I love to cruise. I’ve averaged three cruises a year for the past four years, and I’ve been to some fabulous places on some wonderful ships.
But, as with all experiences in life, things don’t always go smoothly. So, here I’m listing some of the things I wish were different about cruise ships in general and about experiences that I’ve had in particular.
First a disclaimer: some of these complaints could be put down to me being a grumpy middle-aged man. But I don’t apologize for that, because I’m here to write about my experience in the hope that it will inform others. You’re always free to disagree.
The first whinge is about when cruise lines break their own rules, or don’t enforce basic health and safety regulations. For example, many cruise companies have a rule, which is included in their literature and often announced on board, that young children can’t sit in the first three rows of the theatre. But it’s not policed.
(Another disclaimer: I am a theatre snob, so I really have no business being in the auditorium of a “family” cruise line.)
The thing about children is they will do what children do. It’s up to their parents to have the sense not to take a three-year-old child to a night of operatic arias. And it’s certainly up to them to stop their children from distracting other patrons by jumping up and down in their seats or crawling up the aisle. Or, as I saw in one particularly disturbing incident, distracting the performers on stage during a dangerous aerialist act.
Junior should have been left in the kids’ club, but since he wasn’t that’s where the ship’s crew come in. Or should have, but didn’t, on any of the occasions I’ve seem children behaving badly in ship theatres.
The security team also didn’t intervene during my most recent cruise when a drunk man mounted a railing after deciding to join in a dance performance. That could have resulted in a nasty fall — and, no doubt, a large law suit.
I’m not an expert on these matters, but a fellow passenger who works in health and safety also had an issue with the rigging used by crew members who were cleaning the outside windows nine decks above sea level.
Not in the dangerous category, but file under “annoying”, is the fact that I couldn’t hear the ship announcements in my cabin. Not for the first time, the dial that allegedly allows passengers to turn the announcements up, down or off, wasn’t working. I can understand having it off as the default — not everybody wants to know about the watch sale in the duty-free shop — but why have it there if it doesn’t work at all?
Another of my perennial complaints: there are never enough clocks on board. While life on a ship is free and easy, there are times when you need to know the time — especially when you have excursions booked. And sometime the time on your mobile phone or watch isn’t the right time (or it may be right for the geographic location but not coincide with “ship time”). On my recent cruise in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, my mobile was displaying Iranian time rather than Oman time — a half-hour difference that meant (quelle horreur!) I was late for dinner.
During one Costa cruise, the time displayed in the lift was out by an hour. As I explained to the reception desk, if the crew couldn’t set the ship clocks to the right time, how could I be can confident that the navigation equipment was functioning properly?
On the subject of telecommunications, the one place where the Wi-Fi wouldn’t work on my most recent cruise was the desk in my cabin — the otherwise logical place for me to put my laptop.
Also, I have a bit of an issue with formal night. The problem on family-friendly ships, such as those flying the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines flags, not everybody buys into it. So, you have some people in dinner suits or fancy frocks, some in lounge suits, some in jeans and T-shirts, even some in shorts.
Dress-ups only really works when everyone is on the same page. Perhaps it should be left to the five- and six-star liners.
Have I covered everything? I’d like to know your pet peeves, too.