Many of us who have never taken a cruise vacation have many excuses as to why we have not done so mainly borne out of some preconceived notions about the same ranging from the disaster of the Titanic along with images of the super rich entertaining themselves with shuffleboard games to the rather uninhibited relationships that guests are able to enjoy with crew members as seen in the movie ‘The Love Boat’. There is thus a need to take a reality check on what modern cruising is all about and dispel notions of the cruise ship as just a floating vessel where the above things take place with regularity.
This article is an attempt to answer some of the common questions that are often asked by travelers yet to go on a cruise so that their assumptions can be put to rest and they can take such cruises without any apprehensions.
a) What’s the average price for going on a cruise?
b) Are these cruise journeys really all-inclusive or is there more to it?
The answer is that though the fare does include a lot of things as mentioned above, to enjoy some of the amenities, you would have to pay extra such as the use of some of the alternative restaurants, ice cream and coffee bars, beverages as well as soft drinks that you consume, any excursions you undertake at ports, usage of the spa and other such luxuries. Some cruise liners may include drinks and other gratuities in the fare but by and large many would charge extra for any shore excursions or spa usage.
c) Do all cruise ships look and feel the same?
There are many varieties of cruise ships in terms of different sizes, facilities and amenities offered and category. There are explorer ships, family ships, decadent ships with the ultimate luxuries, pure sailing ships and so on.
d) What is the cruise experience like? Is it like visiting a resort or a glamorous tourist destination like Las Vegas?
The answer to this is a combination of both yes and no. Since most of the modern day cruise ships have all the luxuries as well as comforts that travelers used to land vacations demand as well as the glitz associated with places like Las Vegas in the form of casinos on board, the fact that your cabin would normally be much smaller than the usual hotel room(unless you have paid for a suite accommodation) as well as the fact that you could run into rough seas and would also have to disembark and embark based on the itinerary, presents a scenario that is really a nice combination.
e) Is not a cruise holiday mainly for the newlywed couple and for those who have retired?
This used to be the impression at one point in time but is not valid in today’s times. Cruise companies are seriously targeting young families with children in order to offer them a unique experience and are including many attractions for the children in the form of amusement parks, discos, video games and other entertainment avenues that children and teenagers would find on land based vacations. They are also introducing creative projects that children can indulge in to keep themselves occupied. Those who are single can meet other singles on board and take part in interactive activities organized onboard including sharing communal meals. Many urban travelers used to modern conveniences will find gourmet dining, high-tech entertainment meets, and night life that is as good as the best and other such attractions. There are even separate arrangements for gay as well as lesbian cruisers so that they have their space and privacy. Other convenient charter cruise arrangements are also quite common and are being organized for couples, gay singles and families.
It is also interesting to note that many of the cruise liners have incorporated the latest fitness centers, spa facilities, rock climbing opportunities and Pilates training classes and this should make health conscious individuals pretty happy. Working people who cannot afford to take a long break can opt for shorter cruises ranging from three to six nights. In short, the modern cruise industry is doing everything possible to cater to all segments of the population.
f) What about conditions or the danger of falling seasick while on the cruise?
As long as you follow proper hygiene discipline and wash your hands with a sanitizer regularly and these are made by the liner abundantly, you do not stand the chance of any seasickness or contracting the Norovirus bug that you may have heard about.
Moreover, the size of modern ships and technology is such that you would hardly feel the ship moving. Cruise liners now know how to avoid bad weather and hurricanes through an efficient radar system. Any uneasiness can be countered through common over the counter medicines like Bonine. However, if you are particularly sensitive, then you would do well to take the Transderm patch and also opt for alternative medicines like ginger or acupressure bands that have been known to provide relief. The medicine desk at these liners also offers suggestions on how to counter any sickness.
g) What about safety procedures that are followed?
It is encouraging and reassuring to know that ships must undergo very stringent safety procedures and rules before they are allowed to offer cruise services and all their crew members are supposed to be well trained to take care of passenger safety. These ships are often inspected by regulators like Coast Guards in order to make sure that they are indeed following the latest in safety procedures and have proper emergency as well as disaster management processes in place. Since fire is one of the most common dangers, all cruise liners ensure that they have the latest in terms of smoke detectors, emergency lighting and sprinklers to ensure that no disaster takes place. They also follow the SOLAS guideline which is Safety of Life at Sea.
Passengers will be subjected to a drill focusing on safety measures within twenty hours of boarding the ship and this procedure includes the wearing of the orange safety jacket as well as how to find out the lifeboat that is already assigned. This is to ensure that in the rare event this is required, passengers would not have to encounter any issues.
It is however worth noting that you need to follow basic travel precautions such as locking up your valuables in the safe provided, not opening the cabin door without proper verification, ensuring children do not roam about anywhere in the ship without adequate supervision and so on.
h) How to prevent boredom during the cruise?
There are enough avenues of entertainment on board in modern cruise ships. They often request guest speakers to speak on topics of intellectual interest; guests can take part in bridge tournaments, attend specific lectures on wine or just visit the gym for some exercises. There are boutiques within the ship for shopping, swimming pools to just soak yourself and you can also watch movies. If you wish to just relax then you can pick up a good book and read it while getting a tan as well.
There is a lot you can do to engage yourself even on smaller ships and since you are not always onboard and would disembark at specific ports, the chances of getting bored are very rare.
i) Is there a chance that I would put on weight?
Yes, we are aware of the fact that an average individual does tend to put on about five pounds during a cruise travel of a week. However, that need not always be the case and you can opt for special low-carb diets and choose healthy menus so that you do not stand the risk of adding a lot of pounds to your weight. Many cruise liners have also made it easy for passengers by completely doing away with midnight buffets where people used to indulge a lot and had very less control on their appetite. This is not to say that you would have nothing to eat or drink after dinner.
You can also on your part ensure you burn enough calories by working out at the gym, do speed walking, jog, use stairs instead of elevators, indulge in hiking, mountain-biking, play badminton, basketball and so on.
j ) How about communication and staying in touch with my folks?
Most modern ships have cable television channels that you can watch in your cabin. Newspapers are also available and you are also allowed to make phone calls from the cabin phone. It may be expensive but at least provides you with the facility. You can also make calls from your mobile. Internet facilities are also provided.