Gildshire Magazines is many things to many people, but travel features and advice are areas for which we have received some acclaim. We cherish the kudos and the feedback but want to go further yet toward our goal of being your one-stop shop for travel advice. To do that we must blend some “avoid” into the “do this!” A cruise vacation is a serious financial and time commitment. Don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong cruise line, cruise package, or cruising destination! And for heaven’s sake don’t choose the wrong boat!
Errors in ship cruise line and ship selection turn vacation memories into trips to the Mayo Clinic for migraine relief. Today, we help our vacation-loving friends avoid heartache and become the Conde’ Nast travelers they were meant to be.
One traveler, male, 49 years old, completed his first cruise vacation with these words: “That was great! I don’t think I will ever travel to about 30 States because I can’t cruise there.”
While we aren’t suggesting a trip to Iowa is a waste of time we understand this traveler’s hot crush on cruise line trips. The feeling one gets when boarding an ocean liner is unmatched by the opening moments of any other vacation. “Welcome aboard! We have a light snack prepared on the Lido Deck.”
The food is the perfect temperature, the crew is attentive to a fault and the music blares. You don’t even realize when you are underway. At least that’s the way it is supposed to work. And it will work that way, as long as you avoid:
Avalon Waterways: Part of the fun aboard ship is anticipating the things to do. Whether the activities include shore excursions or shipboard fun the days fly by. Avalon’s menu of things to do is pretty light on variety. They also made a mess of a Norovirus health crisis in May of last year. Unprepared for the outbreak, the cruise line transported sick passengers to a hospital, but only after an extensive delay.
Norwegian Cruise Line: One of the world’s biggest names in cruise line vacations is the next one on our list of lines to avoid. Color us surprised! Norwegian’s customer service has come under attack from complaints about tiny cabin accommodations and an inflexible cancellation policy.
Costa Cruises: Costa’s cruise ship line runs practically everywhere in the world. Complaints of rude crew members plague the comments from passengers after they get back home. Of course, the capsizing of the Costa Concordia in 2012 and the fires aboard the Magica and the Allegra aren’t going to get much play on the company brochures, but they are hurting the company reputation.
American Cruise Lines: River cruises are becoming more popular all the time. American’s itineraries include the iconic Mississippi and Columbia Rivers. Unfortunately, the line gets low marks for pricing versus value received and incompetent crew members.
Star Clipper: What could be more romantic than a cruise aboard a multi-masted sailing vessel? Apparently, the romance is mitigated when there are too many stairs and virtually nothing aboard to keep children interested.
MSC Cruises: The list of complaints about MSC is a long one! Environmental impact, ship maintenance, and customer care. “Isn’t that everything?” Well, yes. Sewage treatment and air pollution have MSC on a watch-list for environmental concerns. Badly-cooked food, watered-down drinks, and overcrowding have the cruise line on another kind of list.
Royal Caribbean: The second-largest cruise line in the world makes the list for one reason only. The Center for Disease Control says passengers on the line have suffered 11 outbreaks of Norovirus since 2010, and four outbreaks since 2014.
P&O: The world’s oldest cruise line shouldn’t be on this list, but numerous complaints make it so. Limited entertainment complaints vie with poorly executed entertainment complaints. So, the entertainment is either non-existent or lousy? Combine that quinella with occasional complaints of inedible food and on our list, you go.
Carnival Cruises: Passenger comfort and care are the issues plaguing the world’s largest cruise line. Overcrowding is an issue, but Carnival is an inexpensive party boat on many trips. Passengers expecting a different kind of trip should consider an Atlantic crossing with Cunard. That said, who can forget 2013 when for four days, 4,000 people were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico on a powerless ship. They were without hot water or functioning toilets.
That’s our list. We will be back in a few weeks with the flip side of the cruise line story, wherein we will give our recommendations for the vacation of a lifetime. It will be a bon voyage’ gift from us to you.