When spending a considerable amount of money on anything, it’s generally a good idea to read reviews from others before you do. But is the same true of cruise reviews? How helpful are they really?

It’s not unusual for someone to book a cruise, then go online to search for reviews and begin to panic! If you’ve spent a year or two’s savings on a holiday, the last thing you want is to read that a previous cruiser experienced cold food, rude staff and tacky entertainment with the same cruise line you’ve just booked to travel with!

However, please don’t panic, we’re here to help with advice about how to interpret cruise reviews, starting with key points to remember about cruise reviews.

Reviewers are not a representative sample

Only 1-2% of people write reviews. Studies have shown that people with certain personality types are more likely to write reviews and that these are the same personality types which can cause people to have high expectations and negative outlooks.

Angry customers are more likely to leave a review

Bad experiences happen – there’s no denying that. What’s important to consider is that when someone does have a bad experience, they’re three times more likely to write a review than someone who’s had a great experience. This means that the people who’ve been disappointed are often highly over-represented on review sites.

If 20% of reviews are poor, it doesn’t mean that you have a 20% chance of a bad experience, in reality your chance would be much lower than this.

Review scores vary hugely depending on the website they’re displayed on

It’s not unusual for a cruise line to receive an average of 1* on one website but get a 4* status on another. Why? Well, certain websites can end up being more biased. So it’s worth checking a few different websites to get a full picture.

Customer Review

Tips for searching for cruise reviews

With so many reviews available, it’s important to make sure that what you’re reading is relevant to the cruise you’ve booked or are thinking of booking. Here are a few tips when you’re searching through the cruise reviews.

Read reviews on the ship, not the cruise line

Some cruise lines have over 20 ships, some of which will be brand new mega-ships and some of which will be much smaller and over 20 years old. So, if you’re reading reviews about a particular cruise line rather than a cruise ship, bear in mind that many of those reviewers will have sailed on an entirely different ship, so their experiences won’t be as relevant.

Read the most recent reviews

Every three years, cruise lines have a major review of their policies and each ship undergoes an extensive refurbishment. If the reviews that you’re reading were written before the latest overhaul, any problems with service, planning or less than perfect décor might simply not be an issue any more. You should always sort reviews by the most recent and could also look up the date that the ship last had a refit.

Filter by the type of cruiser

Many review sites allow you to filter reviews by reviewer type e.g. ‘family’ or ‘couple’. This can help you to find the most relevant reviews from people who are similar to yourself. If people don’t like the kids’ club, this won’t really matter to you if you’re travelling as a couple with no children.

Seawalk on Majestic Princess

Filter by destination

Filtering by destination can also be a useful way to find out if people enjoy their excursions or if the weather often prevents the ships from reaching certain ports, as well as how the cruise line deals with things if this does happen.

Look up what’s important to you

Pressing ‘ctrl + f’ on your keyboard is a handy way to search any webpage for certain words. For example, if you really want to know what the food is like, you can press ‘ctrl’ and ‘F’ together, then a pop-up box will appear where you can type in ‘food’.  Then you can jump to each review that mentions food to see what people think about it.

How to decide if the cruise is right for you

So, you’ve read the reviews, should you book the cruise? If you’ve already booked it and discovered some poor reviews, should you cancel? Here are a few things you should ask yourself before making a snap decision.

What’s important to you?

We all place different values on different things. While some cruisers might get really irked over disorderly queuing and crowds at the lifts, others adopt an approach of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ and don’t let it ruin their holiday.

When you read about certain things in reviews, be sure to think carefully about whether nor not they matter in the grand scheme of things.

Celebrity Cruises - Day at sea

What you can change?

Not everything about a cruise is fixed, there are some things which you can’t change on your ship. However, you can use this information to determine how to book your perfect sailing. For example, if you know that you’re a light sleeper and you see that reviews mention noise in the corridors or from the engine, you can use this information to choose a cabin in a quiet area. Likewise, if people complain that the food is repetitive, consider booking some speciality dining experiences to mix it up.

How much are you paying?

There can be a big difference between the price of similar cruises with different cruise lines. You could choose to cruise on a ship that has better reviews, but it will probably cost you more. You need to decide which offers the best value for money.

Norwegian Bliss - Ocean View Stateroom

Call us for further advice

If you have any questions about cruising or would like some help in finding the perfect cruise holiday, our Cruise Concierge team are on-hand to help.

Just give us a call on 0808 1234 118 and we will be happy to assist you in any way we can.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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