Cruise Mismatches And How To Avoid Them


Matching the right cruise line, ship and itinerary with the right traveler supports the idea that there is a cruise experience for everyone.  Make a good choice and great things happen.  Fail, and what might have been a wonderful memory becomes an experience to avoid, or so it seems.  Cruise addicts do their homework, consult travel professionals or just click around the internet, learning by trial and error.  Still, some travelers think cruise travel is apparently ‘just not for them‘, ‘not what they expected‘ or ‘not what it used to be‘.  In most cases,  some unfortunately common cruise mismatches have occurred, all of which are totally avoidable.

cruise mismatches
Flickr photo- Ida Myrvold

Cruise Mismatches: I Smoke/Don’t Smoke And Want To Enjoy My Travel Doing/Avoiding That

We’ll start with the easy one.  It’s not a matter of speculation, we knowCruise Compete smoking kills. But that’s not really the issue here. Even the most tolerant non-smokers don’t want any part of it.  Still an option on cruise ships, smokers find themselves doing so in designated areas that seem to be getting smaller all the time, to the delight of non-smokers.  Among cruise lines, some are more tolerant than others.  Still, a non smoker with a smoker in balcony staterooms side by side is a match made in somewhere other than heaven, for either side.

Avoid This Cruise Mismatch: Fan or foe, an easy situation to avoid either way by specifically asking “Is smoking allowed?  If so, where?” Informed decision now possible.

Cruise Mismatches: I Got A Great Deal But The Cruise Was Lousy.  Never Again!

Price is surely a consideration when booking any sort of travel and cruising is surely no exception, but just one part. This is where trusting the advice of friends, relatives and/or a familiar travel professional comes in quite handy. Unless there is some odd personality element of your friend who loves to cruise that only comes out on a cruise ship (it happens), odds are that the same person you trusted for advice on movies to see, entertainment events to attend or even just television programs to watch will have similarly aligned advice on cruise vacations.  I have never, ever heard back ‘I have no idea why my friend liked this, it was totally horrible’.

Avoid This Cruise Mismatch:  Take a good hard look at who we are considering for that personal recommendation.

Cruise Mismatches: I Remember The Old Days Of Cruising Fondly.  Where Did They Go?

One of the tougher responses to deal with, for seasoned cruisers who look forward to formerly common elements found on most ships I have two thoughts and a solution.

  • Frankly, Things Change– Like the topic of smoking noted above, what is offered on cruise lines WILL change over time, for a number of reasons.   The one-size-fits-all cruise experience of yesterday has evolved over time, enabling more travelers to enjoy a way of traveling that if nothing else is quite efficient and brings good value.  Price a trip around the Mediterranean in a hotel-hopping way with transportation, meals and activities all price separately to verify that.
  • Well, We Asked For It- Much of what onboard programming includes is based on what cruise lines know/believe/speculate travelers want.  Elements of yesteryear’s cruise experience that don’t exist today did not go extinct.  There is no shortage of food keeping the commonly found Midnight Buffet of a decade ago from happening.  It’s not even the easy answer, “they’re trying to cut costs“, although that’s getting close.   There are a number of roads leading to the answer here as it pertains to big ship cruising, but all wind up in the same place: we asked for it.  When booking a big ship cruise, especially for first time cruise travelers, price is a huge factor.  Those new to cruising take a cursory glance at itineraries and onboard programming, more often comparing price than time in port.

Avoid This Cruise Mismatch:  A very good way to get the cruise experience we want is to ask specific questions based on the stellar memories of past sailings.  Those are the big reasons we want to repeat the experience.  Pull out the old photo albums and scrapbooks then notepad in hand, relive the experience noting the parts best liked.  If the options for booking are to click or call, make the call and ask:  Do they still have a Midnight Buffet on this cruise line?  If the person on the other end of the phone does not have the answer, it’s most likely that no one has asked them before. Give them a chance to find out but don’t be surprised if the answer changes between then and the cruise you have booked six months from now.  Again, things change.  One of the more popular questions to ask that may eliminate disappointment later:  “Do you still have lobster night and/or shrimp cocktail on the menu?”

cruise mismatchesOn The Horizon

These and other questions asked up front can help insure a quality cruise travel experience.  Still, with those reliable sources in the rear view mirror and now onboard, any reasonable person will expect the cruise line to provide a quality travel product.  How closely that actual experience resembles what the cruise line promises in advance will ultimately provide the answer to the question of if a cruise is a good travel option for each individual.

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