Cruise ships have a lot to offer – there are pools, restaurants, shows, and plenty of activities on board. But sometimes, advertising can be a bit false. And if there’s one thing people who have been on cruises know, sometimes expectations don’t quite live up to real-life. So before going on that cruise, check out these pictures and beware.
Boarding the ship – what we think it’s like
When we’ve finally finished packing up all of our clothes, our electronic devices, and pretty much everything else you can think of that you might need on a crazy fun trip like this, the first thing that we have to do is wait in line to get on the cruise ship.
As you can see here, sometimes a fun little snapshot is in order. And the smiles on these young ladies’ faces would suggest that every moment of boarding the ship is simply peaches and cream. But for those of you thinking about going on a cruise, we’d recommend not trusting the picture you see in front of you too strongly, because boarding a cruise ship isn’t always fun.
Boarding the ship – what it’s really like
Talk about night and day, right? When you consider the last picture you saw, and compare it to what you’re looking at now – you might be in for a dose of reality.
As you can see here, boarding the cruise ship isn’t always such a pleasant experience. Don’t forget, you have to board with hundreds of other people, and that means you have to painstakingly wait in line. Patience is truly a virtue in these types of scenarios, and while standing in line isn’t the worst thing you can do, let’s just say you probably won’t have many picture opportunities.
The hot tub – what we think it’s like
Ahh, what could be better than steaming off nicely in a warm hot tub on a cruise, with clear sunny skies to round out the experience?
As you can see here, this person has enough room in their hot tub to stretch their legs out leisurely – because whether or not you realize it, having room is pretty important to have in these scenarios. This may not be hard to come by if you’re in a private jacuzzi, but when you’re on a cruise ship, it’s not always quite so private.
The hot tub – what it’s really like
Things aren’t always so grand when you’re in the cruise hot tub, because as you can see, you have to share it with a number of other people.
Think about how many people usually attend cruises, and think about how many people can fit inside a hot tub. Add those two elements together, and what you have is a not ideal jacuzzi situation. So if you’re someone who values their vacation jacuzzi time, you might want to choose a ship that has more than just the one.
The pool area – what we think it’s like
It’s probably easy for you to get enchanted by the vibrant colors of this picture, for they are truly captivating. This picture was taken with the sole purpose of selling individuals on the beautiful poolside atmosphere one can enjoy on a cruise – but we want you to take note of something important.
There aren’t that many people in this picture. And very soon, you’ll see that the large quantity of people can change the quality a pool experience.
The pool area – what it’s really like
See what we’re talking about? The picture you looked at only moments ago was truly beautiful, but a big reason for that was because there were no people there.
The reality of the situation is that when you’re on a cruise, the pool is the number one destination for most people, and as you can see – it might be extremely jam packed. Some ships have more than one pool, or an extremely large one – which might be a good pick for those who like to hang out by the pool.
The bedroom – what we think it’s like
For people that have never gone on cruises, it’s hard for them to imagine what the rooms are like. There are some who say that the rooms are actually quite lavish, and based on the picture you see here, this may be true some of the time.
But what about all of those other times? Something tells us that the room you see in front of you is somewhat of a fluke, and when you see the next picture, you’ll see what we mean.
The bedroom – what it’s really like
Cruise ships generally hold hundreds of people, so not all rooms can be big and luxurious. Sure, if you book a bigger room, it won’t be as cramped – but remember ships don’t have quite as much room as hotels do, so it won’t be as large as you might imagine.
Usually, the rooms barely have enough space to hold a queen sized bed, so if plenty of room space is important to you, make sure to check the actual size of the room and not just the pictures.
The bathroom – what we think it’s like
This may not be the biggest bathroom on the planet, but let’s be real: In the real world this would be considered a pretty luxurious bathroom.
Just take a look at that hot tub, the marble countertops, and the shower with a well designed glass door for the pleasure of all its inhabitants to enjoy. There is no doubt in our minds that this picture would entice anyone to want to go on a cruise – but they should see the next picture before they make any hasty decisions.
The bathroom – what it’s really like
The bathroom you see here doesn’t look anything like the bathroom we just observed. No porcelain, no beautifully designed countertops, no hot tub, and no private shower that would be enough to make anyone want to go on a cruise.
What we see here is an all white room that looks a lot more like something you might find in a youth hostel. Of course, not all ships have bathrooms that look like this, but it’s one of those things that are important to check before you book.
Ocean sightseeing – what we think it’s like
What’s perhaps the main attraction to going on a cruise? It’s the fact that you’re going to be sailing majestically on an ocean for a handful of days, and you have no idea what you might see.
The ocean is a world quite different from that of land, and people that go on cruises are always hoping that they’ll see some aquatic life in action. This was certainly the case in this picture, but unfortunately, this is not the norm.
Ocean sightseeing – what it’s really like
The harsh truth for cruise goers is that more often than not, they won’t be seeing many exotic fish doing aerial acrobatics consistently – after all, this isn’t Sea World.
What they will be seeing is just a whole lot of ocean… and some more ocean… and pretty much nothing else. Of course, there’s not wrong with the pure simplicity of the ocean surface. Still, it may be a let down for those who were expected to see some cool fish on their excursion.
The casino – what we think it’s like
Another super exciting thing that people hope to do on a cruise is spend their night in an elaborate casino. There really is nothing quite like it.
The atmosphere is lively, the drinks are flowing, and if you’re someone who likes to gamble – that money is moving. Of course, there are better casinos that others, and for people that are used to the bigger boys like Vegas and Atlantic City, chances are cruises won’t offer the exact same opportunities.
The casino – what it’s really like
Due to the confined space, chances are you’ll be limited to a small variety of games you can play while gambling an a cruise casino.
While some cruise ships certainly have a substantial casino, others mainly have slot machines for people to enjoy – and sometimes not even that. If you’re someone who enjoys your Texas Hold’em, we’d advise that you double check that your cruise offers it before you book your ticket for a cruise.
The ship itself – what we think it’s like
Does this ship look familiar to you? If so, it’s probably because this is the type of picture that promoters are always putting in their advertisements – and we can certainly see why.
The ship looks absolutely magnificent in its pearly white beauty, it’s glistening color and striking shape glowing in the midday sun. The entire picture screams beauty, something we’d hope to be boarding in our most lavish dreams. But not all cruise ships look as sparkly clean and new like their photos seem like.
The ship itself – what it’s really like
We’re not saying that all cruise ships look like this either, but we’re simply trying to open your eyes a little bit to the reality that’s out there.
There is a whole lot of grey area that exists between the breathtaking cruise ships of the world and the ship you’re looking at right here. Some ships might look exactly like in their pictures, sure, but other times – when a ship has been around for a decade or so – it might look a bit different than you imagine.
The music – what we think it’s like
In this picture, we are given a sneak peak into a cruise where the musical act that is performing is none other than the popular rock group Rascal Flatts.
Indeed, there are some cruises that are able to boast some of these elite acts, but unfortunately, they are in the minority. People like to talk about how the “best” musicians perform on cruises, but they fail to specify exactly which cruises they perform on – so make sure you do your research.
The music – what it’s really like
If this picture is any indication, we cannot stress how important it is to do your research about the musical performances before you book your cruise.
A lot of time, there aren’t even any professional musical acts performing – just a karaoke stand for all sorts of amateurs to hoist themselves up on stage and sing their hearts. Of course, there’s nothing really wrong with that… but it certainly isn’t no Rascal Flatts, we can say that much.
The dining experience – what we think it’s like
Some of the most beautiful pictures of cruises can sometimes lead us to believe that the dining experience on cruises are similar to dining at a luxurious five star hotel restaurant.
And when you’ve got a wondrous ocean to look at while you’re eating, what could be better? Well… the picture you see here certainly does support this claim to a long extent. But we certainly feel the need to burst your fantastical bubble once more – because sometimes cruise dining isn’t so magical.
The dining experience – what it’s really like
Even if the plates, forks, and spoons are of good quality, and even if you get to gaze out upon the deep blue sea, there is a certain element to dining on cruises that you must remember.
Unless you’re on an extremely expensive cruise, you will more often than not be getting the food yourself, buffet style. And therefore, eating on these cruises will sometimes feel like you’re eating at a cafeteria. It’s not quite as glamorous, but it’s still fun!
The age range – what we think it’s like
One of the biggest reasons we like to go on cruises are all the cool kinds of people we might meet there, but more accurately, people that are in a similar age range as us.
It’s all about partaking in certain generational culture that we can identify with, and when that exists at a cruise, it can be a game changer. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re generally hoping that the cruise you go on will be filled with folk that are at a similar place in life.
The age range – what it’s really like
The problem is that there is no way of knowing how old the people at the cruise you’re going to will be.
Unless you happen to have signed up for one of those “specialty cruises,” which are geared to accept only one particular demographic, chances are you’ll hanging around a group of people who you probably don’t have that much in common with. We’re not saying that there’s anything wrong with that, but if you imagine things a certain way, remember you’ll be going on a cruise with people of all ages – and families, too.
Seasickness – what we think it’s like
Another one of the most common things that people generally associate with ocean traveling is seasickness. Whether you’re on a ship, a ferry, a cruise, a sailboat, or any other method of traveling by sea, there’s always the possibility that you may get seasick.
Now, when you’re checking out cruises online, the promoters make it easy to gloss over the fact that seasickness is a real thing. While we’re at home, we think that sailing on a cruise will be a piece of cake.
Seasickness – what it’s really like
The fact of the matter is that seasickness is not just a real thing, but something that can be as common as having to go to the bathroom.
Obviously everyone has different levels of what they can withstand, but if you’re new to traveling by ocean, there’s a chance that you’ll be extra vulnerable to being overcome with nausea on your cruise. In fact, there have been cruises that have gotten ruined due to mass waves of people getting very sick while aboard the ship.
The destinations – what we think it’s like
It almost seems silly to feel the need to mention this, but another reason that we love going on cruises are the destinations… duh.
Obviously, the time that we spend on the ship itself is an enormous part of the fun, but the places we go are a big part of it too. That being said, we have this fantasy in our heads that no matter what cruise we go on, the destination will look as beautiful as the land you see here – but it’s not always like that.
The destinations – what it’s really like
In this picture, you can see a cruise ship in the distance, and it’s about to park itself neatly into this strip of land you see here – and we think it goes without saying that it’s not the loveliest shred of land you’ve ever seen.
Actually, it looks pretty darn gloomy from where we’re sitting. If you’re signing up to go on a cruise, you better make sure that the places you’re stopping don’t look like this, because it might be somewhat of a let down.
The drinks – what we think they’re like
Another common thing about cruises that people build up in their heads are the drinks. As you can see in this picture, they make it seem like cruises serve the most elaborate, exotic, and exciting types of drinks you’ve ever seen.
Not only that, but they paint a picture of paradise in your head, as if every moment you sip these drinks will be just as pleasurable as lounging on the sunniest beaches of Hawaii or Barbados.
The drinks – what they’re really like
Not only do some cruises only offer a small variety of drinks, but things can get pretty messy, pretty fast. In contrary to the blissful aromatic vibes that lounging on the deck of a ship with fancy drinks can exude, the picture you see here makes it seem like drinking on a cruise can sometimes resemble being at a frat party.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be fun, but let’s be real – you could just go to your nearest college campus to get that.
Meeting girls – what we think it’s like
Okay, let’s be real. Something all single bachelors look forward to before they embark on a cruise is that they may potentially meet their soulmate – or at the very least, a nice girl who they can connect with for a short while.
Perhaps they just want someone to flirt with, someone to tease, and laugh with for a short period of time while they’re on break. This may be a real possibility, but it’s not like cruises are handing out girlfriends the second you get on board.
Meeting girls – what it’s really like
Even if you do happen to meet a girl on your cruise, chances are that you will also meet a handful of guys as well.
There’s nothing wrong with making friends with other guys, but when you’ve got your eye on a special lady, the presence of other young men on the prowl can make your job a lot harder. Everyone is looking to have a good time, and if you think a girl is cute, you’ll probably be competing with a few other guys who think so too.
Employee life – what we think it’s like
Another misconception about cruises is that it’s an amazing place to work. Okay, the picture you see before you certainly gives off a nice impression.
We’ll agree with you on that one. And the adventure itself of working on a cruise should be enough of a sell for anyone with a gusto for life. It almost seems like working on a cruise is something like a dream come true for some… but it really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Employee life – what it’s really like
If you thought that the cruise goers bedrooms were something of a let down, these living quarters of the employees will surely give you a strong dose of unfortunate reality.
We aren’t saying that their quarters should necessarily be luxurious, but have you seen the size of those bunk beds? Can anyone really fit on those things? If you thought that working on a cruise is always great, think again – you might be surprised.
That Titanic scene – what we think it’s like
Something that cruise-goers have been doing ever since 1997 is dream about going on a cruise, so they can recreate this scene in the award winning movie Titanic.
In this memorable scene with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Kate spreads her arms like she’s flying while DiCaprio holds her in a tight embrace. This scene is the reason that some people book cruises – they want to feel like they’re “flying” just like the characters on screen.
That Titanic scene – what it’s really like
The unfortunate truth is that things in real life quite rarely turn out exactly like they do in the movies. As you can see here, a young woman is attempting to recreate the Titanic scene on her own, with no one to help her out.
Many people like her have tried as well, and most people fail pretty miserably. Hey listen, we’ve got no issues with people trying to live up to their beloved characters on screen – as long as they’re having fun, right?
The romance – what we think it’s like
When people talk about cruises, there is a certain level of romanticism that gets associated with it – and you can see why, as this couple embraces by a beautiful ocean sunset.
Based on the picture we’re looking at here, it would lead us to believe there would be no better place to take your loved one. Whether it’s a honeymoon, a tenth anniversary, or simply a fun getaway, going on a cruise would seem to be the most romantic place on earth.
The romance – what it’s really like
Did we say most romantic place on earth? We must have made a mistake with that one. There are many pictures online that may lead us to believe that a cruise is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, but there are also many pictures that could convince us otherwise.
This picture you see here is one of the latter, with the bleak atmosphere and the abundance of dancing people displaying a less than desirable environment to lay out with your loved one.
The weather – what we think it’s like
You didn’t think we’d leave out the elephant in the room, did you? The weather is such an important factor on a cruise, and something that you should take into wide consideration when you book those tickets for your cruise.
No matter what, promoters aren’t going to show you cruise pictures where the weather displays anything colder than the sunniest of days. Looking at the pictures, it can really seem like a tempting offer, but it’s not always like that in real life.
The weather – what it’s really like
Unfortunately, nature doesn’t stop for promotional photos, and the weather doesn’t adjust its plans for people that are on a cruise. You can try to plan all you want, but there is always a chance that you’ll get rained on while cruising.
It doesn’t matter how hot the hot tub is, and it certainly doesn’t matter how nice the ship is. If the rain is pouring, it might spoil the fun and even ruin the cruise. So before booking, try taking a look at the weather forecast.
The beaches – what we think they’re like
When that cruise ship stops off at a nearby beach, you know what time it is: time to get into your bathing suit and go for a dip.
Cruises can sometimes take you to some wonderful beaches, and when that happens, there is nothing more exciting than going for a refreshing swim, and then laying out for a nice tan. Ahh, if only that was all there was to it. You see, the irony about the beautiful things in life is that everyone wants a little piece of them too.
The beaches – what they’re really like
So even if you find yourself on a lovely beach, chances are that you won’t get to enjoy it exactly as much as you’d like. The second that cruise ship pulls up to that sandy shore, you may be quickly changing into your bathing suit, but so is everyone else.
There’s nothing wrong with meeting new people and sharing the wealth, but sometimes you’re just trying to enjoy yourself on your own. And you ain’t getting that on a cruise.
The port terminal – what we think they’re like
Before you make your way onto any cruise ship, you have to make your way through a port terminal. That’s just how it is. This terminal acts in a similar way to an airport terminal and allows staff to check over your luggage, have a look at your passport, and also take a look at your booking confirmation to make sure you’re not just hoping for a free vacation.
Because many of us as used to airport terminals with polished floors and high-tech gadgets, that’s also what we expect from a port terminal. It’s not too much to ask, right?
The port terminal – what they’re really like
Sadly, port terminals are not quite as glamorous as you would hope. There are no polished floors, there are no comfortable chairs, and you don’t get to sip cocktails while you wait to board. There’s none of that.
Instead, these terminals are used to usher as many people in at once and keeping them in a line until they make their way to the clerks at the front. While many terminals try to add a little spice to their decoration, they’re normally incredibly dull and drab, and you just want to get out of there as soon as possible.
The tours – what we think they’re like
Although there are some people who see a cruise ship as a floating hotel and vow to never leave the pool area, most people make their way onto these ships to see all of the destinations on their itinerary.
While it is possible to take yourself ashore and find your way around yourself, you can also book excursions that will allow you to take part in activities and see more of your port destination. You might go on a vineyard tour, go on a boat trip, or even go snorkeling. It must be pretty darn incredible.
The tours – what they’re really like
Cruise tours and excursions are the best way to see more of a country, but what they don’t tell you in the brochure is that to get to these amazing locations for the vineyard tour or the snorkeling excursion, you first have to get there.
Normally, this includes a rather lengthy coach journey. These coaches are almost always hot and sweaty and are almost always accompanied by a boring speech about the location and a description of each tree you pass on the way to your destination.
The captain – what we think they’re like
If you’ve seen any maritime movie, you’ll know that the captains are kind of a big deal. They are in charge of the ship, they are in charge of the crew, and they are the ones who will take you from A to B without a care in the world.
After all, it’s their whole life to take over the ship and take care of those onboard. They will stand there for hours on end with their telescope on one eye, looking out for potential threats as they steer the giant wheel in front of them.
The captain – what they’re really like
Although we’d love to believe that the captain of cruise ships live and breathe the ocean, it turns out that a lot of their work is done through computers now.
Sure, most cruise ships do still have the giant steering wheel and telescopes for their crew to use – but modern technology has also got involved. With the use of sonar and other high-tech gadgets, these captains have the luxury of being able to sit back and relax while the autopilot takes over. It’s not a bad life, is it?
The activities – what we think they’re like
Cruise ships are in constant competition with each other, and they are always trying to outdo each other when it comes to the activities they offer.
These activities have really taken off in the past decade or so, and they are getting more exciting as the years go by. From giant movie theaters to surfing simulators, there is even one cruise ship that offers you the chance to skydive! With so many activities to choose from, you can guarantee that you’ll never get bored on these ships.
The activities – what they’re really like
Although there are countless ships out there that offer new and improved activities that will keep you entertained for hours, it’s not always possible to try them out.
Indeed, you can’t just rock up and get on the surfboard. These normally cost extra on top of your overall vacation, and they get booked up incredibly quickly. Because of this, you often find yourself waiting in a line and watch 40 other people wipe out before you finally get the chance to ride the waves for all of five minutes. Alternatively, you could just make fruit animals instead. Fuuuun!
The spa – what we think it’s like
Your vacation time is the one moment of the year that you get to completely relax and unwind and make the most of being away from work.
You don’t have to think about your emails, you don’t have to think about paying your rent, and you don’t even need to think about feeding your dog – because it’s all covered! To make their cruises even more relaxing, many passengers choose to check out the ship spa to have a massage, have a dip in the jacuzzi, or just chill out in a robe for a couple of hours.
The spa – what it’s really like
However, it’s fair to say that there are some ship spas that aren’t quite as fancy as they make out. Although cruise ships always have maintenance teams on board in case anything goes wrong, these spas soon fall into disarray as they go about their voyages.
It’s not until they park up on dry land and have time to be renovated that they actually get the TLC they need. The steam, the water, and the hot air is sometimes all too much for the stones and the sauna. Of course, that’s not always the case.
The tender – what we think it’s like
There are some instances where there just isn’t enough space for your cruise ship to dock at the port. So, the ship will drop its anchor out at sea, and then take its passengers to shore using the small lifeboats that are attached to the boat.
This is called a tender and is a regular occurrence for those who love to cruise. As you think about this experience, it’s easy to imagine that you are given your very own speedboat that will take you stylishly from the ship to the shore – and it looks absolutely glorious.
The tender – what it’s really like
Unfortunately, the tender is anything but glamorous. These boats are designed to evacuate passengers in an emergency and act as lifeboats, which means they are big and sturdy – and definitely not luxurious.
What makes this even worse is that you have to spend the next ten minutes awkwardly staring at the other 40 or so people who are stuck in this orange boat with you, until you can make it to shore and count down the minutes until you have to get back on the boat again.
The souvenirs – what we think it’s like
There’s nothing like coming back home after a trip abroad with various gifts for your loved ones, especially things that are ethnic and can’t be found elsewhere. Because who doesn’t want something special to remember a nice place they’ve been in?
So getting off the ship at the exotic locations, we search for those niche, boutique shops to give us a those (sometimes unnecessary) trinkets to show off back home.
The souvenirs – what it’s really like
But going on a cruise doesn’t mean you’ll always stop at places where there are little boutique stores that offer local gems. Actually, it’s more likely you’ll stumble upon those touristy shops that look practically the same in every country.
But if there’s no choice, we guess it’s fine to buy an ‘I heart’ T-shirt to walk around the house with. Such a nice memento.
The age range (again) – what we think it’s like
We really would like to think most people are our age or (much) older. Either they’re young couples going to enjoy the scenery for a romantic endeavor, or pensioners looking for a new adventure in their now workless-life, we can accept everyone.
In the end, all we want is just some quiet time enjoying the beaches and the food, a real good vacation.
The age range (again) – what it’s really like
It might have been briefly mentioned before, but what cruise brochures don’t actually tell you, is that most cruise ships are actually filled with families. And not just any families…
Families with young kids. So imagine how you expect most activities, pools and other entertainment stuff to fit to a certain age range of young adults to older people, but when you actually see it for yourself, you get the cruise version of a Chuck E Cheese restaurant. Fun…
Pirates – what we think they look like
How dreamy would it be to go on a cruise and meet a Jack Sparrow-like pirate, going off on an adventure with him and fight battles.
When we think of pirates, it’s usually associated with a handsome fellow wearing a captain’s hat, a parrot on their shoulder, and dirty boots. The reality, though, is quite different…
Pirates – what it’s really like
You may not believe it, but pirates actually exist today. It’s not as glamorous as the movies make it out to be, though, because they usually don’t own a big ship of their own (with its own name and all). And a parrot? Highly unlikely.
What’s more, it could actually be quite dangerous. Though pirating isn’t as common as it was a few decades ago, there are people out at sea looking for fancy yachts to rob. Yikes.
Disclaimer: Some photos may be stock images used for illustration purposes only. The people or places in these photos are not to be associated with the article.