My Best Friend Refuses to Cruise and Here’s Why

Ed Note:  June 2019, my friend called me to ask if she could join me on my Alaska cruise. She had a fabulous time and said she would do it again.

Do you know anyone like this?

To me, nothing seems more natural than stepping aboard a ship for a cruise vacation. But my best friend Pam refuses to cruise. She’s certain she’ll never ever take a cruise…no way no how.

Pam and I have known each other since 7th grade. When our families moved from Chicago’s South Side to the north suburbs the same summer, sophomore year in high school, we lived two blocks apart. We’ve been friends a long time.

I’ve probably asked Pam at least 100 times why she refuses to cruise. No luck. Last week, I decided to give it one more try. Finally, she spoke up about why she will not step foot on a cruise ship. Actually, it was more of a bargaining issue. I promised to write an article about this if she’d tell me several reasons why she won’t cruise.

Here’s  our conversation.

6 Reasons why Pam refuses to cruise


1. Budget. Very little available for vacations.

and she went on to include…

2. If I actually do take time to travel, I want to go directly to locations that interest me, not make quick stops.


“That’s a great start,” I said. But I’m actually thinking;

Counterpoint 1: Cruise vacations offer the best value for your money. If your only vacation option is to stay with family or friends…well, nothing can beat that price.

Counterpoint 2:  I’ve heard this, too. People want to either plop down and stay in one place or visit several places for a few nights each. It makes sense to want to move at your own pace. To me, though, a vacation to several places means pack, unpack, pack, unpack. Ugh.

Cruisers know that visiting ports is a great way to find where you’d like to return for a land-based vacation. Or maybe you choose a particular itinerary just to see or do something new and exciting. It’s important to note that many new itineraries include extended and even overnight stays in port to maximize an immersive experience. Still, cruising isn’t for everyone.


3. I have a tendency to get seasick. It’s gotten better over the years, but I’m not excited about testing the boundaries. My ears and balance have gotten worse not better. So motion issues might be a problem.


I suddenly remembered when I was a young cruiser, carrying a barf bag all day long. I felt awful. It was my first cruise; a transpacific crossing to Honolulu on a very small ship. Just before we reached Hawai’i, thankfully I had gotten my sea legs.

Counterpoint 3:  Unfortunately, an inner ear issue must be very disconcerting. However, with a doctor’s approval, a non-drowsy medication might alleviate the symptoms of seasickness, feeling woozy or off-balance. Ginger? Sea Bands?

I understand Pam’s hesitancy. It’s no fun to start a vacation worried that you might get sick. Maybe a short jaunt to the Bahamas, or a two-night California coastal cruise would be a good starting point to test the waters.


4. I don’t like the idea of being locked up with the same people every day.


I told Pam she was in good company. A couple of years ago, I interviewed Anthony Bourdain. When I asked him if he’d ever take a cruise, his reply was pretty close to Pam’s. He said he would never ever set foot on a cruise ship; it would be like being in prison.

Listen to my interview with Anthony Bourdain

Locked up with the same people every day…that’s kind of true, in a sense. I’ve been on a handful of cruises where we literally were locked up. With terribly rough seas and gale force 11 winds, the outside doors were locked and no one could get outside for hours.

Counterpoint 4:  However, the ship’s doors really do unlock in every port and everyone can go ashore to do whatever. I guess perception is reality for some people.


5. Too food-centric. Seems like life would be focused on ” the next meal”. Also, I am told you sit with the same people all the time.  Sounds scarier than high school.


I love this. Seems like only yesterday we were carrying trays in the lunchroom at high school!

Counterpoint 5:  I’m sure Pam doesn’t know about Norwegian’s Freestyle dining or every other cruise line’s version of My Time Dining. Or specialty restaurants. Or getting dinner or lunch ashore. Or room service. While food is a major component of a cruise, it’s usually not the only reason why people choose to cruise.

At this point, I congratulated Pam on her first five reasons why she doesn’t want to cruise. What she didn’t know was that every one of her reasons to not cruise was totally textbook.


I’m brilliant. Maybe missed my calling? Actually, I think I’m just boring.

6. Most people love the idea of meeting and getting to know strangers. I prefer to be alone in a museum.


Again, I understand Pam’s point about visiting museums. However, I can’t remember the last time I visited a museum and was alone. Maybe she meant alone as in wandering solo. I do that a lot.

Counterpoint 6:  Almost every cruise port has some kind of museum to visit and you can go solo. For example, there’s the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. The world-famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is just a short tram ride from the port. Back in the Caribbean, pay a visit to the Musee du Rhum Saint-James (yes, a rum museum) in Saint-Marie, Martinique. Into art? Check out the multi-million dollar art collections on cruise ships. Holland America’s new Koningsdam is a prime example.

So maybe Pam’s #6 also covers forced conversation to people you don’t really care to know?


I guess. Being nice to people you really don’t like.


Yep. Got that. That’s kind of how I sometimes feel at the end of a long cruise!

Anything else?

Pam Sloan:

If I think of anything I’ll let you know. Can’t think of anything else right now.

Sherry Kennedy:

Okay. I’m going to start on this today. Can I use your real name?


Sure! Good luck.


Oh…one more thing. What about clothing – the concept that everyone dresses up for dinner?


7. Clothing is ok. I like to dress for dinner.


No counterpoint to #7.

Anything else?


8. I can see claustrophobia being an issue, especially if it rains. Or at night.


Counterpoint 8: Balcony stateroom to the rescue. Or at least a stateroom nearest to a door to an outside deck.

Coping with a non-cruising friend

Thanks, Pam, for sharing your reasons why you don’t want to cruise. As I said earlier, everything Pam mentioned I’ve heard before. Except maybe being alone in a museum.

I’ve learned one steadfast, two-part rule over the 25 years I’ve been in the cruise industry. There’s one group of folks who simply, for no logical reason, refuses to cruise.

Then there’s the other group of vacationers. These are the ones who are dead-set against a vacation at sea but somehow are coerced to go. This “I’ll never go” group, are the first passengers on board to book their next cruise before their first cruise is even over.

Go figure.

You’ve gotten this far. Why not read more: my top 10 tips for first time cruisers?

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  1. This is stupid. You mention nothing about the horrible impact cruise ships have on the environment. Maybe your friend cares about the habitats that are destroyed by the thousands of cruise ships that tear through them, making it impossible for whales to communicate with each other and polluting the water with exhaust, sewage, and trash.
    Don’t cruise.

  2. Why do you feel the need to keep asking her? A hundred times? If she doesn’t want to cruise, she doesn’t want to cruise! Let her be and do what she wants! I, too, get seasick and those bands don’t do a thing for me. My friend is just like you. That’s part of why we actually are not friends anymore. Respect boundaries. It’s her life.

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