The 8 Most Common Complaints on Cruise Ships

by Kayla Becker

The 8 Most Common Complaints on Cruise Ships

by Kayla Becker

Cruising can be a great way to explore another part of the world. But while we love this type of travel, we’ve crossed oceans enough to hear our fair share of grievances from unhappy passengers. Here, eight things people complain about on ships — and how to avoid these problems so they don't impact your vacation.

8
On deck / iStock / costinc79
A popular pool
1 of 8
Crowds

Things can get cramped on a mega ship that holds thousands of people. The largest ship at sea, Harmony of the Seas, has awesome new features and great stage shows and amazing specialty restaurants. But it also can sail with 6,780 people onboard ... and there are only four pools for all of them to share. If you choose a mega ship on a busy week when the cabins are full, expect to see lines snaking across the deck for the water slides and around the lunch buffet on sea days.

Problem solved! If you hate that feeling of being part of a large crowd, choose a ship with a smaller passenger capacity, or a line that's known for its spacious and open design, such as Viking Ocean Cruises.

Things can get cramped on a mega ship that holds thousands of people. The largest ship at sea, Harmony of the Seas, has awesome new features and great stage shows and amazing specialty restaurants. But it also can sail with 6,780 people onboard ... and there are only four pools for all of them to share. If you choose a mega ship on a busy week when the cabins are full, expect to see lines snaking across the deck for the water slides and around the lunch buffet on sea days.

Problem solved! If you hate that feeling of being part of a large crowd, choose a ship with a smaller passenger capacity, or a line that's known for its spacious and open design, such as Viking Ocean Cruises.

Crush Bar
2 of 8
Nickel-and-Diming

Your fare covers your passage on the ship and food — and that’s usually it. Unless you're on a luxury vessel, the fare doesn’t cover specialty restaurants, shore excursions, alcohol, gratuities, or even  soda. If you don't factor in these extras in your budget, you can feel cheated when your $200 cruise turns out to cost hundreds more in the end.

Problem solved! Do the math before you sail, determining what costs extra on your ship and adding up what you'll spend over the course of the cruise so that you're not surprised when you get the bill on the last night.

Your fare covers your passage on the ship and food — and that’s usually it. Unless you're on a luxury vessel, the fare doesn’t cover specialty restaurants, shore excursions, alcohol, gratuities, or even  soda. If you don't factor in these extras in your budget, you can feel cheated when your $200 cruise turns out to cost hundreds more in the end.

Problem solved! Do the math before you sail, determining what costs extra on your ship and adding up what you'll spend over the course of the cruise so that you're not surprised when you get the bill on the last night.

Tulum
3 of 8
Cancelled Ports

Whether it’s due to a mechanical issue or a rough patch of weather, missing a port always causes a stir. And, unless a significant portion of your cruise was disrupted, you may not get a refund.

Problem Solved! While you can't entirely protect yourself against weather, don’t book a cruise during hurricane season in the Caribbean (June to November) or monsoon season in Asia (June to September).

Whether it’s due to a mechanical issue or a rough patch of weather, missing a port always causes a stir. And, unless a significant portion of your cruise was disrupted, you may not get a refund.

Problem Solved! While you can't entirely protect yourself against weather, don’t book a cruise during hurricane season in the Caribbean (June to November) or monsoon season in Asia (June to September).

Chocolate Extravaganza Buffet
4 of 8
Bad Buffet Food

While many cruise lines have stepped up their food game, there’s still a lingering stigma over buffets. You know what we mean: yellow tomato wedges, wilty lettuce, frozen pre-made pizza, sad looking sushi rolls ... we've even seen what appears to be pudding straight from a box mix. 

Problem solved! Steer clear of the most inexpensive off-season sailings as well as a mainstream line's oldest ships, since they seem have the least robust offerings. Better still, consider booking a cruise on a ship with one of the top 10 buffets at sea.

While many cruise lines have stepped up their food game, there’s still a lingering stigma over buffets. You know what we mean: yellow tomato wedges, wilty lettuce, frozen pre-made pizza, sad looking sushi rolls ... we've even seen what appears to be pudding straight from a box mix. 

Problem solved! Steer clear of the most inexpensive off-season sailings as well as a mainstream line's oldest ships, since they seem have the least robust offerings. Better still, consider booking a cruise on a ship with one of the top 10 buffets at sea.

Staying connected on Norwegian Breakaway
5 of 8
Poor Internet Connection

Sure, you may be in the middle of the ocean, but you've probably become accustomed to super fast internet access and there's nothing more frustrating when you're paying 75 cents per minute then watching a spinning wheel on your screen.

Problem Solved! Choose a line that's known for its strong Wi-Fi connection. Royal Caribbean, for example, has the largest and fastest Wi-Fi network at sea and allows you to upload photos, video chat, and stream TV shows, just like you would at home.

Sure, you may be in the middle of the ocean, but you've probably become accustomed to super fast internet access and there's nothing more frustrating when you're paying 75 cents per minute then watching a spinning wheel on your screen.

Problem Solved! Choose a line that's known for its strong Wi-Fi connection. Royal Caribbean, for example, has the largest and fastest Wi-Fi network at sea and allows you to upload photos, video chat, and stream TV shows, just like you would at home.

Choose your cabin wisely.
6 of 8
Lack of Cleanliness

Some of the oldest ships at sea have been around for more than 20 years, and while they’ve gone through renovations, it’s expensive to entirely hide the wear of time. If you book one, especially on a budget or mainstream line, don't be surprised to see paint peeling in a stateroom bathroom or rusty screws on a balcony.

Problem Solved! Unless you travel constantly, play it safe with your precious vacation time and choose a new ship. It will be more expensive, but it will also have the most up-to-date entertainment options, too. 

Some of the oldest ships at sea have been around for more than 20 years, and while they’ve gone through renovations, it’s expensive to entirely hide the wear of time. If you book one, especially on a budget or mainstream line, don't be surprised to see paint peeling in a stateroom bathroom or rusty screws on a balcony.

Problem Solved! Unless you travel constantly, play it safe with your precious vacation time and choose a new ship. It will be more expensive, but it will also have the most up-to-date entertainment options, too. 

Don't hog the pool deck chairs.
7 of 8
Other Passengers

Hell is other people, you say? Many cruisers think so: they complain that their fellow passengers hog chairs at the pool; some drink too much and don’t watch their kids closely enough; and others chose to wear flip flops and cut-off shorts to dinner regardless of the evening's dress code. 

Problem Solved! Book a smaller ship, which will have fewer people, or splurge on a large vessel with a ship-within-a-ship upgrade — such as Norwegian Epic or MSC Divina. These more expensive, suite-filled areas have plenty of private spaces that will help you escape the crowds.

Hell is other people, you say? Many cruisers think so: they complain that their fellow passengers hog chairs at the pool; some drink too much and don’t watch their kids closely enough; and others chose to wear flip flops and cut-off shorts to dinner regardless of the evening's dress code. 

Problem Solved! Book a smaller ship, which will have fewer people, or splurge on a large vessel with a ship-within-a-ship upgrade — such as Norwegian Epic or MSC Divina. These more expensive, suite-filled areas have plenty of private spaces that will help you escape the crowds.

Norwegian Breakaway's Studio
8 of 8
Single-Supplement Fees

Most staterooms are priced based on double occupancy, which means solo travelers get slammed with a single supplement just because they're traveling alone.

Problem solved! Many cruise lines — including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, and Holland America — are now offering great studio cabins that are designed for just one passenger.

Most staterooms are priced based on double occupancy, which means solo travelers get slammed with a single supplement just because they're traveling alone.

Problem solved! Many cruise lines — including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, and Holland America — are now offering great studio cabins that are designed for just one passenger.

Up next...

10 Best Ports for Fun Fall Activities

Koblenz, Germany
Go Back
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices