Here’s What Cruisers Wish They Could Change About Cruising in 2024

We asked our cruise community what irks them, and they shared the top things that cruisers wish they could change about cruising in 2024.

Here's What Should Stop in Cruising in 2024

We love cruising just as much as you. But, we have to admit that there have been many changes in the industry over the recent years. While some have been for the better, others have been for the worse. We recently polled our community to find out what’s the one thing about cruising that irks them the most right now. Well, we’ve compiled the top responses and share what cruisers wish they could change about cruising in 2024.

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Here’s What Should Stop in Cruising in 2024

Increased Pricing

Let’s face it, prices are going up in all aspects of life, and travel is no different. We’ve seen the cost of cruising increase quite a bit over the recent years…despite getting less as part of your cruise fare.

Increased pricing is definitely the top thing that cruisers wish they could change about cruising in 2024! And we have to agree.

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While booking early still tends to offer the lowest fares, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to be more expensive to book a cruise than it was back in 2019. If you’re planning to cruise in 2024, it’s important to be on the lookout for cruise deals and follow some of these hacks if you want to cruise for cheap(er).

Nickel and Diming

Another thing that cruisers hate about cruising right now is all the nickel and diming. In fact, one reader stated, “It’s like flying Spirit Airlines sometimes. “

Those who have been cruising for a while know that there has always been some degree of up-selling. We’re used to crew members trying to convince travelers to purchase drink packages or to dine in a specialty restaurant or to book a massage at the Spa. Or, staff members giving away free raffle tickets in hopes of luring you into the Effy jewelry store.

However, the trend in cruising seems to be more and more up-charges. Many cruise lines now charge for signature onboard amenities like NCL‘s race track, Carnival‘s BOLT roller coaster, or Royal Caribbean‘s iFLY skydiving simulator. Some even charge for activities like mini-golf!

Norwegian Prima

If that’s not enough, some cruise lines are even taking away items that used to be free and adding a fee. For instance, Celebrity Cruises has started charging for room service and Princess Cruises has started charging cruisers to dine at its casual sit-down pizza restaurant.

Not being able to use drink packages at some private islands

This is not new, but many cruisers wish that cruise lines would stop charging for drinks at their private islands, particularly when they’ve already purchased a drink package.

While this is not across the board, some cruise line private islands do charge for drinks even if cruisers have a drink package on the ship. The good news is that Royal Caribbean’s drink packages do work on Perfect Day at CocoCay and Labadee, Haiti. They also work at Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Great Stirrup Cay but NOT Harvest Caye, Belize.

Guests can use their MSC Cruises drink packages at Ocean Cay. Further, Princess Cruises drink packages work at Princess Cays but Carnival’s do not. Additionally, guests cannot use their Holland America or Carnival drink package when ashore at Half Moon Cay.

Thus, if you are visiting a private island where the drink package doesn’t work, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing one.

Chair hogs

Yup, you probably guessed it. One of the top things cruisers wish would stop in 2024 are the ubiquitous chair hogs! If you’re new to cruising, you may not be familiar with these annoying people…yet.

These individuals wake up early in the morning, especially on cruise sea days, and claim several pool deck loungers with towels and personal items like bags. The annoying part is that they either don’t return for hours or save seats for other family members who don’t show up for hours.

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So, when you head out to the pool deck at 8 or 9 AM after some breakfast, you might be surprised that there are no seats available for you to relax and enjoy the sun. Unfortunately, while modern cruise ships offer several outdoor spaces, getting prime loungers on some ships is a challenge.

Fortunately, the cruise lines are trying to crack down on this behavior. Many cruise lines now deploy staff who remove unattended items that have be left on chairs for long periods of time.

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Too Many Cutbacks

If you have been cruising for a while, you probably dream about going back to cruising of yesteryear. Midnight buffets, free lobster, pillow chocolates, and more were some of the luxuries you could enjoy during your cruise vacation.

Unfortunately, many of these indulgences are slowly being eliminated from mainstream cruise vacations. Some of the big cutbacks that cruisers wish they could change about cruising in 2024 are reductions in MDR menus, stateroom service, and staffing.

Some cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have reduced their nightly main dining room menus. Several have also either eliminated lobster on formal night or charge for additional entrees now as well.

Not to mention, staffing has been cut back since the cruise restart meaning things like twice daily stateroom service is slowly fading across the cruise industry. While it’s a debate amongst the cruise community of whether or not service 2x/day is necessary, we prefer it. We still enjoy the turndown service, towel animals, and replenishing of towels.

Not Enough Time in Port

Another hot topic that cruisers wish would change about cruising in 2024 is itinerary planning. One of the biggest complaints is not enough time in port. Cruises are a great way to explore multiple destinations during one trip, but admittedly, you are only in port for an average of 8-10 hours.

Several cruise lines have been listening to this feedback and are offering overnight stays and extended port days in popular ports of call around the world. They are also featuring more cultural immersion and shore excursions proving local connections. So, we hope these trends continues in 2024 and become more frequent on mainstream cruise lines.

Here's What Cruisers Wish They Could Change About Cruising in 2024

Other items that frequent cruisers wish for are more varied itineraries. We get it short cruises can only go so far, but how many times can we visit Nassau, Bahamas?

And yes, the Caribbean is the most popular cruise destination in the world, but do all the new cruise ships need to sail here? If you are like us, then you love that new cruise ship smell, but might be disappointed to learn that the ship’s itinerary features Cozumel, St. Maarten, or St. Thomas…again.

Trend of larger ships with increased guest capacity

Speaking of new cruise ships, the recent trend is certainly larger ships with increased guest capacity. While we are mega-ship fans, not everyone likes these “amusement parks” at sea. With the soon-to-debut ships of 2024, it has many wishing not all new cruise ships would be so massive with flashy top-deck attractions.

Royal Caribbean’s new Icon of the Seas will take the title of world’s largest cruise ship, measuring in at 250,800 gross tons with a guest capacity of 5,610 at double occupancy. With this comes 20 decks, over 28 different stateroom categories, 7 pools, 6 waterslides, and 8 neighborhoods.

While smaller than Icon of the Seas, Princess Cruises’ new ship debuting in February, Sun Princess, is also the largest ship in the fleet at 175.5K gross tons with a guest capacity of 4,300. With the added space comes several new design elements, restaurants and bars, and entertainment options. Though, many Princess cruisers aren’t fond of all the bells and whistles that appeal to families and multi-generational groups.

Nowadays, if you want a small ship experience on a vessel that isn’t 20 years old, you need to look towards more luxury and upper premium cruise lines…which of course, will also cost you more money.

Best New Cruise Ships in 2024

Increased Gratuities

Another widely debated topic amongst the cruise community is gratuities. It seems like every time you look, another cruise line is raising the price of these mandatory daily service charges which are standard on most major cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean was the most recent cruise line to increase these charges in November 2023. Now, the daily fee is $18 per person, per day for guests in non-suite category staterooms. Norwegian Cruise Line’s gratuities are some of the most expensive in the industry at $20 per person, per day for Club Balcony Suites and below.

While you can remove or alter these gratuities at Guest Services, we would never recommend doing so. But, how much is too much? Many feel that cruise lines should pay their staff a fare wage so they don’t have to rely on these tips. Others feel that gratuities should be included in the cruise fare (like luxury lines). In any case, we certainly hope increasing gratuities stop in 2024!

Single supplement for solo travelers

Unlike hotel rooms or other land-based vacations, cruises are sold based on double-occupancy (two guests per stateroom). This means that if you’re traveling solo, a cruise vacation can be pretty costly–twice as expensive to be exact.

Thus, the single supplement is another aspect that cruisers wish would change about cruising. Some cruise lines are beginning to cater to solo cruisers with more solo cabins, more solo cabin options, and reduced single supplements.

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces Expansion of Solo Stateroom Categories

Norwegian Cruise Line is leading this trend by doubling the capacity of solo cabins across its fleet in 2024. Further, NCL will feature three new solo stateroom categories, including Solo Inside, Solo Oceanview, and Solo Balcony. This means that solo travelers no longer have to be confined to a window-less cabin. Many ships in the fleet also feature a Studio Lounge where single travelers can mingle.

Holland America and Virgin Voyages are also known for being solo cruiser-friendly. So, let’s hope this is a step in the right direction for the cruise industry as a whole.

Smoking Policies

If you smoke then you probably won’t like this, but the smoking policies and lack of enforcement irk many cruisers, including us. There’s nothing worse than sitting out on your balcony enjoying the ocean and getting a whiff of smoke. On most major cruise lines, smoking of any kind, is not allowed on cruise ship balconies. This includes cigarettes, vaping, and cannabis.

However, the permissibility of smoking in casinos is still inconsistent across the industry. Some allow smoking, some have separate smoking and non-smoking sections, and others are completely smoke-free. We personally hate walking through a cruise ship atrium or even the casino itself that reeks of smoke.

What we hate even more though is that while cruise lines have guidance on where you can smoke and even fines for smoking in prohibited areas, we rarely see any consequences taken for these actions. In fact, we’ve even seen fellow cruisers vaping in the theater or a lounge around the ship with no repercussions.

Not abiding by these smoking rules is dangerous, first and foremost, but it’s also something we wish would change about cruising in 2024.

Drink Package Rules

When it comes to common cruiser complaints, we can’t get away from the drink packages. There’s increased prices, lack of inclusions, added beverage taxes while in port, etc. But, the biggest thing cruisers want to see stop in 2024 is the need for both guests in a stateroom to purchase the package.

We get it; if it wasn’t required for both guests in the cabin to purchase, many cruisers would take advantage of this by sharing the package with members of their travel party. But, what if one cruiser likes to drink but the other member in the cabin only has a drink or two? Or, what if one cruiser doesn’t drink at all?

Here's What Cruisers Wish They Could Change About Cruising in 2024

While there are medical exemptions and other circumstances where the cruise line will allow one cruiser to get the alcoholic package and the other to get the non-alcoholic, this is not common practice. With the increased prices, it has many re-thinking if purchasing a beverage package is really worth it.

Dressing up for formal night

If it’s not drink packages, the cruise community is often debating formal nights on a cruise. The trend in the industry over the years has been the relaxing of dress codes. Many cruise lines have shifted away from “formal nights” to “dress your best” or “dress up or not” nights. Some cruisers love it and some hate it.

In fact, both ends of the spectrum irk cruisers. Many who love cruising hate dressing up for formal nights. Whether it’s because you dress up everyday for work or because you simply don’t want to carry around the extra luggage on vacation, many are happy to see formal nights go. After all, it’s your vacation so you should feel comfortable.

On the flipside, other cruisers who are dressed up, don’t like dining with those who are “underdressed” for the occasion. While the cruise lines have suggested attire for each evening in the main dining room, we rarely see it enforced. Thus, you may be wearing a cocktail dress and sitting near someone in a t-shirt and shorts. Perhaps, if you’d prefer not to dress up, dine in one of the casual venues that evening instead.

Having to Pay for Basic Items

In 2024, cruisers expect certain items to be included in their vacation fare. That’s why having to pay for things like soda, bottled water, and WiFi are a common complaint. Unfortunately, unless you are traveling on a luxury cruise line, you will need to pay extra for these items.

Disney Cruise Line is the exception as guests can enjoy complimentary fountain soda in the buffet/on the pool deck. However, other mainstream lines charge for this basic amenity. Bottled water will cost you $3 to $5+ as well; though, most cruise lines do include this in their beverage packages. NCL is the exception here–guests need to upgrade to the Premium Plus package for bottled water inclusion.

Royal Caribbean Café Select Coffee Card

Some cruise lines, like Virgin Voyages, feature water refill stations around the ship which is perfect. Some cruise lines also have water carafes in staterooms which is another nice touch. So, even if cruise lines continue to charge for bottled water, it would be nice to see these policies more widely adopted in the industry.

Further, connectivity is something we’ve come to take as commonplace in our daily lives. Google and social media are always at the touch of our fingers. Some airlines and hotels offer complimentary WiFi, so why doesn’t cruising? Well, with the advancements in technology at sea and the addition of Starlink, let’s keep our fingers crossed that this might be a possibility in the future.

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Excessive announcements

Virgin Voyages was the first cruise line that set out to defy cruise rules. So, one thing this newcomer doesn’t do is make ship-wide announcements. Apparently, this makes a lot of cruisers happy because one of the biggest complaints we heard about cruising was the excessive announcements.

We have mixed feelings on this one. Yes, no one wants to be inundated with advertisements for the art auction or a run-down of the day’s events every hour. Yet, we feel it’s important to make some general announcements throughout the day so cruisers don’t miss out on anything.

We can speak from personal experience that if you are relying on the cruise line app for push notifications, you can miss important information. Let’s face it, cruise line apps can be glitchy. In fact, we almost missed a shore excursion on one of our Virgin sailings because we never got the notification that the time was altered. We also missed a time zone change for the same reason. (At the time, the cruise line also did not offer paper daily schedules either.)

Onboard Technology

This brings us to the next thing that cruisers wish would change about cruising in 2024. If you are going to offer onboard technology, it needs to work!

Most cruise lines offer a smartphone app, but its features do vary greatly across the brands. Some cruise lines make guests more dependent on the app than others. From the check-in process, to digital muster drills, to making reservations, to viewing the daily program (in lieu of delivering a paper version to your cabin), to even ordering food and drinks delivered to you anywhere on the ship, these apps have many uses.

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While it can be great to have these features in the palm of your hand, it’s also frustrating when it doesn’t work. If you don’t have access to your dining reservations or your shore excursions, this may necessitate unnecessarily waiting in line at Guest Services. It might also mean that you miss out on some entertainment offerings or an important announcement, which is no fun either.


Speaking of the check-in process, embarkation is another point of contention among cruisers. While cruise lines have come a long way in providing a seamless embarkation process, there are times where you hit a few snags.

If you don’t have priority status, the lines in the cruise terminal can get quite long on embarkation day. If you are relying on your digital boarding pass and the app isn’t working, this can cause another delay. Additionally, while most cruise lines start boarding around 11-11:30 AM, this is not always the case. So, you may be stuck waiting in the crowed terminal for quite awhile before you are allowed to board the ship.

And once you board the ship, you’ll be stuck waiting even longer for your suitcases. This is an important tip for first time cruisers. Anything that you leave with the porters at the terminal will not be delivered to your stateroom for several hours. Thus, it’s crucial that you have all your essential items in a cruise carry-on bag.

Cruise Ship Buffets

Cruise ship buffets–you either love them or hate them! Personally, we hate them. We try to avoid eating here as much as possible and opt for other casual dining spots on the ship instead. Those that agree with us wish that more cruise lines would adopt the food hall style of Virgin Voyages’ The Galley.

One of the main reasons cruisers cite for not liking buffets is the lack of hygiene by other passengers. Yes, there are hand sanitizing stations as you enter, even staff reminding you to “washy washy”. Some cruise lines even have a bank of sinks at the entrance to encourage proper hygiene before eating. But let’s be honest, how many people do you see walk right by them? These are probably also the same people that don’t wash their hands when using the restroom.

When there were COVID restrictions in place, many cruise lines shifted to no self-service in the buffet. Instead, crew members served the food to guests. We wish this trend continued as we hate touching serving utensils that thousands of other hands have also touched, and we are not alone on this one.

Others Passengers

Speaking of other passengers, this is another aspect cruisers wish would change about cruising in 2024. Simply put, some passengers and their behaviors can really irk other guests on the ship. We’re looking at all those who think they are entitled. You clearly see us waiting in line, why do you think you have the right to walk by everyone else in hopes of bypassing the line?

Or, how about those cruisers who complain about everything or are rude to the staff. Then, there’s also those who must have slept through the crash course on elevator etiquette. When an elevator door opens, let guests exit first. Then, let those waiting their turn in line (or perhaps those with mobility issues) get in first. No one appreciates you bombarding the elevators.

Lastly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention poorly behaved children. Yes, you are on a family vacation, and your kids are just having fun. But, this shouldn’t interfere with other guests also enjoying their vacation.

These are just some of the most hated behaviors mentioned by our community. Do you have any others to add to this list?

Disembarkation Process

Lastly, cruisers would love to see some improvements in the disembarkation process in 2024. Some cruise lines do it better than others, but often times, getting off the ship on the last day of your cruise can be chaos.

It’s almost impossible to get an elevator on disembarkation morning. So, many cruisers resort to carrying luggage down several flights of stairs. Some pro cruisers may get lucky by hopping in an elevator going up just to ensure a spot down.

Here's What Cruisers Wish They Could Change About Cruising in 2024

Once you’ve finally made it to the appropriate deck, you are greeted by a massive line of fellow cruisers also waiting to get off the ship. This line might wrap through the casino, the main dining room, and half way around the ship. Then, there’s cruisers trying to cut the line; others are fretting about missing a flight that they never should have booked that early anyway. There has to be a better way!

Along the same line, cruisers also don’t like having to vacate their staterooms and the ship so early. This is a double-edged sword though; because if you vacate later it also means you will board later on embarkation day. After all, the staff needs time to ready the ship for the next set of guests.

Having to go home

Yup, disembarkation day is definitely the saddest day of any cruise. It’s time to get off the ship, travel home, and return to reality. But you know, there’s a way to cure those cruise blues– book another cruise!

With another reservation on file, you can begin the excitement all over again. Planning a trip can be a lot of fun too. Reviewing deck plans and onboard activities, picking shore excursions, packing, and so on.


Do you agree with this list of what cruisers wish they could change about cruising in 2024? What other aspects about cruising annoy you? Drop us an anchor below to share what trends you’d love to see stop in the cruise industry.

Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
Heidi Bucolo
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Here’s What Cruisers Wish They Could Change About Cruising in 2024

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