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Bad Cruise Ship Reviews

Bad Cruise Ship Reviews
December 6th, 2012 10:14 am     A+ | a-

Have you ever booked a cruise and then found negative reviews about the ship you booked? If so, join the club. For every cruise ship out there today, there are good reviews and there are bad reviews. Some will say that  it is the best ship they ever had sailed on. Others will say that it was the worst experience and they will never sail on that ship again.

What should you do? Should you cancel the cruise because of the negative comments?

I once had a customer contact me in a panic, because they were booked on a cruise ship and it was getting many bad reviews from prior passengers. They were spending a lot of money on the trip and they felt that they had to cancel right away to help salvage their vacation. After some time talking about it with them, I was able to convince them to go on the cruise and make the best of it. They did, and the funny thing is, after the cruise they contacted me and said it was the best vacation they had ever had.

Does this mean that we should completely ignore the negative reviews out there? Not necessarily. We do, however, need to be smart when it comes to making decisions based on reviews. The following are some things to consider when reading cruise ship reviews:

Is the negative review just a result of personal preference?

The first thing we have to realize is that we are all different. Some of us prefer hard liquor, while some prefer a nice glass of Pinot Grigio. Some like cruise ships with loud music and active nightlife. Some like cruise ships that are quiet and relaxing. Just because we like or don't like something, it does not mean that everyone else in the world will feel the same way about it.

Several years ago I was on a cruise to Hawaii on a Princess ship. It was a wonderful cruise, even with several days of rain as we crossed the sea. Afterward, we found out that there was a couple sailing on the same ship that felt the cruise was horrible. So much so, that when we got to Hawaii, they left the ship and flew home at their own expense. For them, the experience was very negative. For us, the experience was one of the best cruises that we have been on.

The point is that we are all different and the things one person likes will not be the same thing that another person likes. So, determine if the negative review is just a personal preference.

Is the negative review unique to a particular sailing?

There have been some sailings that are not ordinary experiences. Several years ago a Carnival ship lost power for several days off the California coast. The passengers were left with no air conditioning, no hot water, no cell phone or internet service. Food supplies were running low. For those on board, it was a horrible experience. Does that mean that every sailing on that particular ship will be the same? Not at all. When reading a review it’s important to determine if it is a one time situation that caused the negative review or if it is likely to repeat itself.

Anyone who makes a decision not to cruise based on this rare event are missing out on what is normally a great experience.

Is the negative review unique to particular cabins or ships staff?

Some negative reviews complain of poor service. With hundreds of crew members on board, there is always a chance that someone may end up receiving poor dining or cabin service from a few of the crew members. But that doesn't mean that the other 99% of crew members are also giving bad service. The proper thing to do when you receive bad service is to take the complaint to the ship management. However, just because you received bad service on the cruise, doesn't mean that everyone else on the ship did. Likewise, just because you received good service on the ship, that doesn't mean that everyone else received good service.

When reading reviews, try to determine if the review is a ship-wide problem or if it may just be effecting a small group of passengers.

Is the negative review consistent with other reviews?

You will often hear of reviews about the food. Some say that it’s the worst food ever. We have been on cruises where we absolutely felt the food was outstanding. But afterward we read reviews from people on the same sailing that stated that the food was horrible.

So what do you do with the negative food reviews?  First, determine if it is a ship-wide problem or just a few bad plates. Next, examine other reviews for the same ship. See if any reviewers feel differently about the food. Usually you will find a mixture of positive and negative reviews.  If every single review is consistent about the food quality then perhaps you should be concern.  

Keep in mind that the poor food quality being reported may not be ship wide.  After you establish that there may be food quality issues try to determine the extent of them.  Perhaps the common theme is that it is only in the buffet.  

The same is true for any consistent negative reviews.  You will find some that mention sewage smells, some that speak of loud music, some that discuss lack of entertainment.  

Is the negative review critical to the whole experience?

Another thing to consider about negative reviews is how much what is being complained about really matters. If you end up with the same experience as the reviewer, will it ruin the whole cruise? People will complain about everything it seems. One reviewer complained that because he wasn't required to bring his life jacket to the life boat drill it was his worst cruise experience ever.  Another complained about the way the staff always seemed to be selling something.

With reviews similar to these, you need to sit back and look at the big picture. Is the negative thing critical to the enjoyment of the cruise? For some, it may be. For others, it’s just one of those things you pretty much don't fret too much about.

Trying to determine what your cruise experience will be based on prior passengers reviews can be a very tricky thing.  If you keep in mind the points above you should be able to find the relevant points to consider.   In all the cruises that I have been on, I have never yet been on a cruise that I did not enjoy.

Steve Millay, ACC

December 8th, 2012 10:11 pm
Great article, thanks!
December 9th, 2012 12:39 pm
Very well put ..
December 13th, 2012 11:52 am
We have been on 23 cruises and 24 and 25 are booked and paid for. Not all of our cruises have been perfect but all have been good. We have had not so good waiters and wonderful waiters. We have had terrific room stewards and some who just do their job.The cruise lines kind of set people up for a let down because of their advertising shows everything as PERFECT, it won't be. It will be what you make it. If you are a nit picker you probably won't have a good time. Go with the flow overlook the small stuff and just have fun. A couple of dollars extra at the beginning of your cruise to a bar tender or room steward waiters is a good investment. It does not have to be a lot $2.00 works. Also #1 thing to do be pleasant to the crew and they will be pleasant to you.
December 31st, 2012 4:50 pm
I stopped counting at 50 cruises and the vast majority have been wonderful experiences. I've had a couple that were just "off" and 2 that were horrendous. One of the truly terrible cruises was like a cluster of whatever could go wrong DID go wrong w/ me, my cabin, my dining room experiences (plural), embarkation.... just most everything. However it was a trip on a premium cruise line, on which I am elite, and my many other cruises with them have been stellar. If I wrote a review of that cruise, it would have been so awful, it would have appeared that I hated Celebrity. When in fact, I've got 2 longer cruises lined up for them so far 2013. I don't anticipate a repeat of the various glitches that I experienced and I wouldn't review a ship suggesting that is what others should expect.

Additionally, sometimes I think some more experienced cruisers get on the ship and it lacks that "WOW factor" of a kid in Disneyland. It's hard to exceed my expectations, when after 50+ cruises I pretty much know what to expect.
February 7th, 2013 1:42 pm
Great article. I agree 100%. Everybody has different guidelines and experiences. I am a travel agent and get the same thing. People complain about a ship or food due to what they hear from others. I had a client go on a cruise and we were on the same ship a few months later. I caught up with them after as I know one of them was big on photography and I didn't get much of a response from their cruise. The response was totally opposite of what I got. You had to stop and wonder, were we even on the same ship???

They said it was bad. Bad atmosphere, bad decor, bad food, bad experience and needed to be made over. We were like, what are you talking about? It was the best ship and decorated theme one we have been on. It was a newer ship. We loved it. The food was good and we gained a lot of weight as so many choices. We thought we were picky but was wrong. People need to really understand where the feedback is coming from and look at what they really like and not go by others feedback.

I always read the reviews of others. There is always negative feedback for everything out there. You have to 'read between the lines.' There is some that was so bad and for a place we stayed at and we thought they MUST of mistook it for another place. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

Some may be complaining cause they had a cabin in the wrong place and the noise interferred with their enjoyment. That is why you will get so many different reviews.

I have clients who will never go on a certain cruiseline cause of what they heard from others. Until you see for yourself, don't make 100% judgement based on what others said.

I have been on a few different cruiselines. Each with its own experience. The ship can also have an impact on perception and doesn't mean avoid the whole cruiseline as all would be the same.
John Doyle
April 2nd, 2013 2:45 am
We have been on a number of cruises with various cruise lines and have always found that even in the worst of situations the cruise lines and staff work their butts off to satisfy their guests. But some people just cannot be satisfied even if you gave them a free cruise.I think that the biggest problem is that they sometimes try too hard.
April 9th, 2013 6:21 am
I am planning to leave on my 7th cruise Saturday. All six of previous cruises have been wonderful. Why.....because I made it fun for myself. I appreciated that I had the chance to cruise. Many people never get this experience.
Dave Smith
April 10th, 2013 3:55 pm
Comments on this page have been very helpful as i am planning my very first cruise later this year. I full appreciate that not everyone has the same ideas and you can't please everyone so I will be going with an open mind.
May 13th, 2013 7:57 pm
If you were to offer some people a ten dollar bill for five they would offer you four. So many have unreasonable expectations that I disregard almost all reviews. I only pay attention if there are a number of negatives on the same subject and/or ship.
October 23rd, 2013 2:23 pm
Some folks will just find things to complain about. Once I mailed a postcard at guest services & overheard a major tantrum about the brand of shampoo in the staterooms. Through 18 cruises, I've observed that if you bring a happy attitude, that's what you get back--excellent service & a great time.
G & C
November 2nd, 2013 7:12 pm
My wife & I have been on seven cruises just in the last two years alone. The only thing we had to mumble about was on a cruise where we were seated at a table for two (main dining room), right in the passage way which was at the bottom of the stairs to the next level up which was also next to a massive pylon where guests, waiters & meal carts went back & forth - interesting!! The next night we were in one of the specialty restaurants & knew one of the crew from a previous cruise & were treated like family & had a complete reversal of the previous night - MR & MRS ... Wow.. As one of the previous comments stated , you make it what you want it to be!! We have always traveled alone, left friends & family behind & went out with the idea to have a great trip & make new friends, crew included.. We are on a high status level & enjoy a few lerks & perks but it is up to you to make your trip, & yes, we do find the mid to smaller ships more compatible with our style of cruising.. Keep on cruising!
November 10th, 2013 6:03 am
The "cruise review" article was excellent! I've been on 6 cruises plus just booked #7, some people go on these cruises and really don't want to go in the first place - only to please their spouse. To that end I say "stay home!" You'll never be happy. Sometimes the weather plays a factor, it can be rough for those who don't have " sea legs!" Suggestion, as soon as you get on board go to the concierge and get some motion sickness pills IMMEDIATELY. Take one as a preventive, BUT DON'T DRINK - you'll fall asleep! If the seas are rough and you have a weak stomach, stay away from heavy foods with creams and sauces and NO DESSERTS!. The staff will gladly accommodate you with very plain and simple food. Just go with the flow and tip if you think it is appropriate. A little extra money will make a big difference in request with EVERYONE of your requests.
Happy sailing and enjoy.
Rich Greene
December 12th, 2013 4:29 pm
We have sailed Carnival THREE times and Norwegian once. The worst experience we ever had was on the Carnival Liberty.

When I posted my review to Cruise Critic, I received more negative responses than positive ones. My complaint was with one area only. The rest of the cruise was okay except for hearing about the loss of our little dog from our dog sitter.

The deck just below the Lido deck is terrible in locations near a pool area. The deck is wood and the furniture is metal. When people dragged the furniture across the deck, the walls of my cabin literally vibrated and the noise was terrible. I could not sleep before 2 a.m. and then I had to be up around 5:30 a.m. when people went to breakfast.

I complained to the customer service desk (old Purser desk) several times. Even my room steward was surprised at the level of noise. She even brought her supervisor, a ship's officer up to my cabin to listen for himself. He stood there and shook his head. Once when I went back to the customer service desk, the female officer looked at me like I didn't know what I was talking about and told me there were no empty cabins to move us to. I told her to just send her co-worker, another officer, with me to my cabin to verify my complaint. He also didn't realize the noise was so loud. My complaint was verified.

I told them I have no other complaints except for the person that designed the ship. There is no buffering between decks. Other passengers near me also heard the noise but I don't think anyone else complained.

Well, a Carnival representative called me after we got home to apologize and of course gave us a paltry $100.00 discount on any cruise if we took it in a year. We did sail Carnival again on the Miracle from New York City thru the Panama Canal and to Long Beach, CA. 15 days. That was a great cruise except for the ship being one of the smaller ones. We learned our way around the ship in a couple days and that was it. Lay back and enjoy the cruise. I feel most complaints are justified.
January 20th, 2014 2:24 pm
My husband and I took our first cruise October 2010 to nowhere out of Norfolk, VA on the Carnival Glory, because we had such a grand time we have been on 8 more cruises since then from 5 days to 14 days. We have been on 4 with Carnival, 4 with Royal and 1 with Celebrity and we are never ready to get off the ship.

The only cruise that was a little disappointing was on the Disney 2012 and that is now the Sunshine. We contribute that to the ship being old, even with that my husband I was not ready to get off the ship, however our children and other family joined us on that cruise and said that they never wanted to cruise with Carnival again. My husband and I still cruise with Carnival and we still have a grand time. It's all about what you make it in whatever you do.

So, as long as cruise lines continue to offer specials and deals and we can still afford it, we will continue to cruise.
November 6th, 2016 7:58 am
I'd have to agree with those who say to read those reviews carefully. You can gain some information of value but only if you understand why the author wrote what they did. Many times I find the review is more about how the staff did not respond to the complaints and left them completely unsatisfied. Cruise ships and staff are fallible but when the staff listen to your complaints and respond with support and concern it does make a difference. I've worked customer service and it is not easy to deal with an unhappy customer. The results are always better when the staff can make the upset customer feel that they were heard and understood.

Remember those Carnival ships that lost power? I read many of the reviews left on Cruise Critic and was amazed that so many of them were positive, mostly because the writers had had a favorable experience with staff during the failure.
April 16th, 2017 3:29 pm
Have cruised 4 times and 2 of them holland America and both times have had sheets ripped safe didn't work couldn't wear my jewelry cause I gave up getting captain to open i also had to go and get new room key it wouldn't work half the time, padded for this trip for family cost a fortune my granddaughter almost stepped in dog pooh (YES) the pool was closed almost the whole 7 days only open 2 days and found staff couldn't understand English very well, cruised royal carribian and had the most wonderful time the staff were from all nationalities and could speak English very well am planning my next cruise and trying not to book holland America
Jessie Rushworth
June 18th, 2017 2:59 am
I had VERY serious issues on my 18th cruise with Princess last year. Everything was falling apart in the stateroom. The stateroom was extremely dusty. There was old paperwork sitting on the bench top that had been there for six weeks. The room stewardess refused to get anything fixed so my husband repaired the fridge door which had fallen off.

She was the most awful person I have ever met on any cruise ship. I was slightly injured when a large empty very heavy glass bottle came flying out with the life jacket prior to going to the drill. The air conditioning went off for ten hours, we were sat under it eating our breakfast when it rattled and roared into life. A thick white cloud of dust like stuff covered us and our food.Many more things were wrong in this stateroom.

I complained to Princess upon our return sending them photographs of all the things that were in need of repair etc. Nobody responded to these. I wrote a email and after a very long time I got a reply to that and Princess compensated us with extra on board credit on our next cruise.

This did not put me off Princess at all as I now have my 20th cruise with them booked with them plus I have been on one in-between. One bad experience out of 19 cruises with Princess so far is not bad. I love this cruise line and am very happy with every other cruise we have done with them.
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