Surprisingly, the myths and misconceptions about cruising are probably the top reason why cruising is still one of travel's best kept secrets. Getting people on their first cruise is the hard part, but the number of people who continue to cruise after trying their first cruise is extremely high. All it takes is one cruise before all of the mis-conceptions are dashed. Following are some of the most stubborn myths about cruising.
I'LL GET SEASICK Yes, people do occasionaly suffer from motion sickness and this is a valid concern. However, today's modern ships are all stabilized to reduce rolling (side to side motion) and designed by sophisticated computer aided design equipment to minimize pitching (up and down motion). On all of the cruises I have been on (100+), I have rarely encountered seasick passengers in all but the roughest of seas.
But you can be proactive and minimize the chances of any discomfort with many simple and inexpensive remedies.
The remedy I find simplest and most effective is using "sea bands". These are little wristlets that feature a "nub" that is positioned to strike a pressure point on the underside of your wrist. I have found them terribly effective, even in 40 foot seas! There are no side effects as they are drug free and the best part is they're inexpensive!! About $7.00/pair. They can be found in just about any pharmacy or in the giftshop onboard.
There are several medications such as Bonine or Dramamine. I have heard these can be quite effective but I personally avoid them due to the side effects that one may experience such as drowsiness, sleeplessness or dry mouth. It is also recommended that you avoid exposure to the sun and avoid alcholic intake. As with any medication, your physician or pharmacist is the best resource and you should definitely consult them before you plan on taking any one of these remedies.
I'LL BE BORED Cruising is not the sedentary pasttime it used to be, unless that's what you choose to make of it. Every cruise ship publishes a daily newspaper and activity schedule to keep you busy and entertained while on board.
During the day you'll find numerous activities such as Bingo, trivia games, lectures on topics such as art collecting, politics, world affairs and investing not to mention the ports you'll be visiting and shopping; exercise classes, wine tastings, cooking classes, shuffleboard, card tournaments and good old-fashioned relaxing in the sun by the pool or catching up on all those first run movies you never have time for at home. Then there are other alternatives you'll find on some ships such as golf simulators, miniature golf courses, putting greens, batting cages, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. You can treat yourself to a day in the spa or in the ships's onboard fitness center, massages, facials, hair and nail salons, a sauna or a session with a personal trainer on the state-of-the-art exercise equipment. (But do watch out for activities that carry extra costs! More on that later).
In the evenings you have all of the bars and lounges at your disposal for mixing, mingling, dancing or people watching. There are lavish production shows and cabaret acts, comedians and the late night disco to keep you going into the wee hours.
And don't forget how much your ports of call provide for exciting diversions and discovery. You can trek off on your own or take one of the ship's pre-arranged tours.
I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT SHIPS: I'LL LOOK SILLY Fear not, the majority of cruisers today are not "old salts" and you'll all be in the same proverbial boat together. There are a few basics that I think everyone should know:
- Bow: the front or "pointy end" of the ship
- Stern: the back of the ship
- Port: the left side of the ship as you face forward
- Starboard: the right side as you face forward
- Galley: VERY important!! It's the ship's kitchen!
- Bridge: Where the ships officers control and navigate the ship from. Usually high up and forward. It is the command center or "cockpit" of the ship if you will.
I WON'T BE LIKE OTHER PEOPLE That's a good thing, everyone is unique and different. I find this to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of cruising; meeting and learning about different people. However, cruise ships tend to be very friendly places and most passengers are outgoing and sociable. But you can keep to yourself if you so choose.
EVERYONE ON A CRUISE IS OLD It used to be the case and in some instances, it still is, but cruising is becoming more and more appealing to younger passengers as it gains mass appeal. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, the majority of cruisers today are between 48 and 59 with the 25 to 39 and 60+ age groupings in a virtual tie. In fact, it has recently been reported in the trade papers that the cruise lines have identified the Baby Boomers and Gen-X'ers as the most likely candidates for explosive market growth over the next five years. The cruise lines are catering to younger cruisers like never before by offering more and more variety, options and excitement.
CRUISING IS TOO REGIMENTED Au contraire! Cruising has never offered more options, variety, choice and informality than it does today. The cruise lines realize that today's passengers do not want or need regimentation on their vacations because they already have an overwhelming amount of it in their daily lives. Passengers are now afforded the option to choose when, where and with whom they dine, what types of entertainment they partake in and a more varied array of shore excursions besides the normal bus tours. There is an increasing emphasis on passenger comfort in terms of dress and informality in the ambiance.
Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL are all leading the charge and now pushing the envelope even further in this arena and NCL has just recently announced its new "Freestyle Cruising" concept which will offer open seating dining in the main restaurants, several alternative dining venues and an overall more loosely structured environment to encourage choice and informality.
One need not dress up every night in a tux or attend formal dinners as it had been in the past. But the cruise lines will and still do offer you the choice of a more "traditional" experience complete with assigned seating at dinner, formal nights and an extensive list of scheduled activities if you enjoy such sophistication.
ALL THERE IS TO DO IS EAT! Once again, a very common and not unfounded misconception. It used to be that a cruise revolved around eating. Early riser's Danish and coffee, a light breakfast on deck, full breakfast in the dining room, mid-morning snacks, buffet lunch on deck, hamburgers on the grill, full lunch in the dining room, afternoon snacks, ice cream and cookies, afternoon tea with pastries, hors d'ouvres, dinner, the midnight buffet and late night snacks served every day! I'm bloated just thinking about it.
With the trend towards healthier living and eating habits today, the cruise lines have changed their tune. Yes, you may still partake in all of the above offerings, but the cruise lines are also offering the public what they want -- healthier foods, lighter meals and spa cusine. You'll now find ligther selections on the menus every night and many even list the calories, fat content, protein and other pertinent information right on the menu.
Even that bastion of cruise line traditions, the midnight buffet, has gone by the wayside on many cruise lines.
But should you choose to eat, eat, eat you can work off all of those excess calories by using the fitness centers and climbing stairs instead of using elevators. On my last NCL cruise, I did not gain one extra pound as I practiced moderation and found their new "Cooking Light" offerings to be exceptional. One must never sacrifice taste and enjoyment on a cruise when eating healthy and you wont. In fact, I have found some of the healthy or "light" options to be tastier and more interesting than the standard fare.