Last week, I wrote about the best three cruise lines for five different kinds of travel. As a travel advisor, I get that question, and the other relates to myths I hear about cruising.
As I said last week, cruising is not for everyone. But I think there’s a cruise for everyone if they want to try it once. And it may not be on the ocean, as most people think that’s the only kind out there. You might like being on the rivers instead, and that could be in Europe, Asia, South America, or right here in the U.S.
I’ll address what’s great about river cruising in a future post. For now, I’d like to address the seven myths I hear about ocean cruises and how you might like them if you should go on one. Of course, you’ll have to overcome some of those long-standing and persistent misconceptions and book that reservation. But you might find that you love to cruise, which could become your new favorite way to travel.
1. It’s for old people
This used to be the most persistent myth I heard about cruising, but it’s less common now. That’s probably because the cruise lines have tirelessly marketed their ships as the ultimate family vacation. And if it’s not families, then it’s millennial and Gen X couples for romance. When I go on cruises, I hardly ever see older travelers. The only time I did, it was on Viking, and they are specifically geared to mature adults.
2. They’re too expensive
When you compare cruise fares to land tours and all-inclusive packages, they often result in a higher price tag. But you must look at value and see what else you are getting besides the room and basic meals and drinks. Some cruise lines are notorious for nickel-and-dime tactics, so choose the amenities you want before you leave. But if you’re wondering why the fares are a little elevated, you mostly get a good overall deal.
3. I’ll get sick
This issue comes up the most by far, the one I call the “floating petri dish” myth. Because there are relatively few cruise ships worldwide, they are conspicuous targets whenever something goes wrong. That’s especially true with sicknesses. But according to the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA), all cruise lines must adhere to strict public health standards, more so than hotels. The incidence of illness is low in proportion to the total number of passengers. That's why using sanitizer and washing your hands is always a good idea.
4. They’re too busy/crowded
Recent commercials for Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas, probably won’t dispel this notion. And it’s true…certain ships are getting bigger, holding up to 7000 passengers. But that doesn’t mean all are like that. I prefer ships that hold one-third to half of that number. Also, some lines are designing ships that don’t feel jammed, even when sailing to near or at capacity. Those are usually the premium lines like Princess, Celebrity and Virgin Voyages.
5. I don’t want to dress up
Here’s the good news – you don’t have to bring your tuxes or eveningwear for most cruises now. While some people still do this, it’s not as mandatory as it used to be. If you want to participate on formal nights, a simple dress or pantsuit for women and jacket and slacks for men will suffice. You can also do what I do and go elsewhere for dinner and skip the photo shoots. Or, just choose a cruise line that doesn’t have formal dress.
6. I’ll eat too much
Another common myth on cruises is you’re practically forced to feed from a farm trough. But you really don’t have to indulge if you don’t want to, even in the multi-course dining room. Just order what you want, even if that means soup and salad. And while this might be difficult because of all the tempting options, you can just choose what you’ll finish at the buffet. Should you overindulge, you can always head to the fitness center to work it off.
7. I’ll be bored
I promise you, this will never happen on a cruise. You will always find something to do, even on those sea days. There is always something to do and see onboard, not just games, jewelry presentations and dance contests. Depending on the cruise line you sail with, you can also find informative talks, presentations on upcoming ports (like the ever-popular husky puppies on Princess) and entertainment. Or, do nothing – something we could all benefit from.