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Why does anyone cruise - I don’t understand


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Posted (edited)

I’m currently on my first cruise (on MSC from Trieste) and I’m not sure why anyone would ever choose it. It took 3-4 hours to board much of that in the sun. Then you’re not allowed to leave the ship except with their own excursion, you can’t even buy water and definitely no souvenirs from a shop. To me at least one  charm of travel is to be able to wander and discover places. Last, they don’t seem at all concerned with fire safety as there are a couple of designated smoking areas but these are ignored by both staff and cruiser. I hope it doesn’t cause a disaster some day. So anyway, can someone tell me why they would choose this over flying to a resort, exploring the island and maybe taking a ferry or charter to another? It would certainly be cheaper, better value and less trouble.

Edited by dedalus
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7 minutes ago, isosika said:

Sounds like you ;picked the wrong cruise line.

Maybe you’re right…this one looked good from the YouTube videos from Emma and others.  I wouldn’t know as this is our first (and probably last)

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8 minutes ago, 1025cruise said:

Please keep in mind that some of the restrictions you are facing are due to Covid. Once the pandemic is behind us, things will be better.

I understand, but in our excursions we’re walking among land tourists with no restrictions. A lot of it has been a failure of management to do basic planning for the number of guests they were getting…anyway i don’t want to be a bore…I’ll try to make the best of it and thanks for the comment.

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4 minutes ago, dedalus said:

I understand, but in our excursions we’re walking among land tourists with no restrictions. A lot of it has been a failure of management to do basic planning for the number of guests they were getting…anyway i don’t want to be a bore…I’ll try to make the best of it and thanks for the comment.

You are not being a bore. Cruising is a niche market in the travel industry. Some like it, some love it. This bb is full of these people. Lots of people are like you with one and done with cruising and there are lots of people who will never want to even try cruising. 

 

Try to enjoy the rest of your cruise. You will either say "never again" at the end or you might say, "maybe I'll try this again some day". 

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Interesting to read your post, @dedalus. There are dozens of people here talking as if cruising in Europe has returned to normal and how CDC/cruiseline restrictions have nearly ruined the experience. It sounds like resumption of cruising is a mixed bag everywhere, and certainly MSC is operating with many of the same issues and limitations as here in the US.

 

Thank you for your perspective!. 

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1 hour ago, dedalus said:

I’m currently on my first cruise (on MSC from Trieste) and I’m not sure why anyone would ever choose it. It took 3-4 hours to board much of that in the sun. Then you’re not allowed to leave the ship except with their own excursion, you can’t even buy water and definitely no souvenirs from a shop. To me at least one  charm of travel is to be able to wander and discover places. Last, they don’t seem at all concerned with fire safety as there are a couple of designated smoking areas but these are ignored by both staff and cruiser. I hope it doesn’t cause a disaster some day. So anyway, can someone tell me why they would choose this over flying to a resort, exploring the island and maybe taking a ferry or charter to another? It would certainly be cheaper, better value and less trouble.

Cruising is not for everyone. That's why there are so many choices for what to do or where to go on vacation. I love cruising. I love being out on the ocean, seeing sea life (such as dolphins and flying fish), smelling the salty sea air, and occasionally feeling the salt spray on my face. On the other hand, I have absolutely NO desire to ever go snow skiing. Just the thought of slamming into a tree while skiing downhill, or getting buried in an avalanche is enough to cause me to say "No thank-you!" You've discovered that cruising isn't your most ideal vacation, and that's okay. No one will hold that against you. 

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I love cruising--sea days are the best! 

You can do EVERYTHING, or relax & do nothing...

Yes, right now things are different. 

Try again when COVID protocols are lifted. 

Perhaps another line. We love Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Norweigan & Princess.

My cousins sailed MSC & didn't care for --they said the service & activities were lacking.

 

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1 hour ago, dedalus said:

I’m currently on my first cruise (on MSC from Trieste) and I’m not sure why anyone would ever choose it. It took 3-4 hours to board much of that in the sun. Then you’re not allowed to leave the ship except with their own excursion, you can’t even buy water and definitely no souvenirs from a shop. To me at least one  charm of travel is to be able to wander and discover places. Last, they don’t seem at all concerned with fire safety as there are a couple of designated smoking areas but these are ignored by both staff and cruiser. I hope it doesn’t cause a disaster some day. So anyway, can someone tell me why they would choose this over flying to a resort, exploring the island and maybe taking a ferry or charter to another? It would certainly be cheaper, better value and less trouble.

Cruising is an industry where “you get what you pay for.”


For whatever reasons, you picked one of the “mass market lines” many of which often try to be “everything for everybody” at a discount price.  But, just as often, they fall far short of the mark on quality while also subjecting you to mediocre food, “nickel-diming,” thundering herds of humanity, incessant announcements, pesky photogs, questionable art auctions, uncontrolled smoking.....


And some of these mass market lines realize their shortcomings enough that they have tried to create a “ship within a ship” area in a wannabe attempt to duplicate the experience found on premium/luxury lines.

 

Bummer that you’re first cruise experience is a bust for you. But, you may want to do a bit more research and give it another try.

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Posted (edited)

One of my favorite "shore excursions" is to just wander around whatever port we're in.  Pre-pandemic you were limited only by how far you could walk or what public conveyance was available.  The only restriction was time; you needed to get back before the ship sailed!   

 

As far as land resorts those are not appealing to me for the most part.  I really like being on the ocean.  I could stand on the promenade and just stare at the sea forever.  Well, not forever, eventually I have to eat.  I like waking up in a different port and imagining what the new port will be like and how the day will unfold.  I like coming back "home" at the end of the day knowing all I have to do is relax and let someone else do the driving.  I like standing on the promenade at sailaway; sometimes local folks will come down to the pier and play music or just wave goodbye.  I like talking to people I don't know while in those crazy long lines.  I love to hear about all the places they're from, the places they've been, how their trip is going so far and all the different languages and accents.    

 

And no, you are definitely not being a bore.  Different strokes for different folks as the saying goes.  Maybe someday down the road when things are back to normal you can try another cruise and see if you don't change your mind.  Until then, enjoy all your journeys whether on land or on sea.  

 

 

Edited by Blondilu
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I've heard alot of mixed things about MSC. And it seems clearly that COVID protocols are influencing your sailing. Prior to completely ruling out cruising I would one after the COVID restrictions are gone and try a different cruise line. Why do people cruise? Alot people like the fact that one inclusive price includes your food, room, transportation, entertainment, (and on some lines) alcohol. It's often a vacation choice that gives you room to less planning and work - don't have to choose hotels, don't have to find transportation options, don't have to find restaurants. But agree that it's definitely not for everyone. I also would not be interested in a cruise where you couldn't leave the ship except on bubble excursions.

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2 hours ago, dedalus said:

Last, they don’t seem at all concerned with fire safety as there are a couple of designated smoking areas but these are ignored by both staff and cruiser.

Let me first emphasize that all mariners are vitally concerned with fire safety, as unlike anyplace on land, there is no place to evacuate to with a fire on the ship.  Most land firefighters will tell you they would rather fight 6 fires on land than one on a ship.  The smoking areas are for passenger convenience, to limit second hand smoke, not for fire safety.

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Apart from the Covid restrictions that would have most likely changed your cruising experience perhaps you also picked the wrong type of cruise, reading up on your cruise I can say it does not appeal. I've always based cruise choices on experiences I was seeking like visiting hard to reach islands or to participate in special events. 

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1 hour ago, dedalus said:

I understand, but in our excursions we’re walking among land tourists with no restrictions. A lot of it has been a failure of management to do basic planning for the number of guests they were getting…anyway i don’t want to be a bore…I’ll try to make the best of it and thanks for the comment.

 

Thanks for sharing this information.  I find it troubling that the cruise line is imposing bubble excursions when the port allows tourism without restrictions.   Previously, I was pretty certain that the ship-only excursions were here only as long as needed to comply with a port's COVID protocols.   Now I'm not so sure.   

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1 hour ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Cruising is an industry where “you get what you pay for.”


For whatever reasons, you picked one of the “mass market lines” many of which often try to be “everything for everybody” at a discount price.  But, just as often, they fall far short of the mark on quality while also subjecting you to mediocre food, “nickel-diming,” thundering herds of humanity, incessant announcements, pesky photogs, questionable art auctions, uncontrolled smoking.....


And some of these mass market lines realize their shortcomings enough that they have tried to create a “ship within a ship” area in a wannabe attempt to duplicate the experience found on premium/luxury lines.

 

Bummer that you’re first cruise experience is a bust for you. But, you may want to do a bit more research and give it another try.

I guess that’s my answer really. Jan 2020 for a similar price we flew down to Mauritius and spent some 8 days at a resort with several pools and included restaurants. We sailed around the island, snorkeled, and hired a car and driver and freely explored. But you’re saying I needed to pay more to have a decent experience - therefore the “value proposition” of cruising is simply not there. We could have flown to Crete, Kos, Mykonos, Tenerife, or Mallorca and stayed in a higher quality place and been free to do what we wanted for less. Instead I’m kind of wishing I was back at work sad as it may seem.

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Lets start by saying that cruising is not for everyone.  We have some friends who strongly disliked their cruise experience and say they will never cruise again.  And then there are those of us who have spent a lot of time on cruises and are completely addicted to this form of travel.

 

Specifically to the OP, we have cruised on MSC a few times (always in their Yacht Club) and really enjoyed the experience.  But this was prior to COVID and its related restrictions.  MSC is also a somewhat different experience in Europe as compared to their cruises in the Caribbean.  Europeans still love their smoking and that can be a problem on ships or even at an outdoor cafe in Paris.  Here in the USA/Canada we have fewer smokers and now do a better job enforcing anti-smoking regulations.  When we travel in Europe the smoking is really annoying but there is little that a traveler can do other then try to avoid smokers.  So in Paris it might mean dining inside a restaurant in order to avoid all the smokers that fill outdoor tables.   And the situation is no better in Italy, Spain, etc.  Trying to get lots of smokers to follow the posted rules is like herding cats although I think it is easier to deal with the cats :).

 

These days the COVID related rules that apply to cruise ships vary depending on where you embark and cruise.  Italy has some tough rules and lots of restrictions.  On the other hand, if you were to cruise out of Pireaus (Athens) to the Greek Islands you would have no restrictions as to independent travel on the islands other then following any locally imposed rules such as mask wearing in some places.  The problems you encounter with so called "bubble excursion" requirements has been publicized by the cruise lines and is usually because of requirements imposed by various governments.  There are quite a few places around the world where land travelers are free to roam and restrictions are imposed on cruisers.  I do not like these policies but that is the COVID world.   It is the same in many Caribbean ports where a person flying-in can satisfy local COVID rules (such as getting a PCR test) and be free to roam.  But cruisers coming to that same island may be further restricted.   Those that do not want to deal with these restrictions are best advised to not cruise.

 

Hank

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10 minutes ago, ldubs said:

 

Thanks for sharing this information.  I find it troubling that the cruise line is imposing bubble excursions when the port allows tourism without restrictions.   Previously, I was pretty certain that the ship-only excursions were here only as long as needed to comply with a port's COVID protocols.   Now I'm not so sure.   

Yes, we asked the Freelance tour guide earlier here in Dubrovnik. She said a smaller French ship had no such restrictions, but other cruise lines do have.  So it seems like a choice the cruise line has made.

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15 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Lets start by saying that cruising is not for everyone.  We have some friends who strongly disliked their cruise experience and say they will never cruise again.  And then there are those of us who have spent a lot of time on cruises and are completely addicted to this form of travel.

 

Specifically to the OP, we have cruised on MSC a few times (always in their Yacht Club) and really enjoyed the experience.  But this was prior to COVID and its related restrictions.  MSC is also a somewhat different experience in Europe as compared to their cruises in the Caribbean.  Europeans still love their smoking and that can be a problem on ships or even at an outdoor cafe in Paris.  Here in the USA/Canada we have fewer smokers and now do a better job enforcing anti-smoking regulations.  When we travel in Europe the smoking is really annoying but there is little that a traveler can do other then try to avoid smokers.  So in Paris it might mean dining inside a restaurant in order to avoid all the smokers that fill outdoor tables.   And the situation is no better in Italy, Spain, etc.  Trying to get lots of smokers to follow the posted rules is like herding cats although I think it is easier to deal with the cats :).

 

These days the COVID related rules that apply to cruise ships vary depending on where you embark and cruise.  Italy has some tough rules and lots of restrictions.  On the other hand, if you were to cruise out of Pireaus (Athens) to the Greek Islands you would have no restrictions as to independent travel on the islands other then following any locally imposed rules such as mask wearing in some places.  The problems you encounter with so called "bubble excursion" requirements has been publicized by the cruise lines and is usually because of requirements imposed by various governments.  There are quite a few places around the world where land travelers are free to roam and restrictions are imposed on cruisers.  I do not like these policies but that is the COVID world.   It is the same in many Caribbean ports where a person flying-in can satisfy local COVID rules (such as getting a PCR test) and be free to roam.  But cruisers coming to that same island may be further restricted.   Those that do not want to deal with these restrictions are best advised to not cruise.

 

Hank

Thank you Hank! I understand now, it is from the Italian government saying you can resume cruising from here and returning here, but under these conditions- everyone has to be tested before embarkation and before disembarkation and all tours must be bubble tours. We thought of going from Athens but it was just convenient to drive from Austria here. Anyway, all the best to all who commented!

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, dedalus said:

I’m currently on my first cruise (on MSC from Trieste) and I’m not sure why anyone would ever choose it. It took 3-4 hours to board much of that in the sun. Then you’re not allowed to leave the ship except with their own excursion, you can’t even buy water and definitely no souvenirs from a shop. To me at least one  charm of travel is to be able to wander and discover places. Last, they don’t seem at all concerned with fire safety as there are a couple of designated smoking areas but these are ignored by both staff and cruiser. I hope it doesn’t cause a disaster some day. So anyway, can someone tell me why they would choose this over flying to a resort, exploring the island and maybe taking a ferry or charter to another? It would certainly be cheaper, better value and less trouble.

We would not.  We like cruising and have cruised frequently in the past however for the reasons you mention, and several others, we are not even thinking about a cruise at this time.  And probably for another year or so. Only independent land trips or resort stays.  The only cruising we anticipate doing is on local ferries in places like Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Thailand, etc.

 

The notion that covid is over and some how cruising will return to normal in the short term is, we believe, somewhat overly optimistic. 

 

 Covid has a long way to go yet in North America and in Europe.  The current vaccination percentages and the declining vaccination rates in some countries do not bode well for open, unfettered,  and free travel.   Herd immunity looks like a pipe dream at this point in time. 

Edited by iancal
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4 minutes ago, dedalus said:

I guess that’s my answer really. Jan 2020 for a similar price we flew down to Mauritius and spent some 8 days at a resort with several pools and included restaurants. We sailed around the island, snorkeled, and hired a car and driver and freely explored. But you’re saying I needed to pay more to have a decent experience - therefore the “value proposition” of cruising is simply not there. We could have flown to Crete, Kos, Mykonos, Tenerife, or Mallorca and stayed in a higher quality place and been free to do what we wanted for less. Instead I’m kind of wishing I was back at work sad as it may seem.

So wrong!

Our preferred cruise line is Oceania an “ultra-premium” line that is mostly inclusive (including airfare) on value laden smaller ships with what many leading food magazines agree is the “finest cuisine at sea.” 
To get a similar land experience, the biggest financial problem comes down to the comparative cost of food and transportation. Land only trips are far more costly for the same or similar quality.

That said, our strategy is to always sandwich international cruises in different start/end ports with a few days to explore desirable locations. 

Here’s a good contemporary example: 

Right now, ten days in a top hotel (e.g., Grand Hyatt) on the island of Kauai will set you back at least $700-900/night (for 2 people). Add a “modest” rental car (if you can even find one) for >$100/day + gas at $5/gallon. And you haven’t even begun to address food, entertainment, tours, gratuities, blah, blah, blah. And BTW, don’t forget the airfare!

 

Alternatively, I can book a French Polynesian balcony cabin cruise on O at $700-900 per night (for 2 people). But, food, gratuities, etc and even airfare are included. In fact, the cruise savings are so much that I can add 3-4 days pre/post cruise days in Tahiti (or nearby islands) and still come out ahead of an “all land” trip in bottom line cost.

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Flatbush Flyer has now injected a very interesting comparison which is land trips vs cruise trips.  Personally,  we have long been very big fans of both land and sea and actually try to combine the two on many of our trips (our upcoming 14 day Greek cruise will be followed by 8 days of independent island hopping).   Flatbush Flyer and I could probably go back and forth forever discussing various pricing strategies.  DW and I have long been very independent land travelers (all over the world) and often find that land can be a better or comparable value to cruises.  We can do a pretty deluxe European driving trip for comparable or lower prices then cruising on "O" and one needs to understand that land travel gets you access to many things not so convenient to cruisers.  You will not see any Ocean cruise in New Zealand that has an excursion to Queenstown (our favorite city in NZ) because that city is not close to a port.  In Europe you will never be on a cruise excursion to Jungfraujoch or perhaps to the Matterhorn.   Sure, a cruiser can do a very rushed port day to Paris, but they will not be able to enjoy a romantic dinner in that city, an evening cruise on the Seine, etc.  

 

But please do not get me wrong because DW and I are absolutely addicted to sea cruises.  But that does not exclude other options.   At the moment I have my doubts about Ocean cruising.  We have an upcoming Greek island cruise that will happen.  In the Fall we have a Caribbean cruise which will likely happen, but we will have to deal with lots of port restrictions.  And we have a December booking on Flatbush Flyer's cruise line of choice...and currently have absolutely no faith that "O" will even have that cruise.  And speaking of "O" they are very slow to cancel (even when most of their competitors have canceled cruise to similar parts of the world) and fast to demand full and final payment.   If I want to take a land trip I can book a flight today and be somewhere tomorrow.  If I want to book a cruise on "O" I have to plan more then a year in advance (many of their best itineraries sell out far in advance) and deal with cancelations, itinerary changes, bubble tours, etc.

 

One final paragraph about cruising.  In the past 18 months we have had 5 cruises (totaling over 100 days) cancelled by various cruise lines because of COVID.  In that same time we have done quite a few land trips (including spending last winter in Mexico) where we could simply make some minor changes to deal with COVID.   In Greece most of the cruises are happening on ships with very reduced capacity (because of booking resistance).  But in that same country it is now very difficult to get a ferry reservation between some of the islands, rental cars are sold out throughout the summer, hotels are packed, etc.  Land travel is coming back in a very big way but booking a cruise still involves a lot of risk.

 

Hank

 

 

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2 hours ago, dedalus said:

I guess that’s my answer really. Jan 2020 for a similar price we flew down to Mauritius and spent some 8 days at a resort with several pools and included restaurants. We sailed around the island, snorkeled, and hired a car and driver and freely explored.

Jan 2020  was a different World

Covid  was not  running rampant around the world  things were still open & less restrictions

 

 

 

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We like to cruise.  There is a huge difference between price and value.   Comparisons of both as regards to cruising always depends on the itinerary.

 

We have not even considered picking up Med cruises on our last two or there Europe vacations.  Two reasons.  The first was we did not see value. We felt the cruise pricing was out of line with land travel around the  Med.  

 

The second reason was enjoyment.  We do find any joy in being among the thousands of cruise passengers who descend on places like Dubrovnik, Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu etc.  We would much rather visit on our own terms, for more than a day, and when there are few cruise ships in port.

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If you break down the cost of a cruise, it is an economical way to travel.  You have all your entertainment on board, your meals, your accomodation, not to mention all the activities that are available.  As you are a first time cruiser, traveling during Covid is not ideal.  Yes, you can only take the ship's excursions and while some of them are pretty good, it really is a good idea to go by yourself or with a small group of fellow passengers on a private excursion.  Your options are unlimited.  On the ship, you only have to unpack once which I guess is the same as being at a resort but if your holiday takes you to various places, the packing and unpacking gets to be tedious.  My husband and I enjoy cruising for the many varied itineraries that it affords us and we enjoy being in different ports every day, although we like our sea days too.  I do hope that you will give cruising another try post Covid and see what a difference it makes not being subjected to so many rules and restrictions.  We have mainly sailed on Princess, with a few cruises on Holland America and Royal Caribbean over the 25 years that we have chosen this way to travel.  They are not top of the line luxury cruises (which we cannot afford) and we have not been on a cruise that we were unhappy with.  We've met some amazing cruisers on board and also through Cruise Critic, which is a wealth of information and lets you get to know some of your fellow passengers by joining the roll call for your particular cruise.  Through the roll call is where we have set up most of our private small party excursions and we've had terrific ones.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Barb

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