We have a lot of fascinating discussions among our growing Facebook community – we are around 1200 active participants now – and much of the time we dwell on the fabulous side of cruising such as the sunsets, the destinations, and the ships we love.

Last week, however, an interesting dialogue started up among a few of our fans about some of the less fabulous things on some ships today, and some of the comments we received about gripes were quite interesting (cruise lines listen up).

Estelle said that one of her annoyances were the cruise line photographers being everywhere all the time. I have to admit she has a point….I too have been cajoled into more than one unwanted photograph, such as when you are hot and sweaty on deck during the safety drill, wearing one of those less than glamorous orange life vests.

Another fan, Sue, mentioned kids who are allowed to run riot, jump and splash in adults only pools, or play in public areas unaccompanied. She has a point too….on a recent cruise, our stateroom neighbours found it highly amusing to allow their toddler to run screeching up and down the corridor a near midnight. Fun for her perhaps, but not so fun for those of us trying to sleep ahead of our early morning tour.

Another gripe mentioned by several people was the amount of additional charges creeping onto shipboard accounts on top of the cruise fare; tips, fees for alternative restaurant meals, bottled water, ice cream, coffee, and more recently, herbal teas. And finally John asked why “once peaceful cruises are being overwhelmed by art art auctions and wine tastings and other events designed to maximise revenue for the cruise companies”.

There are a couple of interesting points to make on this topic. One is that the GFC has certainly has its impact on cruise line revenue in the past few years. Many have had to slash fares – good for the consumer – but like any other business they are looking for new ways to make money. Be honest, if you were were a shareholder, that’s what you’d want them to do too.

Another point is that cruising has undeniably changed, mainly due to consumer feedback. Filling in those survey forms at the end of a cruise may be boring, but as one leading cruise director told me, the results are taken very seriously. Also cruisers today want different things from their cruise experience; gone are the days when they were happy to sit on deck with a good book watching the scenery float by.

Finally, and this is ultimately another good thing for consumers, there are many different types of ships on the high seas today, catering to different elements of the market. There are ships clearly aimed at families, offering amazing facilities to keep kids of all ages occupied while their parents get some downtime, and at the other end of the scale there are ships which purposely exclude kids so their guests don’t have to worry about being dive bombed while their sip their martini around the pool.

This is where the onus really does lie with the cruiser, and why doing your research before you book is so important. Read ship reviews, ask around in forums about other people’s experiences, and get as much information as you can before you commit your dollars. Choose right, and you are up for the holiday of a lifetime. Choose wrong and you could be in for the holiday from hell. Happy cruising!