Cruises have never been more popular, but every now and then you'll run into people who dislike cruises. Why are some people so crazy about cruises but similar people you might know hate to cruise? A lot has to do with how you "set yourself up" before the trip.
My first cruise was, surprisingly, one of the disaster voyages. It took years before I ventured on a cruise again, and today I'm a wild-eyed enthusiast. What transpired in-between is that I learned that there are things you can do to "set yourself up" for a great vacation or an absolutely miserable time.
From my own experience and those of other cruise-haters I know, here are seven ways to be sure you hate your cruise vacation.
1. Travel with someone who is incompatible. Incompatible people are not bad people. They may even be your friends and family. But part of the cruise experience is doing a lot of on-board and shore things. These things are more fun when you do them together, as a couple or as a group. So if you're a non-smoker and teetotaler, it's not a good idea to go on a cruise with a group of friends who intend on drinking and partying their way from port to port.
2. Travel with a companion who will refuse to do anything you want and will insist that either you do what she wants or you go off by yourself (while she pouts). Cruises offer a lot of things to do and some of their ideas of amusement (bingo, shows, casinos, spas, rock-climbing walls, Pilates class, mini-golf, sunbathing, etc.) may not be exactly what you've longed your whole life to do. If you travel with somebody who will not ever accompany you when you want to do something, you'll spend most of your cruise either sitting around, resenting that person, or doing things alone (not much fun).
3. Go on a cruise where you have to sit with the same people for dinner every night. Granted, most of the time, the group who dines together is a source of great memories and pleasure for most cruises. Ninety percent of the time, I came to love the group I shared meals with, even if we were strangers at our first dinner. But once in a while you can wind up with a group that makes meal times unpleasant. Think it can not happen? I once shared a table with a little old lady who main pleasure on the cruise was thinking up odd things she wanted for dinner and ordering them. This lady submitted her unusual order at the last minute, although she fully expected to eat with the rest of the table (and she had to, because the ship had two seats in the dining room and we had to all be out at a specific time). It was her version of "stump the kitchen," and she would giggle about how funny it was to get the wait staff and kitchen to jump through hoops. On steak night, she ordered spaghetti and meatballs (which she sent back, complaining loudly that the sauce was clearly not a long-simmered homemade type). Not only were dinners nerve-wracking, our table got a bad reputation among the servers who dreaded coming near us. While you should expect to enjoy your dining companions, have an escape route planned in case you end up dealing with unforced people.
4. Go on the cruise but refuse to participate. Do not go outside of your room; watch TV inside instead. Do not walk the deck, visit the shops, check out the casino. Begrudgingly allow yourself to be dragged out on rare occasions but protest constantly. Whine that you're unhappy. People with that kind of attitude almost never have a good cruise. If you're like that by nature, you need to get an attitude adjustment before you board the ship.
5. Sign up for a cruise but then decide to go on a radical financial diet the moment you board the ship. Refuse to pay for an excursion, buy a soft drink, or get a pedicure. Gripe loudly and consistently about how expensive things are and that you had no idea that an umbrella drink or a T-shirt was not part of the package. Sit on the ship while it's at port just to show everyone you will not pay one nickel more than you have to. Cruises are a great value, but you need to expect to spend some money on the ship.
6. Get a case of the temporary dumbs. Decide that since you're on a cruise ship, you can sit in the sun for 12 hours without sunscreen and not get sunburned (what? Sunburn on a ship?) Drink excessively and stay out in the hot sun. Leave your wallet unattended in crowded areas. Cruises are generally very safe and fun, but you can not let your common sense go on vacation.
7. Go unprepared. The cruise vacation can be very forgiving in this way. You can bring the wrong clothes and still squeak by. You can forget certain toiletry items and pick them up on-board. You can get help for a lot of things, but there are certain things that you must look after yourself. Bring your passport (and do not pack it-you and your luggage get on the ship separately). Bring cash for tips. If you take prescription drugs or need to take over-the-counter medications or supplements regularly, bring enough of them to get you through the trip (and a couple more days "insurance"). Do not forget things like eyeglasses, hearing aids, car keys, house keys, and important phone numbers.
The most memorable, wonderful cruises are not always the ones that afford you the fanciest stateroom or take you to the most spectacular destinations. They're the cruises where you travel with like-minded people who are interested in taking advantage of what cruises have to offer, are compatible and generous traveling companions, and make you laugh. If you wind up having to share too much time with the obnoxious or just the simply incompatibility … have an escape route in mind.