Man with phone on cruise ship

12 Cruise Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

Are you guilty of these common cruise mistakes? As an experienced cruiser, you may think you’ve got it all figured out, but even seasoned travelers can make some common mistakes. To ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable cruise, avoid these common mistakes that many cruisers tend to make. Also, I’m sharing my Travel Website Password Tracker as a free printable below.

Common Cruise Mistakes

1. Not Checking the Travel Advisory

One mistake that cruisers make when they go on a cruise is they assume that every port is safe. They don’t check the latest travel advisory from the US Department of State. 

For example, due to crime and water safety concerns, the US Department of State has recently increased the advisory level for the Bahamas to Level 2 and Jamaica to Level 3.  Read about the new travel advisory: Bahamas Travel Advisory Increases and Jamaica Travel Advisory Moves Up to Level 3.

2. Flying in the Day of Departure

Many cruisers make a major mistake by choosing to fly in on the day of their departure. For example, if your cruise is scheduled to depart at 4 pm, you may think it’s safe to arrive at 11am. That can be a risky move. 

If there’s bad weather or mechanical issues, your flight may be delayed for hours. Plus, if there’s traffic between the airport and the cruise port, you may miss the check-in time by the time you reach the terminal.

To avoid missing your ship, it’s better to fly into your departure port the night before you set sail. This will give you plenty of time to enjoy a nice dinner, get a good night’s sleep, and to get to your ship early so you can start your vacation! 

Cruise Mistakes

3. Lunch at the Buffet on Embarkation Day

One common mistake made by cruisers is that they all rush to the buffet for lunch on the day of embarkation. The buffet is the most crowded place on the ship where you are likely to wait in long lines and struggle to find an empty table while carrying your tray and carry-on luggage. It’s a chaotic situation.

Instead of heading straight to the buffet, check the daily planner or ask a crew member for other dining options available for lunch on embarkation day. 

The main dining room is usually open and sometimes there is an alternative restaurant open for lunch. By staying away from the buffet, you will have a much more peaceful dining experience. Check out my article on 10 most annoying people at a cruise buffet you’ll want to avoid.

4. Port Agent

One of the common mistakes that many cruisers make is that they often forget to bring the contact details of the port agent with them when they go ashore. It’s worth noting that there is a port agent at every port that your cruise line docks at. 

In case you find yourself in a difficult situation or get left behind by the ship, the port agent is the person to call for help. Usually, the shore excursion staff gives out maps that contain the contact information of the port agent.

It’s important to bring the port agent information with you when you go ashore. This way, you can contact the port agent in case you need help while you are at the port. Check out my article on 10 things to never do in cruise ports.

5. Taking the Elevator

Many people make the mistake of taking the elevator while cruising. Cruise elevators are notoriously slow. If you can, walk the few flights of stairs.

Taking the elevator is usually a major time waster where you spend a lot of time waiting for one to arrive and when you’re in the elevator you will end up stopping on every floor! You’re better off walking. Plus it’s much faster to walk the few flights of stairs than to take the elevator. 

Walking up the stairs not only saves time, but it also helps burn off the calories from last night’s chocolate cake. So, the next time you’re cruising, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Cruise Mistakes

6. Using Your Cellphone at Sea

A mistake cruiser make is they end up paying for expensive cell service at sea. That’s because they forget to switch their phone to airplane mode as soon as they board the ship. 

You don’t want to be charged an arm and a leg for an incoming phone call or text message. If you need to go online, it’s more economical to buy the cruise line internet package. 

It’s also worth checking whether your cell phone plan provides international coverage. As an example, I use T-Mobile, and I receive free international texting and data. So instead of buying the cruise internet package, I wait until I’m in port to check my email and go online.

It’s also a good idea to prepare your devices before leaving home by downloading ebooks and movies that you can enjoy offline. 

7. Booking Only Cruise Shore Excursions

You’re making a mistake if you limit yourself to the cruise line’s excursions and don’t explore independent tour options. Chances are you are paying more to be on the cruise shore excursions. 

That’s why it’s important to research and compare prices of shore excursions. For example, you may find the same tour for less on sites such as Viator

If you are traveling in a large group, it is also usually less expensive and more enjoyable to book a private tour than to go with the cruise line’s shore excursion. 

And don’t worry about getting left behind by the cruise ship. If you book from a trustworthy tour company, they will make sure that you return to the ship in plenty of time. 

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8. Ordering Wine by the Glass

Many cruisers, especially couples, often make the mistake of ordering wine by the glass. They assume that they won’t be able to finish an entire bottle. 

However, little do they know that they are actually wasting a lot of money. Instead, you should always order wine by the bottle. 

A lesser-known fact about cruise lines is that your wine bottle follows you on the ship. This means that even if you can’t finish the entire bottle in one sitting, you can request them to save it for you and then have it again later on. 

You don’t even have to be in the same venue to request your wine bottle. You can order the original wine in the main dining room and finish it the next day at a specialty restaurant. Your server will track down your wine bottle for you. Go ahead order that bottle of wine! Check out my tips on 10 ways to get free champagne and drinks on a cruise.

9. Don’t Wear Your Lanyard on Shore 

It’s a common mistake among cruisers to wear their lanyard while exploring the port. However, it’s not a good idea as it makes you an easy target for pickpockets and other thieves. 

Wearing a cruise lanyard immediately identifies you as a tourist and can work against you when trying to negotiate prices at stores. Plus, the stores know that you have a time limit as to when you have to return to the ship. 

So, it’s best to keep your cruise lanyard hidden in your bag to avoid attracting unwanted attention. I also suggest using slash-proof bags, especially in places with a high number of pickpocketers.

10. Only Eating at the Buffet

Some cruisers make the mistake of only eating at the buffet. I understand that dressing up or waiting for a table can be a hassle, and you might not want to sit with strangers. 

But if you only eat at the buffet, you’re missing out on upscale dining experiences. For example, you won’t enjoy the luxury of a white tablecloth restaurant or the attentive service of a server. 

You’ll miss out on simple things like a warm breadbasket or indulging in upscale dishes like shrimp cocktail. Plus, you’ll be missing out on freshly cooked food, instead you’ll be eating buffet food that’s been sitting in a warmer for a long time.

I recommend you dine at the main dining room for dinner a few times on your next cruise. Don’t worry about sitting with strangers; you can request a table for your group. You can even ask for the main dining room’s menu for the week and choose the night to eat at the main dining room. 

Also, if you really like eating at the buffet, why not do both? Have an early dinner at the main dining room, watch a show, and then head to the buffet for a late-night snack. This way, you can have it all! Check out my list of 10 food I’ll never eat at a cruise buffet.

11. Overpacking

Many cruisers overpack. When packing for a cruise, you should color coordinate your outfits to re-wear bottoms and eveningwear. Use different accessories for variety and limit yourself to one casual pair of shoes and one pair of dress shoes. Overpacking leads to checked bag fees, lugging heavy bags, and overcrowded cruise cabins. Check out my cruise carry-on packing list with free printable.

12. Not Booking Things in Advance

One of the common mistakes that people make while on a cruise is that they don’t book activities like shore excursions and dinner reservations in advance. Many believe that they can book everything once they are onboard, but this is not a good idea. 

Waiting until you are onboard can result in not getting your first choice of shore excursion tours or dinner reservations. You will end up with a 9 pm dinner reservation, which is too late. 

Plus, if you don’t book in advance, you will end up having to wait in long lines at the shore excursion desk to figure out which tours are available. And you might miss out on discounts that cruise lines offer to people who book early.

To avoid this stress and hassle during your vacation, it’s better to book early. That way everything is all set and you are ready to relax and enjoy your vacation the moment you board the ship. Check out my article on 10 important things to do before you go on a cruise.

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Check out my cruise packing lists with free printables for your upcoming Caribbean cruise, Alaska cruise, Mexico cruise, Mediterranean Cruise, British Isle Cruise and Bermuda cruise

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