11 mistakes you’re making on cruises that could ruin your next vacation

Don't forget to wash your hands when you're on a cruise ship.

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Don’t forget to wash your hands when you’re on a cruise ship.
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StockStudio/Shutterstock

Cruise-ship vacations offer travelers unique experiences that they might not find on land. But if you’re not careful, you might leave your trip with more bad memories than good ones.

Forgetting to bring certain clothing items, for example, could prevent you from participating in fun activities on board. And while all-you-can-eat buffets sound indulgent, there are some foods you should be careful about consuming.

From overpacking to choosing the wrong cabin, travelers will want to avoid making these 11 travel mistakes during their next cruise.


Picking the wrong type of cruise ship could put a damper on your vacation plans.

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Ask yourself what type of vacation you want to have.
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It’s important to pick a cruise ship that offers the type of experiences you’re looking for on your vacation.

If you’re traveling with your family, for example, kid-friendly options like Disney Cruise Line are ideal. But if you’re seeking nightlife and entertainment, adults-only cruise ships would likely be a better fit.

To avoid making this mistake, make sure you spend some time doing thorough research before making any reservations.


If you forget to check your cruise’s itinerary, you could end up missing the ship’s departure.

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Maria González Roesch and her husband missed their ship’s departure in February 2019.
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Cruise itineraries can change at any moment, altering your ship’s destinations, departure times, and boarding locations in the process. TV personality Maria González Roesch and her husband Alessandro recently learned this the hard way.

In February, the two made headlines when they arrived 45 minutes late for their Royal Caribbean cruise, which was docked in Nassau, Bahamas. González Roesch and her husband ended up being among six passengers who were left stranded as the ship sailed away.

González Roesch previously told INSIDER that she blamed herself for not checking the cruise ship’s itinerary.

“It was like Murphy’s law,” González Roesch said. “Because we were always checking the itinerary in the morning but that last day we were relaxing and we didn’t check the app.”


Packing your suitcase without researching what you’ll need could prevent you from participating in fun activities.

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Travelers should research their ship and destination before packing.
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When booking a cruise, it’s easy to have your sights set on lounging by the pool and walking on sandy beaches – but be careful not to get too distracted.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean offer everything from ice-skating rinks to formal dinners on board, so travelers should bring a range of clothing items that can be worn in both cold and hot climates, as well as casual and classy settings.


That said, you should also avoid overpacking.

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Most cruise lines offer packing checklists for their passengers.
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There’s no point in bringing a winter coat if you’re sailing to the Bahamas, and it’s unlikely that you’ll need a full tuxedo for your cruise’s formal dinner.

To avoid making the mistake of overpacking, simply check your cruise line’s website and see what it recommends bringing.


Choosing a cheaper cabin might come with other hidden costs.

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Make sure you know where your room is located on the ship.
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On some cruise ships, inexpensive cabins are located above dance floors, below the ship’s gym, or other less-than-ideal spots. Inexpensive rooms are also often much smaller than other cabins.

Before you book a room, consider whether the comprises you’d have to make would impede your ability to enjoy your vacation.


But you don’t need to spend tons of money on a luxury suite either.

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Travelers can save money for other cruise activities by opting out of a luxury suite.
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According to the review site Cruise Critic, most ships offer the same, basic amenities in every cabin. Across most cruise lines, both luxury suites and standard rooms will likely have a bed, desk, sitting area, and closet.

Not to mention, many cruise ships offer dozens of fun activities and amenities on board, so you might not end up spending that much time in your cabin.

Read more: Take a look inside Virgin’s new adult-only cruise ship that has a tattoo parlor, swanky lounges, and luxury suites


Skipping safety drills can be a life-threatening mistake.

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It’s important you pay attention during muster drills.
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You might want to jump right into the action and have fun on your cruise, but don’t skip any safety drills while on board.

Cruise lines typically hold mandatory muster drills at the beginning of every voyage to show passengers where they should gather in the event of an emergency. Muster drills also teach travelers how to use a life jacket.

Ships have been known to kick off passengers who skip these drills. According to travel blog RyG’s Cruise Guide, travelers who do not attend the cruise’s safety training may also risk being fined by the coast guard or local government.


Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

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Practice good hygiene on vacation.
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Illnesses can spread quickly on cruise ships, sometimes even infecting almost everyone on board. In January, for example, 475 passengers and crew members on a Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise ship were infected with a norovirus, the cruise line announced in a statement.

This year alone, at the time of writing, there have been four outbreaks of infectious diseases on cruise ships so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To avoid spreading germs and reduce your chances of getting sick, the CDC recommends washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. And if sinks on your ship don’t have automatic sensors, the CDC suggests using a paper towel to turn off the faucet.


All-you-can-eat buffets may sound indulgent, but there are some foods you should be careful about consuming.

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No one wants to get a stomach bug on a cruise ship.
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Sushi, for example, is one of several foods you might want to avoid while at sea.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all raw fish should be stored in temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. On ships, and especially at buffets, it might be hard to maintain these conditions.

Read more: 8 foods you may want to avoid on a cruise if you don’t want to get sick


Avoid spending all your money in one place.

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Snorkeling is a popular, but pricey, shore excursion offered by many cruise lines.
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By focusing primarily on a cruise’s initial booking fee, many travelers make the mistake of not budgeting for extra food, drinks, and shore excursions, like snorkeling.

These add-ons can be pretty pricey – and can become more expensive if booked while on the ship – so travelers should make a list of activities they’d be interested in doing before embarking on the cruise.


Travelers who experience motion sickness should avoid booking a cruise during certain seasons.

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It’s important to do your research.
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According to USA Today, the Atlantic hurricane season, which typically lasts from June to November, can wreak havoc on the Caribbean Sea. Similarly, the Drake Passage in Antarctica is known for its rough water, and the Mediterranean faces seasonal storms in the winter and fall.

While no one enjoys a rocky cruise, travelers prone to motion sickness may find this especially troubling.