There’s No Luxury on a Cruise Ship

why you should never go on a cruise and why cruise lines are evil

Let me start off by saying I’ve never been on a cruise ship. I’ve heard stories, seen pictures, and understand the appeal, but I have no desire to be on a cruise ship. It seems that, unlike everyone else, I can’t see the luxury others find in a cruise.

The idea of a cruise is great. I love boats, meeting people, and being lazy. To make it all better, a cruise is generally cheap. At face value, you can’t really go wrong. In fact, most people who tell me about their cruise vacations come back ecstatic and rave about the fantastic time they had. The entertainment often consists of comedians, movies, games, and live music leaving you little time to get bored. And after your fun-filled day, you get back to your room to find your towels are folded into cute animals! I’m also told that the food on board is better than good and portioned out well for those on strict diets. How could I be such a scrooge? Who wouldn’t want a vacation like that?

Cruises are marketed as a luxury experience that middle to low-income families and couples can enjoy. As a society, we often feel the need to treat ourselves to perceived luxury. Unfortunately, those providing the great service you experience on cruise ships don’t have that same opportunity. Most cruise ships are staffed by people from impoverished countries like the Philippines and can be paid as little as $400 per month.

These positions are contracted for a period of 6 months or more, and there is no quitting once you take the job. (Alright you can quit, but you have to pay to get home and pay for your time on the boat. The same applies if you get fired. It’s not against the rules, but most can’t afford it.) And while these workers receive free food and accommodations, there are a host of other hidden costs they incur when taking a job on a cruise ship. Workers are required to pay for transportation to and from the cruise ships that they’re scheduled to work on. In some cases cruises won’t even pay for the workers return flight home after completing the job leaving people stranded in foreign lands. These workers are expected to pay for the visas and work permits that are required to work for the cruise company as well as navigate the complex application process on their own. Most cruises spend little effort on actually helping their employees. Taxes, health care, travel insurance, are all just a few more things that the cruise lines have pushed back onto these contract workers. The worst part is that cruise ship workers end up relying heavily on gratuities, yet cruise-goers often feel these are unnecessary since they were promised an “all inclusive” price. While on board, they work for seven days a week doing 10-13 hour shifts to meet the increased demand for luxury onboard cruise ships. They also only make money when they are working on a cruise. Should there be a gap in-between cruises, they can find themselves broke and homeless.

Even if you can ignore the treatment of cruise staff, there’ve been more and more reports of what are affectionately known as, “poop cruises.” Can you imagine being isolated at sea when ALL of the toilets break onboard? Or how about being on a ship with over 600 people puking uncontrollably from a mysterious gastrointestinal illness? Well I suppose you don’t have to if you read the news often enough and those are only the stories that the industry can’t keep quiet. Cruise ships have long been criticized for covering up incidents to protect their image. It’s gone as far as not helping police with abduction, human trafficking, and disappearance cases. Some speculate that they may even aid in covering up crimes to keep any bad press from getting out. If that’s a bit too much of a conspiracy for you to accept, then at least recognize that until recently caught, cruise ships were trying to cover up the criminal amount of pollution they were dumping into the ocean.

Speaking of the environment, cruise ships kill whales? Unfortunately, it’s not a very quick death either. When cruise ships hit whales they tend to become snagged on the ship and are dragged around until death. Some whales are more susceptible to, what is known as a “whale strike,” than others. For instance, this is a major problem for right whales in the Northern Atlantic. They are an endangered baleen whale that happens to move much slower than cruise ships trying to keep their schedule. Apart from the whale strikes, many cruise lines still visit Faroe Islands. These islands celebrate once a year by dragging pilot wales out into shallow water, slicing them open, and letting them bleed to death. Cruise lines have been petitioned to stop visiting the islands so that the island economy wouldn’t be able to benefit from the lucrative tourism, however few cruise lines have bothered to change their routes.

Even if people don’t care about other people, whales, aiding investigations, or the environment, why don’t they care more about their own vacation experience? Cruises can take you to great places without all the hassle of driving or flying, but you don’t really get to experience those wonderful destinations. Cruises are for lazy vacation planners. For example, while I was in Puerto Rico I was traveling with someone who had previously visited Puerto Rico on a cruise. On our trip, we hiked to an isolated waterfall, ate fresh fruit for pennies, had miles of beach to ourselves, went night SUPing, and swam in one of the three bio bays. The last day, we spent a small amount of time prior to flying out in the main city of San Juan. This was the only spot in Puerto Rico that was familiar to my travel companion and it was arguably the least enjoyable part of the trip. The beaches were overcrowded, the food was expensive, and the culture of Puerto Rico was lost. I couldn’t imagine someone thinking they had a good sense of Puerto Rico if they had only jumped off a cruise ship in San Juan.

So again, I don’t see the luxury or enjoyment in cruises. I understand their appeal, but I personally hope to never go on a cruise and wish others would educate themselves about the industry before booking.

9 Comments

  1. I have never been interested in taking a cruise either, well maybe if I won a trip or something, but other than that no. If I’m on vacation the last thing I want to be doing is checking the clock constantly to find out when we eat, when we get on and off the boat. Make sure we get back to port on time, so we are not left behind. Plus drinks, well I’m more of an all-inclusive girl, So I know I’m not paying a bar tab the equals the amount of the vacation I took. I agree on the wages part too. Unfortunately everywhere I have been, Bahamas, Jamaica, Mexico, Aruba… Most people that provide their services to you are grossly under paid, however these are the most highly regarded jobs to have 🙁

  2. Cruise ships are horrible. Over 250 people just got sick with Norovirus from a cruise ship! I would never set foot on one of those floating petri dishes.

    • Friends just returned from their 3rd around the world cruise, we’re not allowed to dock in Amman due to Norovirus. Spent many days at Sea changing the route to be able to dock. You are stuck on a floating city possibly with people who are not your cuppa tea.

  3. My wife and I have traveled to about 60 countries over the last 25 years. We have only gone on 5 small ship luxury cruises because the smaller ships have very few children and the staff to guest ratio is about 1:1. We are active people and cruising for older adults is often the choice because the guest doesn’t have to constantly move their luggage. The quality of the service is very high. The cuisine is also better than good. The smaller ships can often dock at the pierr instead of constantly taking precious time to send tenders or zodiacs to and from the ship to shore. Usually, the guest has between a half a day or more to visit the port city and then you’re back to the ship for meals. We’ve tried Seabourn and Windstar ships. Early next year we’ll travel to Southeast Asia without a cruise. Later next year, we’ll take a Crystal Cruise from Lisbon around the country almost to Barcelona, which we’ll reach after the cruise by plane from Lisbon. Why a cruise on this trip? It’s because the distance between cities around the perifiery of Portugal and Spain would take 4 hours of driving to each city either by car or bus. Who wants that? It’s better to relax and let the ship cruise there. So, in conclusion, all cruises are not the same. The larger ships are for young families and people who need to watch their bucks. Yes, bad things can happen aboard any ship, but so far, we have been very pleased to cruise the small luxury ships.

  4. You wanna bet there is luxury on a cruise ship? Go Cheap, get cheap.. Go big, get big…

  5. I’ve actually been planning a cruise, but I was undecided about where to go. Everyone I know comes back at least 10 lbs heavier! I didn’t really see it as a vacation in the sense that I would be exploring things or trying something new. I was really just looking for a place to pamper me and my wife for a week. Do you think these ship workers are treated worse than the staff at an all-inclusive hotel? Probably not.

  6. I hate cruise ships. I went on one for my grandfather’s funeral (it’s what he wanted) and I was repulsed by all of the fat disgusting lard beasts on board. Everyone kept shoveling food into their mouths. I don’t know why people think endless eating is a vacation.

  7. I used to work on a cruise ship and I can confirm the conditions suck. The only thing you can count on is that when the cruise line tells you they’re going to do something, they won’t. They didn’t even file my paperwork right with the government and I ended up paying a ton of taxes. People think, “Oh wow! You worked on a cruise ship! That must’ve been fun.” but it’s nothing like the customer’s experience.

  8. Cruises are good for senile old people who just want to sit on a deck chair and stare at the ocean. They’re great for fat people who just want to sit around a pool when not gorging themselves at a buffet, or alcholics who want to sit around a bar with a nice view. And they’re excellent for single women, who are feted and favored by the ship’s officers. IF you live near the city with a cruise port, prices are competive with an all-inclusive resort of equal quality. Plus, your vacation starts the moment you step on board, instead of losing a day each way to travel time.
    However, that advantage disappears if you have to fly to get to your cruise port. Then you’re better off at a resort, where you get a real beach to sit on, a real hotel room to sleep in, and a wider range of activities. Single men should avoid cruises, because the crews see them as competition for the single women and will make them unwelcome.

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