These Are The Worst Cruise Ships According To Reviews

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Going on a cruise should be super fun, right? You get to see interesting places, eat lots of food, and relax. But what if that fun trip turns out to be a bit of a letdown? I got really curious about which cruise ships didn’t live up to the hype, according to people who’ve been on them. 

A skeptical man in a red sweater with a raised eyebrow and a thoughtful expression, juxtaposed with a massive cruise ship sailing under a partly cloudy sky. The ocean appears calm and the weather is sunny.

So, I went through loads of reviews on websites like Cruise Critic, Cruiseline.com, and TripAdvisor to see which ones got the thumbs down. Just to be clear, I haven’t been on all these ships myself, so I’m just sharing what I found from what thousands of other travellers said online. 

Let’s look at the ships that might make you think twice before booking your next cruise.

1. Costa Fortuna

GPTThe Costa Fortuna is an impressive vessel, showcased here against the stunning backdrop of an expansive blue ocean and a clear sky that stretches on the horizon. The ship's white superstructure with generous rows of balconies promises an inviting and luxurious experience. Prominently displayed on the funnel is the Costa Cruises logo, a yellow "C" against a navy background, which stands out as a symbol of the line’s rich Italian heritage and style. The deck is dotted with satellite dishes and other navigational equipment, signifying modern amenities and connectivity even at sea. The Costa Fortuna, with its grand scale and elegant design, seems ready to offer its passengers a memorable voyage.

Oh, the Costa Fortuna – the name feels like you’re setting up a joke about cruise ships. And while boarding this cruise is surprisingly affordable, with deals as low as £149 for a four-night adventure, it seems many passengers might prefer to spend their cash elsewhere.

Despite its enticing price tag, the Costa Fortuna struggles with a lukewarm average review score of just 2.83 out of 5. The list of grievances from dissatisfied guests paints a picture of a voyage that’s anything but smooth sailing.

Roomy cabins might sound like a plus, but it turns out they’re not always up to snuff in the cleanliness department. Previous occupants have left behind more than just memories, it seems, with new guests sometimes finding unwelcome leftovers. And in an age where cleanliness is next to godliness, finding hand sanitisers empty or out of order doesn’t exactly instil confidence.

The dining situation also leaves a lot to be desired. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or have dietary restrictions around pork or seafood, you might find yourself with slim pickings. Repeated meals and a lack of variety seem to be common points of contention among reviews, with the same menu making an unwelcome appearance meal after meal.

There’s a story circulating about an arranged meeting with an English-speaking crew member, seemingly in response to the mounting complaints. However, the solution offered — suggesting unhappy passengers could always leave the ship — hardly seems practical in the middle of the ocean.

Language barriers compound the problem, with many activities, games, and performances primarily in Italian. This has left English-speaking passengers feeling left out of the loop.

Entertainment, except for a few theatre shows, generally didn’t hit the mark, and the pool areas, including those designated for adults only, were reportedly overrun with children.

As for the decor, it’s been likened to that of a low-budget hotel, with terms like ‘cheap’ and ‘kitsch’ cropping up in reviews. It seems the overall ambience may not be everyone’s cup of tea.”

2. Costa Firenze

The image depicts the Costa Fortuna cruise ship, with its prominent yellow lifeboats and the Costa logo on the yellow funnel, cruising the blue waters under a clear sky. The ship's name is visibly written on its side, showcasing its grandeur and the open sea setting.

Tied for the top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) spot with Costa Fortuna, the Costa Firenze has managed to garner an equally unimpressive reputation if reviews on Cruise Critic, Cruiseline, and TripAdvisor are anything to go by.

It seems a significant chunk of gripes about Costa Firenze centres around the culinary experience. One passenger didn’t mince words, branding the food “horrible,” and noted that the wait to get into restaurants could test even a saint’s patience, with delays of 30 to 40 minutes being the norm.

The disappointment didn’t stop at the a la carte restaurant’s door; several unfortunate souls reported their voyages were spiced up with a bout of food poisoning. And if you were thinking of grabbing a drink to wash down the experience, be prepared for a lengthy wait at the bar, exacerbated by constant upselling to dine at extra-cost eateries.

The buffet, often a cruise highlight, turned into another battleground. Beyond the awkward layout, especially around the drinks area, the limited selection had passengers wondering if it was all a ploy to herd them towards the specialty restaurants.

English speakers aboard the Costa Firenze found themselves adrift in a sea of communication challenges, often merged into tours with non-English speakers, further highlighting the language divide.

As for entertainment, it was as if someone forgot to pack it. One traveller lamented the lack of onboard activities, saying it was unlike any cruise they’d been on before.

Design and decor didn’t fare much better in the court of public opinion, with complaints of overcrowded spaces and gaudy artwork lining the walls. The ship’s cleanliness (or lack thereof) was a recurring theme, culminating in one family’s close encounter with cockroaches in their cabin. And for those looking to escape the fug of cigarette smoke, the lack of enforced smoking areas meant that no hallway was safe.

3. MSC Seascape

An aerial view of a large cruise ship, possibly the MSC Seascape, showcasing its expansive deck with multiple pools, lounging areas, and the intricate design of the upper decks as it cuts through the deep blue ocean, leaving a white wake behind.

So, MSC Seascape has sailed its way onto this list, claiming the title of the worst MSC Cruises ship, according to reviewers. And trust me, passengers haven’t been shy about sharing their less-than-stellar experiences.

The food situation seems to be a major letdown for many. Whether it’s sitting down for a meal or hitting the buffet, guests have been greeted with a monotonous menu, dishes that are either too cold or not cooked enough, and an overall sense of culinary disappointment.

Then there’s the bar service – or, should I say, the lack thereof? Getting a drink appears to be a test of patience, with bar staff often missing in action or, when you do manage to catch their attention, lacking the know-how to whip up your drink of choice. And don’t get me started on the chilly welcomes.

Entertainment onboard hasn’t been hitting the high notes either. It seems like the same dance crew is on repeat, and certain acts, like the duelling pianos, have been more miss than hit.

Cleanliness is another hot topic. Imagine stepping into your room to find remnants of the previous occupant’s underwear greeting you from the balcony – not exactly the welcome gift anyone would hope for. And then there’s the there arel areas; one disturbing highlight was the discovery of waste in the water park.

Staff attitude has also come under fire, with tales of denied services delivered with a side of rudeness, spa treatments interrupted, and a sense of unwelcome based on nationality. It’s a cocktail of issues that’s left many swearing off MSC Cruises for good.

4. MSC Seashore

So, it seems MSC Seashore has sailed into troubled waters, bagging a meagre 2 out of 5 on TripAdvisor. Although to be fair, it somehow managed to charm its way to a 4 on Cruiseline.

From the get-go, it’s clear that while the ship might win some over with its looks, the service doesn’t seem to match up. The entertainment caught some flack for being a bit on the drab side, lacking both variety and that spark to really captivate guests.

Waiting for a drink could easily turn into a self-service affair, given how slow service can be. And the culinary journey? Let’s just say it’s not winning any accolades, with complaints about everything from the chill of the meals to the day-old vibe of the morning coffee, not to mention the buffet’s Groundhog Day menu.

Then there’s the mystery of the missing basics – tissues, washcloths, bed sheets? Apparently, they’re all on holiday. And if you’re a fan of silence, brace yourself for the symphony of toilets flushing that seems to be the ship’s signature soundtrack.

Service across the board seems to hit rough seas, with room service going AWOL and crew members getting told off by their managers in full view of the passengers. It paints a picture of a team that’s not exactly in the know when it comes to hospitality and customer service.

The Yacht Club, which should be the crown jewel in terms of luxury and service, sadly doesn’t live up to its lofty promises. Comparisons with other cruise lines have left many guests feeling like MSC Seashore is more of a shipwreck in the luxury department.

5. Costa Pacifica

A Costa Cruises ship sailing on calm blue waters under a sky streaked with wispy clouds, showcasing multiple decks and a prominent yellow funnel with the company logo.

It sounds like the Costa Pacifica’s voyage through the sea of reviews has been anything but smooth sailing. Despite the crew’s attempts at English, it seems the ship’s preference for other languages over the loudspeaker has left a few passengers lost in translation.

Imagine braving the buffet only to find yourself in what feels like a rush-hour tube station. That’s the scene some passengers painted, with the scramble extending to drinks, water slides, and even shows. Queues for essentials like the loo and your morning eggs turned into unexpected endurance tests.

Then there’s the food – or what passes for it. One guest was so appalled by the meal quality that they wouldn’t even consider it fit for a pet. Harsh, right?

The drama doesn’t end at the dining table. Drink packages, a usually straightforward affair, turned into a saga of restrictions and surprises, especially when it came to bottled water. Miscommunication and missing details on charges added salt to the wound.

Entertainment swung from hit to miss, with the service at the buffet occasionally dropping to levels where guests were either overlooked or on the receiving end of less-than-pleasant remarks in languages they weren’t meant to understand.

While spots like the Rhapsody Bar and My Way Restaurant managed to shine through the gloom, the overarching mood among passengers seemed to be one of letdown and exasperation.

6. Costa Smeralda

The majestic Costa Cruises liner embarks on a voyage, captured from the rear angle, sailing across the vast blue ocean with its numerous balconies and distinctive yellow funnel visible against the horizon.

Turns out, sharing a hull design with the likes of P&O Cruises’ Arvia and Iona or Carnival’s Celebration and Mardi Gras doesn’t quite guarantee a smooth voyage on the Costa Smeralda. The first hiccup? A language barrier taller than the ship itself, with English speakers often finding themselves adrift in a sea of Italian, struggling to connect with comedy, pool fun, or even the basic shipwide announcements.

Feeling ‘nickel and dimed’ became a recurring theme for many, as essentials like a sip of water came with a price tag, leaving a bit of a sour taste.

That’s not to say it was all stormy seas. Some passengers managed to find silver linings, noting the ship’s design and the allure of the ports visited as memorable highlights. The crew, particularly those hailing from the Philippines and India, were beacons of service excellence amid the choppy waters of the overall experience.

Yet, navigating the journey wasn’t without its challenges: disarray at dinner, puzzling drink package policies, and buffet lines that tested patience and personal space. Logistical woes didn’t help, with tales of lost luggage, booking battles for tours, and an overall fog of confusion over ship policies adding to the adventure in ways no one signed up for.

7. Costa Toscana

The Costa Toscana cruise ship cutting through tranquil sea waters, showcased in a stunning aerial view that highlights its multiple decks, elegant design, and the signature yellow funnel with the Costa logo.

The Costa Toscana seems to be sailing through troubled reviews, with many passengers voicing concerns over their experience. The main gripe? Queues, queues, and more queues – for the buffet, for the restrooms, you name it, there’s probably a line for it. Some have even likened the buffet scene to battling the peak-hour squeeze on the subway.

Then there’s the whole saga of the ship feeling like it’s bursting at the seams, not helped by what appears to be a crew that’s either outnumbered or a bit all over the place. And who would’ve thought breakfast could come with a side of surprise balcony washing or coffee machine maintenance? Certainly adds a new flavour to the morning routine.

Talk about essentials coming at an extra cost raised more than a few eyebrows. It turns out the “all-inclusive” tag might need a bit of a rethink, with passengers finding themselves shelling out for things they thought were part of the deal.

And yes, the multi-language announcements are still a thing, stretching out the intercom interruptions and testing the patience of many a traveller.

It’s not all gloomy skies, though. Some crew members have managed to shine through the chaos, earning high praise for their service against the odds. Plus, the ship itself has won a few admirers for its looks and swanky interior touches.

Despite these glimmers of positivity, the consensus suggests that the Costa Toscana might not be setting the bar very high, especially when stacked against the expectations set by other cruise adventures.

8. Costa Diadema

The elegant Costa Diadema cruise ship glides over serene ocean waters, its numerous decks and lifeboats on display, topped with the iconic yellow funnel featuring the Costa emblem, set against a soft blue sky.

Stepping aboard the Costa Diadema might feel like you’re entering a visual treat, but it seems the beauty is only skin deep if the reviews are anything to go by.

Top of the list of grievances? Those sneaky hidden charges. Imagine heading to the bar, parched, only to find out you need to pay for a glass of tap water. And then there’s the Wi-Fi – a modern-day essential that’s been dubbed a scam by frustrated passengers. Tales of buying an internet package only to be hit with unexpected extra fees have left many feeling conned.

The dining experience hasn’t been much to write home about either. The buffet, it seems, is a Groundhog Day of meals, with hot food becoming a rare commodity unless you venture into the always bustling restaurant.

Room service seems to be dropping the ball too, with reports of crucial meals not being delivered, like in the case of a diabetic guest missing their breakfast.

Then there’s the battle for space, be it a seat at meal times or a spot in the pool, which, by the way, has been described as small, grimy, and overcrowded. And let’s not forget the elevator saga – too slow, too full, or off-limits because it’s hauling luggage, leaving many to take the stairs.

Entertainment seems to be catering mainly to Italian speakers, leaving others feeling a bit left out of the fun.

Sure, getting on the ship might be a breeze, and yes, it’s a pretty vessel to look at. But one story really puts things into perspective: a passenger booked the cruise as a honeymoon gift for their son and daughter-in-law, only to find out the couple were expected to sleep in separate beds. The ship’s response? Pay more if you want to sleep together. Talk about a rough start to married life.

9. Costa Deliziosa

The Costa Deliziosa cruise liner advances across the deep blue sea, its white structure dotted with rows of balconies and the iconic yellow funnel marked with a 'C', evoking the essence of luxury sea travel.

Kicking things off on a high note, the Costa Deliziosa does snag some style points for its looks and the handy setup of those central elevators. Plus, the crew’s getting a round of applause for their stellar service – a silver lining in what seems to be a cloud of critique.

Now, onto the not-so-great bits. The food, apparently, is where the ship starts to sink. Despite promises of an Italian culinary journey, passengers were left wondering if they’d boarded a ferry instead, with offerings so underwhelming they barely registered as “transportation”.

Health and safety seem to be a bit adrift, too. With a notable number of guests reporting illness on board, the response seemed to be limited to popping a few sanitiser stations around the buffet – not exactly the robust action you’d hope for. When these concerns were taken to customer service, the feedback loop felt more like shouting into the void, with replies that hardly echoed empathy.

The entertainment lineup? Well, it’s not going to have anyone jumping for joy. Between dance numbers that felt more like dress rehearsals and an activities director who seemingly forgot about the English-speaking contingent, boredom became an unexpected travel companion.

It appears there’s a VIP list on board, and if you’re not Italian, you might not be on it. This favouritism seemed to extend to activities, with non-Italian speakers often feeling left on the sidelines. And those eagerly anticipated excursions? Cancelled if you’re part of the English-speaking minority.

Logistics seemed to be another letdown, from managing time in ports to the lack of engaging TV channels, not-so-great cabin conditions, and the sticker shock of onboard extras. Some passengers also raised red flags about cleanliness, especially in the buffet area.

Disembarking was no walk in the park, either, described as a chaotic end to a less-than-delightful journey.

While some passengers managed to find moments of joy, particularly in the ports of call, the overall sentiment suggests that when it comes to choosing their next cruise, the Costa Deliziosa might not make the cut.

10. MSC Opera

The MSC Opera cruise ship is captured cruising the open sea, featuring its distinctive navy blue and white exterior, multiple decks with lifeboats, and a sleek design, set against a backdrop of clear skies and calm waters.

Diving into the reviews, it seems the MSC Opera is hitting some choppy waters when it comes to guest satisfaction. A common thread? The ship apparently could do with a few more hands on deck, as it seems to be grappling with the challenge of keeping up with its own guest list.

Cutting corners might be the theme here, with passengers pointing fingers at scrimped food quality, not enough staff, and a one-size-fits-all approach to entertainment that leaves much to be desired.

The dining deck saga is a tale of overcrowded spaces, pushing many to seek refuge in their cabins or elsewhere for a bite. And let’s talk hygiene – or the apparent lack of it. Hand sanitiser stations turned decoration rather than defence against germs have left guests uneasy, especially with whispers of illness going around.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Some rays of sunshine pierced through the clouds of critique, with passengers finding solace in delicious slices of pizza, commendable coffee, promising ports of call, and a few standout excursions. The human touch hasn’t gone unnoticed either, with cabin stewards and waiters earning their stripes for service with a smile.

Yet, the overarching tune seems to be one of disappointment, particularly with the higher-ups. The chorus of grievances includes tales of pre-cruise customer service woes, booking blunders, and the classic overcharge oopsie. It paints a picture of a crew doing their best under less-than-ideal conditions, a sentiment that doesn’t go unnoticed by the guests.

One poignant piece of feedback suggests a trickle-down effect of dissatisfaction, starting from the treatment of the crew right down to the guest experience. Despite the lure of affordable sea-faring, the consensus leans towards exploring other cruise lines, with a hesitance to sail the MSC Opera’s waters again.

Wrapping It Up

Going on a cruise can be a lot of fun, but it often comes down to how much you’re willing to spend. The ships that didn’t get great reviews belong to Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises, which are known for being more wallet-friendly.

These companies draw in travellers with their low prices, but if you’re expecting the fancy experience you’d get with the pricier cruises, you might end up feeling let down.

Sure, some people manage to find little bits of happiness on these ships, but many people think the service, the extras, and the whole vibe just don’t measure up to what the top-notch cruise lines offer.

It’s really important to think about what you’re getting for your money and make sure the cruise you pick is going to give you the holiday you’re dreaming of.


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I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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