Cruising with "difficult to please" family members

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#1
1,908 Posts
Joined May 2004
Hello all- hoping some of you may have personal experience on this topic and can provide insight.

This year we are considering a big family cruise for Christmas. While we have done New Years cruises (after the family get-togethers), the idea of unwrapping presents while in the Caribbean is very attractive, and I think would be a lot of fun. No cooking, no cleaning, and everyone can do and eat whatever they want!

The problem is one of my in-laws. She is...difficult and gets very upset at perceived slights. Don't get me wrong - she has a big heart - but I think tends to be oversensitive and kind of dramatic. I get on with her fine, but truthfully, she is taxing to be around, and the last few Christmases have been a bit of a bummer.

Would a cruise work? On one hand, I'm thinking it would be awesome because we could all do whatever we wanted during the day and only have to meet up at night. On the other hand, I'm scared of any scenes she might create, and traveling with family might be *really* stressful.

We are considering the Liberty of the Seas, which should have a ton of activities and things to do.

Has anyone here dealt with a similar situation?
#2
Alabama
1,234 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
In this situation I think if she wants to go then try to involve her in the planning ahead of time as much as possible. That way what can she complain about!
#3
SW Florida
7,028 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
We have cruised with a large group in the past, but not family, just friends. However, there were many different personalities involved, and since I was the 'ring leader,' I felt personally responsible (even though I shouldn't have) that everyone would have a good time. The first thing I did when organizing the trip was have a conversation with everyone explaining that this is everyone's vacation, and no one had to be in each other's hip pockets 24/7. People needed to plan what they wanted to do during the day, and then we would all meet up before dinner for cocktails and have dinner together, and then go to the show. When the show was over, everyone did their own thing--some went to the casino, some when to listen to music, some went to sleep. Sometimes we all did things together (one excursion that was a blast comes to mind,) and sometimes we spit off into smaller groups, and sometimes everyone went their own way. One one or two occasions there were some minor bumps, but they blew over fast, and at the end of the day, everyone had a great time.

My point is that expectations need to be laid down early on in the planning, and everyone needs to understand that they are ultimately responsible for their own good time. I think more and more large groups (family and/or friends) are traveling together, and it's a wonderful way to share a fun and memorable vacation.

I do hope you can pull it off. It has the potential to be a great family vacation.
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"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrowmindedness" - Mark Twain

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#4
Palm Coast, Florida
147 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
You know, ultimately you cannot tiptoe around the issues other people have. You can and should treat her with respect, but if she is difficult to please that is really her problem. You do not exist to please her specifically. I have dealt with a lot of difficult family members in my life and eventually you just have to live and let live. The more they are catered to, the more difficult they become. She is responsible for her own happiness. Just my $.02.
#5
Puget Sound
8,626 Posts
Joined May 2010
OP -- I'm no expert, but IMHO, people who are oversensitive and dramatic often act that way when they feel powerless. If your MIL has never cruised before, make sure she has plenty of advance information on how the whole process works. Be sure to tell her who to talk to onboard if she has a problem with her room, or the food in the MDR. Knowledge is power -- if she encounters problems, she'll have options to deal with them. Hopefully, that means avoiding making a scene, and not having to involve you in every little issue that she encounters on the cruise. Oh, and one more hint: you might want to make sure that the staff members who do have to deal with her are tipped well -- they will most likely earn it!

Bottom line: you are not responsible for the actions of other adults. Do your best, and go have a great holiday at sea with your family!!!
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#6
Brooklyn
29 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
Originally posted by wwcruisers
Bottom line: you are not responsible for the actions of other adults. Do your best, and go have a great holiday at sea with your family!!!
Agreed. If she creates a scene, it's her problem.

I have a close family member who never accepts the first hotel room, restaurant table, etc. Nothing is ever clean enough or done the way she expects it. I used to let her unhappiness ruin my time, but not anymore. All you can control is your own reactions and simply don't react.

Of course you should treat her with the same kindness and consideration you expect for yourself and definitely let every one express his or her expectations. But in the end we are all responsible for ourselves.
#7
GA
645 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
we have traveled with family before, and while we dont have a member with the same issues you describe, we have a usual plan for traveling with a group.

since it is impossible to "herd cats" we let everyone plan their own day, the only thing we try to do is meet for dinner in the MDR and pose for one family pic! with less pressure, it is funny how we tend to meet up by chance, with no obligation to hang around! it makes for a very relaxing cruise!
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#8
364 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
Originally posted by windjamming
Hello all- hoping some of you may have personal experience on this topic and can provide insight.

This year we are considering a big family cruise for Christmas. While we have done New Years cruises (after the family get-togethers), the idea of unwrapping presents while in the Caribbean is very attractive, and I think would be a lot of fun. No cooking, no cleaning, and everyone can do and eat whatever they want!

The problem is one of my in-laws. She is...difficult and gets very upset at perceived slights. Don't get me wrong - she has a big heart - but I think tends to be oversensitive and kind of dramatic. I get on with her fine, but truthfully, she is taxing to be around, and the last few Christmases have been a bit of a bummer.

Would a cruise work? On one hand, I'm thinking it would be awesome because we could all do whatever we wanted during the day and only have to meet up at night. On the other hand, I'm scared of any scenes she might create, and traveling with family might be *really* stressful.

We are considering the Liberty of the Seas, which should have a ton of activities and things to do.

Has anyone here dealt with a similar situation?
does she have a husband? talk to her early so she doesn't think she was just a last minute add-on. what does she like? bingo, trivia, reading, pool, spa, etc.. if she's not married tell her about all the single older guys on these cruises :-) do a lot of 'what do you think about this or that so she thinks she is having input. mention the no cooking, no cleaning and free room service. you might want to be sure you don't get connecting cabins.
#9
Philadelphia area
6,726 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Oh boy. I come from a very tough crowd, both family and friends.

When someone is oversensitive or difficult to please, we mock them and make fun of them. If that bothers them more, it just makes it more humorous for all of us.
#10
6,338 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by wwcruisers
If your MIL has never cruised before,


For the record the OP stated "The problem is one of my in-laws." . OP did not state that the problem was with "MIL"
#11
Puget Sound
8,626 Posts
Joined May 2010
Originally posted by xxoocruiser
For the record the OP stated "The problem is one of my in-laws." . OP did not state that the problem was with "MIL"
Yep, I caught that after I posted -- sharp eyes on you!
Of course, it was probably just one of those "Freudian slips" on my part, lol!
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#12
3,862 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Patience is essential, attitude is everything.

A good attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure!

Being happy does not mean that everything is perfect.
It means you have decided to look beyond
the imperfections of you’re expectations.

Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy !!!
But everyone will have difficult decisions to make though
over the long period of time!!!!!
Good luck and plan time apart.



Toes in the water,
ass in the sand,
not a worry in the world,
a cold beer in my Hand,
life is good today!!!

Zac Brown Band!!
#13
6,249 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
I think a cruise is the perfect way to get away from this person.
I've reached the point in my life where I don't need to be around toxic people. If they are around, I simply ignore them. They can fuss all they want, but they'll get no response from me. I'm not going to spend my time dealing with their drama....especially on a cruise.
#14
BC Canada
1,337 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
We have cruised with family members that sometime just get under my skin .... they are big ships , sould be able to fix it so your just not in the same place at the same time , or just mess up the sailing date and tell them its one day after it actually sails , might have some explaning to do after the fact but , sounds like it would be a more enjoyable holiday
Cheers
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#15
Western NY
1,339 Posts
Joined Jun 2012
Originally posted by johneeo
Oh boy. I come from a very tough crowd, both family and friends.

When someone is oversensitive or difficult to please, we mock them and make fun of them. If that bothers them more, it just makes it more humorous for all of us.
Is there a "like" button on here ? My wife's sister would bitch if you hung her with a new rope. Which is hard to believe is possible on a cruise. But prior to leaving, we plan all our excursions out and if they want to join us that's fine if not we'll meet up on the ship somewhere for dinner or coffee. In other words, you enjoy your cruise and we will enjoy ours! There is no way her bad attitude is going to ruin my vacation !
#16
12,038 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Originally posted by windjamming
Hello all- hoping some of you may have personal experience on this topic and can provide insight.

This year we are considering a big family cruise for Christmas. While we have done New Years cruises (after the family get-togethers), the idea of unwrapping presents while in the Caribbean is very attractive, and I think would be a lot of fun. No cooking, no cleaning, and everyone can do and eat whatever they want!

The problem is one of my in-laws. She is...difficult and gets very upset at perceived slights. Don't get me wrong - she has a big heart - but I think tends to be oversensitive and kind of dramatic. I get on with her fine, but truthfully, she is taxing to be around, and the last few Christmases have been a bit of a bummer.

Would a cruise work? On one hand, I'm thinking it would be awesome because we could all do whatever we wanted during the day and only have to meet up at night. On the other hand, I'm scared of any scenes she might create, and traveling with family might be *really* stressful.

We are considering the Liberty of the Seas, which should have a ton of activities and things to do.

Has anyone here dealt with a similar situation?
Originally posted by xxoocruiser
For the record the OP stated "The problem is one of my in-laws." . OP did not state that the problem was with "MIL"
For the record, look at the OP again.
#17
South Carolina
25,749 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
Does your "in-law" WANT to take this Christmas cruise?

If not ... it could be quite stressful.

LuLu
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#18
Michigan
6,328 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
You never really know someone until you travel with them, but from what you've said if it was me I'd say I know enough that I wouldn't want to travel with her, period. Vacations are too special and expensive to spend them with anyone who might ruin the fun and enjoyment.
#19
Philadelphia area
6,726 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by bouhunter
You never really know someone until you travel with them, but from what you've said if it was me I'd say I know enough that I wouldn't want to travel with her, period. Vacations are too special and expensive to spend them with anyone who might ruin the fun and enjoyment.
Just don't let them.
#20
Florida
170 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Cruise would be great in my opinion but like others suggested it might be good to have a discussion about people doing their own thing during the day and meet up at dinner and make arrangements where everyone can eat together or have tables near each other depending upon the # of people. Also maybe share your excursion choices and if people want to join you then fine, if they don't fine. I also think it will make a difference if your in-law has a spouse or someone to pal around with during the day. But you could go, make an invite, and try not to worry about others.

Last summer we did a graduation cruise for my daughter and my best friend's son who also graduated (they grew up together). Family joined us. There was a total of 15 total. We have been around my friends family quite often so that was not a problem but my in laws have not been around the others so I was very nervous. All went well but I don't know if I would do it again. Worry is my middle name and I didn't want to offend anyone if we weren't doing something with them, had trouble relaxing, etc.
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