7 cruise misconceptions debunked

Celebrity Summit docked in Juneau, Alaska, photo by NSL Photography

I don’t know if it’s a trend in the making, but I’ve noticed a lot of interest in cruising recently. I’ve been fielding more questions than usual about cruising recommendations, and I’m often asked how much I really like cruising myself.

I like cruising … a lot. I think it’s a great option for travelers to take as part of one’s overall travel mix. I usually include before/after cruise touring options when possible.

From the questions I’ve been asked, it’s clear to me there are many misconceptions about cruising, still held by those who haven’t yet cruised. I’d like to dispel the ones which seem to be the most persistent.

Do many really get sea sick on cruises? On most cruises, very few passengers get sea sick, even those who are prone to motion sickness in cars or airplanes. Generally cruise ships are large, and all have stabilizers to minimize their rocking motion. If you’re prone to motion sickness, or are traveling through seas known to be rough, such as the Drake Passage for cruising to Antarctica, use preventative measures. For example, my wife always wears anti-seasickness wrist bands and swears by them.

Does it make sense to consider those expensive, luxury, all inclusive cruise lines? It makes sense to look at all cruising options. You need to compare pricing, and you’ve got to be careful doing so when contrasting a cruise on which “everything” is included, versus a non-inclusive cruise.

You must determine if and what is not included in the “all inclusive” cruise. For example, some special excursions aren’t included, and dinners in “specialty” restaurants may incur a small extra charge. You must add up all the separate fees and charges you will incur on the non-inclusive cruise: gratuities, excursions, alcohol, soda, etc. You need to then compare the cruises’ bottom lines for the final determination of their costs.

Is there anything for our kids to do on a cruise ship? Major cruise lines have highly organized programs and camps for children and teens, and the kids I know who participated in them loved their cruises. Kids can participate all day, or only part of the day in these programs. They not only give children a chance to have fun away from their parents, they give parents a chance to be alone themselves. Before choosing a particular cruise, carefully check what services are offered for teens and children.

It looks like cruising can be very boring with lots of days at sea! For some, the cruise ship itself is their destination. With the variety of available activities and enrichment, especially on some of the larger ships, I can understand that. There are ship’s tours, cooking classes, wine tasting, gambling, shopping, swimming, and on some ships, even ice skating, rock climbing walls, and all sorts of other activities. If you’re like me, while those activities can be great, I’m more interested in a cruise’s ports of call. I was on a two-week cruise last year that had only one “day at sea.” If you’re like me, I assure you, there are plenty of cruises available which maximize your time in port. You have to plan cruises as carefully as any trip.

Is it true that on most cruises many passengers are sickened by the norovirus? It’s important to realize that while norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships get a lot of publicity, they’re not alone with norovirus problems. In fact, the virus was originally named “Norwalk,” for an outbreak in the Bronson Elementary School, in Norwalk, Ohio. Ships take considerable steps in their kitchens and other areas to prevent the spread of the virus.

Most cruisers are never sickened by the norovirus, and each cruiser can take important steps to prevent their infection. Every cruiser should wash their hands with soap and water often, especially after using the toilet, and always before eating. Ships have alcohol-based hand sanitizers available. Use them, but remember, they’re not a substitute for good hand washing with soap and water.

I hear that only old people cruise. It’s true that many “seniors” have found cruising an easy, fun way to travel, but typically you’ll find cruisers of all ages. Today, cruise lines are pointedly catering to younger cruisers, offering more and more variety, and options. One only has to look at the activities available on newly launched ships to see that’s true.

Is it true that cruising is highly regimented? In a word, “No.” I think many have this impression because, in years past, most cruise lines had strict dress codes and one or two formal nights, even on short cruises, but as the world has generally become less formal, so have the cruise lines. On my recent cruises, nothing more than a golf shirt and slacks was required for dinner.

More and more ships are no longer requiring cruisers to sign up for dinner sittings in the main dining room, and many ships have multiple dining options.

During the day, there are many activity options of all kinds, at different times, plus, unless it’s cold, there’s always the pool and other outdoor choices. At night, most ships have a slew of activities for passengers to enjoy at different times of the evening.