9 Overrated Cruise Attractions You Should Definitely Skip

These days, cruise ships are absolutely packed with things to see and do, and all kinds of extra features designed to encourage you to book, or spend more money once you’re already onboard. They certainly aren’t like cruise ships even 10-15 years ago.

The 'Venom Drop' on MSC World Europa at twilight, an enthralling cruise ship waterslide that winds between LED-lit balconies, juxtaposing modern design with the thrill of an at-sea adventure, captured against a backdrop of a fading sunset.

But you likely aren’t going to have time to try everything, unless you’re on a longer cruise with a lot of sea days. So, what are the attractions that aren’t worth it, either because they’re too expensive or they just aren’t as fun as they should be?

Let’s take a look.

1. Butlers

A diligent butler on a Cunard cruise ship meticulously prepares a stateroom, showcasing his attention to detail while arranging a red bed runner on crisp white bedding, embodying the line's commitment to luxury and service.

There are certain cruise rooms – typically suites – that advertise themselves as having butler service. This sounds very fancy, and could convince you to upgrade your room to a much more expensive option if you wanted to try out this perk.

But in reality, most people don’t know what to really use a butler for. In fact, it’s one of the more popular questions on cruise forums – what exactly can you ask a butler to do that’s different from your regular stateroom attendant?

There are a few services they might offer, depending on the cruise line, such as shoe shining, or taking care of your laundry, or packing and unpacking for you.

For most people though, you likely won’t make use of them very much, and having a regular stateroom with an attendant will be plenty – especially since people don’t just pay extra for the perk of having a butler, but they then are likely to tip them more as well.

A butler on a Silversea cruise ship provides meticulous shoe shining service, highlighting the exceptional personal care and attention to detail offered to guests aboard the luxury liner.

If you are tempted by a butler, be aware that on most ships, they won’t be exclusive to your suite. On cruise lines like Royal Caribbean (who have the Royal Genie instead of a butler) or NCL in The Haven, the butler will be working with several guests across multiple staterooms – so they aren’t completely at your beck and call.


Book a regular stateroom – it won’t take you long to sort your own laundry or do your own unpacking.

2. Afternoon Tea

An elegant afternoon tea setup on Virgin Voyages with a bottle of Moët & Chandon, delicate pastries, macarons, and finger sandwiches on a tiered server, accompanied by fine china and flutes of champagne, offering a luxurious high tea experience at sea.

Afternoon tea is a nice activity on land when you want to go to a cafe or a posh hotel and try some delicious sandwiches and cakes. But on a cruise ship, is it worth the extra cost?

I’d argue that it isn’t, simply because you can grab the same food elsewhere on the cruise without paying for it. Sure, it might not come on a fancy stand, but is that really much of a dealbreaker for you? And the quality often isn’t great.

“Yes, but it sucks. They have one basic tea for free, but you have to pay for any good ones.”
Source: Reddit

If you have special dietary requirements, the afternoon tea can be particularly disappointing. I once had a vegan afternoon tea that consisted of gluten-free scones with margarine and sandwiches with only cucumbers and olives. Yuk!


Head to the ship’s included cafe or the buffet restaurant, and pick the items you like – especially since you can get as many of them as you want.

3. Dry Slides 

The Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea, descends dramatically on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, set against the backdrop of the ship's unique architecture with colorful Boardwalk eateries and ambient lighting.

Several cruise ships have added dry slides that span several decks of the ship. The Ultimate Abyss on Royal Caribbean is one of the more well-known examples, but MSC and NCL also have dry slides on some of their biggest ships too.

However, they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. They can often be quite slow, although I love the tip that it’s better to ride earlier in the morning when the humidity is higher and you’ll go a little faster. But still, a lot of people find them to be a bit bland, and they can even get a nasty burn!

“But if you don’t have long sleeves it is still possible to get burned even with your arms straight.”
Source: CruiseCritic

They are free, so do have a go if there’s no queue, but they aren’t worth waiting in line for.


Hit the waterslides on a cruise ship instead. They might also have a bit of a line, but they tend to be a lot more fun.

Suggested read: The Best Cruise Ships With Water Slides

4. Cruise Line Shore Excursions

A group of cheerful cruise guests bundled up in warm attire pose together during a scenic shore excursion, with the majestic backdrop of a mountainous landscape and a serene lake, capturing a moment of camaraderie and adventure.

This one’s a bit of a controversial one, but I wanted to include it because I know a lot of cruise passengers will feel that these are overrated.

Whenever you visit a port on a cruise, you can either head off an explore on your own, or try a shore excursion. You can book directly with the cruise line, or you can book with a third-party company instead – often for as little as half the price of what the cruise line is charging for exactly the same excursion.

A happy family on a cruise excursion takes a smiling selfie with a picturesque view of the cityscape and docked cruise ships in the background, capturing a memorable moment of their vacation adventures.

The benefits to booking with a cruise line are that you’re guaranteed to make it back to the ship, but it’s not like everyone who books with a third party is being left stranded in port. A lot of people believe it’s much better to save the money.


Book your excursions with a trusted third-party company – you’ll still get the same fun experiences but you’ll pay a lot less.

5. Bionic Bar

Futuristic Bionic Bar on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, with robotic arms mixing drinks under an array of suspended liquor bottles, creating a cutting-edge entertainment and beverage experience at sea.

Royal Caribbean has the Bionic Bar on several of its newer ships – a bar where robotic arms mix your drink for you.

It’s a nice novelty the first time you try it, but after that, the excitement has worn off. It’s easier to just find a regular bar and ask a human bartender to make the drink for you instead – and it’s likely to be faster, too.

The Bionic Bar is included in the Deluxe Beverage Package, so it’s not a waste of money if you already have that on your cruise. But it’s a waste of time to go out of you way to grab a drink here, unless you find it particularly exciting.


Just order your drinks at any bar on the ship.

6. Chef’s Table Dining

Guests at the Chef's Table on a Carnival cruise ship are treated to an engaging culinary demonstration by a smiling chef, set in an intimate dining space with modern glass and crystal décor, highlighting an exclusive and interactive gourmet experience.

A number of different cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, P&O Cruises and others have a speciality restaurant option called Chef’s Table.

This is always a small venue with literally one or two tables, where guests will be served a multi-course fine dining meal, typically paired with carefully selected wines or cocktails.

And it’s a really nice experience, usually with good food. But the prices can be very high – and I’m not sure that it’s worth paying as much as you do for one meal here, when the other speciality restaurants are often just as good, but a little busier.

Carnival’s is one of the most expensive Chef’s Table venues, with a late 2023 price increase pushing the cost up to $150 per person on some sailings.

It’s not the most expensive speciality restaurant – that’s the Empire Supper Club on Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas that costs $200 per person, but that’s more experiential with themed entertainment alongside an 8-course meal and cocktails too.

The Empire Supper Club on Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas exudes sophistication with its art deco-inspired décor, plush blue velvet chairs, and an illuminated circular stage with a grand piano, setting the stage for an elegant dining and live music experience.


Rather than pay for one meal at Chef’s Table, pay for two or three meals at other speciality restaurants on your ship. If you want the multi-course experience, just go to the buffet afterwards!

7. Spa Offers

A tranquil spa experience onboard an MSC cruise ship, where a guest enjoys a relaxing massage from a professional therapist in a serene room with an ocean view, emphasizing wellness and relaxation at sea.

Be wary of any special offers for the spa that you might find on your cruise, offering you the chance to visit and learn more about the treatments on offer or even get a discount on one.

You aren’t going to get a truly luxurious experience when you visit on one of these special deals, but you are almost guaranteed to be getting quite the upsell experience.

Some people have reported hearing some quite horrible things about their skin from the specialists working in the spa, who are trying to convince them to spend huge sums on beauty products!

“She tells me that my skin is rough and this will cure all my skin conditions.”
Source: Reddit


If you really want a spa treatment on your cruise, I’d recommend booking one as normal, and telling them upfront that this is the only treatment you want and you won’t be paying extra. It might come across as rude, but it’s better than being told your face is saggy or your skin is bad!

8. Cabana Rentals

A cozy family cabana nestled among lush tropical foliage on a sandy beach, complete with hammocks for relaxation, offers a private slice of paradise for a memorable seaside retreat.

Several cruise lines visit their own private islands or private resorts in the Bahamas and Caribbean, giving guests a fun port of call where they can relax on the beach, enjoy great BBQ food, and try out some exciting excursion opportunities too.

Many of these cruise lines allow guests to book a cabana or a villa for the duration of their stay too, but the thing is your stay is not normally that long – you might have around 6 hours on the island before you depart.

And those villas and cabanas can be costly – Disney’s Castaway Cay cabanas start at $600 for the day! That’s around half the cost of a short Disney cruise per person, or it’s the cost of a full cruise with some other cruise lines!

You do get some nice perks, but ask yourself whether you really need that private space, especially on a cruise island where your ship is docked and you can just nip back to your room if you want some shade and a bit of quiet time?

Ocean Cay Cabana


Save the money, make sure you’re awake early so you can get onto the island and grab yourself a lounger, and remember that in a few hours you’ll be sailing away from the island so you really aren’t missing much by skipping the cabana!

9. Art Auctions

An art auctioneer on Royal Caribbean's cruise ship engaging with guests during an art auction, gesturing towards a colorful framed artwork, providing an entertaining and cultured experience at sea.

The art auction is a cruise staple – most cruise lines still run these events, and you’d be surprised by how many people head along to them as well!

Many of those might be looking to grab a free welcome glass of sparkling wine, which is fair enough, especially if you haven’t bought a drinks package. But the auctions themselves are usually not the most exciting activities and they aren’t great value either.

free glass of bucks fizz at art auction on Anthem of the Seas

The artworks are often overpriced and usually, you’ll only be bidding on a print anyway – you won’t be given the art you buy, but you’ll be shipped a replica from a land-based warehouse instead.

When you think of it that way, you might realise that it’s not really worth it, and you might as well grab any art you want somewhere else rather than on your cruise.

“No hate at all, it’s just a weird mash up”
Source: Reddit


Save your money and time. If you want a glass of bubbly, just buy one. And if you really want to throw your money away, maybe consider a trip to the casino where you might end up winning something of actual value – more cash!


Don’t miss these hot cruise offers…

Final Word

These aren’t ‘bad’ attractions on a cruise, and some people might love the art auctions, or get a ton of value out of having a butler, and that’s fine.

But if you are limited on time for how much you can fit into your cruise, or you’re lying by the pool and wondering whether it’s worth the effort of moving to go try out one of these cruise attractions, give it a second thought – it might be wasted time or money when you could be doing something better.

There are some extras that most people agree are worth it though, and I suggest that you take a look at those next… 5 Cruise Ship Extras That Are Actually Worth the Splurge.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

Read more about me

3 thoughts on “9 Overrated Cruise Attractions You Should Definitely Skip”

  1. Hello Jenni, i have only been on 6 cruises so far but i can definitely see the value in what you are saying about overrated attractions on cruises and i think i have found another as well: The dining package on R/C, i only got around to having 3-4 meals in selective restaurants, total waste of money on a 11 night cruise. I do enjoy “Cruise Mummy” and i have learned a lot from it, i do look forward to each edition, thanks

    • Thanks! I’ve never bought a dining package. Sometimes I’ll eat in a speciality restaurant for a treat but I agree, you don’t need to do it every night when the MDR and buffet are good. Jenni

  2. I agree with almost all of what you said. I disagree about the cabana if you have 8 people. It’s a lot more convenient, and it gets you out of the sun. If I go back to the ship for any reason, it’s doubtful I’d come back out to the island.

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