cruise ship

18 Worst Things That Can Ruin Your Cruise Vacation

A cruise is a relaxing way to vacation. However, there are some things that can happen that will spoil your cruise experience. Below are the worst things that can ruin your cruise vacation.

18 worst things to ruin your cruise

Suburbs 101 participates in affiliate programs including Amazon Associates Program and may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

Worst Things that Can Happen to Ruin Your Cruise Vacation

1. Getting seasick 

Getting seasick is one of the worst things that can happen on a cruise. It makes you feel so sick that you lose your ability and motivation to do anything. It is difficult to recover from this vicious cycle of nausea and misery. However, you can avoid seasickness by taking some smart precautions.

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

2. Getting Stomach Flu

Nothing can spoil your cruise more than getting the stomach flu. This is caused by norovirus, which triggers nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, stomach pain and fever. It’s highly contagious and spread through fecal-oral transmission. The virus can survive on counters and surfaces for a long time. 

Norovirus typically lasts 2 and a half days…imagine 2.5 days of misery during your cruise vacation!  Luckily, you can prevent it by washing your hands with soap and water often. Alcohol hand sanitizers are not enough.

Cruise ships have made it easier to avoid norovirus by providing hand washing stations at the buffet and reminding passengers to use them.

3. Missing the ship

One of the worst things that can happen during your cruise vacation is for you to miss the ship! You might miss it because your flight is delayed or you just didn’t get back onboard on time. 

It’s unfortunate because it’s a hassle and can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. The good news is, you can catch up and hopefully go to the next port and meet your cruise ship and board the ship from there!

In order to avoid missing the ship, you should fly in the night before your cruise.  You can also book shore excursions through the cruise line, which will guarantee your timely return. If you go on your own, make sure you have enough time to get back to the ship.

4. Losing your passport

Losing your passport can ruin your cruise. It’s a serious issue that can jeopardize your cruise vacation, since you may not be able to enter or exit certain countries. You also have to deal with getting a replacement or a temporary document at the consulate. 

My tip is to make photocopies of all your passports and important IDs and documents, just so you have it handy. It will make it easier to get a replacement if you have photocopies of your old passport. 

5. Losing your Luggage

Losing your luggage can easily ruin your cruise vacation. It’s a hassle and stressful to have to try to track down your luggage. You will also have to buy clothes and toiletries as a replacement. It’s not a fun way to go on vacation. I suggest putting airtags on your luggage so you can track it just in case. 

6. Traveling with an Expired Passport

Make sure you don’t have an expired passport. It can cause complications and the cruise line can deny boarding. Usually they want to see that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your cruise. So check your passport expiration date and make sure to renew it!

7. Packing Your Passport in Your Checked Luggage

Don’t make the mistake of packing your passport and other important travel documents in your checked luggage. When you arrive at the cruise port, the porters will take your checked luggage away. 

You can’t check in without your passport! If you have your passports and travel documents in your checked luggage, you will have to track down your checked luggage. Make sure you have your passport and travel documents in your carry-on bag!

18 worst things to ruin your cruise

8. Forgetting to Bring Your Medication

Forgetting to bring your medication can easily ruin your cruise. Especially if this medication is something you need to take and you can’t skip a dose. 

Even forgetting to bring emergency medication can ruin your vacation. That happened to me, I forgot to bring my son’s epipen for his nut allergy. It was scary to be on a boat without an epipen. 

Normally, it wouldn’t be as bad to find a replacement but because my son is young, he can only take Epipen Jr. which is a lower dosage than the adult version. The adult version is easy to find but it was really hard to track down an epipen for kids. 

9. Booking a Shore Excursion at Every Port

A cruise vacation should be relaxing. It’s tempting to overschedule and book a shore excursion at every port. Don’t, it can ruin your cruise vacation! It’s exhausting to go on shore excursions. They usually require an early start and can last all day! Give yourself a break and explore some of the cruise ports on your own. 

10. Change in Cruise Itinerary

Sometimes your cruise will skip ports or make cruise itinerary changes due to weather  conditions or unexpected sailing conditions. This can ruin your cruise and be a big disappointment especially if you were looking forward to going to a specific port and then find out at the last minute that you are no longer going there.  

11. Damaged Stateroom

It’s rare but possible that you encounter a malfunction that can damage your stateroom. It happened to me, when my cabin started leaking water. Not just a minor leak, but the type where water is gushing down from the ceiling. It made my stateroom unlivable. 

We had to line up at guest services along with many other passengers on our floor to get another room.  It was a nightmare, we had no place to sleep that night. My kids slept in another relative’s cabin. It was stressful and wasted our time- not how we wanted to enjoy our cruise vacation! 

12. No Clothes to Wear on Disembarkation Day

Cruise ships will ask you to leave your checked luggage outside your cabin the night before you disembark. This means you won’t be able to access your luggage until you reach the port. 

That means you need to plan ahead. Pack a carry-on bag with everything you need for the last night and the next morning. This includes clothes, toiletries, passports, travel documents, and medication.

You don’t want to end up wearing your pajamas off the ship! I always bring a small roller bag that I can easily carry off the ship.

13. Having a medical emergency

Having a medical emergency can easily ruin your cruise. It’s more common than you think, I’ve been to many cruises where they have to air lift cruise passengers out because of a medical emergency. It’s unfortunate but it happens. Make sure you have travel insurance so you are not stuck with an expensive medical bill. 

14. Getting Quarantined

Quarantine in your cruise cabin is a real possibility in these post-covid days. It may happen again, if a big outbreak prompts local governments to quarantine passengers and stop them from leaving the ship.

15. Having noisy neighbors 

Your cruise vacation can be ruined by noisy neighbors. Imagine loud music, kids running in the hall, and doors slamming at night. This can disturb your sleep and ruin your day.

If you are sensitive to noise, when you book your cruise, make sure you get a cabin that is in the quieter parts of the ship. Don’t book cabins under the dining rooms or above the theater, casinos and lounges. 

Definitely avoid Boardwalk Balcony rooms on the new Royal Caribbean ships- they are noisy!

16. Having Food Allergy Reactions

Getting a food allergy reaction can easily ruin your cruise. It’s stressful and scary. Cross contamination can be a problem on a cruise, especially at the buffet. 

If you have any food allergies, you should tell the cruise. Let your server know about your food allergy and they will prepare food for you without cross-contamination. 

My son has a nut allergy, so every night the Maitre’D will give us the menu for tomorrow and take his orders for the following day. The cruise lines are very careful about food allergies and will prepare the dishes separately. 

17. Getting Sunburned

Getting sunburned is a sure way to ruin your cruise vacation. Sometimes you don’t realize how intense the sun is especially in the Caribbean. Make sure to reapply sunblock and bring Aloe Gel as an after-sun gel to soothe your skin. 

18. Booking a Flight that is too Early on Disembarkation Day

Don’t book a flight too early on disembarkation day. Just because the itinerary says that the cruise ship will arrive at the port at 6am doesn’t mean you get off the ship by then.

It can take a few hours before you can disembark, get your luggage and go through customs. Then you still have to take a taxi to the airport. To be safe, book your flight later in the afternoon or early evening to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport. 

Looking to save money on your cruise? 21 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money 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

25 Things People Forget to Pack on their Cruise

42 Banned Items you can’t take on a cruise

How to Pack Light: 11 Things You Don’t Need to Bring

Sharing is caring!

Scroll to Top