Cruise Ship: Vacation Getaway or Graveyard Stay?

A photo of the Mariner of the Seas cruise ship as it sails across water.

Gregory Varnum

A photo of the Mariner of the Seas cruise ship as it sails across water.

Lola Dickey, Hour 1

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘vacation’? Is it a sandy beach? A woodsy hike?

People worldwide have found vacations to be a great source of relaxation. It’s a chance to escape life’s daily stresses, to take a minute to breathe—even if only for a few days. 

Cruise ship vacations, however, are not all that they are cracked up to be; advertisers often overhype them, boats are often overcrowded, and so many things that can go wrong.

Terrible times

Cruises often cause more stress than relaxation. 

That goes for all vacations, sure, but for whatever reason people often believe that because cruises have a planned itinerary, nothing can go wrong.

Siblings Tatum and Mitchell Thielman, for example, said that a storm hit during a cruise their mom went on. Tatum said that her mom even had to “stay out at sea for [a few] extra days.” As a result, she “ran out of Dramamine and couldn’t do anything fun.”

(Dramamine, for those who don’t know, is a medication commonly used to treat motion sickness.)

An employee at UWSP agreed. She said, among other things, that her recent cruise had quite a rocky start. 

For starters, her original flight was canceled; and although she managed to catch a second flight, she still had to drive a rental car across Florida—from the airport at Point A to the cruise ship at Point B.

Then came the seasickness, which she tried everything to rid herself of. She went from using prescription medications, running on the track, and taking many naps—but all were to no avail. 

It seemed that nothing could cure her nausea.

She also did not enjoy the pre-planned itinerary. She explained, “We had a set dinner time, we were told what attire was appropriate to wear, [and] the food choices were limited to what the menu was for the day.”

She, as well, commented on the ship’s size a few times, saying, “the ship was enormous but still felt very crowded to me.” Could this be because the ship may have been overpacked? Crowding is a very common complaint to hear from those who have taken a cruise. Often, it seems that far too many people are on a ship.

Sweet, sweet memories

I also conducted a survey. Twenty-four students answered. 70.8% of them said that they knew someone who had taken a cruise, or had taken a cruise themself. Out of that percentage, 88.2% of them said it was a positive experience. 

Jillian Busch, a 10th grader at SPASH, said her cruise experience was great. There was “very good hospitality and good food! Reviews are exactly what they said they were.”

Angel Ward, a senior, said her cruise experience was very positive. “It was a lot of fun and we toured so many islands and the waitstaff would put on a show every time you ate and every[one] was so kind.” She also added that the ship she rode was Carnival Freedom.

But when you’re stuck in the middle of the ocean…

Many people enjoy cruises because they are convenient. You can travel to various places, but don’t have to follow the tedious cycle of carrying, packing, and repacking your luggage. You don’t even have to worry about how you’re going to get from Point A to Point B because the ship does all of that for you. Not to mention, cruise tickets tend to fall on the cheaper side, which is a benefit no matter who you are.

However, an issue with a pre-planned itinerary is that you don’t get to spend much time in places you really enjoy. Cruises lack the freedom to pick and choose, which is something we all love about vacations. 

Also, according to TheFullPassport, “one of the biggest complaints people have about cruises is that they are ‘crowded’.” 

One person from my pole even said they wouldn’t take a cruise because it seemed like there are too many people. 

TheFullPassport also mentions, “at the end of the day… the fact remains that you are in the middle of the ocean with thousands of other people who are confined to the same vessel.” 

There are many reasons that someone would enjoy a cruise, but it seems that this time the bad managed to outweigh the good.

One student from the pole mentioned that they were not a great swimmer, “so if worst comes to worst I’m probably done for.” They also recalled back to the beginning of COVID, “when … there [was] all of those people stranded on cruise ships.” 

So while cruise ships may seem like a good idea, take into consideration the positives and the negatives. Cruises aren’t for everyone, and it’s okay if you are a part of that select few.