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The 7 Biggest Wastes of Time on a Cruise

By: Sarah Bretz

Not every onboard activity is worth your time. Some are boring, others are pointless, and a few are downright wastes of money. Unless you’re a first-time cruiser or die-hard shopper with cash to burn, we suggest avoiding these events:

1. MediSpa Presentations

When you go to a presentation put on by the ship’s spa, it’s guaranteed to be little more than just a sales pitch. If you want to be sold on things you wouldn’t have ordinarily purchased, or are interested in botox, teeth whitening, body scrubs, or similar services, by all means go ahead and attend. Otherwise, avoid these types of events. They may describe it as something more appealing to get you in the door, but at the end of the day it’ll just be a high-pressure sales pitch and a money grab. Trust us.

2. Embarkation Day Ship Tours

Rest assured, we’re not talking about the behind-the-scenes galley, engine room, or bridge tours here, because it’s quite fun to see the inner workings of a cruise ship. This point refers to the first-day basic tours that are offered around the ship. A guide takes cruisers to all of the key public areas of the ship, pretty much the same things you’ll find on the deck plans or in a ship tour video on YouTube. On embarkation day, you want to sit back with your first cruise cocktail or explore the ship at your own pace! Don’t waste time attending an official tour — do your research ahead of time and then spend the first day of your vacation on your own terms.

3. Jewelry Store Events

Much like spa presentations, jewelry store events only exist to generate interest in the jewelry and encourage cruisers to spend their hard-earned cash. It’s not a scam when they promise you a free bracelet or earrings, but they only do that to get people in the jewelry shop and looking around, hoping something else sparkly, alluring, and expensive will catch your eye. If you enjoy being packed into a small space with strangers who are all there just to see if they can win something instead of enjoying the ocean breeze out on deck, so be it. But if you can do that sort of thing at home, why bother wasting precious cruise time doing it onboard?

4. Bingo

This one might be a little controversial, because we know some cruisers are die-hard bingo fans. A lot of passengers get sucked in out of sheer curiosity, though, and it’s not exactly cheap for the simple game that it is. Instead of spending an afternoon at sea in an interior area of the ship listening to balls rolling around, go sit by the pool on the lido deck, join in on a dance lesson, or take a mixology class. Even on smaller ships that might not have many big-thrill amenities, there’s always something to do that’s a better option than bingo. 

5. Disembarkation Talk (If you’ve sailed before)

If it’s your first cruise, it actually may be beneficial to attend the disembarkation talk, where staff will tell you how the luggage tags work and what you need to do to be ready on the morning the cruise ends. But if you have any cruise experience, there’s really no need to go. Even those who haven’t sailed before will be a-okay if they do adequate research ahead of time and pay attention to the papers left in the cabin explaining the process. Most people don’t ever attend a disembarkation talk, and it’s probably not worth sacrificing precious time that you could be using to enjoy the last few days of your vacation.

6. Art Auctions

At the risk of sounding like a broken record at this point, art auctions are another onboard event designed to get you in and buy things. They’ll tempt you with free champagne and perhaps the promise of a free painting for attending, or that they’re going to raffle off a piece of art as soon as the event starts. Unless you’re an art collector or have your eye on a piece that you’re actually considering buying, don’t bother going. Aren’t you on a cruise to enjoy the unique things that a ship has to offer? But, if you’re really interested in that free champagne, show up just as the event starts, grab a flute and sit near the exit so you can duck out as soon as the auctioneer turns their back. 

7. Port Shopping Presentations

Instead of sitting in on a boring port shopping talk, spend your time on the ship doing, well, cruise things! Even if you do end up browsing the shops in port, you probably don’t need to attend a presentation to figure out where the best places are to go. In fact, the cruise lines are in partnership with the stores they recommend, so you might find hidden gems (and better deals) by doing your own research ahead of time or just wandering around once you dock!

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