Carolyn Spencer Brown’s World Worsts
Name Carolyn Spencer Brown
Who? Editor-in-Chief of CruiseCritic.com. Before that, she covered the cruise industry as a staff writer for the travel section of The Washington Post.
Countries Visited 93
1. Worst Cruise Holland America is usually one of my favorite lines and Westerdam, one of its newest ships, is actually quite a beautiful vessel. But our Caribbean cruise, which happened to take place during spring break, attracted families with some 500 rambunctious, out of control kids to a ship that’s not really set-up to accommodate so many. It was torturous for us, fellow passengers and crew members, who were unusually surly. My husband spent the whole trip sequestered on the balcony.
2. Worst Cruise Food Costa, the Italian-themed cruise line, once served up a special lobster cream pasta with bell peppers — a combination that was so curdling I haven’t been able to stand peppers since.
3. Worst Onboard Entertainment I hate it when cruise lines try to make theatrical shows too complicated and this is a common complaint that crosses numerous lines. I was on Independence of the Seas earlier this year and a guy was singing the Beatles’ “Hey Jude”. It’s a haunting, gorgeous tune and he had a good voice, and you really don’t need to dress it up. But he was overpowered by a troupe of dancers, twirling and leaping, and an overly dramatic light show. Have to say though – I was in the minority; the crowd seemed pretty enthusiastic.
4. Worst Port of Call A stop at Yemen’s Aden — a seriously downtrodden city with the worst hygienic practices I’ve ever seen – was a worst, for its appalling poverty, the stench of death all around (especially at the fish market) and the lack of anything significant to see (save for an 1850s cistern, the lone historic attraction, built by the British but no longer in use). But it was also one of the most memorable; the gentle spirit of the people we met was so moving. They were just thrilled to see cruise tourists (and you don’t get that attitude on too many Caribbean isles these days).
5. Worst Onboard Service On Deilmann’s Princess de Provence I had a Jekyll & Hyde waiter who was great fun all week until the last night when I bought a round of drinks for tablemates. He served us and disappeared. The bill never came. The next morning at breakfast he is shouting at me, in front of entire ship, for walking out on the check that I never got. I’m sitting there mortified – and even worse, crying – and ship staffers did nothing. Crazy thing, this is right before I’m supposed to tip him for the week? That’s just dumb.