Dispelling the top myths about cruise ships

Cruise ships have a bit of a bad reputation. Those that love cruising really love it, and will have 10 or 20 voyages in their past. Those that hate it, will claim they’d rather be shot than take a cruise. There are lot of myths about cruise ships, so Gadling is here to help dispel some of them.
You will get sick on the ship

Yes. And you will get sick in your hotel, at the theme park, the grocery store, the train station, the airport, the airplane and the restaurant. Anywhere you are surrounded by people, you’ll always run the risk of catching something. With cruise ships, ship wide outbreaks of illness are pretty rare, but they obviously do happen. And when they happen, they make the news. Thankfully, many thousands of people cruise yearly and never catch anything worse than a nasty hangover.

Take the same precautions you do at any public place – wash your hands regularly, use paper towels to open bathroom doors and if you feel sick, contact the doctor to prevent spreading whatever you may have caught.

(Photo: Bratha @ Flickr)

All you can do all day is eat eat eat

Well, yeah. But is this really a bad thing? Seriously, if you don’t like good food, then you are going to be pretty miserable anywhere you go. Sure, the buffet may not appeal to you, but most cruise ships offer far more choices than just a buffet line.

On many cruise lines, the buffet and main dining room are just two of the dining options available. Some ships now offer fresh Indian food, deli sandwiches, sushi and more. If the main dining room doesn’t appeal to you, you can often pay a small cover charge for an alternative dining experience.

Bad weather means everyone will get seasick

You are on a ship – and even though it is a massive ship, bad weather is going to make it rock. If you have never sailed before, then the first couple of hours will quite simply suck. But most people take a Dramamine or wear a sea sickness wristband and deal with it.

Eventually, the captain will (hopefully) find some calmer waters and the fun can go on, but if you are sailing through a bad storm, you could be in for a couple of nasty days.

You’ll be forced to spend money everywhere you go

Nobody forces you to do anything. Yes – there are quite a few additional things to do on the ship that cost money. But like a trip to Disneyland, you can stay away from the giftshops and other paid attractions and enjoy what you paid for. Fact of the matter is, cruises are cheap. So cheap in fact, that the cruise lines need to add some additional services in order to make a profit.

Thankfully, you can have plenty of fun on the ship without spending money at the art gallery or the spa. Almost all entertainment is free, and dinner is free. If you don’t want to pay for booze, stick to the free tea and juice provided by most cruise lines, or invest in a soda card for unlimited free soft drinks.

If you do like spending money, you’ll be happy to know that it is made really easy. Your room key is usually also the key to your shipboard credit account, and all you need to buy drinks and lose money at the casino is that piece of plastic.

The ship is filled with old people who just want to sit and play bingo all day

This one is only partially incorrect – yes, there are some cruise lines that cater to a “more mature audience”. But for every passenger that would prefer a cruise on a ship with some younger people, there are probably older cruisers who’d prefer fewer youngsters on their ship. Read reviews on the cruise line, check out the target audience, and pick your voyage wisely.

Obviously, lines like Disney will be catering to families with kids, so you may not enjoy that as a single traveler looking for some hot action, but other cruise likes like Carnival and Royal Caribbean cater to a very wide age range.

All you do is stay on the ship, with only a couple of days at port

You say this like it is a bad thing (Mr. Frommer, are you listening?) To me, getting on a ship and unpacking once then relaxing for a couple of days is just fantastic. There is nothing “dumbed down” about leaving port, then heading up to the top deck for a game of mini golf, or to take a dip in the hot tub, followed by a formal dinner and some late night entertainment.

Sure, if your idea of a vacation involves climbing mountains and hiking for days then yes – a cruise ship will probably seem like hell. But cruising is all about relaxing and having a good time. It obviously doesn’t cater to everyone, but then again, neither does mountain climbing.

Thankfully, you can plan your time any way you want it. If you’d prefer to sit on your balcony with a nice drink, then by all means, enjoy it (and order some free room service). If you’d rather sleep in all day and go berserk at night – nobody will stop you.

The stateroom is tiny, cramped and uncomfortable

The quality and size of your room all depends on how much you are willing to spend. If you go for cheap, you’ll get an inside room with no windows. But if you planned to spend all your time having fun, all you’ll do in your room is sleep. If you spend a little more, you can get a room with a window or a balcony room.

Cruise ship staterooms are surprisingly well designed. They are not like the rooms you saw on The Love Boat. Most rooms nowadays have a desk, flat panel TV, fold out sofabed, multiple closets and shower/bathroom.

I hate being told when I can eat and who to sit with

Yeah, and so do I. Which is why most cruise lines have started offering anytime dining, and the freedom to pick a different table each night. Sometimes, a preassigned table and tablemates can be fun, you do run into some great people, but you always have the risk of being placed next to a real jerk.

When you book your cruise, you’ll usually be asked to pick a dining preference, but don’t worry – a quick word with the Maître d’ will usually allow you to make changes to your dinner times.

With all those people, the ship is going to be crowded 24/7

You’d think so. But once everyone is on board, and everyone is settled in, you’ll be amazed at how quiet it can be. Even on a ship with 3000 people, you’ll often be able to walk up to the outside decks, and not run into a single person. In fact, in my experience, the opposite is true – things can sometimes be too quiet. I’ve wandered around the ship sometimes wondering just where the hell everyone is. Think of the ship like a decent hotel – even with 6000 people at the hotel, things can be nice and quiet.

Obviously, dinner time and shows can be slightly crowded, but these people are in the same vacation spirit as you – so make the best of it, and have a good time.