Sarah has been on six cruises in less than six months and has cruised with Carnival, MSC, and Royal Caribbean.
Very Limited Time At Port
Cruise travel is very relaxing and is a lot of fun. However, there are some things people don't really think about when they travel by cruise. One of the big disadvantages of cruise travel is you have a very limited amount of time in each port. The cruise ship has to keep to a tight schedule to visit all the ports they have scheduled on this trip because even though the ship moves fast, it definitely isn't as fast as other modes of transportation like a plane. Due to running on a tight schedule, there is only a very limited amount of time in each port. Most of the time, you get about eight hours in each port but sometimes it's only six hours which is very short. Very rarely do you get more than eight hours in any given port, most of the time the ship docks in the port in the morning and leaves when the sun starts to set. However, sometimes there can be delays that happen that can make a ship dock later than planned which gives you even less time at the port.
For example, when I was cruising with MSC, we were supposed to dock at their private island around 10 am but due to some issues with the ropes during docking, we didn't actually dock until 5 pm. The ship tried multiple times to dock and each time the ropes snapped which made it impossible to dock. The ship finally was able to dock safely around 5 pm so instead of spending from 10 am that day until 12 pm the next day on MSC's private island, we only got to start exploring the island around 6 pm. Thankfully, we ended up being allowed to stay docked at the private island from 5 pm that day until 5 pm the next day so we still had plenty of time to enjoy the port. However, this doesn't happen often. Most of the time, the ship is on such a tight schedule that they just don't have time for that so you will just have a much shorter time to enjoy the port.
Far From Main Attractions
Another disadvantage of cruise travel is often the port that you dock at, tends to be far from the main attractions. The port is usually located far away from what most people want to see on the island and it can be hard to get there on your own. Due to the distance, people usually recommend booking shore excursions prior to arriving at the port that day so that you have transportation and your day already planned out. It's not always necessary to book shore excursions though, but without a shore excursion, there's often not that much you can do besides walk in the areas close to the ports.
For example, in places like the Grand Turks or Bimini which are ports that are famous for their beaches, you definitely don't need a shore excursion because there are beautiful beaches and places close to the port. However, when visiting the Mayan ruins in Mexico or other famous attractions, you'll need to book a shore excursion either through the cruise line or through a third party to be able to travel to these places. Shore excursions can be an expensive add-on to your cruise but if it's something you really want to see, it's definitely worth it. You should do some research prior to your cruise though so you can try to get the best deals.
Most of the time shore excursions booked through the cruise line tend to be more expensive than through the third-party sellers but most of the time people forget to do this before getting on the boat. Once at sea, unless you buy the internet package, you won't have access to the internet to search for shore excursions so if you really want to do one, you're forced to book through the cruise line.
Something different about cruise travel rather than plane travel is you are more limited on the souvenirs you can bring back to the ship. I've seen people bring back bottles of alcohol from the Bahamas before and they were told to register how much they brought back and the staff held it for them until they disembarked. However, I've never seen people bringing back snacks or bags of souvenirs from the islands. I bring back a magnet or two most of the time when I visit a new island and I'm allowed to bring those back to the ship but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to bring back boxes of cookies or bags of chips for example. Some people bring back t-shirts or sweatshirts from the shops on the islands but I think you are very limited on what kinds of souvenirs you can take back to the ship.
When you travel by plane, you are only limited by weight and liquids. However, if you buy a checked bag, you're not limited in liquid because you can just place your liquids underneath the plane. When I travel, I usually like to buy cookies and other snacks to bring back home so that I can enjoy the food that they eat there. I usually don't just buy one small pack of cookies either, I usually like to buy a few bags of cookies and chips so that it fills a big portion of my carry-on bag.
© 2022 Sarah Wong