A couple of my friends took their first cruise and when they came back we spoke about the trip, they were very polite but I could tell that they didn’t have a good time.
The cruise had been built up in their minds so much, and they’d looked forward to it for so long, they booked it years in advance, I spend my life telling people how amazing cruises are so it was a little embarrassing for me to hear how badly their cruise went.
As soon as they started to explain though, I completely understood.
I’d spoken to them before they took the cruise and to be honest before they even boarded I could tell that this wasn’t going to go well.
The annoying thing is, this could have been amazing but it just wasn’t.
They’d already booked and paid for the cruise before talking to me about it and they seemed so excited, I didn’t want to burst their bubble.
They came to me with lots of questions and concerns but at this point, they seemed so set on this particular cruise so I did my best to explain.
You don’t want to be that person who says ‘actually, this is a terrible idea’ but in hindsight maybe I should have.
I wouldn’t have booked them on this cruise myself anyway.
What Did They Book?
The cruise that they booked was with a small independent British cruise line.
There’s nothing wrong with that in itself but the smaller British cruise lines do tend to have smaller, older ships and be a bit more traditional than the large American cruise lines.
I love cruising with British cruise lines, to learn more about the biggest and best cruise lines from Britain, check out this post: The Best UK Cruise Companies – Complete Comparison
If you look at a video of Royal Caribbeans Symphony of the Seas for example and compare it with CMV’s Magellan, they’re very different experiences.
What Were They Concerned About?
Knowing my friends I knew that they were worried about the dress codes onboard.
They didn’t know what to pack or how formally they’d have to dress. I tried to reassure them that most cruise lines have ‘suggested’ dress codes these days instead of strictly enforced dress codes but it was still quite a big worry for them and they did pick one of the more traditional cruise lines.
On formal nights with Cruise and Maritime all the men wear suits, the women wear full-length dresses. That kind of thing.
For my friends, this was one of the things that they really didn’t enjoy.
Some people love the formality of formal nights and dress codes, but for them, they’d have been much better placed to cruise with a cruise line without dress codes like Norwegian or a cruise line with very relaxed dress codes like MSC or Marella.
Instead, they spent a lot of their cruise being stressed and worrying about what the other passengers were thinking about if they were dressed formally enough or not.
I completely understand why my friends didn’t like that aspect but they didn’t know any better.
They didn’t know that some cruise lines don’t have dress codes at all, they assumed that all cruise lines were traditional.
CMV also had fixed dining where you have to eat at a certain time and I think they’d have preferred a freestyle type of cruise where you just eat when you’re hungry.
What Happened to Cruise and Maritime?
Cruise and Maritime voyages did go bankrupt in 2020 and I know we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but they didn’t always have the most up-to-date or modern cruise ships.
Most of their ships were built in the 1980s and one, Marco Polo was built in 1965 and was still sailing up until 2020. She’s since been sold for scrap.
The older ships were one of the main reasons I never personally cruised with Cruise and Maritime.
I’d seen multiple of my friends on Cruise and Maritime cruises experiencing things like flooding in the main restaurant or their cabin, which didn’t really appeal to me.
My friends were so excited about going on a cruise and being able to physically be on a cruise ship for the first time that I think they found this smaller older ship to be a bit disappointing.
On big new ships, you’ll find 20+ places to eat but Magellan only had 2 restaurants. There are some really amazing places onboard, like this pool area at the back, but if you’re expecting sparkles and adrenaline-filled activities and huge atriums, you won’t find those things.
They would have been much better places on a newer bigger ship, even a ship from the 1990s feels a lot more modern in design than some of the other ships.
How do Ships From The 1980s Differ From Later Ships?
There’s a real difference in feeling between ships built in the 1990s and 1980s.
In the 1980s it wasn’t really the done thing to have a ship with lots of balconies, so my friends had an oceanview cabin. I think really they’d have been happier with a balcony, and happy to pay the extra cost, but on many older ships that really isn’t an option.
I cruised on a ship from the 1980s when I cruised with Celestyal Cruises. I had an amazing trip, but the ship was unlike any other I’d been on before:
There also tends to be more nightlife and activities happening on the bigger American or British cruise lines, they found that in the evening there was little to do.
I don’t think my friends would have been the type to try skydiving or rock climbing, but some more live music and productions would have been better.
CMV do have multi-level theatres on their ships but I don’t know, my friends just felt as though something was missing.
I don’t mean to speak badly of Cruise and Maritime, I know many people who loved their ships and were really heartbroken when they went bankrupt but they just weren’t a good fit for my friends.
Picking The Wrong Cruise Line Isn’t The End of The World – If The Itinerary is Right
Picking the wrong cruise line is a bad thing but it isn’t always the end of the world if you have a port-intensive itinerary you might not spend much time on the ship anyway.
My friends, though, picked one of the most sea day intensive itineraries I’ve ever seen.
I’ve been cruising for years but I still tend to avoid itineraries with too many sea days, especially close together. Their cruise had at least 4 or 5 consecutive sea days.
If you’re reading this and you’ve never been on a cruise, please don’t pick a cruise with so many sea days for your first cruise.
My friends were worried about being seasick and their fears were realized. If they had been on an itinerary that spent more time docked than at sea, and wasn’t on such an old ship with bad stabilizers, this might not have been a problem at all.
I do get seasick. I talk more about how I prevent and treat seasickness here: 13 Actionable Tips to Prevent and Treat Seasickness on a Cruise
On a sea day, most cruise lines will have extra entertainment, you can sit by the pool, eat a lot, and depending on the ship you can be as busy or relaxed as you’d like.
How Long Should a First Cruise Be?
I usually recommend that a first-time cruiser takes a 7-day cruise, it’s long enough that you have a chance to experience everything that a cruise has to offer, but it isn’t too long.
The best-case scenario after a cruise is that you get off and can’t wait to get on the next cruise. My friends didn’t feel like that, they felt as though they had wasted their money and more importantly they had wasted their time that they’ll never be able to get back.
If they could go back in time they definitely would have picked a different cruise line and itinerary.
Why Did They Book This Cruise?
When my friends were explaining this to me I asked them ‘why did you book this cruise’.
I knew that if anybody sat down and talked to my friends for 5 minutes they would have realized how bad a choice this was. They said that they used a travel agent who hadn’t ever been on a cruise.
I think that says it all.
I’m happy to say that my friends have cruised since and they were not put off by this cruise.
The type of cruise that they choose now though, is very different. One of their favourite cruise lines now is Celebrity. They’ve also cruised with Princess and P&O.
My friends cruise highlights the importance of working with an agent who understands cruises. If you’re in the UK you can book through us: Book a Cruise.
Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources
Book a Cruise
Get Travel Insurance
Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide
Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.
This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.