot of time and money. How many islands you visit depends on how many days is the cruise. The longer the cruise the more port/island stops you get.
Typically, a 5 day cruise you could stop at 2-3 destination, but probably just 2 which again depends on the port that that you depart from and the distance between that port and the destinations. On a 5 day western Caribbean cruise on Carnival, we departed from Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) and we visited 2 destinations. The initial embark was a day and half on sea.
CON: SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME AT EACH DESTINATION
The downside of cruising and the above PRO is that the time at each destination is short. You do not get a full day at each destination. You typically will dock at 9am and leave at 4 or 5pm. But what you need to calculate is just because it docks at 9am, does not mean you getting off the boat at 9am.
You have to calculate the time for them to tie the ship down to the port and get the clearance from the port authority to do so. THEN you and thousands of passengers have to make it down the stairs and elevators. So right there you are losing a good 30 minutes from the estimated time of arrival. Sometimes they may dock late too. Then you have to calculate the time of getting to your tour and when that actually begins.
Also if the boat leaves at 4:30pm you don’t want to get there at 4:30pm because the ship WILL leave you! We always planned to make our way back to the boat 1.5 hours before the time. We factor in traffic and the unexpected. To be honest, about 3 hours before the ship leaves, you begin to be anxious and constantly looking at our watch (at least I did) to make sure you are not lose track of time. I did set various alarms to remind myself too. Basically an alarm for when I want to go and explore somewhere and when we need to begin making our way back to the boat.
PRO: CHEAPER TO TRAVEL ON A CRUISE
Traveling on a cruise I feel is cheaper because there are certain costs you do not need to factor in vs when you are planning a trip to those destinations on your own. One factor is transportation. You are flying into a domestic location which is cheaper than flying to the actual island destination. Island destinations would cost more.
Lots of cruises are out of the Port of Miami and there are multiple airport options to get there whether it is Miami International or Fort Lauderdale which is typically cheaper. Because the boat is transporting you to each destination, you do not need to rent a car either. You don’t have time nor need to rent a car when you arrive at the destination. Money is just spent on the tours and watersports.
Also the majority of the days cruising your food is included. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all included. Even on port days, you can save money and have breakfast on the boat and only worry about lunch on land and then dinner back on the boat.
CON: SEA WEATHER CAN CAUSE CANCELLATIONS OF PORT STOPS & TOURS
Cancellations is one of the biggest downsides of cruising that we experienced for the first time on our recent cruise. Unforeseen weather can make part of the cruise experience disappointing, but not to the cruise lines fault. If you travel during rough weather or rough waters, sometimes the cruise lines are forced to skip ports and go on to the next port. The port authority may tell cruise lines that the water conditions are too rocky to dock or coming into the area the waters may be way to rough. The cruise will reimburse you port fees and taxes for skipping a port stop though.
For us, our 2nd port stop was the beautiful Cayman Islands. While we debarked, it began to rain a little, but not storm but the sky was dark. It stopped raining and then the sun came out a bit. When we went to meet the tour company, our tour was cancelled due to rocky waters. The Grand Cayman Marina actually closed all tours to Stingray City to feed the stingrays. We were so disappointed because unlike a normal vacation, there is no “tomorrow” to try to the tour.
We got refund and enjoyed Seven Mile Beach for our port day as seen below. It was beautiful blue skies and sunny, but evidently the water was too rough due to high winds for boats to go to this other area. Our port day in Jamaica the day before, we got a day pass to a resort and all watersports/activities were cancelled due to the rough waters. But we were fortunate it was still dry and sunny and made it for a great beach day.
PRO: ALL YOU CAN EAT & UNLIMITED FOOD OPTIONS
A definite PRO is all the food you can eat all the time! You can never go hungry on a cruise. Between the restaurants and the buffet, there is always food to eat at pretty much all hours of the night. There is always a buffer for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you don’t need to pay anything extra.
Drink options are included on Carnival cruise lines. For lunch, they provide water, tea and lemonade. For breakfast, they have coffee, tea, apple juice, orange juice and tropical juice.
If you want more of a restaurant style dining (sit down), you can eat at a restaurant vs buffet at certain restaurants without an additional charge. Just knowing that the food is already paid is saving money versus going to a restaurant on land for each meal paying in their currency.
CON: PORTION SIZE AND QUALITY OF FOOD
So this is a con for me, but based on my opinion and for everyone it is different. The food on cruises is good, but not amazing like you would get a nice restaurant. Before going on my cruise everyone kept saying how great the food was so I came in with high expectations. There were some things that were excellent like this steak above, but most was just good and others not so good.
The buffet food is good to be honest. It is way better quality than typical buffets we see in the states. I just wanted to mention this so you prepare your mind because I had such high expectations- 5 star, but I think its more like 3.5 to 4 stars.
Portion sizes can be smaller especially appetizers. We usually always get 2 appetizers a person. An appetizer on a cruise it made for one person vs at a restaurant where the portion size is to share amongst people. So when I order crab cake…it was just one cake. It was really good but I should have ordered 2. Also small portions can be a good thing because sometimes the boat can be rocky and your appetite may change suddenly during dinner.
PRO: GREAT VACATION OPTION FOR FAMILIES WITH KIDS
Going on a cruise is a great option for people traveling with kids. There is so much to do with and without your kids on a cruise. Each day you get the cruise’s daily paper with activities that you can do throughout the entire day. There are activities that you can do with a parent such as Carnival’s Build a Bear event that my friend took their kids on.
There are also events where you could drop them off too. Most cruise lines have a day care type of area so parents can get a break and enjoy some adult time as well. There are water slides and other activity catered to kids on the ship too.
CON: HAVING TO CRUISE WITH KIDS
Cruising on a ship when there are other people’s kids can be a con depending on the person. Some who cruise may have left their kids behind to get a break just to be surrounded by someone’s else kids who may not behave as well. From the two cruises I have been on, the kids take over the pools for the most part with there floating and splashing and playing. Sometimes when there is adult events like hairy chest contest that you will see more adults on the main lido deck.
On Carnival they have an area dedicated to for an adult only retreat called Serenity! An area of the ship that is strictly for adults with its own pool and lounge chairs. I like this area because it is a lot quieter without being disturbed by talking kids.
If you are looking for a cruise line where it is adult only, then I recommend traveling on Virgin Voyages! You can all about this ship in my blog post here and be able to redeem up to $400 in cabin credit to spend on your next cruise as well!
PRO: YOU CAN MANAGE TRAVEL COSTS BETTER
I feel that because we a cruise, everything is paid for all upfront, you can manage costs better. Most cruises has an app that you can download and you have a ship card that is to replace your credit card for purchases when you are onboard.
As you use your ship card, charges are added to you account that you can easily check on the app. If you begin to spend too much on extras in one day, then you can really pace yourself. When on vacation on your own, we are always keeping tabs of everything we spend whether it is a bottle of water or something to eat. Most of this is already included at no charge. When you are a returning cruiser, you do get some extra perks such extra bottles of water and so forth.
CON: A LOT OF EXTRAS AT AN ADDITIONAL COST
Con is there are things that you will want that are extra charges. So as I mentioned earlier, you can eat and drink all 3 meals completely free. But there are some restaurants or dishes that is an extra charge such as ordering lobster tails and premium steaks. Sodas are also an extra charge.
Most cruises offer drink packages for unlimited sodas while you are on the cruise for a charge. I tend to just order a can of soda a couple of times on the trip. I never knew how much I missed drinking something fizzy until I am on a cruise. Depending on the cruise line, some will allow you to bring one 12 package of can soda per person as well bottle of water too.
Liquor and wine are also extra. One thing that some cruises will allow you to do is to bring one bottle of wine per person on the cruise. But what you may not realize (which we learned on our trip), is whether or not you need a wine bottle opener (cork screw), you will get charged a corkage fee of around $15 to drink that bottle at the dining table. It may be best to enjoy wine in your room or on deck vs bringing it to dinner.
The ATMs on cruises charges a hefty fee between $15-20 per transaction. So it is best to bring all the cash you need for the trip when you are in the US before embarking the ship.
I hope these tips gave you a better idea on what to expect while cruising. I will have other cruise posts coming soon including travel essentials that you should bring on a cruise! Stay tuned and be sure to follow me on Instagram!