Bad Cruise Ship Reviews

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Bad Cruise Ship Reviews

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

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