When booking a cruise, usually one of the most important considerations is deciding which cruise ship to go on.
Each cruise line has a wide variety of ships to choose from, each with their own unique amenities and features. For example, newer ships resemble floating resorts with plenty of activities, while older ships are smaller and offer a more traditional approach to swimming. Sailing a brand new ship is very different from sailing a 20-year-old cruise ship.
That's why we usually encourage all prospective cruisers to do some research on which cruise ship they'd like to go on. Different cruise ships can certainly offer drastically different onboard experiences. This can lead to disappointment if you have certain expectations for your cruise vacation that were not met due to the ship you chose to cruise on.
Not surprisingly, budget can also play a big role in the booking process. Newer cruise ships with more upscale cruise lines will inherently be more expensive than older ships operating on major cruise lines. Even if you want to sail the latest and greatest ship, your budget may not allow it.
Well, I threw all that logic overboard when I booked my last Europe cruise! I booked a $3000 cruise and didn't care what ship she was on.
Here's what my experience was like - and why I won't be doing it again.
In October, I booked a 12-day cruise to Iceland for this summer on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas, one of the cruise line's oldest ships.
While Royal Caribbean is known as the world's most innovative cruise line, the company still operates several smaller, older ships. Jewel of the Seas is one of those cruise ships because it was built in 2004, which makes it almost 20 years old.
Unlike their newest megaships, the Radiance class of cruise ships is the second oldest in Royal Caribbean's fleet. The smaller cruise ship can only accommodate 2,500 passengers, making it more intimate. There is not much space on board for bells and whistles.
Jewel of the Seas is radically smaller than Royal Caribbean's newest ships, which are among the largest cruise ships in the world. Take, for example, the new Icon of the Seas (launched next year for Royal Caribbean), which can carry 7,600 passengers at maximum capacity.
You won't find much excitement on board during a cruise on a Radiance class ship. Instead, you have a more traditional, relaxing cruise where you can really connect with the sea.
We booked this cruise almost solely because of the Iceland itinerary and departure date.
My husband and I have been wanting to go to Iceland for some time. As someone who loves European cruises, this was right at the top of our to do list! We had to leave in June to accommodate our work schedules, which limited the search.
When we started looking at travel plans for this summer, we discovered that there are several cruise lines operating to Iceland during the summer. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian offered flights to Iceland during the analyzed period.
My first choice was the Norwegian Prima, the cruise line's newest ship, which made an amazing journey from Iceland to London with stops in Norway, Amsterdam and Belgium. It was a dream. But the kicker was that this cruise cost nearly $7,000 for the inside cabin guarantee!
Similarly, Celebrity Cruises made a 12-day cruise from Amsterdam to Iceland aboard Celebrity Apex, one of the airline's newest ships. It was about the same price, around $6,500 for the inner cab warranty.
As much as I wanted to book one of these tours, we just couldn't justify these prices for inside cabins, especially guaranteed cabins. While sailing on a newer and more luxurious ship would be amazing, these prices felt unfair. We should also fly to Europe and also budget for those expensive flights.
More suited to our budget was a cruise around Iceland from Amsterdam aboard the Jewel of the Seas, which cost $2,700 for the guarantee of an inner cabin.
This price was more in line with our budget and even included a $200 boarding credit. As we have loyalty status with Royal Caribbean (i.e. daily free drink vouchers - very lucrative) this was the best choice for our vacation.
The other Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises options were twice as expensive! We basically didn't care which ship we were on as exploring Iceland was our priority. The departure date was also perfect for our schedule. What's more, the cruise departed from Amsterdam, one of the cities we wanted to visit so much.
As the date approached we were able to upgrade our cabin to a Balcony Guarantee for only $300. This small fee seemed worth it as our itinerary would include beautiful scenery.
We knew Jewel of the Seas was almost 20 years old, but we thought we'd spend most of our time exploring Iceland. However, our itinerary included four days at sea, so we would still have plenty of time on board.
Although most of our cruise was spent ashore in Iceland, we were quite surprised by the general condition of the ship.
Sailing on an old cruise ship doesn't necessarily mean it's run down and outdated. In fact, some cruise lines do a great job of keeping their older ships fresh and up-to-date. I thought my expectations were realistic as we knew the ship was almost 20 years old. I had sailed on other Radiance-class ships before, so I thought nothing would surprise me.
However, the conditions on board were a bit worse than I imagined. It was pretty obvious that Royal Caribbean had not given Jewel of the Seas any TLC in recent years.
My husband and I agreed that the ship needed a major overhaul. The Jewel of the Seas does not appear to have been renovated since 2016, which is consistent with what we saw on board.
For example, the first morning when I went to get a latte at the cafe, I was shocked to see that one of the windows overlooking the walking trail was completely smashed! I've never seen this on a cruise ship before.
This would seem to be a top priority for maintenance, although I assume this wasn't a security issue as it was left untouched and broken.
Our balcony cabin also looked very worn, tired and dated with lots of visible rust.
Again, I didn't expect our balcony cabin to be modern anyway. But our cabin looked more worn and tired than I expected. The drawers and table in our cabin were very scratched.
Our balcony itself looked mostly worn out. The wooden shelf was so dry that I was afraid if I moved my hands the wrong way I would get a splinter!
As we booked a guarantee cabin, we also couldn't choose the location of our cabin. It's always a gamble - and usually ends up in the lower cabins. Our cabin ended up in the stern of the ship with a partial blockage and lots of visible rust.
This was not a problem for us as the cruise still cost half of everything we considered. If we had booked an alternative Celebrity or Norwegian cruise, we would not have been able to afford a balcony cabin.
Anyway, we loved having a balcony as the scenery in Iceland was incredibly breathtaking. It was unparalleled to wake up and see the scenery right from our bed. We enjoyed room service on our balcony the morning the ship docked. Even with the rusty and worn cabin, we loved our private balcony.
Crucially, Jewel of the Seas also lacked food outlets, while newer ships often have multiple dining options.
One of our favorite parts of the cruise is enjoying the delicious food on board because we love the culinary experience of a cruise. Newer cruise ships have expanded the dining options on board with so many options, from free to specials. Many cruise lines continue to reinvent onboard dining options with more dining options than you can imagine.
When we booked our Iceland cruise, we knew Jewel of the Seas didn't have many dining options. But I didn't expect it to be one of the most disappointing aspects of sailing on one of Royal Caribbean's older ships.
For example, there was only one small cafe open daily between 3pm and 6pm. There was a small selection of sandwiches available here including soggy salad and stale biscuits. After a long day exploring the port, it would be really nice to be able to have a decent meal when returning to the ship.
Older ships rely heavily on the buffet and main dining room for complimentary dinners, which was the case on our cruise.
During our cruise the buffet was full every meal. While I don't mind the Royal Caribbean buffet in any way, it took us about 15 minutes each morning to find a table and get our food. When we tried to run out the door to go on a trip, we just didn't have time for it. Also, there was only one place on board for specialty coffee, which also led to long queues every morning.
In anticipation of the dinner deals, we booked several evenings at specialty restaurants, including a steakhouse, an Italian grill and a sushi restaurant. We also booked the Chef's Table midway through our cruise for a unique, one-of-a-kind experience.
Throughout our cruise, specialty restaurants were the highlights of our dining experience. Managed to book a lunch package for us and it was totally worth it. We've also used our loyalty status benefits to get discounts at specialty restaurants.
If we had booked a newer cruise ship, there would certainly be more dining options on board than we probably wouldn't feel the need to go to specialty restaurants. As this is one of our favorite aspects of cruises, in the future it will be a priority to spend a little more on a cruise with more dining options.
The entertainment at Jewel of the Seas was limited and we didn't spend many evenings watching production shows.
Having been on many newer cruise ships recently, I have seen some amazing production shows such as full Broadway musicals and ice skating shows. Smaller and older cruise ships tend to have limited entertainment other than one major production show per night. On the other hand, newer cruise ships present the best of the best when it comes to entertainment.
Celebrity Apex and Norwegian Prima, for example, have world-class entertainment on board as they are the cruise line's two newest ships.
While this tour was extremely port-intensive, I underestimated how much I would miss the dazzling entertainment every evening. It really is the perfect way to spend an evening on board. We only attended two shows at Jewel of the Seas - because we didn't like the other shows.
While I didn't think I cared much about the cruise ship we were on, I missed the newer amenities and options on board.
Sometimes the reality of our vacation doesn't always match our expectations. Although I have sailed on many older and smaller cruise ships, I was a little disappointed that Royal Caribbean didn't try to update Jewel of the Seas at all.
For starters, the addition of a few free, quick eateries would greatly enhance the dining experience on board. Having such limited options causes congestion in open locations and lacks the necessary variety. I would love to see a pizzeria like Royal Caribbean's signature Sorrento's Pizza added to this ship.
I also missed those big, shiny entertainment shows. Although our itinerary was very busy in ports, we spent 12 nights on board. A newer ship is more appropriate as cruise lines often offer the best of the best entertainment on their newest ships.
Both the ship and the cabins could undergo a major refurbishment, such as repairing broken windows and refurbishing the balconies. However, these are cosmetic ailments that certainly did not spoil our cruise experience. But it was a noticeable difference from other ships I've sailed on.
Anyway, we had a great cruise that focused on our time in Iceland which was great. We saw the cruise ship itself as a means to an end - a cozy place to come back to every night. Jewel of the Seas was the perfect place to sleep and eat while being easily transported through the magical land of Iceland.
In the future I will not hesitate to spend a little more on a possibly better cruise ship, especially with Royal Caribbean. Even on a route with a large port, you still spend a lot of time on board the ship, which should not be forgotten.
If you miss the ship, you'll have to either meet it in a subsequent port of call or call it a wash and head home. Your cruise line, travel agent or travel insurance provider might be able to help you make the plans; otherwise, you'll have to make arrangements on your own.Can I cancel a cruise I just booked? ›
From 29 to15 days prior to sailing, the penalty is 75% of the total fare or the standard deposit amount, whichever is greater. From 14 days prior to sailing to the day of your cruise, the penalty is 100%* of the total fare.Can you get off a cruise ship and not return? ›
Yes, within reason. You do have a buffer between the all-aboard time and the actual removal of the gang plank, but you don't want to push it. The most important thing to know is that if you're booked on a ship's excursion, the cruise ship will always wait for you.Do you get a refund if you miss your cruise? ›
Cruise lines generally do not offer refunds or future cruise credits for passengers who miss a cruise due to travel delays. This includes partial refunds for missed days if you join a cruise a day or two late.How often do people miss cruise ships? ›
Anyone travelling some distance to join their cruise ship, or taking a shore excursion in distant lands will have had the thought cross their mind - “What if I don't make it to the ship in time?” It is estimated that around 5% of passengers will miss their ship once in their cruising lifetime.Is it common for people to go missing on cruises? ›
Approximately 400 people have gone missing from cruise ships in the past 20 years. While this is no cause for general alarm, given that approximately 30 million people take cruise ship vacations each year, it is still a dangerous and concerning statistic.What is a good reason to cancel a cruise? ›
Injury or Illness. Sickness and injury are the top reasons for cancelling a trip. No one enjoys traveling while feeling under the weather. Also, injury may make it impossible to travel, especially on a plane or boat.How much do you lose if you cancel a cruise? ›
Special notes: For cruise cancellations less than 90 days out, the penalties outlined below are likewise applied for hotel, transfers and standard air that are booked through the cruise line. For All Cruises: 121 days or longer before sailing: $75 per person. 120–91 days: 25 percent of the fare.How much is it to cancel a cruise? ›
|FOR 5 NIGHTS OR LONGER CRUISES (including Holiday sailings and Cruisetours) IF CANCELLATION IS MADE||CANCELLATION CHARGE|
|89 to 75 days||25% of total price|
|74 to 61 days||50% of total price|
|60 to 31 days||75% of total price|
Depending on the depth of the water and the available infrastructure at the port you're visiting, your ship will either dock at a pier or anchor offshore. If your ship is docked, you'll be able to simply walk off the vessel directly onto dry land via a movable ramp called a gangway.
U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises will be able to enter or depart the country with proof of citizenship, such as an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL), a government-issued birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where he or she was born) or passport, and if 16 or older, a government ...Can you take a cruise one way? ›
There's an array of cruise lines offering one-way sailings, including Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean, as well as luxury lines like Silversea, Crystal, Regent Seven Seas and Ponant.What are the new cruise refund rules? ›
New federal rules require a refund whenever a cruise that starts in the U.S. is cancelled or delayed at least three days. You can voluntarily agree to a credit. Otherwise, you get your money back. You also get back any ancillary fees you pre-paid.Do I lose my deposit if I cancel my cruise? ›
Deposits are refundable unless otherwise indicated. This will typically be spelled out clearly on the cruise line's website at time of booking, or by your travel advisor.What happens if one person cancels a cruise? ›
The refunds or cancellation charges that will be payable depend on the departure date of the cruise or cruise tour and the amount of notice provided. If one guest in a booking needs to cancel, the other guests can still travel as a sole occupant in the cabin.How many cruises sink on average? ›
Cruise ships very rarely sink, and when they do it is often when they don't have passengers on board. Just over one cruise ship every 5 years has sunk in the last 100 years. Regarding sinking with casualties, that's only one every 7 years. In the last 50 years, there have been 15 cruise ships that have sunk.How many people have never been on a cruise? ›
Currently, 18% of U.S. adults who have never been on a cruise plan to go on one, up two percentage points from March 2022. Forty percent say they've been on a cruise before, but only half are likely to go on one again. The remaining respondents (42%) have never been on a cruise and are not interested in going on one.What is the average income of cruise passengers? ›
Similarly, income earned by one-third of cruise travelers was from $100,000 - $199,000 annually, with another 28 percent from $60,000 - $69,000. On average, the annual household income earned by cruisers was $114,000.Do 200 people go missing on cruise ships? ›
Based on the reports that have been filed, we can estimate that around 200 people go missing from cruise ships each year. This shows that cruise ship disappearances are more frequent than most people realize.Do people get trafficked on cruises? ›
Human trafficking may also occur in cruising, and cruise ship crime is common. Ship workers, who are notoriously paid low wages, are even paid off by people who can withhold their pay or pay workers less than they expect to receive in order to force them to commit crimes. About Human Trafficking.
According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2019 the rate of reported crimes aboard cruise ships was 0.18 incidents per every 100,000 passengers. The top three crimes committed on cruise ships were sexual assault (sexual battery), theft and serious injury according to Wikipedia.What actions get you kicked off a cruise? ›
- Get sick. ...
- Bring drugs or other illegal items onboard. ...
- Fail to show correct travel documents. ...
- Buy a minor a drink onboard. ...
- Engage in disorderly conduct. ...
- Break quarantine.
- Book restaurant packages. ...
- Look for specialty restaurant specials. ...
- Book spa treatments on port days. ...
- Don't over-tip. ...
- Go on your own on shore. ...
- Save on your bar bill with discounted packages. ...
- Look for drink specials. ...
- Don't waste the wine!
Yes, policyholders with Trip Cancellation coverage are able to cancel their flight or cruise in the event of a medical issue before their trip if they, their travel companion, or a non-traveling family member experience unforeseen illness, injury, or death leading up to a trip.Does cruise insurance cover cancellations? ›
Most cruise insurance plans may cover medical emergencies, trip cancellation, trip interruption, medical evacuation, and lost, damaged, or stolen luggage when you're on a cruise. Cruise insurance can also cover cruise-ship disablement and pre-existing conditions, depending on when you buy coverage.Do I need a passport on a cruise? ›
Do I need a passport? We recommend that everyone taking a cruise from the United States have a passport book. Though some “closed-loop” cruises may not require a U.S. passport, we recommend bringing yours in case of an emergency, such as an unexpected medical air evacuation or the ship docking at an alternate port.Is it cheaper to call and book a cruise? ›
Travel agents can get better deals on cruises
Their service to you is usually free, though some may charge first-time clients a minimal fee. It's worth it. In addition to sharing their expertise, the agent may have negotiated group space at lower rates with the cruise line, which may save you money on the cruise fare.
According to Allianz Global Assistance, a travel insurance provider, "Trip cancellations and trip interruptions due to known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, or fear of travel are generally not covered."Are cruises cheaper than hotels? ›
The base prices for cruises are typically lower than prices for resorts because the cruise lines expect you to make up the difference in onboard purchases.Do you get breakfast on last day of cruise? ›
Yes, breakfast is served on cruise disembarkation day. You can visit the buffet or sit in the main dining room for one last breakfast. Some cruise lines allow you to order room service.
Port Canaveral (Florida)
Florida's Port Canaveral is the busiest cruise port in the country. Passenger traffic from 2022, revealed in February 2023, shows the northeast Florida port welcomed 4,072,396 cruise guests, overtaking PortMiami, which previously held the title.
So, the short answer is NO, the cruise ship will not wait for you if you are late. If you arrive late for the scheduled departure time, it's almost certain the cruise ship will leave you behind.Can I get off the cruise ship in Mexico without a passport? ›
Mexico Cruise Passport Requirements
US citizens on closed-loop cruises, meaning they begin and end at the same US port, can travel to Mexico with proof of citizenship other than a passport. Accepted alternative documents include: US state-issued copy of the birth certificate. Consular report of birth abroad.
Though most foreign travel requires that you have a valid passport to come back home, cruising makes it easier to enjoy your vacation without worrying about this paperwork. If you are a US citizen, you can take a “closed-loop cruise” (one that begins and ends at the same port) to The Bahamas without a passport.How do I know if my cruise is closed-loop? ›
Closed-loop cruises start and finish at the same United States port. Cruises that don't begin and end in the same port are not considered closed-loop cruises. An example would be one that starts in Florida and ends in the Bahamas.What is the cheapest month to go on a cruise? ›
Traditionally, the cheapest months to book a cruise have been January, February, and March, which are also known as "wave season." The trio of months often welcome industry-wide sales that can extend further than just a reduction on cruise fares.Does a single person have to pay double for a cruise? ›
Standard cruise fares are charged per person, based on double occupancy of a cabin. In order to not lose money on solo travelers, cruise lines require a person staying alone in a cabin to pay double the regular fare.Should I stick with one cruise line? ›
If one cruise line truly represents your ultimate vacation, it can be very nice to build up loyalty benefits not only to receive discounts to take more vacations, but to get special rewards and priority treatment while cruising.Can you take a cruise and not come back? ›
The vast majority of passengers simply sail their normal cruise itinerary. But can you just get off the ship and return home on your own terms? The answer is yes, but there are some major complications (and laws) that should be considered.What happens if you get off a cruise ship and don t get back on? ›
If you miss the ship, you'll have to either meet it in a subsequent port of call or call it a wash and head home. Your cruise line, travel agent or travel insurance provider might be able to help you make the plans; otherwise, you'll have to make arrangements on your own.
Cruise workers who resign before completing their contract must pay for their own transportation back home and may not be eligible for future employment, according to interviews with four former and current employees, company documents, and meeting recordings obtained by Insider.Can you cancel a cruise you just booked? ›
If you are canceling your booking prior to your final payment, there is no penalty to cancel unless you have booked a specific promotion with a non-refundable deposit and/or fare.Does a debit card get charged at the end on the cruise? ›
If you presented a debit/cheque cashing card, the hold will restrict the available cash in your checking account. All charges will be billed to the credit card or debit/check cashing card at the end of the cruise.Can I get a refund if my cruise price drops? ›
Call the Cruise Line (And Be Polite) No matter when you see a price drop, it's worth a polite call to see if the cruise line will work to refund the money. Often (though not always) it will work. As you can see above, if the price is lowered within 48 hours of your booking, you can fill out a form to get your refund.How many people don't return from a cruise? ›
People very rarely disappear on a cruise ship. On average it's around 19 people that go missing each year. This is out of the many millions of cruise ship passengers that travel aboard one of the 314 cruise ships that sail the world's oceans each year.What is the fine for jumping off a cruise ship? ›
U.S. Coast Guard
The act of intentionally jumping into the water from a passenger vessel is considered interfering with the safe operation of the vessel, a violation of 46 United States Code, Section 2302. The penalties for this violation can be up to $35,000.
A: Yes! Partial cruises allow you to enjoy part of your cruise vacation in the event that you are unable to meet the ship in the scheduled boarding port, or would like to end your cruise earlier than the scheduled departure date.How many people miss their cruise on average? ›
People very rarely disappear on a cruise ship. On average it's around 19 people that go missing each year. This is out of the many millions of cruise ship passengers that travel aboard one of the 314 cruise ships that sail the world's oceans each year.What time of year should you not take a cruise? ›
Storms in August and October have a moderate risk of developing into hurricanes while September has the highest risk of all. For these reasons, September is the worst month of the year to take a cruise.
Avoid arriving at peak boarding time
We recommend getting to the terminal either early, before the rush, or late (after 2 p.m.), when most people are already onboard. You might still have a little wait, but it won't be anything compared to peak boarding time.
Image of handcuffs. One way cruise lines address unruly passengers is by using an area on the ship known as the “brig,” a military prison, where passengers can be held for a short period until they get disembarked at the next port of call or until the ship reaches its final destination.Can I take food back to my room on a cruise? ›
On most cruises, nobody will object if you take food from the buffet or another casual restaurant and bring it back to your room. However, you can always ask your server to plate up your meal to take with you or if you need to sit down at a specialty venue early for some reasons or leave the main dining room.Can you take alcohol back to your room on a cruise? ›
Boxed wine and other containers are prohibited. Guests who purchase alcohol bottles onboard, in a port-of-call, or bring more than the one permitted bottle on boarding day, will have their items safely stored by the ship. These bottles will be returned on the last day onboard for enjoyment once home.Can you be in a room by yourself on a cruise? ›
Yes. Certain cruise lines -- particularly river lines like Uniworld -- and travel agents offer deals for solo cruisers in the way of reduced single supplements or discounts on solo cabins. A knowledgeable travel agent can help you find affordable solo cruises.