Cruise Ship Blunders: Lessons Learned

Cruise Ship Blunders

Cruise Ship Blunders: Lessons Learned

Millions of people hop aboard cruise ships each year. They get their manicures and pedicures, buy cute, lacy swimwear covers, and stunt in their stunner shades. Off they go to, all-you-can-eat buffets, sunburns the shade of lobsters, and numerous planned excursions. Oh, the life they live! Or is it?

When I was 18, my family and I took our first cruise aboard a Carnival ship. The cruise line had just opened in Mobile, AL and we were anxious to try it out. This trip taught me about myself as a traveler and about cruise ships. Here are my lists of cruise ship blunders and what to expect, what to love, and what to avoid about cruises!

8 Cruise Ship Blunders:

Cruise Ship Blunders
Courtesy of Flikr: Creative Commons. No my ship was NOT that big….

1.Being 21 or under on a cruise: Hello, with bars on every deck, why would you take a cruise and not be old enough to drink? There were many drunken experiences I missed on because of my age! You also cannot gamble in the casinos if you are under 21.

2. Small Cabins: I am a minimalist at heart and did not expect a mansion of a room. However, my bed was a cot on the floor of a shared room with my sister and grandpa. The toilet was in the shower; but on a positive note, you could shit, shower, and shave at the same time! Oh and if you fall out of bed, you are already on the floor!

3. Designated Dinner Dates: You are expected to dress up like a dime and have dinner with complete strangers each night. For my fellow introverts, you understand why this is a blunder! We were assigned a table with another family of similar means, to dine with each night. Let me say, a sexy dress DOES NOT allow for a 5-course dinner to fit and I often went to bed hungry the first two days. On a positive note, we did meet kids near our age that we later hung with on deck.

cruise ship blunders
Courtesy of Flikr: creative Commons

4. Nightclubs for each age group: First, I understand why this is important, sexual misconduct and all. Obviously, I could not drink on the ship but there were nightclubs I could boogie in. The problem was the age and time slots to enter them were unrealistic. There were 3 time slots for each of the three age groups. My sister, our new friend (aka dinner mate), and I were all filtered into these varying slots. This meant that none of us could dance together. In the end, we ALL lied about our age and had an enjoyable time! Avoiding cruise ship blunders at it’s best!

5. Small ships=nothing to do: We traveled on the smallest ship in the fleet. This meant that we literally discovered everything the ship had to offer within 2 days. We still had 7 to go!

Cruise Ship Blunders
Courtesy of Flikr: Creative Commons

6. Planned Excursions: Planned excursions can take place on any trip, not just cruises, but this was a HUGE blunder for me. Some people love to have everything planned for them. I may be calculated, but I like to find adventures as I go instead of being tied to a schedule. My family members are the first type of traveler. When we docked in Cozumel, we were hurried off to snorkel and ride 4-wheelers. I was devastated we couldn’t rent a Jeep and explore the great island. Instead, we participated in events we could do at home and paid full price for it!

Cruise ship blunders
Courtesy of Flikr: Creative Commons

7. Your time is limited: Don’t get comfortable on land because you only have about 8 hours there. Sadly, you are herded like cattle back to the ship before sunset. This was the biggest of the cruise ship blunders for me!

8. No Cell Service: This would not be a huge deal to me now, but at 18 years old, I wanted to keep in touch with my friends. A text message could cost you like $50 or some excruciating amount, talk about your cruise ship blunders! Of course, this was back in the days of Myspace, too LOL.

What I loved in 3 points:

  1. Sunsets and the night sky: There are no lights, other than the ship’s, to take away from the beauty around you. Every evening, I made my way to the top deck to watch the sunset and dream until the stars appeared. I saw many shooting stars and made a plethora of wishes; some came true!
  2. Blue Tequila: I was old enough to drink on land and headed straight for tequila kiosks once docked. My favorite was a smooth, blue agave tequila we found in a small shop in the town center. I also had a blast a Senor Frogs! Though a big tourist zone, it was fun taking shots with my parents and Papaw! The videos are priceless! (now to just find it)

    Cruise ship blunders
    Courtesy of Flikr: Creative Commons
  3. Getting lost in Calica: We took a bus to explore rural parts of Calica. On the way back, we got off too soon and were stuck in the middle of a pedestrian (non-touristy) area. I was in heaven! There was a marketplace with locals goods everywhere and not a souvenir shop in sight! My family was terrified! As I am trying on dresses and sampling fresh fruit, my parents are checking their watches and pulling out their hair, knowing our time on the island was up!
Cruise ship blunders
Courtesy of Flikr: Creative Commons

Luckily, I knew Spanish (they did not) and hailed a cab to take us to port. I knew in that moment, I loved different languages, hanging with the locals, and raw, unplanned experiences. This would forever change my travel life, for the better!

No cruise is complete without these items, don’t be caught without them! I wouldn’t take another cruise because it costs more than it was worth, in my opinion. I would rather fly to my destination and travel by foot for a week; instead of, spending 5 days water-locked with only 2 days of exploring. That is ludicrous to me!

I also hated having so many people in my personal space. The only place I could escape them was in the gym, because those gluttons were not working out, trust me! When I travel, I try hard not to have a schedule or at the very least a loose time frame. The cruise ship was one schedule after another, which took the spontaneity out of your day. Cruises are great for some people but they are not for me!

Is a cruise on your bucket list? Have you taken a cruise? What did you learn from it?

Be Well and Travel Often!


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About Author

Maegan and Michael are Adventurous Southerners who share their world journey and approach to living the travel lifestyle. You can expect humor and lighthearted banter blended with REAL travel stories and tips. Maegan is a registered dietitian, while Michael has an excerise science background, but both are outdoor lovers, and revel in the beauty of cultures unlike their own. Now, Maegan and Michael are working towards expat life through remote work. Join the adventure. Do you love to travel? Does your full time job or career prevent you from living the life you dream of? This is the duo to follow. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.


  1. Wendy says:

    I think you took the wrong ship and you ‘cruised’ the wrong way. I think cruising is great to discover little islands (like in the carribean). You can explore these places in 1 day. BUT, never book an excursion onboard. Wait till most people left the ship. Go on land and many cabdrivers are waiting to take you on a tour (you decide yourself what you want to see) for a fraction of the price. And a must for me: take a cabin with a balcony. It’s so relaxing to enjoy the ocean without seeing or hearing anyone else.
    Wendy recently posted…Citytrip Rio de JaneiroMy Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      I agree that we took the wrong ship! A larger ship provides much more opportunity. I love your suggestions and should I ever venture to a cruise again, will use them!

  2. Penny says:

    I’ve never been on a cruise because quite frankly I have not been able to afford one up till now. I have however fantasized about one. Nothing to do but relax. After your post I’m beginning to wonder if I would truly enjoy one. I hate tours and schedules so it may not be the best idea for me. Then again I may still go ahead and try one once. Just for the experience. Thankfully I’m above 21!
    Penny recently posted…The Ultimate Guide To Places To Eat In Kota KinabaluMy Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      I say try it anyway! I was only 18 on my trip so that played a big part. (I am 28 now) Cruises can be great for some people but until you take one, you won’t know if you’re a cruise person.

  3. Kelly says:

    Haha. I so relate to this. Especially the part where you are forced to dine with people you don’t know. So weird. Not to mention the tiny rooms. Ours had no window so I never knew what time it was an always overslept. Lol

    1. Maegan says:

      ha it brings me comfort to know I am not the only “weirdo” that dislikes cruises! I’m more of an explorer/loner LOL

  4. Personally I like cruises, but agree they are not for everyone. The age thing is hard, and it might feel different if you were over 21!
    Harmony, Momma To Go recently posted…Minimalist Family PackingMy Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      I am now 28, so I am sure it feel different in the respect of drinking. I’d still rather traipse across a new country over a week rather than be water-logged lol

  5. Miranda says:

    omg, #6!! My father is a DETAILED itinerary type of guy. I don’t mind it too much, but we NEVER do stuff on vacation that we easily can do at home. Granted, living in Wisconsin, we can’t really snorkel haha! I’m with you—a jeep exploring the area would have been super cool!

    1. Maegan says:

      haha thanks for taking my side on that one! It was a fun family trip overall but I am a different traveler than my they are. LOL

  6. Nina says:

    I myself have never really been drawn to cruises. I like really exploring countries and getting to know locals. I also really enjoy the less touristy places. That being said, I can see the appealing side to a cruise. It can be nice to relax and have everything planned for you.

    1. Maegan says:

      That is how I feel, too. I feel phony coming to port on a cruise ship and not spending more time in the community and fueling the economy, though I know cruise lines help with tourist traffic.

  7. Jacky says:

    Ahaha I’ve never been on a cruise like this but it sounds like my personal hell. Dining with strangers? No alcohol? Big group excursions? Nothing to do? Ughhhh..
    I’ll keep this post in mind should I ever change my mind and go on a cruise anyway 😛

    1. Maegan says:

      I like some tips other people have commented but yes, I am not a cruise person!

  8. 4. Different age groups for night clubs. I can see how that might be a problem, at the same time it’s kind of nice! Thanks for sharing.
    Via B Design recently posted…Kitchen Design Trends 2017My Profile

    1. Maegan says:

      That was unique and I see why they did it, but it was a big inconvenience!

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