You point out a good reason to do a bit of research on ports before selecting an itinerary. These cruise boards are one place to do that. A good TA that gives personal service is another. For example, by just doing some research, Italy was exactly what I expected, as was England, Scotland, Ireland, French Polynesia, and so on. Oh, no, I didn't WANT these places to be like home, as my home is Oklahoma! Voted the number one most boring vacation destination! It's a fairly nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit here.
Actually, I've been to only one port that I though was truly bad ---- and I only went there because it was some time ago and I had not yet learned to research my destinations. That place was Jamaica, and the problem was (and is) that tourists are constantly being approached there by locals, who beg or want to sell you dope, in a threatening manner. But had I done my research, I'd have known that and picked another itinerary.
I've been lucky, I guess. We've cruised on lines all the way from "budget" to "lux" and on ships all the way from 200 guests to 2100 guests and yet I've never been forced to personally meet the type you describe. I say "luck" as I know this type exists from reading this and other cruise boards, and I see their complaints about other countries, and the customs there. I exclude from this statement complaints of fellow guests about the "hassles" from the locals in Jamaica --- I was complaining too and the complaints were real.
Even on our cruise that stopped in Malta, I heard no griping about the rather strange fact that stores there seem to open and close during the day with no detectable pattern! I guess having no set store hours is a custom there. Comments and jokes, yes --- but no griping.
Oh, I've met some like that. You just sidle away from them and ignore them. Problem is, people who feel that way are the most likely ones to act the "ugly American" (or "ugly Brit) role, because they're not comfortable and they say so to anyone who will listen. That can be a problem.
You have to remember that a measurable number of cruise passengers choose ships precisely because they're not comfortable with independent "adventure" travel. Ships offer door-to-door turnkey service if you want that, and a lot of the people you describe want exactly that.
All i know is that as long as my husband is on my cruise with me next month and we can spend some of that time alone and other times eating good food and going to new places we have never been before I know I will have an awesome time already even before we leave!! We came across some of those people when we travled to Africa last year..
imagine traveling half way across the world which very few opeople get to do and then finding things to complain about I could not believe it ..they were upset when they were running out of food at the buffet after going up 3 times or more. We were on a game preserve where all of the food needs to be brought in and the nearest city is 4 hours away!! Then they have to conserve powere because there are very few power lines and they put canldes everywhere it was awesome we had beers in the bar and wrote our postcards home by candlelight listening to the animals on the preserve!! Heaven to me yet some people were upset that there were no light go figure
It is the difference between tourists and travelers. Tourists want to go and bring home with them and travelers want to go and experience new places.
Their is nothing wrong with either way of traveling and cruising inherently lends itself toward tourists. You have all the comforts without the hassles of local hotels, transportation, food, etc.
The negative part of this is that many people who have never truly experienced places are more apt to complain and be shocked by conditions that they see as less then optimal. You cannot truly experience a port or country in six to eight hours.
I have met people on cruises that can't figure out that they are no longer in the USA or UK or wherever there home is and can't believe that people live, eat, and actually have a different lifestyle than they do and then they actually complain about it and think of people in these ports like they are some sort of sub-species. "How can they live like that?" When in fact they are living a normal life as cab driver or fisherman. I usually just say good-bye and find someone else to talk to.
Luckily this type of person is the minority but they are out there.
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"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
Actually, cruises DO lend thenselves to true travelers who recgnize that not every destination has days of activities and sites to offer. But these destinations may have much interest for a tour of a few hours or so. For these, cruising is the way to go. (Hint: don't try to see London on a one day cruise stop. you'll be lucky to see 1%). And as far as learning about the port, folks like cab drivers and store owners are probably the best source of info n the port, if we wll just be friendly and listen to them. We've received some really good advice from locals like this as to what to see and where to go.
Also, on cruises, become friendly with the crew. Not only will you get better service, but often the crew knows sites of interest in the ports better than anyone else on the ship. On one cruise, some crew members said "come on, go with us. You'll see." And we did!
The reason some of us travelers prefer to cruise (or else go to a location like London and "fan out from there") is that those bus tours of countries and regions are IMO, pure Hell. 5:30 am wake up calls, pack in a hurry and brng lugage down, get on a bus (which may or may not have a restroom) and try to stay awake. More like military basic training than a vacation of any sort.
But back to cruising. Research before booking. Make friends with the crew and get their port info. And then go to he port and be friendly and listen to advice of cab drivers and storekepers as to what to do and see. You'll just have a better time.
my experience is while on board the ship, people have a tendency to gravitate towards other cruisers that share a common interest...also people who book the "non traditional cruises..i.e. far east, windjammer, artic or south american, or any theme cruises...have a greater sense of adventure and look for cruises that reflect that
Anyone that has any extensive experience working with the public know that no matter where you go, people fall into certain categories and you can almost guess which type people are after only talking or observing them for 5 minutes..As a matter of fact I suspect it almost becomes a "game" for us to try to "guess" on your first day or two..My all time personal game is to observe "may/sept" couples and try to ascertain whether they are lovers or father/daughter, mother/son..
I agree about getting to know the crew..they can share insight with you (and are very proud to do so if you ask them with respect) about a port that can give you a different perspective then the traditional tour
My view of the world, the ship is so big you can ignore the people who have small minds when it comes to adventure..I go cruising to get away from my normal existance and to try food that I would not choose at home and see new places as opposed to going the same place again and again and expecting the same experiences (note exceptions are Venice and Santorini)