When considering a cruise many people feel overwhelmed trying to weigh up the pros and cons!
There are multiple positives and negatives to taking a cruise vacation – and cruises aren’t for everybody.
I believe that almost everybody will be able to find a cruise line that will suit them.
Having said that, cruises can be expensive. It can be a large investment – not just of money, but also of time.
In this article, we look at the pros and cons of cruising, based on the cruises I’ve taken.
An Easy and Enjoyable Way To Travel
- You only have to pack and unpack once! I love the fact that I only have to unpack once, and the ship takes me to a new port or country nearly every day.
- Travelling the world by cruise ship is SO much easier than travelling by any other means of transport. Once you are on board, there are no traffic jams or flight delays to worry about.
- Usually, transport is a means to an end, a way to get from A to B. On a cruise, the journey is the adventure.
If you wanted to visit multiple European countries in a week without cruising you’d spend a LOT of time traveling either by car or by train.
You’d have to carry your bags with you, and constantly be unpacking and repacking.
On a cruise, you can visit a new country every day without ever having to move your bags!
You Can Visit a Lot of Countries in a Short Period of Time
- If you take a classic “Mediterranean Loop” cruise, you can easily visit three or four countries in a week. I regularly cruise to the Mediterranean. We often visit Italy, Spain, France, and Malta. It is so easy – but it may be a different story if you tried to make that journey without cruising!
- It’s a great way to try different countries. If you see somewhere you like, you can arrange to return and spend more time at a later date. Of course, there may be some places you visit that you don’t like at all – and you need never return!
- There are so many different cruise lines, you are bound to find one that suits you and your family perfectly. From casual cruise lines like Royal Caribbean to more traditional cruises with Cunard, there is something available to suit everyone!
Cruises Offer Great Value For Money
There is a LOT included in the price of a cruise.
If you were to take into account the transport, accommodation, food and entertainment costs for an equivalent land trip – cruising almost always comes out as better value for money.
To learn more about this, check out this post: Cruises vs All Inclusive Resorts – Complete Comparison
A cruise fare on a mainstream cruise line usually includes:
- The cruise – sailing between ports
- Accommodation – room cleaned at least once, sometimes twice a day
- Food – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and of course snacks in between!
- Entertainment – theatre shows, trivia, gameshow, bands, musicians etc.
How Cheap Can Cruises Be?
I LOVE a good bargain. I usually pay around £100 per night for my cruises but I have cruised on a number of occasions for under £50 per night.
It would be difficult to find a hotel on land for £50 a night in the most popular cruise ports!
In February 2022 I took an MSC fly-cruise from the UK to the Caribbean.
It cost only £580 /$740 for a week – Including flights!
Return flights from the UK to Barbados were costing over £700 at that time, so basically, I felt like I was cruising for free! To find out more about that trip, watch the video below:
On a Cruise, You Can Visit New Places You May Not Have Even Considered!
I’ve been to a number of places which I may not have ever visited if I wasn’t on a cruise!
- Being on a cruise gives you some added security. You always have a point of contact and a phone number to ring if you get into trouble!
- You can visit places which you might otherwise be a bit nervous to do. I took a cruise a few years back from Singapore to Tokyo, and it was INCREDIBLE. I never would have decided “Oh I think I’ll go to Vietnam today…” if it wasn’t for the fact the cruise ship stopped there!
For nervous travellers, a cruise is a great way to explore the world.
Cruises Are Relaxing
There is nothing quite like sitting on a balcony and listening to the sounds of the ocean. Cruising gives you the opportunity to do as much, or as little as you’d like.
Life can be busy and stressful and I find that cruising is the best way to relax.
When I’m on a cruise, it’s probably the only time in my life when I sit still and take some time to do absolutely nothing!
When I’m in the middle of the ocean I stop worrying about work and all land-based problems feel a million miles away.
Often, I don’t buy the cruise ship WiFi, and so I am forced to put my phone down and be out of contact with the outside world!
I can use my mobile data when I reach most ports – but it is nice to have some time when people just can’t get in touch with me!
On a Cruise, There is So Much Food!
The quantity and variety of food available on cruises is definitely one of my favourite parts.
On some lines, food is available 24 hours a day.
There are usually some “Speciality Dining” options which cost extra but there is no need to visit these restaurants if you don’t want to.
I often don’t pay for any extra food when cruising and prefer instead to eat the food included in the cruise fare.
Occasionally I will eat in a speciality restaurant if it is a special occasion – like a birthday, or there is somewhere I particularly want to try out for my Youtube channel.
Free food options available on most cruises:
- The Main Dining Room – Dining times will either be fixed or “freestyle” – when you just show up to eat when you are hungry. I, personally, prefer this more relaxed option!
- Buffet – This will be open at all meal times, and usually open for snacks in between.
- Poolside Grill -Many ships have free food available by the pool – usually burgers, hot dogs, chips/fries etc.
On a cruise, it isn’t unusual for me to have breakfast, elevensies, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and late-night snacks!
If you want to avoid cruise ship weight gain I have another post all about that. 7 Ways to Avoid Cruise Ship Weight Gain.
Cruise Food is of High Quality
It isn’t just the quantity of food which is impressive. The quality of food onboard cruises often far surpasses food that I have had in restaurants on land.
If I’m on land and I go out for dinner that is usually the highlight of my day. On a cruise, you can eat out for dinner, lunch, breakfast, and in between! It’s brilliant!
- Not thinking about what to have for dinner!
- Everyone in your family/group can choose different meals.
- No washing up/doing the dishes- just get up and leave when you finish.
- No nasty bill at the end!
Cruises Have Great Entertainment
On most cruises, there will be a show in the theatre each night.
The show is usually performed twice so that everybody can have an opportunity to see it.
If the ship has fixed dining, I would normally choose the early sitting to eat, then go and see the show in the theatre afterwards.
I live close to London and love going to the theatre but even the cheapest tickets can set you back £50 each. Add to that the cost of the train fare, it makes an expensive evening out!
The theatre shows onboard aren’t usually full-length musicals or Broadway productions but they are all of high quality.
The fact that these are included in the cruise fare makes it brilliant value for money. I usually watch theatre shows on most nights.
The Entertainment Continues Around The Ship
The entertainment in the theatre is usually only the start. There are lots of other options on offer!
Entertainment varies from one cruise line to another, but they have things like:
- Game shows
- Language lessons
- Dance lessons
- Fitness classes
- Art classes
The amount of entertainment onboard does vary by cruise line – but most cruise lines will have pretty busy schedules.
Of course, not everything is going to be to the taste of every guest – but I would challenge anybody to go on one of the big cruise lines like Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Line and not find something that they will enjoy.
Cruises Are So Convenient
On a cruise your cabin is within easy walking distance to great restaurants, multiple bars and theatres.
There are pools, spas and wonderful ocean views too – so there is something for everyone within a 5 – 10 minute stroll.
I truly don’t believe that any other way to holiday/vacation is as convenient as a cruise!
If you were to stay in a resort on land you’d either have to go out of the resort in search of food or eat in the same resort restaurant every night.
Even if you were to take an all-inclusive trip it’s unlikely you’d have as many dining options as you would on a cruise ship. Some cruise ships have 15+ different restaurant options!
Everything is within walking distance – and wherever you travel in the world, the food and entertainment options come with you.
Imagine being able to travel around Europe and be followed by your favourite restaurants, bars and entertainment. It’s crazy to think of it that way – but it’s amazing.
Cruises Are Great For Kids
All of the big cruiselines have kids clubs. These are free, and ensure that your children have a great cruise holiday too!
They can make new friends and learn new languages, and you can have some adult time, safe in the knowlege that they are happy.
I cruised as a child and had the most amazing time. Cruising gave me a sense of freedom that I had never really had before – which I really enjoyed.
I was 11 on my first cruise and being able to go to the buffet for pizza with my brother and cousins while my parents went to the main dining room was AMAZING.
Cruise lines have lots of things to keep kids happy!
Cruise Ships Have Kid’s Clubs
Most cruise lines will have kids’ clubs. These are usually split into age groups with a group for babies/toddlers, children, and teenagers.
- At the start of the cruise, parents need to sign up their children for the kids club and from this point, the children are able to enjoy the kids club facilities and events.
- The kid’s clubs separate children by age group and have age-appropriate activities for all.
- The kids club rooms are usually full of toys and games, so children are more than happy to go and explore them!
Many Cruise Ships are Designed With Kids in Mind
Many ships are now designed specifically with children in mind.
- Some have water parks, ropes courses and slides on the top decks.
- They often have specific play areas inside.
- They may have games courts and arcades
- It is important to do your research before cruising so that you can pick a ship that suits you and your child.
Some ships have much more to offer children than others.
To learn more about the cruise lines I personally recommend for families, read this article next:
Food, Glorious Food!
Most cruise lines will provide a kid’s menu in the main dining room.
On occasion, I have thought that the kid’s menu actually looks nicer than the adult version!
Some cruise lines also have a “Kid’s Corner” section of the buffet.
When I was on the Costa Smeralda, they had a specific area where children could eat with their families.
MSC is great for children. The MSC “Kid’s Corner” breakfast has doughnuts in it. I may, or may not, have snuck in to get one for myself! I am a big child after all…
Italian cruise lines seem to cater to children and families very well! They often have very cheap fares for children too.
Find out more about my recent cruise on Costa Smeralda here. I even found Peppa Pig by the inside pool – she was speaking Italian of course!
You Might Get Seasick on a Cruise
I do get quite travel sick and have on occasion been seasick when cruising. It certainly isn’t pleasant!
I HATE the idea that potential cruisers may be put off of cruising because they fear feeling seasick.
The majority of the time you cannot tell that the ship is moving at all.
If you don’t get travel sick in car or coaches I doubt very much you’ll get seasick on a cruise ship.
Having said that, if you end up cruising in bad weather or a storm you may need to take some steps to treat seasickness.
If you do think you might be seasick the following tips can help:
- Avoid too many sea days
- Pick a central cabin
- Book a balcony
- Choose a mid-sized ship
- Don’t eat too much food or drink
- Find fresh air whenever you can
- Bring medicine!
I have a full post about how to prevent and treat seasickness. Check that out here:
Choosing the position of your cabin onboard can also help. Some cabins will move far more than others!
To find out the best location for your cabin if you are worried about seasickness, read this article:
You May Experience Cancelled Ports and Itinerary Changes
Taking a cruise can be a little bit like a Magical Mystery Tour! The itinerary you book may be changed at any time.
There are a number of reasons why this could happen – and I think I’ve had most happen to me! It is written in the contract of all cruise lines that they are able to change the ports at any point.
Ports could be cancelled months in advance, I’ve had this happen to me when our cruise line felt it would be unsafe to make stops in Turkey. Our ports were changed for the Greek islands.
I’ve also had ports cancelled the day before – and some even cancelled on the day of the port call.
This was due to bad weather. Ports which require tendering are more likely to be cancelled due to weather.
Cruise ports are most likely to be cancelled because of the following reasons:
- Political unrest
- Bad weather
- Booking mistakes
- Overbooking of cruise ports
You usually aren’t entitled to any compensation if your itinerary changes, although some travel insurance will provide ‘missed port’ cover.
For more information about this, check out this post which delves deeper into the question:
On Cruises You’ll Have Limited Time in Ports
One of the biggest negatives I see of cruising is that your shore excursions are normally quite short and almost rarely include onshore nightlife.
You can certainly tick off a lot of destinations but you probably only ever scratch the surface of each location.
On the up side it’s a good way of identifying places you’d like to revisit and get to know better.
The fact that you usually leave before the evening definitely is one of the biggest downsides to cruising.
Cruise lines are now becoming increasingly aware that passengers would like longer in port and some are now offering longer stays and overnight stops.
On a typical cruise, you’ll arrive at maybe 8 or 9 am and leave at 5 or 6 pm. Of course, this varies a lot – but that is the typical time for the ship to be docked – based on the 50+ cruises I have been lucky enough to take.
The average cruise length is 7 days.
Overnight Stops Are Increasingly Popular
During the Baltic cruise I took with Marella we spent a night in St. Petersburg which meant that we had two full days to explore.
When I cruised from New York to Bermuda on the Norwegian Prima, Bermuda is the only place we visited, and we were docked there for multiple days.
Bermuda is a great place to visit, so we were very happy to be there, and used the ship like a “floating hotel.” Find out more about Bermuda and all it has to offer here:
I also took a short cruise with Celebrity, advertised as “two days” in Amsterdam. We docked at 2 pm one day and left at 10 am the next! – I would hardly call that two days…
Even though we didn’t get two full days in Amsterdam, it was nice to be able to wander around Amsterdam in the evening and enjoy the nightlife.
To find out more about port stops and my experiences, read this article next:
Cruise Ships Can Get Busy
Some cruise ships can get very busy! It not much fun when you can’t get a seat in the buffet or in the bars.
The important thing is to make sure that you choose a cruise ship and a cruise line to suit you. Ships, and different cruise lines vary greatly.
In my experience, the cheaper the cruise fare, the more passengers there are likely to be onboard.
Some cruise lines will be very relaxed, with very little entertainment. Others will have parties which go on late into the night, every night!
To avoid the crowds. I always try to cruise outside of the school holidays. I don’t have any children so it’s easy for me to take a week off in November or February.
Cruise ships don’t usually cruise at full capacity, but they cruise much closer to capacity when all beds in every cabin are fully utilised.
Many cabins can sleep up to 3 or 4 people – but mostly only have two adults sharing them during term time. In the school holidays that same cabin often holds two adults and two children.
Some people do find cruise ships overwhelming. The new mega-ships are very large and can hold 6000+ passengers. I personally really enjoy the mega-ships – but know that they aren’t for everybody.
I recently took a cruise on Celebrity Edge. I was amazed by the amount of room per passenger – we never struggled to get a seat in the bar or a sunlounger by the pool.
The cruise fare was far more than on a similar cruise with MSC, even though it went to virtually the same ports.
We were paying extra for the space available and the higher number of staff to guests.
To find out more about that fantastic ship, watch this video next:
Shore Excursions Can be Expensive
When you add on things like shore excursions, the cruise can get really expensive, really fast!
The prices of shore excursions organised by the cruise can be SO expensive.
There are a few perks to booking a shore excursion directly through the cruise line and many do so because:
- It is by far the easiest option
- There are a large variety of excursions and activities offered
- The cruise ship will wait for the excursion if it is late back
There are, however, a number of other options. When cruising you don’t have to take any excursions at all.
I’ve been on a number of cruises where I haven’t taken any organised excursions and it has been absolutely FINE!
Do Your Own Thing!
In a lot of ports, you are able to completely do your own thing. I usually prefer this option.
This is a bit more difficult in ports in the Caribbean, where everything seems to cost money – but in most European ports you can walk around or take public transport.
Doing your research before the cruise means that you will know what you want to see and do, and won’t have to miss out on anything.
It is also possible to book excursions through other third-party companies.
These are organized for cruise guests and are usually similar to the excursions organised by the cruise line.
The main difference is that the cruise ship would not wait if an independent tour was running late. The ship would depart at the scheduled time.
To avoid this problem I recommend arriving back at the ship a couple of hours before the ‘all onboard’ time.
Another thing to think about is that if that port is missed for any reason, you may lose your money. Check out the terms and conditions of the excursion company, and see if you can get a refund if you can’t make it to the port.
You May Put on Unwanted Weight!
We’ve all heard the stories about people who go on cruises and come away 20lbs heavier!
It is possible to put on a lot of weight when cruising due to the unlimited food and often frequent drinking – but it isn’t necessarily going to happen.
There are a number of ways you can avoid gaining weight on a cruise (if you want to):
- Set Yourself a Stair Limit
- Pre-Plan Exercise Classes
- Hop on a Bike
- Get Out of Your Food Comfort Zone
- Drink Smart
- Use a Step Tracker
- Head to The Gym
- Do some laps of the promenade deck, or top deck every evening before bed!
Almost all cruise ships have Gyms, and these are usually free to use.
Some cruise lines also have exercise classes onboard.
Some exercise classes have an extra charge, but some are included in the cruise fare. I particularly enjoyed doing Zumba on sea days during my Princess cruise.
You’ll be surprised how much exercise you actually do on a cruise.
If you’re on a big ship simply walking around the ship and up and down the stairs can add up to a lot of steps. On one cruise I managed to walk up 99 flights of stairs in a day!
For more information about how I’ve managed to avoid ever putting on weight on a cruise check out this post: Avoid Cruise Ship Weight Gain (7 Easy Things You Can Do).
Cruise Internet Access Can be Pricey!
Purchasing internet on a cruise can be really expensive – and it can also be quite slow and unreliable.
Broadband speeds have improved a little in the last few years, and i have been able to have Youtube “Livestream” whilst actually at sea!
Whilst on a live stream on Celebrity Edge the Captain interrupted by making his announcement into my cabin! Luckily he was a very funny guy…!
You can never rely on the Broadband though. I recently asked for a refund for my WiFi on P&O’s Iona, as I had paid for 24 hours and it was totally unusable! They didn’t argue…
I usually see cruising as an opportunity to disconnect, being offline for a few days can be very liberating!
There are a number of ways you can buy internet when cruising. WiFi is included on some premium cruise lines.
- Buy Internet by The Megabite
- Buy Internet by The Minute
- Buy Internet For The Day or whole cruise
Most cruise ships have internet cafes of some kind or you are able to use the internet on your phone/laptop/tablet.
If I do purchase an internet package I will usually buy a ‘Social’ Package that allows me to access sites like Facebook and Instagram.
There are various Wi-Fi packages available, and the price varies from one cruise line to another.
Alternatives to Onboard Internet
If you don’t want to purchase an internet package you could find WiFi in the ports you visit and use the roaming on your mobile/cell phone.
I’m from the UK and have a mobile phone contract with Three, Three allows you to ‘roam’ in a number of countries at no extra charge – so I often do this.
You don’t have to buy the cruise ship’s WiFi to use the Cruiselines App!
Cruise ships are moving far more towards Apps for things like daily schedules and menus. Find out more about that here:
You do Have to Share The Ship With Other Passengers
Another “Con” (and I’ve had to think hard to find this one) is you sometimes find rude or obnoxious people, full of entitlement, speaking to staff as if they were their personal servants.
I hate that. There is never any need to be rude or demanding – on a cruise ship or anywhere else.
I have encountered my fair share of rude passengers on cruises. I suppose that is to be expected when you get SO many people together in one place.
I was cruising on the MSC Meraviglia recently when a man caught my attention for very rudely shouting at the waiters. It turns out that his wife had ordered a starter as a main and it had arrived before his main did.
The waiters were of course very apologetic and offered to take it away until his main was ready.
If this happened to me I wouldn’t have even mentioned it – but this man was VERY upset. His wife actually ended up crouching beside him on the floor hugging him and letting him know that it would be okay… it was all very odd!
The staff on cruise ships work incredibly hard!
They work really long hours and certainly deserve to be treated with kindness.
I always try to be extra kind to make up for the rudeness of others.
On Cruises There Are Often Extra Charges
Cruises aren’t normally all-inclusive, and any extra charges will be added to your onboard account.
Generally speaking, the more you pay the more you’ll have included in the cruise fare – which makes perfect sense.
There are extra charges for a number of things on board, most are optional and can be avoided:
- Spa Treatments
- Casino Spend
- Speciality Dining
- Some Exercise Classes
- Most Drinks
- Room Service
- Medical Treatments
There are some cruise lines that advertise their fares as ‘all-inclusive’ although this doesn’t usually include everything.
River cruises generally include more in the cruise fare than ocean cruises. Most will include drinks with meals, WiFi and excursions.
Of course, the cost of a river cruise can be two or three times the price of an ocean cruise.
There may only be a hundred passengers onboard though – there could be thousands of passengers on your ocean cruise! That is why it is more expensive in the first place.
It took a budget river cruise with Tui. ( Ocean Cruises run by the same company are called “Marella” Cruises.) Find out all about this river cruise, and whether it was good value for money here:
Cruises Can be Expensive For Solos
When cruising solo you will usually have to pay a ‘solo supplement’. This is a charge that cruise lines add to make up for lost income in terms of things like drinks and casino spends.
Cruises are usually priced per person – based on two people sharing a cabin.
When you see a cruise deal which says £700pp this is assuming that you will be sharing a cabin with another person. If you were to book this alone it may cost you double.
Some cruise lines do have specific solo accommodation which means that you just pay a set price. Cruise lines with solo accommodation include:
- Fred Olsen
- Holland America
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- P&O Cruises
- Royal Caribbean
I was lucky enough to stay in the most amazing solo balcony cabin onboard Saga’s ship “Spirit of Discovery.” Find out all about that here:
To find out more about cruising solo, and which lines suit solo travellers best, click here:
Cruises Are VERY Addictive!
Cruising is seriously addictive. It may only take one cruise to get addicted and then that is it! Every spare penny you have will go towards cruising! Life may never be the same again!
I actually started this website because I needed somewhere to share my cruise photos and stories.
My friends in my real life couldn’t care less about the dining options or entertainment on a certain ship – but lucky I have many friends in my Facebook Group, and Youtube followers who do!
Join our friendly Facebook group here:
Before You Go!
To find out more when is the best time to cruise to get a cheaper deal, read the article below:
Taking out cruise-specific insurance when you cruise is a must. Find out why, and how to arrange it here:
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