Everyone loves a good cruise once in awhile, but often we pass the opportunity to go because our thoughts are bound by myths. Lifestyle Cruises helps to unpack common myths.
Myth 1: Cruises are crowded.
Fact: This is an issue most often found on older ships with poor layouts, particularly in areas — like buffets and theaters — where passengers are likely to congregate. However, newer ships have done a much better job of designing more dynamic areas in terms of traffic flow. You might also be tempted to think that larger cruise ships (behemoths like those in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class, for example, which each carry more than 5,000 passengers) are congested with so many people onboard. It’s simply not true. As ships grow to carry more cruisers, they also grow to include more deck space, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues to accommodate the larger number of passengers.
Myth 2: Cruises are for old, stuffy people.
Fact: It’s true that retirees often have the time and money required to travel for extended periods, but while some lines admittedly move at a slower pace and cater to people of a certain age, there’s so much more to life on the high seas than bingo, afternoon tea and shuffleboard. In fact, many lines now offer special programming for the 18- to 20-year-old set, and there are more people in their 20s, 30s and 40s cruising now than ever before. Cruise lines are catering to both younger and more adventurous crowds with offerings that include trendy, celebrity chef-inspired restaurants; phenomenal children’s programming for younger couples with kids; swanky adults-only areas; innovative spa treatments; and enough adult comedy to make your grandparents blush — as well as shore excursions that range from flyboarding in the Caribbean to glacier hiking in Alaska.
Myth 3: I’ll be stuck onboard.
Fact: Whether you’re worried you’ll feel claustrophobic on a ship in the middle of the ocean or that you won’t have the freedom to come and go as you please, don’t worry. It’s true that you’ll be confined to the ship while it sails from port to port, but it’s usually at night while you’re busying yourself with things like eating dinner, attending shows and sleeping. If you choose an itinerary with few to no sea days, you’ll be in a brand-new place when you wake up in the morning, which will limit the feeling of being stuck inside. Rest assured that, should you need to leave the ship in an emergency, the crew is able to make necessary arrangements. Plus, with so many creature comforts onboard, you might find yourself completely forgetting you’re even on a ship in the first place, and with plenty of open deck space, it’s easy to avoid that closed-in feeling.
Myth 4: I can’t cruise alone.
Fact: Of course you can cruise alone. Although single supplements — extra costs incurred by solo cruisers who stay alone in cabins made for two — are a drawback, several ships (including Norwegian Getaway, Anthem of the Seas, Costa Favolosa, Queen Mary 2 and Holland America’s Koningsdam) have cabins for one, specially designed for people sailing by themselves. Some include access to dedicated solo lounges and activities geared toward those who are onboard without travel companions. Although the concept might be scary to some, cruising alone is empowering, and it’s a great way to meet new people. Cruising is one of the most social forms of travel, so if you want to make friends, be sure to check the daily schedule on the first couple days of your sailing for any solo-focused gatherings, request set-seating dining (or large tables if you prefer flexibility) and participate in onboard activities (karaoke, trivia, game shows) that will allow you to put yourself out there or join a team.
Myth 5: Cruises are dangerous.
Fact: Fires. Power outages. Rogue waves. Rough seas. Hurricanes. Passengers “falling” overboard. You’ve heard about it all on the news, but before you work yourself into a panic, know this: Statistically, cruises are one of the safest forms of travel. The U.S. Coast Guard inspects all ships sailing from U.S. ports on a quarterly basis to make sure machinery and emergency procedures are up to snuff. Additionally, each ship sails with its own dedicated team of mechanics and engineers, who are specially trained to deal with any malfunctions that might arise. Crew members undergo rigorous training via safety drills to prepare them for emergency situations. All mainstream ships have onboard teams of doctors and/or nurses to deal with medical issues, and the control rooms on all vessels employ equipment dedicated to avoiding hurricanes and minimizing exposure to excessively rough waters. As for “falling” overboard, it’s just not possible unless you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be. All balconies and outer decks have high railings or partitions to keep anyone from toppling over the side.
Myth 6: Everybody’s drunk.
Fact: This isn’t the case on most cruise ships — even the ones known for having more of a “party” vibe. Will some passengers drink to excess? Of course. That’s a given in any place where bars and buckets of beer abound. However, bartenders generally refuse service to anyone who appears intoxicated, much the same as on land. If you’re concerned about avoiding an atmosphere that encourages lots of imbibing, consider a longer cruise, and avoid short, weekend cruises or warm-weather sailings during spring break.
Myth 7: I’ll be bored.
Fact: Perhaps you’re under the impression that there won’t be enough for you to do onboard while the ship is sailing. On any number of ships, you can surf, skydive, rock climb, zipline, ice skate, learn to make cupcakes, splash in pools and water slides, attend Broadway productions, watch acrobats and magicians, enjoy outdoor movies on the pool deck, drive a simulated Formula 1 race car, buy drinks from a robotic bartender, go bowling, play video games, dance the night away in the disco, enjoy pirate parties (in costume, of course), learn a new language, do a wine tasting, play trivia, gamble in the casino, attend enrichment lectures, sing karaoke– the list goes on and on.
Myth 8: A cruise isn’t a cultural experience.
Fact: We beg to differ. You might not have more than a few hours to explore each port on your itinerary, but there are still plenty of ways to have authentic, off-the-beaten path experiences in the places you visit without following the crowds on bus tours or to tacky souvenir shops. For example, several lines offer shore excursions that allow you to follow the ships’ chefs to local markets, to shop for local ingredients and even cook with them back onboard. Others allow passengers to book home visits, where local families host cruisers in their own houses, usually for a meal and/or culturally immersive activities like dancing or arts and crafts. If what you’d really like is more time in each destination to take in the local culture or nightlife, look for itineraries that offer longer or overnight port calls. Or, consider different types of cruising (like river cruising, for example). Plus, several lines — such as Carnival Corp.’s new Fathom line, which focuses on voluntourism, and Canada-based Cuba Cruise, which sails Cuba itineraries via a people-to-people-type program — offer volunteer opportunities that allow passengers to work side by side with locals for causes that make a difference.
Myth 9: There will be too many kids.
Fact: There are plenty of ways to avoid children at sea if that’s your goal. First, children are more likely to be found on shorter, less expensive and less exotic sailings, particularly during the summer months and holidays, when school is not in session. They’re also more likely to be found on lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney, which have amazing kids clubs to keep the little ones entertained. However, that doesn’t mean you should rule those lines out. Because they offer such stellar programming for the wee ones, you’re less likely to see them out and about or causing trouble during the sailing. If you’d rather not encounter any children at all, there are ships that flat-out ban them (P&O’s Adonia, Arcadia and Oriana) or place age restrictions on passengers younger than a certain age (Voyages to Antiquity, Grand Circle, Saga Holidays).
Myth 10: I’ll get seasick.
Fact: It’s true that you might be prone to seasickness, but there are many ways to prevent it before your cruise even starts. Possible remedies include acupressure bracelets, prescription patches you stick on the skin behind your ear and a plethora of tablets, both prescription and over-the-counter. Some cruisers also swear by mint, green apples and anything containing ginger (ginger candy, ginger ale, etc.). If you’re using tablets, it’s best to start taking them before you board the ship, but should you become seasick on a sailing, it’s never too late to fight it off. If you find yourself in that situation, head to the middle of the ship and stare at the horizon (preferably from a spot outside, where there’s fresh air) to help regain your equilibrium.