Yo Ho, Yo Ho, Cruising’s Not For Me

Cruise Review Monarch of the Sea

Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Sea, taken from Castaway Cay

I had my fake tan, perfectly timed pedicure, and cruise wear cover-up style dresses (not my typical garb) all ready to go, for my very first cruise!  After finally convincing my hesitant, prone-to-motion-sickness husband to give this type of vacation a try for our 10th anniversary trip with no kids, I was certain we were going to love every minute of it.

Now recently returned from this maiden voyage of ours, and at the risk of sounding like a negative party pooper, I’m here to report that much to my surprise I’ve discovered cruising is not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful trip.  And there are definitely some charming and enjoyable aspects to vacationing on a cruise ship.  The food was great, we had fun filled days at port, and being a girl raised on the river – I absolutely love being out on the water in any type of boat.

But alas, there were a few not-so-savory aspects to our cruise, which I found myself unprepared for.

Camping On The Sea

Pay careful attention to the terminology when booking your first cruise.  For good reason, the space where you will be sleeping is often referred to as a cabin, not a room.

Cruise Review Small Cabin

I missed picking up on this nuance.  I realized it would probably be somewhat small.  But still, we’d be staying in an ocean-view room.  The term “room” leading me on some subconscious level to anticipate something similar to a hotel room.

No, I’m afraid “cabin” is a much more appropriate description.  Because space-wise, that’s what it felt like:  camping.  I felt like I was in a [swaying] camper.  You know, minus the benefit of being surrounded by unoccupied, open spaces and that peaceful feeling of remoteness from other humans you get, when truly camping.  Since we were all crammed in together like sardines.

Cruise Review Jamaican Towel Monkey

Weighing in at around 6 lbs, I found the Jamaican Towel Monkey left in our room by housekeeping a tad more creepy, than cute, ‘mon.

Sicky, Sicky

Since my husband is the one who occasionally suffers from motion sickness, he’s the one I was worried about getting sick on our cruise.  He’s the one who’se been a deterring factor in even trying a cruise, as we were certain he’d feel like tossing his cookies the entire vacation.  Thereby taking a bit of fun out of the vacation itself.

But alas, it was me who got sick!  The first two nights after we returned to our room, I hopped into bed with a good book and within 5 minutes felt extremely nauseated.  Fortunately, my husband had a stash of motion sickness meds ready at the helm for me to borrow.

The Constant Upsell

“Three Night Cruise to the Bahamas, only $199 per person!”  Holy cow, that’s a cheap vacation!  Until you call to book, and they talk you into a slightly better ocean view room.  But that’s ok, we’re still looking at a reasonable rate.

Then you board your ship, and the bombardment begins.  From the non-stop mobile peddling of drinks (more on this below), to the exorbitantly priced on board photos they like to take of you, to the cheesy temporary folding tables they set up in the atrium for displays of cheap purses and jewelry for sale.  I found it a big fat tacky turnoff.

Ok, so I did buy a bracelet.  Cause, you know.  It was really cute.

Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas Docked at Nassau Bahamas

Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas, Docked at Nassau Bahamas

Short Cruise, Short on Entertainment

I’ve heard very good reports from friends about amazing entertainment they’ve seen on their cruises before.  But unfortunately, on the 3 night Bahamas cruise on Royal Carribean’s Monarch of the Seas, it ain’t happening.

The first night I was so excited to head into the theatre after dinner.  No kids, and it’s time for some live entertainment on my very first cruise… what a great date night this was going to be!

The singers and dancers came on stage.  For one song.  Then they were done.  Surely they’ll be back for more?

Then came a stand up comedian, for 30 minutes.   He was funny, we enjoyed him!  But then it was over.  That was the entire show.  Thanks for coming, folks!  Now head to the bars, for the real fun…

The only other theatre performance was the big finale show, typically reserved for the final night of the cruise.  For this, the singers and dancers performed for nearly 50 minutes.  Although the cast was comprised of a group of marginally talented 20-25 year olds, the costumes were fantastic and the show was quite entertaining.

Moral of the story, I guess, is just to be advised:  Small ship, short cruise – not pulling down the “A List” performers.  And apparently, 1 1/4 shows is all you’re gonna get out of them on a 3 night trip.

Cruise Review Monarch of the Seas Theatre

They did play the game on Super Bowl Sunday in the main theatre, which was kindof cool. (Except that we don’t watch football…)

Invasive Floating Bar Scene

Here was the deal breaker for me, and the aspect that I naively didn’t see coming.  Back in the day, I used to tear it up in the bar and party-life night scene as much as the next girl.  Probably more.

But now I do not drink.  And I don’t find any enjoyment from hanging around and watching other people drink excessively.  In this regard, the cruise ship was not the place for me!

The Bahama Mama drink table located 5 steps inside the boarding area at 11 a.m. on our first day, was my first clue.  From there, it simply mushroomed.  To the point where I felt like drinking permeated every area of the boat.

In the evenings, you can go to the bars, casino, or the pool (or the theatre, for 30-50 minutes, but that still leaves you with a fair chunk of time on your hands).  Be assured, alcohol will be flowing freely at any one of those venues.  For me, the atmosphere was one of a big floating bar.  I guess it’s just been so long since I was exposed to that scene, that it really blindsided me.

I’m certainly not judging those who drink… my reasons for abstaining are personal.  It just took a lot of the enjoyment out of the experience for me – and I wanted to give a heads-up perspective to any who may find themselves with similar circumstances.

Cruise Review Formal Night

My sole, blurry picture of us on Formal Night of our cruise. (Heads-up!  If you are taking someone’s picture for them, be a dear and please try not to cut off their feet.)

Will I Try Cruising Again?

Yes.  I’d love to try a Disney Cruise someday.

That cruise will be with my kids, in a few years, once I can trust that my wild toddler son won’t climb the railing and jump overboard in that split 3 seconds when we aren’t looking.  Although mocked by our Port Canaveral cab driver as “the floating daycare ship”… I think the Disney Cruise atmosphere may be more up my alley.

Overall, this was still a neat experience that I do not regret.  All I’ve ever heard from people prior to this, is that they simply ADORE cruising.

What say you – how have your on-board experiences been…?

*o*     *o*     *o*


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About COMtnMom

Hi, I'm Tami! Writer, Influencer, and mom of two who loves travel, the outdoors, staying active, photography, reading books, and eating desserts. We are pretty much always planning our next trip to Disney World.


  1. Disney on Wheels says:

    I’m so sorry your cruise wasn’t the greatest. It’s never fun to do all that planning and then be disappointed. But I do think you will enjoy a Disney cruise. Having been on a non Disney and a Disney, it is a completely different experience.

    • Oh, thank you. We really did have a great trip… (we headed to WDW for a short visit after the cruise – WOOT!) I was hoping this post didn’t come off as a big whine-fest. 😉

      And I’m very happy to hear that about the Disney Cruise!!

  2. You should watch the CNBC documentary Cruise, Inc. It will give you an idea how the industry makes their money, which as you found out, is not from the “cabins” but from the upcharges of all the extras.

    If you thought they were bad on Royal Caribbean, wait until you try a Disney cruise, where your kids see a flashing glass being served at dinner and all the other parents are buying them, and $15 each later, you are kissing your wallet goodbye. Disney is the masters of the upcharge game.

    While I’m also not a huge fan of cruising either, you have to realize that the 3-day cruises are also typically the smaller, older ships with lower budgets, which you learned. Although you are still going to get sold the same cheap purses and jewelry regardless which ship.

    • Interesting. I clearly should have watched the CNBC documentary BEFORE the trip… ha! Yes, I’m getting the sense that the 3-day Caribbean cruise is a slightly different beast.

      Thanks for your feedback.

  3. We dont drink either and we dont like being around drunks. Thanks a lot for posting this, I was thinking about doing a cruise for a family vacation but not so much anymore, the alcohol has turned me off. You guys are a good looking couple!

    • I try to keep my blog’s tone upbeat, and I was a little nervous posting this and having it sound negative. I was so caught off guard by the whole scene, I honestly did want to give other cruise newbies like myself a little heads-up.

      I really appreciate your comment, Sunnie! Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. I’m so sorry that you didn’t have a great time! The thing about cruising is that the ship and the destination are very important. 3 day Caribbean cruises have a reputation for being party cruises (particularly on certain cruise lines) because they are relatively inexpensive and I think that is what you came up against. Our drinking is limited to a glass of wine at dinner and I don’t want to be around excessive drinking either (nor do I want my kids around it) but we haven’t experienced that on any of our cruises on Disney, Princess, Holland America or Celebrity.

    I do think your family would love a Disney cruise – we have just completed our second and, even with older kids, it is worth the extra cost for the entertainment alone. Hands down best entertainment options for families of any of the lines that we have been on.

    I was worried about motion sickness before our first cruise but fortunately have never been bothered much by it. You may find that a different itinerary is better for that. We have cruised in the Caribbean three times, in Alaska, the Baltics and the Mediterranean and I have barely noticed the motion of the ship except in the Caribbean. Two out of our three Caribbean cruises have been rough – all that open sea. Disney in Alaska might be the ideal cruise for your family! 🙂

    At least you got away to celebrate your anniversary – Happy 10th!!!

    • Lisa, you’re awesome. We really did have a great trip, in spite of things. I make it sound all horrible… the days were really fun (one exploring day in Nassau, one beach day at Cocoa Cay), it was just the evenings on the ship that weren’t ideal. 😉 Plus, afterwards we went to Disney, which was awesome!

      I thought as long as we steered clear of “Carnival” we’d avoid the party ship – LOL. I know you’ve done a lot of traveling, and I really appreciate you sharing your input – it’s extremely helpful, and I love your advice. I think you’re exactly right – an Alaskan Disney Cruise with the family may be just the ticket!

  5. Ah, I’m sorry it wasn’t the best trip for you, Tami 🙁 Great insight though – something that all new cruisers should be aware of, I think!

    I do hope you try out a Disney cruise some day. There’s still lots of upsell going on (as my bank account can attest to at the end of each cruise!), but I’ve never felt pressured by any of it. Maybe it’s because of the friendly, Disney approach that I’m used to from the Parks! 🙂 I also think the alcohol thing is a little different on Disney cruises. It’s certainly available if you want it, and you will see “bon voyage” drinks being sold as soon as you board, but I don’t feel like it’s the main focus – especially since there are so many families and young kids that sail.

    I also agree with Lisa’s comment above – I don’t get motion sickness at all, but the Caribbean is the one place I noticed the movement more than any other cruise.

    So glad you were able to get away to celebrate your 10th and get a little Disney time in too! 🙂

    • Awww, thanks, Holly! I’m glad to hear the Caribbean is a rougher sail (motion sickness-wise), since that may open up other destinations for us. 🙂

      Fellow Disney lovers are probably wondering when they read this post, “Why didn’t she go on a Disney Cruise this time?” I did consider it, but I really wanted to save that “first” to enjoy together with my kids! I know it will be special.

  6. Erin Sforza says:

    I’m so sorry your trip did not work out the way you had hoped, though on the plus side at least your husband fared ok with the motion sickness! 😉

    A Disney cruise would probably be just your style I think and though upselling isn’t completely absent as previous posts confirm, it has a totally different feel. My family and I just did a two night cruise on the Disney Magic and I can assure you we received the same treatment as we did on the 7 night cruise including Pirates IN the Caribbean night, and the same entertainment.

    I don’t drink very much anymore either, so I was very comfy on Disney’s ship since alcohol while available does not turn the ship into some sort of “Permanent Spring Break Vortex”. I actually have no interest in casinos either, so the Disney ship fits me well with that aspect too. Let the cabbies make jokes, Disney people know where the fun is. 🙂

    • LOL – I totally agree, Erin!

      And that is very good to know! I had wondered that, even on Disney Cruises, if you didn’t get “less” in entertainment on a shorter cruise? That’s awesome. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Hey Tami, your “South Dakota” is showing: “being a girl raised on the river”…. Because there’s only one river of consequence in South Dakota, and we did indeed grow up along side of it 😀

    I had been kind of coming around on my knee-jerk dislike of cruises, but if it’s basically a lot of ‘you will enjoy your vacation more, if only you’d spend a bit more money’ type stuff……

    • I thought my South Dakota was showing when I called our cruise ship a “booowt”? 😉

      Hey, I’m worried now that I’ve given all cruises a bad rap here. I’m starting to see from the comments that a 3-Day Caribbean cruise was not typical, and was probably the worst choice for me…

  8. I hope you were able to enjoy Coco Cay….but I do know that sometimes the 3 and 4 day cruises are more like “party cruises” than the others (like a 7 day). We just returned home a few weeks ago from a 7 day on Allure of the Seas and I think you might actually enjoy a cruise like that. The ship is so big that you don’t feel like you’re stuck in a floating bar (although they DO have a floating bar on the ship…LOL). The cabins are still small (we had 4 people and 5 suitcases in a balcony stateroom…tight squeeze!)…but it’s something you come to expect after you’ve cruised once or twice.

    Overall our experience on Allure was amazing. There was a lot to do for kids (all the Dreamworks characters were on board) and the only time I set foot in the casino was to walk through it to get to the theater to see “Chicago”. The 7 day itineraries (and longer) do have more shows I think – we had a diving show, Chicago, and they were showing Dreamworks movies all week too.

    A good resource is CruiseCritic.com – they have reviews of all the ships and cruise itineraries out there on every cruise line. You can find out about cabins, ports of call, on ship entertainment…everything. 🙂

    • You had me at “Chicago”! Wow!

      We LOVED Cocoa Cay. It was honestly my husband and I’s favorite day of the entire week long trip. And I remembered that you told me before my vacation that it was wonderful… you were spot on!

      I appreciate the other info and ideas – you’ve done some cruising, and clearly know what you’re talking about!

      Thanks for your comment, Traci 🙂 (Have you considered travel sales? Cause you are very convincing… I think you have me ready to get back on a boat)

  9. I had a similar experience on my one and only cruise.. a 5 night (?) Royal Caribbean.. it was a stunning ship, but I took dramamine every night… except one night which I decided to act like a 25 year old (I was 27.. it’s okay) and drink away the sea-sickness. I’m happy that we had the balcony, but it’s going to cost a lot more when we do that on a Disney Ship. One day. When I’m not afraid of my toddlers jumping ship 🙂 Glad I’m not alone in that!

    • So happy to hear you say that, Jenn – and that I’m not just a paranoid mom!

      I mentally try to walk myself through it, reasoning with myself, “I’ve never heard a single news story about a toddler going overboard during a cruise… surely if it had happened, that would make the news?” Hahaha! But I can so see my wild man going for it.

      Yes, you and I will just wait a few years. And save up our money for it. Cause that will probably take a few years, too… at least for me. 🙂

  10. I hate cruises too. I was dragged on them all through my childhood (by my grandparents who loved them and thought it was good for all us cousins to be together every other year). It definitely contributed to my downfall by starting me hanging out at the club and drinking about age 12 (a la Drew Barrymore ;)) I do have some good memories of hanging out with my cousins (the ones I still can remember), but I wouldn’t go near a cruise ship now. Especially with how prevalent the norovirus is these days.

    • Holy cow, that’s quite a story! Have you sold the movie rights yet…? 😉

      Thanks for your comment, Aimee – this has been so interesting to hear people’s 2 cents about cruising.

  11. Sorry the cruise wasn’t everything you hoped it would be Tammi. As a fellow non-drinker I kind of understand the preference for not being around really drunk people, although years of visiting Vegas has given me the ability to tune them out. At least you got to visit Disney World. Looking forward to reading about that, and somehow I doubt there will be any negativity in those posts at all.

    • Thanks, Steve! And how right you are. Disney World, as always, was awesome in every way!! 🙂 That was a great way to round out the trip. I was so happy we went there last. A Happy Ending!

  12. I’m sorry it wasn’t what you expected but I’m glad you had a semi-good time on your maiden voyage. I’ve never done a 3-day cruise and the ones that leave from LA to Mexico are known as party cruises. I believe the ship you went on was based here and moved over there.

    I’m a firm believer that a cruise ship, the line and itinerary can make a big difference with your cruising experience. I really hope that you do try a Disney cruise or another 7-day one with places you want to visit. We haven’t done Royal Caribbean yet but love Disney, Costa, Holland and Princess. It would have to be a really good price before I set foot on Carnival or Norwegian again. 🙂 A 3-day cruise is so rushed that it doesn’t really give you enough time to enjoy the activities onboard, the ports or get acclimated to cruising.

    I’ve gone on 12 cruises and I still get seasick on the the first couple of days but Dramamine has helped a lot. I don’t drink either but I think we’ve just gotten used to ignoring all that upsell. I’ve bought quite a few cheaper things onboard those duty free shops too. 🙂 I’m glad you, at least, haven’t given up on it. Belated Happy 10th Anniversary!!

  13. Wolfgang BH says:

    Hi , I came to your website by coincidence while google for some informations about the former RCCL’s Monarch of the Seas, now Pullmantur’s Monarch, where we booked a 7-day Southern Caribbean Cruise on. This cruise will sail in July, originating in Caracas, Venezuela. We started taking cruises just a year ago when we got a great deal on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean on Carnival’s Liberty out of Miami. It was awesome, the best vacation we ever had. The whole experience was stunning, food was great, of course the drinks, entertainment, shore excursions, fantastic. The only thumbs-down were these looooong lines at the breakfast buffett and the noise around the pool. Upsell, yes, this sucks but you’re not forced to buy anything, if you do so, it’s your own decision. We took our 2nd cruise just 6 mo later, 5 day Jamaica/Cayman, same great experience on Carnival’s Victory. Next cruise is scheduled for May, Puerto Rico/USVI/Turks on Carnival’ s Conquest. We can’t wait to get on board again! How else can you visit so many great places in such a short time without traveling on full planes or wasting time on airports or freeways? Try again! And take a 5+ days cruise next time. It s much more relaxing. And take a balcony stateroom where you can watch those amazing sunsets in privacy, priceless!

    • COMtnMom says:

      Appreciate for your feedback… good tips, all! Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying cruising so much. And I’m sure you are right – a longer cruise with a balcony stateroom sounds lovely, and like it contribute to a much better experience. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  14. Thanks for this post. I am a bit late to the game here (most recent post 2014!) but I find this info re: 3 day cruise helpful. I have been considering a quick get away with my husband and was looking at 3-4 day cruises with royal carribean (RC).
    In researching them I noticed that the cruise ships for these short cruises were generally the less exciting ones but wasn’t sure if it mattered…seems like it does! So thanks for shedding some light on that 🙂

    I did a 7 night eastern Caribbean cruise with RC about 8 years ago and loved it. The entertainment and pools were just so, so but I loved waking up every morning and having breakfast while looking out at a different island every day. I booked port excursions for every port and this made all the difference (but really adds up cost wise). OVerall though, I would definitely recommend a 7 night cruise with RC in the Caribbean. I think I might hold off to do a 7 night cruise again in the future rather than do a 3 night one…

    • COMtnMom says:

      Hi Mary,

      Ahhhh….I hate to be so discouraging, but it’s all true! 🙁 I agree that the 3 night may be a disappointment compared to your 7 night experience. And yes, even the boats they use are different/smaller.

      Hope you get to go on another cruise, and love it! Thanks for stopping by and sharing.


  1. […] I posted a less than glowing review of our Royal Caribbean cruise experience overall, our day spent at Cocoa Cay was by far the best part of our trip.  It was […]

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