We’ve done a lot of cruising since 2006 – Baltics, Mediterranean, British Isles, Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean, East and West Coast US, TransAtlantic, TransPacific. And maybe – just maybe – our cruising time is coming to an end.
There are quite a few reasons for this conclusion:
- Been there done that. Aside from cruising in Asia, we have visited most places we are interested in seeing. The chances of an Asian voyage are low right now, as many of the cruise companies have shut down travel in that area.
- The direction in shipbuilding is not to our liking. The smaller, older ships in Royal Caribbean at least seem to be disappearing and megaships are the future. We don’t relish the thought of taking the town of Almonte along with us for a seven day voyage to the Caribbean hotspots.
- Our favorite line – Celebrity – is stratifying its passenger list. Those in suites and special classes like Blu get more perks – but you have to pay for them.
- Having loyalty points isn’t as big a deal anymore. On our recent RCI cruise they paid scant attention to the Diamond lounge – the coffee machine broke 3 days into the cruise and they never bothered to fix it. At one time the loyalty lounge was a great way to meet other cruisers but now nobody bothers with it, as you can get your “happy hour” drinks anywhere on the ship.
- Traditional dining with a set table and servers is going the way of the dodo. Now the cruise line forces you into “anytime dining” as a default – even if you request traditional dining. You have to stand in line for an hour to get this changed. If you stick with anytime dining you’ll be waiting in a huge queue to get a table every night.
- Because of the hassles with the dining room, more and more passengers are just eating in the buffet. As a result the buffet gets more and more crowded. Even breakfast and lunch are a gong show on the larger ships.
- You will likely get sick. We avoided COVID 19 for 3 years but we got sick with it after our cruise. And this was with masking and social distancing as much as we could. With the current practice of burying their heads in the sand, the cruise lines are probably getting more sickness on board then they did when cruising resumed a year ago. But who knows?
- Who wants to travel by air right now? We drove to our last cruise, but there’s only so many places you can sail to from Cape Liberty or Baltimore.
I know this all sounds like a whiny first world set of problems, but it has weighed on our decision to just cool it on cruising for the foreseeable future. We have had a great time in the past and we acknowledge the value in a cruise holiday, but it just does not seem like an appropriate time to be sailing right now.. Time will tell.
We have seen a major deterioration in the quality of the cruises experience since last July. RCI is who we have been cruising primarily. Food quality has changed considerably, not for the good either. We sent so much back to the kitchen on the last cruise in the MDR they sent the chef out to talk to us. I explained 3 steaks sent back in one meal. The steak was ordered well, it came out medium rare. Sent it back three times and it just got rarer every time they brought it out. The majority of time the food was cold. The chef simply said just send the food back! It is the waiters job to take it back and get another plate. So now when Jim sends his steak back, I have to sit and wait and my food now gets cold or I eat my food hot as we wait for 20-30 minutes for the kitchen to cook the steak correctly? What kind of fine dining experience is that? I explained to the chef that if the food was prepared properly in the kitchen, it would solve the problem! He would not acknowledge that the problem was in the kitchen! RCI is implementing a big price increase too. Charge you more, but give you a lower quality experience. No thank you! We have five cruises booked next year that we will take. At this point I think after that we will stay off the cruises until the bean counters realize their bread and butter are the loyalists that keep them floating. Expect a change in amenities for the loyalty levels at the first of the year too.
The major issue for us is the health consideration, although I agree the main dining room seems to have problems with getting the food there at a reasonable temperature. We had a great experience in the specialty restaurants on Adventure of the Seas but you’d expect that. I also don’t like the idea of sailing on larger and larger ships all the time.
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