The Pros and Cons of Cruising

As I mentioned early last week, I’m now back from our wedding and honeymoon. The majority of the honeymoon consisted of a cruise to Alaska and Canada, which admittedly was a bit of an experience for me. You see, I’ve never been on a boat larger than a three-person canoe. To be going on a boat holding 2,300+ people((Plus staff, which I’m told was somewhere between 800 and 1,000 people)), combined with my distaste for lines, elevators, and crowds, and you’ve got yourself an interesting recipe.

That said, not everything was bad. To help other potential future honeymooners, I’ve decided to put together a pros and cons list on cruising. This post won’t be quite as detailed as the two posts Brittany from Pines and Palmettos recently put together about her cruise (found here and here, respectively). That said, I think my advice might help someone((Who I don’t know.)).

Pro – Your Food Is (Typically) Paid For

So long as you eat on the ship in the main dining hall(s), the actual food you’re eating is covered in the cost of your cruise. While you have the opportunity to eat at one of the cruise’s specialty restaurants for an additional charge, you’re not required to. Our cruise actually had a night early on where the main dining hall menu was prepared by one of the specialty restaurants, which was a nice treat. I get that it was marketing to make the cruise line money, but I just enjoyed the small spike in food quality that night. Throw in the fact that the food was usually good (at worst) or amazing (at best), and is typically three courses at dinner, and you’ve got yourself a nice deal.

On cruise ships, even the cheese sticks are fancy.
On cruise ships, even the cheese sticks are fancy.

Con – Your Drinks Aren’t Paid For…Even More So Than You Realize

I think it’s a safe assumption to go on a cruise and think “hey, I’ll probably have to purchase my beer/wine/liquor”. I thought that too. What I didn’t expect was to hear that you had to buy a drink package to get soda pop on the ship. While breakfast time coffee was served on the ship, if you wanted coffee outside of breakfast hours, that was an additional charge. Want a full, 8 oz. glass of cold, freshly squeezed orange juice? Unless you want to pay extra, you’re having ice water or a 4 oz glass of warm orange liquid that tasted more like Sunny D than orange juice((Sunny D is a travesty in its own way, but that’s not important right now.)). Had we not paid for a pop package, I feel as though we could have ran up quite the tab.

Pro – You Don’t Need To Pack As Much As You Think

Obviously this is somewhat dependent on the time of year you go cruising, however there is no reason a person should need to take multiple suitcases on any cruise that is a week or less in length. Need a book? There’s probably a library on board. Want to bring electronics and chargers? Think twice, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. Packing more than one extra outfit? I promise there’s no need unless you’re going with a friend who knows your entire wardrobe. No one is going to notice. Seriously. I took four identical black t-shirts with me and wore them on four consecutive days just to see if random people would mention it. Not even once.

Con – You Will Get Price Gouged

About that packing thing. When you’re packing, make sure to actually bring everything you need as a bare minimum before trying to figure out what to cut back on. I made the mistake of forgetting my socks at home, which meant that I was on a seven day cruise with three pairs of socks (two in my airplane carry on bag and one on my feet). Solution? Go buy ugly ass moose socks from the ship commissary. Four pairs for $20. I only lost circulation in my feet 50% of the time((One size fits all, my ass. I wear a size 10 shoe, which is not all that big for guys. I struggled for ten minutes to get a single sock on. The only way you’re fitting the average American into these socks is if you’re using them as a tourniquet before an amputation.)).

Want a can of Pringles to split between you and the missus((I didn’t realize that the full spelling of Mrs. had a U in it until today.))? That’ll be $5.99. 24 hours of internet access with limited satellite reliability and no refunds? $59.90. Or if you want access for the whole cruise, you can pay $199.90 for 7 days of access for one device. It all made the $12.50 cocktails we got the first night on board seem like a bargain.

Pro – The Excursions Are Worth It, Even If They Don’t Go As Planned

One of the excursions we went on was a whale watching tour. Every time I saw an item in one of our excursion guides mentioning this excursion, the brochure had the following in giant, all capped, bold letters.

WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS ARE NOT GUARANTEED.

To me, it seemed blindingly obvious. Of course they’re not guaranteed. You can’t control wild animals. And yet, there was a woman on our whale watching excursion who the wife was completely convinced would be the person who would sue for not seeing whales. Meanwhile, I enjoyed getting salt water splashed in my face while on a speedboat, because hooray fast boats. It was more fun than a roller coaster((I realized I’m biased here not liking roller coasters, but it really was fun.)). The wife was most excited when we got to see sled dogs and their puppies…because puppies.

And of course there are views like this...because Alaska.
And of course there are views like this…because Alaska.

Con – There Will Be Entitled People Everywhere

Want to find a room with a high percentage of people who think they’re better than everyone else in that room? Look no further than a cruise. While not every cruise patron is a jerk, the percentage of jerks to nice people is skewed exponentially in favor of assholes. The snotty couple we sat beside our first night at dinner was rude to both us and the wait staff((Who were amazing…more on that in a moment though.)). We weren’t shocked — and admittedly a bit relieved — when the snotty couple asked for us to be moved to a different table on the second night. Every single night from then forward, we watched the snotty couple send back at least one item of food or dishware, much to the disappointment of the wait staff who went out of their way to serve them first every single time.

Let’s not forget the bus full of people that got offended that we had to wait roughly 15 seconds for a skateboarder to get out of the road so we could continue on. The fact that a skateboarder was in the road wasn’t their primary issue. The fact that the skateboarder was a teenage girl caused outrage. As one female passenger behind us put it, “how can her mother let her be so disrespectful to her body like that?”. Apparently wearing a hoodie, blue jeans, and skateboarding is disrespecting your body. As my wife so eloquently put it, “it takes all kinds to be stupid”.

Pro – The Customer Service Is Amazing

Seriously though. You don’t understand how awesome customer service works until you go on a cruise. We had one non-awesome customer service experience the whole time we were on board. A cleaner got a bit angsty with us when we took a wrong turn and ended up on a deck he was cleaning before the rooms were open. He snipped at us and we went on our way. That was it though. Everything else was awesome. One of the waiters even went out of their way to consistently bring my wife straws at dinner — which is apparently a huge deal in Alaska for environmental reasons that I’ve slightly forgotten. Still though, a classy move on his part.

The wife wanted to write a post partly inspired by straw man. Look for that in the coming days.

Con – The Lines Are (Usually) Horrendous

We took the opportunity on our first day aboard the ship to make dinner reservations for every single night on the cruise. This may well have been the single best decision we made on the cruise. The crowds we had to stand in at lunch (and sometimes breakfast) literally drove me to tears on one occasion((Literally as in literally, not literally as in figuratively.)). If you’re claustrophobic, have a fear of crowds, or just generally don’t like people, meal time on a cruise ship will be your own personal hell. On the bright side, once you’ve come home, that eight-deep line at Panera won’t seem so bad.

Pro – There’s Always Something To Do, Even If It Is Comically Bad

I’m not sure exactly how many movies played on the ship during our cruise, but I think my wife saw all of them except Bears (we hadn’t heard of it) and American Sniper (because no). When there wasn’t a movie, there was trivia time, game shows, jazz nights(!), comedy acts both amazing and horrible, as well as a musical that had the single worst rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsoady” I’ve ever heard. The wife and I were in tears laughing((We really aren’t sure if said musical was supposed to be a parody/satire on Broadway plays, but it certainly presented itself as if it was.)).

Plus, there's cruise ship mini golf. Who doesn't love that?
Plus, there’s cruise ship mini golf. Who doesn’t love that?

Pro – If It’s Your Honeymoon, You Really Won’t Care What You’re Doing

All you’ll care about is who you’re there with.

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13 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Cruising

  1. As someone who can’t swim, I did have some moderate fears of our boat capsizing. That said, most of those went away pretty quickly once we got moving on the ship.

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  2. I want photos and good description of straw man, he sounds pretty awesome and deserves a tip (I cannot believe I said that as a Brit, we only tip if the service is amazing). I don’t know how you managed to hang out on a boat for that long, I mean, ahhhh. Also, beautiful pictures, seriously 🙂

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    1. I’m sad to report that no photographs were taken of straw man. With that said, the wife did write a guest post about straw man, which will be coming to this blog in the near future.

      There’s a lot of differences between Americans and Brits I don’t get. More often than not, I side with Brits because Americans are assholes. But I’ve never understood why Brits don’t tip. In the USA, tipping is how many employees make a living wage. It take a waiter/waitress being a total moron for me to tip less than 20%.

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      1. We do tip, but we also have the minimum wage, which is supposed to be the living wage, so waiters don’t NEED tips.

        Saying that.
        My first job at the age of 15 was working in a cafe, I did get tips but the management used to swipe those and they went straight in to the till.
        I then went to work for another cafe, where I was paid £5 an hour (this was over minimum wage), I used to get tipped by old ladies and double my pay.
        It depends where you are, independent cafes/restaurants I will tip, but the service has to be exceptional. But any chain store, such as Starbucks or so on, I never tip.
        When I used to work in pubs we didn’t so much get tips, if someone offered to buy me a drink then it was the unspoken rule that you’d say “I’ll take a pound”, or take the drink, but I’d never take the money for a drink as a tip. For instance, recently I’ve had builders at the flat, they got no tip whatsoever, but they also drank me out of tea.
        I have never tipped in cities either, but that’s because I’m prone to receiving TERRIBLE service; I attract wankers; and locally, the people in the bars/local shops are friends… who give me free drinks for doing things for them.

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        1. Ah. I think therein lies the difference. There are two different minimum wages in many states in the USA. The first is the general minimum wage. Then there is the minimum wage for tipped employees, which is typically about 60% of what the regular minimum wage is. While some places do choose to pay their tipped employees that standard minimum wage, this is rare. Furthermore, many restaurants requires that all employees pool their tips and split them equally. It sounds like it a bit of a different environment.

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  3. We took an Alaskan cruise for our honeymoon as well, and I have to say I agree with everything you’ve listed. Especially the price gouging. I made the mistake of trying to buy Aleve from the on-board commissary and they wanted me to sign away my first two children as a down payment.

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