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What Recent Cruise Improvements Need to be Disapproved?

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Recent history in the cruise industry has seen hundreds, if not thousands of articles written about all variety of innovations and improvements to the industry. In many cases one cruise line would take their chance with a new idea, and if the other cruise lines had even an inkling that the idea might be popular, they’d follow suit with some varied copy-cat version.

This trending isn’t restricted to the cruise industry. It’s not really different than any business; someone sees a success in their industry, and soon competitors are offering their version, or their attempt to “improve” on the original idea.

No question there have been some very interesting and innovative changes to the cruise industry recently which have “worked”, and have improved the cruise experience for the passengers. But, what about the failures? How long does it take for the cruise line to recognize a change they’ve made reduces the enjoyment of the cruise experience they provide to their customers?

No doubt getting consensus within an organization to admit a mistake has been made is difficult, and taking action to “dump the idea” is even harder.

It’s not likely that the cruise lines will listen to me, but I do have a few “improvements” I highly recommend getting sent to the garbage bin and set on fire.

So… What improvements need to go?

#1 on my list is Self Disembarkation! – I don’t know which cruise line or what “genius” decided it would be such a great idea to allow hundreds of people to spend the first two hours the ship is docked at the end of a cruise to drag all of their luggage, which they needed the use of a porter for to get on the ship, off of the ship.

Admittedly the cruise lines do state that to use self disembarkation guests must be able to leave while handling all of their own luggage. The reality however is often quite contrary to the stated rule. It’s funny how people who request handicapped assistance for boarding think they can leave the ship dragging all of their luggage behind them, just to get off of the ship an hour earlier.

From the cruise line’s point of view I’m sure the idea of allowing guests to take their own luggage off the ship seemed like a wonderful idea; they reduced the work load required to gather all of that luggage the night before, and reduced the manpower needed to move that luggage from the ship’s hold and into the terminal.

And for some reason this was an easy sell, pitched as offering an extra convenience to the customer.

Perhaps if self disembarkation was regulated to those with little luggage that they could actually carry off themselves without creating chaos on their way to exit, it might be a convenience for passengers. Sadly, it’s more often caused people to trip over luggage they can’t manage themselves, and trip other passengers who they have to get by in their rush to end their cruise vacation, and often has both people and luggage stacked up in the hallways leading to the gangway exit.

I won’t attempt self disembarkation again ever. I think it’s a miserable way to end what was a perfectly good vacation. And the cruise lines are obviously not watching the process very closely, or by now they’d have noticed what a messy process they’ve created.

On the positive side, now several cruise lines now allow guests to stay in their cabins, if they chose to, right until it’s time for you to leave the ship. They allow you to order room service breakfast, and enjoy a relaxed morning before leaving.

This process makes me feel like a guest until the actual end of the cruise, rather than telling me to get out of the cabin early; sending me the message that since I’m no longer paying, I’m no longer welcome. Now that’s an improvement that will hopefully spread through the industry!

Please feel free to add your pet peeve “improvements” that need to be disapproved.

– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –


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Comment from Ashlee
Time October 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I know I’m going to get blasted for this, but here goes. I have extreme distaste for the Freestyle concept being championed by NCL.

My first reason for this is the distant and impersonal service that comes as a result of this style of dining. Mind you I’m not saying the service isn’t good under Freestyle, but it is impersonal. It is no longer possible for me to have the same waiter and busboy every night in the dining room using this concept. It is an absolute impossibility to sit down at a table on a Freestyle ship and have my wait staff no that I prefer nothing but ice water with my meal, that I prefer hot chocolate to coffee at the end of my meal and that I like my steaks could medium. How can they, they don’t know me from the 1000s of other passengers on the ships like my waiter and busboy in a traditional dining room does. This level of personalized service is what separates the cruise dining experience from other 4 or 5 star restaurants available in my city. I can go many places and get excellent service while at home or on a traditional vacation. Only on a cruise however do I come to know the wait staff so well that I want pictures of them for my album by the end of the cruise.

The second reason I dislike Freestyle is that getting to know my table mates on a cruise is one of the highlights of my vacation. I’m far from a social butterfly (more of a social caterpillar actually) and find it difficult to meet new people, especially on some of the newer vast and impersonal vessels. Dinner with new table mates gives me an opportunity to make new friends and learn about new cultures or geographic regions. In some cases it presents the opportunities to make friendships that last a lifetime. Dinner becomes a social gathering that draws out the withdrawn and allows them to feel like they are a part of the community rather then just somebody who is watching the world go by them without knowing how or where to participate.

The final reason I dislike Freestyle is that it is eroding the concept of traditional dinner sitting. I don’t object to other people being given an alternative to the main dinning room, but it is not necessary to denigrate the concept of traditional dinner and make people who enjoy traditional seating feel that they are behind the times or need to be told where to go and when to eat. 99% of those who say they prefer Freestyle over traditional seating do so out of ignorance compounded by NCL propaganda. I have never had trouble arranging my schedule around dinner, never gotten a bad set of table mates, never been stuck with poor servers or in a bad section of the dining room (as if there were such a thing on most vessels). If for some reason I am not able to make my dinner time there has ALWAYS been an alternative way to dine in the evening (even going back as far as 1985 when I first started cruising). Ultimately the demise of traditional dinner seating, along with the increase in add on charges for certain activities or certain foods, and the continued efforts of the cruise lines to expand their revenue stream by finding more and more things to sell to their passengers is destroying the unique ambiance of cruising and turning it in to just another vacation.

Comment from Bob
Time October 4, 2010 at 9:59 am

While I have enjoyed a movie or two under the stars with my sweetie, can we turn the TV off when it is not showing special programming.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time November 1, 2010 at 5:39 am


You hit the nail right on the head! I abhor the tought of Freestyle or any other type/named dining on ships as you have so perfectly presented it.

We were a major frequenter of one cruise line that boasts traditional cruise service and dining. They toyed with the dining in the main resturant, and screwd it up royaly. Thus, we do not sail on the ships of that line. It happenned to us on one other several years ago, and we left that one as well.

Along with the open, go and do and eat when and what you lijke, makes the dress code a joke. I am sure there are many of you that don’t give a fig for a dress code. You may like going to Dennys and Golden Corral in your jeans wearing a wife beater, or a halter top, but, please spare us you tattoos and flab at dinner on a cruise. Not to mention the cost, cost, cost for all of the extra dining soopts, and the lax service in the main restaurant, as noticed in many reviews.

If you want real traditional dining, and a true traditional cruise, visit the traditional comment at this site, It is perfect.

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