How cruising has changed

How Cruising has Changed: What We Miss from the 90s

Do you remember the old school days of cruising? Formal nights, smaller ships and the decadence of midnight buffets? If you do, then you might be nostalgic for the old school cruises of the past. Below, we will reminisce about how cruising has changed since the 90s.

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How cruising has changed

How Cruising Has Changed

1. Smaller ships

In 1999, there was no such thing as mega cruise ships! There is something charming and elegant about cruising on a smaller ship, with fewer passengers and more personalized service. You can enjoy more intimacy and authenticity, as well as access more ports and destinations that are off the beaten path. 

To cruise like it’s 1999, look for smaller ships that offer a classic and cozy atmosphere, such as the Azamara Club Cruises, or the Oceania Cruises.

Check out: When to Book a Cruise to Get the Best Deal

2. Midnight Buffet

I long for the days of old school cruising, when the midnight buffet was a grand affair. It was a feast for the eyes and the stomach, with unlimited food and variety. Now, most cruise lines have scrapped the midnight buffet to save money.

Check out: 12 Things You Should Never Do at a Cruise Buffet

3. Specialty Restaurants

Cruising used to include all the food you could eat, without any extra charges. In the 90s, specialty dining was unheard of! But now, cruise lines have added fancy specialty restaurants, many with menus by celebrity chefs, and you have to pay extra just to eat there!

Check out: 10 Ridiculous Time Wasters to Avoid on a Cruise

4. Dining Venues

In the past, cruise dining was simple and straightforward. You had two options: the main dining room or the buffet. Nowadays, you have to choose from a dizzying array of specialty restaurants that offer various themes and cuisines.

How cruising has changed

5. Beverage Packages

I miss the old school cruising days when non-alchoholic drinks such as sodas and iced tea were included in your cruise. And alcoholic beverages were cheap. 

Now there are many different beverage packages that you can add on to your cruise from soda packages to coffee packages to expensive beverage packages.

Check out: 10 Ways to Score Free Champagne at a Cruise (How to Get Free Drinks!)

6. Less Crowded

I remember the cruises in the 90s, when there was more space and less people. Now, cruise lines are making huge ships that cram in as many passengers as possible. It feels so crowded!

Check out: 14 Simple Ways to Escape the Crowd on a Cruise Ship

7. No Wi-Fi

Remember the days when you could cruise without the distraction of Wi-Fi, smartphones, and other gadgets? You could relax, enjoy the moment, and connect with your travel companions. 

To cruise like it’s 1999, try to unplug from technology. Instead, read a book, play a board game, or have a conversation with someone.

Check Out: How to Sleep Like a Baby on a Cruise (10 Tips from an Ex-Insomniac)

8. Formal Nights

Dining at a cruise used to be a formal affair, with everyone dressing up every night. Plus there is comfort in dining at a fixed schedule and fixed seating arrangement. 

Ever since Norwegian Cruise introduced Freestyle dining, things have become more flexible and relaxed. You can eat at your own pace and choose your own table. And you don’t have to dress up either. 

Dining at cruise ships has become more casual. I miss the old school days!

9. Prime Rib

Cruise lines have reduced the quality of the sit-down dinner. The main dining room menu no longer includes prime rib, lobster dinner, crab legs or surf and turf. Now it’s common to have to pay a surcharge to get the lobster dinner or the prime rib dinner.

10. Mega Ships

In 1996, a ship carrying 3000 passengers was considered big. Nowadays, that is more of a mid-sized ship. 

The largest cruise ship now is Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas with a capacity of 7,600 passengers!

Check out: 21 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money on a Cruise

11. Inside Balcony 

Back in 1999, all balcony rooms face out into the ocean. Now, cruise lines are maximizing revenue with “inside” balcony rooms where the staterooms face the interior of the ship. 

Royal Caribbean’s newest ships have what they call the boardwalk balconies. These are inside balcony rooms that face other rooms and a courtyard. You can hardly see the ocean from there. And they can get noisy because they are near the aqua theater. 

The one good thing about these boardwalk balconies is that they are less expensive than the real ocean balconies.

So when you book a balcony room these days, just double check and make sure you are booking an ocean facing balcony room!

Check out: Cruise without Seasickness: Genius Tricks You Need to Know

12. Mini-Suite

Cruises in 1999 had real suites, spacious and luxurious. Now they have mini-suites which are actually just regular staterooms that might be a little bit larger because there is an added sofa area. 

Check out: 9 Reasons Why I’m Skipping Port Days on My Next Cruise

13. Towel Animals

I long for the old school cruises when our stateroom steward would surprise us with creative towel animals. Sadly, that is a thing of the past due to budget cuts.

14. Chocolates on Your Pillows

Cruising was more luxurious before. Turndown service was the norm where you will get your towel animal and chocolates on your pillow!

Check out: 10 Things to Never do in Cruise Ports

15. Free Room Service

Room service at cruises used to be free. Now, depending on the cruise line, there are service charges that they add on if you order room service. Only a few cruise lines still provide free room service!

Check out: I’ve Been on over 25 Cruises, Here are 17 Things I’ll Never Do on a Cruise

Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables

Alaska cruise packing list

Caribbean cruise packing list

Mediterranean cruise packing list

Mexico cruise packing list

Bermuda Cruise Packing List

25 Things People Forget to Pack on their Cruise

42 Banned Items you can’t take on a cruise

Check out: When to Book a Cruise to Get the Best Deal

Check out: 11 Anti-Theft Cruise Tips that Every Cruiser Needs to Know

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