The awkward things no one tells you.

The Awkward Things No One Tells You About Cruising

May 17, 2024 | awkward things about travel, Awkward Travel Things, Friend Travel

This post is part of “The Awkward Things No One Tells You” series. After all, someone needs to warn others about the awkward side of travel. Why not me, the queen of awkward?

I’ve never wanted to go on a cruise. In fact, I actively avoided family invitations to embark on a cruise. Finally, a good friend convinced me to try it. The selling point? On a cruise, you wake up in the morning at a new destination, having arrived overnight while someone else navigated you to this new place. Unfortunately, my cruise experience was less than fabulous (which is an entirely separate blog post–or two).

Prepare to be Nickel-and-Dimed from the Get-Go

Once I bit the bullet and bought my cruise ship fare, I was introduced to the wide array of things and experiences available for purchase. And boy are there a lot of things you can purchase. 

First, there’s wifi (more on that below). Then there are the drink packages. Should I spring for the deluxe package with water, coffee, and alcoholic beverages included? Or should I just do the pay-as-you-go method? (I went for the deluxe drink package. Hey, it’s vacation.) 

Cruise goers can also throw money into approximately 850 excursions (okay, I’m exaggerating) or purchase ridiculously expensive spa services. Want some shade while you’re on the pool deck on sea days? No problem–just fork over anywhere from $1,500-$3,000 (or more) for a cabana. 

There’s Expensive Wifi and Free Wifi on the Ship

Despite hours of research beforehand, I could never find a solid answer about getting free wifi on board the cruise ship. I knew I had the option to pay an insanely high amount for internet while on board the ship, of course. But I was tired of being nickel-and-dimed and paying thousands of dollars up front, so I skipped it. 

I heard from one or two people that the ships generally offer free wifi, albeit a crappy version. Eventually, I found this to be true–although it was a ridiculous jump or fifteen through weird hoops to get the damn thing to work. And even then, I had to keep opening the ship’s app to be able to briefly receive or send texts. It was a pain in the ass. 

Planning a Cruise is a Lot of Freaking Work

I still can’t believe how many details go into planning a cruise. Once you’ve got all your onboard experiences and your excursions figured out, you still have to coordinate flights. And you’ll want to fly into your port a day early, just in case your flight is delayed or cancelled. I mean, you’ve paid all that money to go on this cruise, and you wouldn’t want to miss it for a flight delay.

So, unless you’re fine with potentially throwing thousands of dollars down the toilet because a flight problem left you waving bon voyage to your ship, you’ve also got to plan a hotel stay the night before you sail. 

But wait, there’s more! Depending on what port you sail out of, you may have to arrange transportation from your hotel to the dock. In my case, we sailed out of Port Canaveral, Florida–although the cruise line called it Orlando. This is bizarre to me because Orlando is a good 45 minutes or even an hour from Port Canaveral, but okay?

Anyway, that meant we had to arrange transportation from Orlando to the port. And of course we needed transportation from the port to the airport so we could fly back home. 

Your Flight Home Will Have You Either Awkwardly Waiting or Rushing

So, once you’ve survived the cruise, you need to get to the airport to catch your flight home. According to my research, savvy travelers advised never booking a flight before 1pm the day you arrive back at your home port. So, I listened to these supposedly seasoned travelers.

Turns out, we were scheduled to arrive at port early in the morning, but the available flight at the time of booking wasn’t leaving until nearly 7pm. During one lucky portion where I had working wifi on the ship, we were able to text with my friend’s husband, who cancelled the 7pm flight and got us a new flight at 4pm.

Even so, our disembarkation went smoothly. Which is great. Until you realize that means sitting around somewhere for 6+ hours. In our case, we sat at the Orlando airport. It was about as miserable as it sounds.

You’ll have to take your pick here. Okay with waiting around for hours? Book a later flight so you’re not going to be in danger of missing it. Feeling rather daring? Book an earlier flight and hope the disembarkation process isn’t a hot mess. (Isn’t cruising fun?!)

Awkwardness and Cruising

You know what’s funny? I’ve written an entire blog post on the awkwardness of cruising, not to mention a completely separate article about my cruise experience–and I’ve still got more awkwardness to tell you about. I mean, we haven’t even touched on getting “glutened” on board, the decidedly mediocre food, and oh-so-much-more! Stay tuned.