Cruise holidays are a bit different from your average land holiday or staycation and so it’s understandable that before considering a cruise people have lots of questions and concerns before they decide if cruising is for them. Below we have listed some of the topmost asked cruise-related questions and answered them for you so you don’t have to wonder or worry any further and you can get booking!
Is cruising just for old people?
Cruising did in fact used to be something primarily aimed at either the elderly or the very rich (think Titanic), and thus their stereotype for being for older people has largely remained. However, the ‘cruising is for the ‘newlywed or nearly dead population which is so outdated! More and more cruise lines are offering cruises that attract families and children and a younger target market. On board many ships you will find cinemas, arcades, sports activities, water parks, theatres and more to occupy children (and adults alike!). Many have teen or children areas, specifically designed with them in mind.
Of course, there are certain cruise lines such as Saga or Cunard that appeal to a more mature population but the options for younger people are vast and ever-increasing. We have never felt too young, or out of place on a cruise and feel they really are for everyone of all ages! This is just one thing that makes cruising so great and is a really good myth to debunk!
Cruise ships can be great for solo travelers too. Many cruise lines offer single cabins and will arrange social solo meets for people to travel alone in order to meet others in similar situations.
How expensive is cruising?
As with any type of holiday, there is a huge range in how cheap or costly a holiday can be. As with many land travel companies or land-based holiday destinations, there are those you would consider high-end or luxury and those you would consider as low cost or budget. The same can be said for cruise lines. Towards the lower end of the price range, you will find Marella Cruises or MSC Cruises and towards the upper end, you will find cruise lines such as Disney and Cunard.
When considering a cruise it is good to think about what is in included in the cruise fare and consider any additions that will need to be made such as gratuities or drinks packages. Most cruise lines do not include cruise excursions and so this is an additional cost you need to consider if you wish to explore the ports you visit. This isn’t dissimilar to land holidays though as most holidays packages don’t tend to include activities and excursions included in the basic price.
It is good to bear in mind that cruise fares include your room, cabin services, transport to fabulous places, and your meals. They also include activities, nighttime entertainment and facilities such as swimming pools and water parks. Of course, most ships will offer passengers the opportunity to engage in additional facilities such as spa treatments, arcade games, speciality dining and even high ropes courses and rock climbing.
Cruise line excursions can vary in price, with some being cheaper and offering transfers to the beach or walking tours, to more expensive ones offering catamaran trips, gourmet food experiences or island tours. A good alternative to going on a cruise line excursion is going with a local guide or tour operator native to the port you are as these are often cheaper and more personal. Alternatively exploring a port on your own is a good idea making sure you stick to your budget and focus on the things you really want to see.
With all the added extras on board, it is easy to see how cruising can get expensive but if you are on a budget then you need to simply remember to stick with the basic package and not be tempted by the additional extras. On most cruises sticking to the simple drinks packages, main dining options and free evening entertainment will still mean you have a fabulous cruise and wonderful time onboard. You really can tailor your cruise experience to be whatever you want it to be to suit your budget.
Are cruise ships safe?
A popular question asked by people interested in cruises relates to the safety of cruise ships and concerns about falling over the side of the ship. The short answer is YES – they are super safe and it is highly unlikely you will fall overboard! In fact, I read that in 2014 there were 20 cases reported across the world of people falling overboard, which sounds like a lot at first, however, when you think that 20 million people took a cruise that year, the chances are minuet at 0.0001% which is a lot more reassuring! All ships have many safety procedures in place and all decks will have barriers and rails to prevent people leaning too far over. Of course, it is encouraged that passengers use their brains whilst cruising and don’t act carelessly due to drinking too much!
Once boarded the ship all passengers will need to complete the mandatory muster drill which will inform passengers of all the safety regulations they need to be aware of and what to do in the event of an emergency. This will allow you to find out where your life jackets and lifeboat are located and also hear what the emergency signals sound like. It’s always worth paying attention to the muster drills, just in case!
In terms of illness, all cruise lines will have medical facilities and doctors and nurses on board to help should you be unfortunate enough to be taken ill. These are often available 24 hours and can provide basic medical care should needs be. The medical facility is normally located on one of the lower decks on ship and is luckily not a place many passengers ever see. Of course in medical emergencies if people are so unwell they need to leave the ship, this can be arranged. Be sure to check that your holiday insurance includes cruise cover and reparation to the UK just in case!
Ships have a lot of rules and regulations in which they need to follow to safely sail and ensure the safety of their passengers and crew. There will be many protocols relating to maritime law, international safety rules and navigation security that will all be thought about and followed so no need for you to worry – just sit back and relax knowing everything safety-wise is being cared for!
Are cruises all-inclusive?
The short answer to this frequently asked cruise question is no. As mentioned above, most cruise fares will include the basics of room, food and some entertainment but all cruise lines will offer passengers the chance to upgrade and indulge in other paid-for opportunities. These can include speciality dining restaurants, upgraded drinks packages to include premium drink brands, spa treatments and gratuities (tips). One of the things we love about Marella Cruises is that drinks and gratuities are included in the cruise fare and so you know a little more of the price you are going to be paying overall at booking. We loved being able to pick up a drinks menu and order what we wanted as opposed to looking at seeing all the prices and being more careful what we ordered. There can be a lot of hidden costs to cruising so be sure to do your research and chose a cruise line suitable for your needs.
Will I be able to use the internet whilst on a cruise?
For those who like or need to use the internet whilst on holiday then there is always the option of using the ships wifi system. This is more often than not a paid-for privilege and can be quite pricey! Internet access is often a lot slower onboard than passengers are used to onshore and may be limited to browsing as opposed to faster streaming services. We have always found the packages to be really expensive and we like the opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and work etc so we are never tempted to buy a wifi package personally.
Depending on where you are sailing and where your phone is registered, then you might be able to access the internet and phone signal when in port. Do check your phone package includes roaming though to avoid any nasty bills! Always remember to turn your mobile data / roaming off when at sea though as if you don’t it will connect to the maritime networks as you pass across the seas and this is costly indeed. The best thing to do is put your phone in aeroplane mode if you are unsure of how the technology works and want to avoid any costs! There’s nothing worse than coming home to a huge surprise phone bill – been there done that!
What is a tender port?
A tender boat is a smaller boat used by cruise ships to transfer passengers from the ship to the port when the ship is unable to dock in the port itself. This might be because the port is small and the ship is too large to dock, because the water is too shallow or because the port is too busy.
The tender boats double up as lifeboats should an emergency evacuation be needed. They have a mixed response from passengers, with some saying they love them and others avoid them due to sea sickness from smaller boats. If they are the only way to get onshore to explore a boat then it must be done in our eyes!
Will I get seasick whilst on a cruise?
A big worry for cruisers is the thought of being seasick and let’s be honest this isn’t a possibility that can be totally ruled out. If the sea is relatively calm and the weather conditions mild then the ship should not sway too much and should feel stable and flat. Therefore, in situations like this seasickness is rare and most passengers report they forget they are on water given the size and stability of the ship when out to sea.
However, there are some places that are known to increase the possibility of seasickness (such as the Bay of Biscay). Obviously, no cruise line can control the weather and sea conditions so seasickness is always a possibility. If you are prone to motion sickness or worried about being seasick then it might be beneficial to pack some over the counter motion sickness medication such as Bonine or Dramamine. Some passengers swear by using motion sickness prevention patches which you can wear behind the ear and prevent nausea. Other well-known seasickness remedies are eating apples, ginger capsules or tea, and motion sickness wristbands worn on the wrist pulse points.
If you’re worried about seasickness then a good idea is to pre-book a cabin in the centre of the ship. The middle of the ship tends to experience less motion due to it being the natural balancing point and thus less likely to sway or move. Cruisers also suggest that inside cabins are better for motion sickness too due to their middle locations.
Aside from motion sickness, there are some horror stores of norovirus having broken out on ships. This is a stomach bug with symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea that spreads easily in confined spaces. To prevent a situation like this cruise lines provide plenty of handwashing and sanitizers for passengers to use and of course encourage people to wash their hands!
What is an inside cruise cabin?
An inside cruise cabin is a cabin that is located on the interior of the ship, often in the middle of the ship. Due to their midship location, they don’t normally have any windows and can be a little smaller than other cabin choices. This is always reflected in the price of the cabin with inside cabins being the most economic choice. If you are not planning to spend that much time in your cabin or are not fussed about having access to fresh air via a balcony then choosing an inside cabin can be a good way to save some money.
What should I wear on a cruise?
A frequently asked question by expectant cruisers is what should I pack to wear on a cruise? This is quite a hard one to answer as it can depend on what cruise line you are planning to cruise on. Some, such as Cunard, are more traditional and have a number of formal nights during a cruise, whereas cruise lines such as MSC or Marella have a more relaxed approach to clothing options and have only one formal night per cruise. Norwegian Cruise Line however never has a dress code on any night so that’s probably the most laid-back line in terms of clothing.
You can pretty much guarantee that most cruise lines do not have a really strict dress code and that you can be comfortable in smart casual clothes. Many cruise lines will have formal or Captians’s nights which offer passengers the opportunity to get a bit more dressed up and often the main dining rooms will require people to be dressed formally. However, it is not compulsory that you dress up and if you choose not to on a formal night you will always be able to visit the buffets for dinner on these evenings.
During the day, most people will wear casual clothes including sportswear, swimsuits, and comfy clothing. Obviously, it depends on where you are sailing as to whether you require lighter summer clothes or heavier, warmer winter clothes. Most cruise lines require men to wear shirts and people to be a little more covered up when eating in the restaurants so if you are planning on lounging by the pool on your bikini every day, make sure to pack a kimono or two to cover up with.
During the evening most people will choose to dress up a little, doning smart casual clothes which might include a cocktail dress and sandals for women or a trouser and shirt combo for the men. For us personally, we quite like the opportunity to get dressed up a little in the evening and wear nicer clothes than we would do normally at home but also enjoy not having the pressure to if we don’t fancy it! All cruise lines will have information on their dress codes and formal nights on their website so check them out before you pack!
Even if you are sailing in the hotter months it can be a good idea to pack some jumpers or light jackets as it can get quite cool and breezy when sailing at night and you will far this if out on deck enjoying the sunset.
Will I feel claustrophobic on a cruise ship?
This was a question I asked myself frequently before and after booking our first cruise. I was worried about feeling confined and stuck on board and that I would panic about not being able to get off. However, I needn’t have worried, with so much to do, so much space and so much fun to be had, I didn’t worry once about feeling trapped or claustrophobic the whole time on board.
Most cruise ships can hold thousands of passengers and so can feel more like a floating city or resort than a ship! There’s lot of inside space, as well as outside space to get fresh air and be out in the open. There’s something very relaxing and calming about watching the sea and its waves and so if you ever feel a bit trapped then head outdoors on deck and you are reminded of the expanse of the sea and the feeling of freedom.
Some people might find inside cabins a little confined. These often don’t have any windows and so do not allow any natural light in. This can make people feel a little odd as you can lose the perception of time without being able to see the sun/moon. If you feel like this might be an issue for you then we recommend booking an outside cabin with either a porthole window or balcony.
Will I get bored on a cruise?
As cruise lovers, we find this commonly asked question ridiculous! But then again of course we have been on cruises and know-how much there is to see, do and enjoy, whereas those who have never cruised before might be fearful of boredom due to not knowing what to expect. Cruise lines can vary in what entertainment they offer however most will have at least a theatre, live music, and a spa. Many will have activities schedules running throughout the day which might include dance classes, sports, games, quizzes and of course our favourite, bingo! Often cruise lines offer demonstrations, daytime shows and wine tasting too. Many cruise lines have facilitiess such as rock climbing, high ropes, water parks, arcade games, and even laser quest to enjoy. On many of the Royal Caribbean ships, you will find the unique Northern Star epxeirn3ce which is not to be missed!
Of course, there are plenty of places to eat and enjoy a drink or two on board. Some of the bigger cruise vessels have so many eateries that we are sure a pub crawl or two would keep people entertained! For those looking to relax there are pools, sunbathing, gym, or spa treatments. Of course when in port there is the chance for passengers to disembark and enjoy the place they are visiting. If anything there is so much to enjoy and do when on a cruise you’ll need another holiday to relax afterward!
We hope that answers some of the most frequently asked cruise questions and that if you are debating a first cruise then this has been helpful. One final question we should answer for you – should I book a cruise? Absolutely yes, you won’t regret it!