4 Itineraries That Are Not Worth Your Vacation Time

by Aaron Saunders

4 Itineraries That Are Not Worth Your Vacation Time

by Aaron Saunders

There are a lot of cruises out there. Some are multi-week trips that can span continents, while others can be as short as one or two days. But not all cruises are created equal. This is particularly true of those on the shorter end of the cruise spectrum, where so-called “getaway” voyages can sometimes equal the cost of a full weeklong voyage. Aside from price, some itineraries have a collection of ports that could best be described as "ho-hum," not just for the experienced cruiser looking for more, but also for the first-time cruiser who might come away enjoying the shipboard portion of their trip ... but loathing the ports they visited.

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Carnival Fascination / iStock / tomeng
Nassau, Bahamas
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The Weekend Booze-Cruise to the Bahamas

Unless you live within driving distance of the port, these three-day runs to Nassau and back just aren’t worth it. That said, and the price point on these voyages is so low that these ships rarely sail anything other than jam-packed, and most — if not all — guests treat it as an alcohol-fueled endurance test. It’s hard on the crew, it’s hard on the ship, and it’s probably going to be hard on you, too. Most have only a single port of call – usually Nassau, Bahamas – coupled with a visit to the cruise line’s private island. It’s okay if that’s all you’re looking for in a vacation, but there are far better sailings out there.

The Alternative: Instead of spending three nights sailing to Nassau, try looking for longer four, five and even six-night cruises that visit other parts of the Eastern and Western Caribbean. These are typically cheaper than your average weeklong run to the Caribbean, and thanks to their longer duration, they can visit more ports of call. Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean all offer plenty of shorter Caribbean runs that will be more fulfilling than a quick cruise to Nassau on an older, packed ship.

Unless you live within driving distance of the port, these three-day runs to Nassau and back just aren’t worth it. That said, and the price point on these voyages is so low that these ships rarely sail anything other than jam-packed, and most — if not all — guests treat it as an alcohol-fueled endurance test. It’s hard on the crew, it’s hard on the ship, and it’s probably going to be hard on you, too. Most have only a single port of call – usually Nassau, Bahamas – coupled with a visit to the cruise line’s private island. It’s okay if that’s all you’re looking for in a vacation, but there are far better sailings out there.

The Alternative: Instead of spending three nights sailing to Nassau, try looking for longer four, five and even six-night cruises that visit other parts of the Eastern and Western Caribbean. These are typically cheaper than your average weeklong run to the Caribbean, and thanks to their longer duration, they can visit more ports of call. Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean all offer plenty of shorter Caribbean runs that will be more fulfilling than a quick cruise to Nassau on an older, packed ship.

Seattle Great Wheel
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One-Day Repositioning Voyages Between Vancouver and Seattle

On the surface, these are a great deal: you can cruise for one night between Vancouver and Seattle (or reverse) at the start and end of the Alaska cruise season. We’ve seen prices for a one-day sailing between these two Pacific Northwest cities that are less expensive than a night at a Best Western. But, while your time on the ship is enjoyable, much of your day will be taken up with things that aren’t, like security, passport control, embarkation, and lifeboat drills. By the time that’s all done and you’re sailing away ... you’re just hours away from being kicked out of your stateroom for early disembarkation.

The Alternative: Try longer Pacific Coastal cruises. These are typically offered in the spring and fall, but sail from Vancouver to California towns, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Some itineraries sail right down the coastline without stopping, but others can include visits to Victoria, British Columbia; Seattle; and Astoria, Oregon. For another hundred bucks or so over the one-night price, you can get a three- or four-day cruise down the Pacific Coast — and time to actually enjoy it, too. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, for example, both offer great Pacific Coastal cruises each year.

On the surface, these are a great deal: you can cruise for one night between Vancouver and Seattle (or reverse) at the start and end of the Alaska cruise season. We’ve seen prices for a one-day sailing between these two Pacific Northwest cities that are less expensive than a night at a Best Western. But, while your time on the ship is enjoyable, much of your day will be taken up with things that aren’t, like security, passport control, embarkation, and lifeboat drills. By the time that’s all done and you’re sailing away ... you’re just hours away from being kicked out of your stateroom for early disembarkation.

The Alternative: Try longer Pacific Coastal cruises. These are typically offered in the spring and fall, but sail from Vancouver to California towns, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Some itineraries sail right down the coastline without stopping, but others can include visits to Victoria, British Columbia; Seattle; and Astoria, Oregon. For another hundred bucks or so over the one-night price, you can get a three- or four-day cruise down the Pacific Coast — and time to actually enjoy it, too. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, for example, both offer great Pacific Coastal cruises each year.

Antarctica
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Big Ship Antarctica

While less common than they used to be, you can still find a handful of big, mainstream cruises to Antarctica. These are typically included as part of a voyage around South America’s Cape Horn, and generally come at a reasonably high cost. The problem, though, is that a big ship cruise in Antarctica is limited to scenic cruising only: you won’t have any opportunities to get off the ship and actually explore with zodiac rafts and kayaks. While seeing Antarctica is still cool, it’s a bit like taking a bus tour of New York City and never being able to get off. You saw it, sure, but did you get walk through Central Park? 

The Alternative: Save your money and do Antarctica on a smaller, expedition-style ship. Hurtigruten offers reasonably (for Antarctica) priced voyages to the Last Continent.

While less common than they used to be, you can still find a handful of big, mainstream cruises to Antarctica. These are typically included as part of a voyage around South America’s Cape Horn, and generally come at a reasonably high cost. The problem, though, is that a big ship cruise in Antarctica is limited to scenic cruising only: you won’t have any opportunities to get off the ship and actually explore with zodiac rafts and kayaks. While seeing Antarctica is still cool, it’s a bit like taking a bus tour of New York City and never being able to get off. You saw it, sure, but did you get walk through Central Park? 

The Alternative: Save your money and do Antarctica on a smaller, expedition-style ship. Hurtigruten offers reasonably (for Antarctica) priced voyages to the Last Continent.

Oasis of the Seas
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The Cruise to Nowhere

These are less prevalent than they used to be, but they’re still out there – and they can be very attractive, particularly if you live near the port of embarkation. They’re cheap, they’re quick ... but they’re not all that satisfying. Your ship will crawl out of the harbor, putter along at five knots for an entire day (we’ve watched swells roll in at a faster speed than our ship), and then turn around and go right back to where you started from. It’s a great way to see a ship, or try out a new line, but there are so many worthy options that do go somewhere — and provide a better onboard experience at the same time.

The Alternative: A cruise to anywhere. Seriously.

These are less prevalent than they used to be, but they’re still out there – and they can be very attractive, particularly if you live near the port of embarkation. They’re cheap, they’re quick ... but they’re not all that satisfying. Your ship will crawl out of the harbor, putter along at five knots for an entire day (we’ve watched swells roll in at a faster speed than our ship), and then turn around and go right back to where you started from. It’s a great way to see a ship, or try out a new line, but there are so many worthy options that do go somewhere — and provide a better onboard experience at the same time.

The Alternative: A cruise to anywhere. Seriously.

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