2013 in Review: Worst Cruise Experience

December 27, 2013 | By | 25 Comments

Another year is winding down, and we here at Cruise Critic are taking stock of the hits, misses and outright surprises that made up our cruising year (and we invite you to share your own!) Today: Worst Cruise Experience:
I ran myself ragged before a Bahamas cruise out of Miami, and I came down with a horrible cold on my first night in town before the ship’s departure. Even though I knew that I was susceptible to motion sickness, I was too wrapped up in cough drops, tissues and decongestants to pick up any pills for nausea. I regretted it instantly when we hit some rough waters between Miami and Nassau when I became, you guessed it, seasick. Homeopathic drops for nausea were twice the amount onboard, but I happily paid to feel better; anything to stop feeling sick in a washing machine. Lesson learned. — Brittany Chrusciel, Editorial Assistant
Be careful how early you book a river cruise on the Dutch and Belgian waterways: While the calendar read almost spring on my Vantage trip on River Splendor, someone neglected to notify Mother Nature. Snow flurries greeted us in Antwerp and by the time we reached Brugge, ice pellets made going outside a dicey prospect (luckily, the brand-new ship was a gorgeous place to hang out — and because I had already seen Brugge, I didn’t mind skipping it). Overall, 2013 was a fairly easy year for me, travel-wise; if this was the worst thing to happen to me after spending about 100 nights on the road, I have no business complaining! — Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
P&O Oceana cruise in the Eastern Med. A fine ship, with a lovely crew and great food, but with the worst set of fellow passengers that I have ever encountered. We made the mistake of joining a ship half way through a long winter cruise – and were one of just a handful of families onboard with young kids. I have never in all my years of cruising been made to feel less welcome. — Adam Coulter, UK Editor
On a Christmas markets cruise, I showed up with a monster cold, including fever, inability to taste, no desire to eat and the usual lack of energy that comes along with. It’s one thing to feel crummy, but if you’re on a cruise, there’s also the latent disappointment that comes with squandering parts of a trip you’ve looked forward to. Since then, I’ve learned a few tricks. They’re no guarantee but they help. A last-minute packer and planner, I’ve gotten away from the usual chaotic departures. I fly to my port of embarkation at least a day early. We rarely plan out our first night onboard — buffet’s just fine (hard-to-get tables at alternative restaurants are often begging as well). If I start feeling wonky, I visit the ship’s doctor. It’s not cheap, but it sure beats missing out on your cruise while you’re on your cruise. — Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
On my first river cruise, high winds forced our boat (the brand-new Scenic Jewel) to remain docked in Belgium when we were supposed to be visiting Amsterdam. Instead of cruising into the city, we could visit on a very long bus tour for just a few hours in Amsterdam, and then had pre-dawn wakeup calls for a long bus ride to the airport the next day. Silver lining: I skipped the day trip into Amsterdam and explored the cute town in Belgium where we were stuck — it turned out to be the best souvenir shopping day of the entire trip! — Erica Silverstein, Features Editor
Eating something that didn’t agree with me, then spending the night shivering and sick in my cabin. Making it worst, even though I felt fine the next day, my dad (my traveling companion) wouldn’t let me off the ship to see the port I had been most excited about. — Dori Saltzman, News Editor
After a cruise out of San Juan, I got a “bonus” 48 hours in  the airport when mechanical issues and foul weather at home conspired to cancel two flights and delay another. Standing in long lines trying to rebook — three times! — with a suddenly violently upset stomach was the icing on the cake. — Colleen McDaniel, Managing Editor
On one sailing, I was placed in an oceanview cabin that overlooked the promenade deck. What made it awkward was that people could see directly in while they were walking by if we didn’t have our curtains closed – which meant there was usually very little natural light in our room. To make matters worse, our toilet didn’t work for the first two days of the voyage — yuck. — Ashley Kosciolek, Associate Editor
Bali was an incredible experience, but getting bit by a monkey and dog presumed to have rabies? Not so much. Thankfully, I’m rabies-free after multiple rounds of shots. But this definitely marks my worst travel memory of the year. — Gina Kramer, Associate Editor
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    25 Responses to “2013 in Review: Worst Cruise Experience”

    1. gabriel
      December 27th, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

      i can´t imagine nothing worst that the absolutely endless wait for embarking when you are at Buenos Aires Port. Deserves some kind of Guiness Record mention or something

    2. Roger D G Thomas
      December 27th, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

      Abu Dhabi was to have been one of the highlights on our 7-night Brilliance of the Seas Arabian Cruise back in Jan 2012.However i had somehow picked up either a severe case of food poisoning or a virus of some kind because i had to leave the open-top tour bus,wife in tow in a hurray to be rather sick in a deserted back-street!I eventually recovered enough to make it to Marina Mall and even up the famed Sky-Tower but my photo’s don’t reflect how i was really feeling…like death was upon me!Awful day at a destination i had dreamed of visiting for months!Such a disapointment…oh well at least i made it back alive!

    3. Kim
      December 27th, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

      We just came back from a cruise on the Conquest. About an hour after dinner 2 days into the cruise, I started to get violently ill with vomiting and diarrhea that lasted all night. I’m still not completely better 3 weeks later. To make things worse, the next night we found cockroaches running around on the vanity in our stateroom. Gross!!
      Pest control came in and treated the room but, when we got home, our luggage lived in the backyard for 2 days. Thinking its time to try a different cruise line.

    4. Joanne Hice
      December 27th, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

      The worst was being caught in a hurricane. The captain had taken the ship in the opposite direction of where the hurricane was predicted to go. At the last moment, it turned and headed right at us. There was no place for us to go so we just had to bounce around. And bounce we did. The huge waves would lift the ship and drop it with a WHOOMP. We weren’t allowed on the decks for obvious reasons. The dining room was empty. I stayed in bed one entire day and hubby brought me soup, etc. It was the worst I’ve experienced but we survived. Not every cruiser can talk about the time they were in the hurricane.

    5. Mike Blanche
      December 27th, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

      On the old Westerdam. The stretch when Hollanda American bought it made it unstable and hard to handle. Every docking required a tug, we were always late, and in rough-ish seas, it had a very disturbing “tail wagging” motion. Then debarkation became a scramble when equipment failed. I remember one Vietnamese gentleman telling the the ship worker trying to hold people back, “I escaped the Viet Cong in Saigon, and I’m sure not going to let you hold me prisoner on a ship!”

    6. Cruise Arabia
      December 27th, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

      Interesting that you so looked forward to Abu Dhabi, in the UAE it tends to be regarded as a bit of a poor relation in terms of tourism. Did it meet your expectations?

    7. Joan KOCHETTA
      December 27th, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

      The worst was spending 42 days on the Maasdam with a bathroom full of fleas. We went on this ship because of the itinerary only. Last Christmas & New Years 2012 we were on the Maasdam and they were forced to give up our docking space in Curaçao to a mega ship which had to pay much more port taxes on New Year’s Eve. We were docked, believe it or not, at the airport. We were supposed to be docked until 2 am in order to see the fireworks. We then had to leave the airport dock before midnight because the moving bridge was going to be stopped for pedestrian crossing.

    8. Martin Jenkins
      December 27th, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

      The Inagural Carnival Sunshine building site cruise.
      Two weeks with European workmen trying to finish and repair an horrendously unfinished ship.

    9. kathy hadoulis
      December 27th, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

      On the rydam we hit a random wave and the ship leaned to the right.all the Xmas trees fell,all liquor in the shops,all displays fell.people fell off chairs,some in wheelchairs went flying,and to top that lots of dishes broke.boy I slapped my patch on,never got sick,but it was the first time I saw barf bags by the elevators. Haven’t been back on the Hal Ryan since then

    10. Kathy Jeanneret
      December 27th, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

      Worst cruise was this year on Disney Fantasy, upon arrival at the port we parked in parking garage and noticed no wheelchairs after walking a long distance finally got into terminal where we had to stand for over 20 mins then go up stairs to be told they had no wheelchairs and our scooter was located in the bottom of the boat and I need to go to guest services to get key. I went waited for another 25 minutes and then it took another 20 minutes to be told I need to go down in bottom of boat to get. I refused as my husband was not feeling well and needed to rest. To say the lest it ruined our day, and much of our trip. I filed a complaint and their answer was they only lease and the Port in charge of that. I asked the woman 3 times if that was true she replied yes. Her name was Rebecca Young she work at DCL on land. I was told by the port when the boat is decked Disney is 100% in charge of all guest. Both RCCL ad Carnival have someone outside to take care of handicapped people why doesn”t DISNEY????

    11. Marin
      December 27th, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

      Well, don’t see your point of blaming the Ryndam for a rogue wave. Good grief, that could happen to any ship!

    12. William Freeman
      December 27th, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

      Carnival to Nassau in the summer- It was up in the mid-90’s with about the same level of humidity. Blazing hot and enough to render one unconscious with minimal exercise. There were five ships in, and ours was most outboard, leaving a loooong walk to the town gate. Some of that walk was between two white ships, making for more of an oven effect. The “gate” to town was a gauntlet of hustlers, all hawking one thing or another- Bedlam- it took an eternity to pass thru them. When we were almost at the end, we took a chance and ordered a “carriage” ride for $20. The young man who snagged us took us to a lady who took us to the rather rustic one-horse cart. She smilingly offered to take our picture- with our camera- then demanded a tip for her trouble- $5.00! She took off and a driver eventually appeared. The carriage ride was about ten blocks thru the back streets of town- which were none too picturesque- and we were dropped off in the middle of town when another fellow told our driver he had another fare for him- “Goodbye-get out- pay me here and now – goodbye.” The town was sooo crowded there was little to do, and had it been uncrowded there would have been little to do regardless. We got an ice cream cone and went back to the ship. I’ll not be going to Nassau again. We also went to Freeport, though, which was light years more pleasant, tho just as hot.

    13. Betty Fields
      December 27th, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

      This worst cruise letter really makes me angry.
      This knowingly sick person with a cold gets on a ship with a few thousand people. This really shows no care for the fellow passengers. We just came back from a cruise on a RCCL ship and my husband caught a terrible cold from an uncaring passenger who boarded the ship with a knowingly contagious cold or flu. Two days later I was sick on our return. I do not feel sorry for this persons discomfort on their cruise. We fill out a paper declaring we are not sick before boarding and people in line are sneezing and coughing … We are thinking of not cruising anymore.

    14. Julie Y
      December 27th, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

      All I need to say is: Carnival Triumph in Feb, 2013. The Turdtanic. 4 grown siblings w our elderly parents endured absolutely unbelievable conditions. And YES, I plan to take my 16th AND 17th cruises in 2014. ;) I won’t allow our JOY to be taken from us.

    15. Joy Bennett
      December 27th, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

      After reading these experiences that several people have posted, I am wondering why some of you would board a cruise ship when you are knowingly sick, especially to those of you who actually know better. I guess those forms you fill out before you check in do not apply to you?

    16. Diana Crabtree
      December 28th, 2013 @ 3:16 am

      One time on a Princess cruise my husband slipped on some water and really bruised his leg. The staff didnt seem to care about him or the slick area on the floor. This has been the only time in 15 cruises I have ever been disappointed in cruise staff.

    17. Amanda Brown
      December 28th, 2013 @ 4:36 am

      I agree with William. Our experience in Nassau was very similar. We even also took the carriage ride through the shabby downtown area. My kids were so bored that my son fell asleep! What a waste of money. In the Straw Market we felt so pressured that we didn’t even stop to shop. We won’t be going back to Nassau.

    18. tracy vernon
      December 28th, 2013 @ 6:32 am

      Took our 3rd cruise to the bahamas for easter. The weather wasnt good. Ended up in pants and jackets for most of the cruise. Almost all pool activities were cancelled.their chocolate buffet was dinner. Ended up ordering room service for dinner. Never watched so much tv on a cruise. They were even showing movies in the theatre. Gonna try a cruise for the first time in the summer this year. Hopefully we will be guarenteed better weather.

    19. Yolli
      December 28th, 2013 @ 7:17 am

      our worse cruise was in the South Pacific 2 yrs ago. There was a Cyclone & we missed going to 2 ports. The Captain said it was too dangerous to proceed so we had to go around it. Not as bad as some mentioned above….but there were a lot of grumpy passengers on board ( us NOT included)….we just did extra activities on the ship.

    20. valerie martin arvelo
      December 28th, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

      It’s all very well to expect people with a cold to give up their cruise, which has possibly not only cost them a year’s savings, but also their allotment of holiday time. Holiday insurance is not going to cover a person if he decides a sniffle and a cough will make it impossible to holiday, and it seems excessive to expect them to forego everything just so that their fellow cruisers will be free of possible contagion. Life, unfortunately, is full of colds everywhere and you could as easily catch it in the supermarket and very definitely in the doctor’s surgery. Perhaps sick people shouldn’t go there either? If it’s something like gastro enteritis it’s a bit different. . but for heaven’s sake . . a cold????

    21. megan
      December 31st, 2013 @ 10:31 am

      I agree with some of the commenters.People are sick already and go on a cruise? You go on a cruise in the summer and are complaining about the heat? And go on a brand new boat , and some things aren’t finished on it? That’s a surprise? When have you ever know anything to be done on time?
      I am really surprised at the person who encountered uncaring staff on a Princess cruise. I only sail Princess , have been on 5 0r 6 cruises (including the Star Princess when it caught on fire) and only once have I met a slightly rude staff person. Usually , the people with attitudes are those we come across in the port, once we get off the ship , it is such a contrast.

    22. Eva
      January 1st, 2014 @ 9:17 am

      Our first cruise trip was blountsmalladventures. The river cruising was just perfect, expect for the weather. Otherwise everything was fine and the trip was a real fun.

    23. Carol Hatteras
      January 5th, 2014 @ 8:14 am

      Royal Caribbean cruise insurance does cover you if you have a cold or the flu. You only need to sumit a Drs. note for a refund. They don’t want you on the Ship spreading your germs to the other guests and crew. I don’t want to have my vacation ruined after paying good money and using my vacation time by someone who knows they are ill when they are boarding the ship.They would be doing themselves and their fellow passengers a favor by staying home and rescheduling their cruise at another time when they themselves are well enough to enjoy it.

    24. Tina
      January 9th, 2014 @ 1:39 am

      Very disappointed with Holland America. We booked Volendam for Christmas and New Year as we had such a great experience the first time we sailed. Unfortunately their onboard costs have risen considerably,especially wine.Standards have dropped ,and their shore excursions are way out of reach. Sadly its all about the bottom line and their Guests are a poor second.
      Though staff and Crew are always friendly, helpful and delightful.

    25. tygey
      January 10th, 2014 @ 1:10 am

      All of you complaining for what ? for what money you pay I belive that you get more that you can dream.For 189 $ for 4 nights I belive is a big deal ,go to Ramada ,Renaissance ,Marriot or other hotel under 90 per night you will not get breakfast included only ,for 50$ on cruise you get :cabin,food (a lot of it) ,shows ,pool and gim .
      Now let’s speak about the guests customs:
      Americans -80% of them you cand speak with them ,rest are rude ,not friendly and looking for all to complain
      Britsh -most of them are very chep and cold persons ,not friendly like Irish or Scotish
      French -cheap people ,and they do not speack at all english
      German – simple but cheap ,they do not talk a lot with others
      Italians – probably the most cheapest form Europe ,not friendly and rude ,they do not now any english at all
      Australians – simple ,they respect themselves ang god famillies.

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