10 Misconceptions People Can Have About Cruise Vacations

The cruise industry has been building new ships. The Icon of the Seas, christened in January by Royal Caribbean, carries 7,600 passengers and 2,350 crew. There are about 323 ocean-going cruise ships in operation worldwide as of November 2023. In 2024, it is estimated 36 million passengers will take a cruise vacation. This might imply the message has gotten out: Cruising is for everyone. Yet you can still find good deals. This means there are people who have not decided cruising is for them. You might know some. What might their reasons be?

  1. I might get seasick. This is true. You might get seasick on an ocean voyage. Regardless of how much technology is built into the ship, Mother Nature has the last word. To their credit, the ship’s captain tries to steer around bad weather and plan in advance where possible. If this is a big concern, consider an inland passage cruise to Alaska or a river cruise in the U.S. or Europe.
  2. Cruise ships are too big. I might get lost. It is a valid concern. Back in 1980, NCL bought the famous liner, SS France, and renamed her the Norway. The ship was big for its time at 76,049 tons and carried about 2,600 passengers. It was so large, the carpeting in the corridors was one of two colors, allowing passengers to determine if they were in the front or rear of the ship! The length was 1,095 feet. Today, the largest ships that carry 7,000+ passengers and 3,000 passengers are considered average. The cruise industry includes riverboats carrying 200 passengers and oceangoing, yacht-like cruise ships starting at 200 passengers. You will have plenty of choice in size.
  3. I don’t like being told when I am having dinner. Years ago, dining was done with a first and second seating. Typically, it was at 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM. Passengers wanting to dine at another time could visit the buffet anytime or order room service. Today, many cruise ships offer Freedom Dining as an option. You might make a reservation at a specialty restaurant or show up during opening hours and be seated in the main dining room.
  4. Aren’t cabins small? They can be. Inside cabins might be 150+ square feet. Balcony cabins, the majority of the cabins on board, might be 175+ square feet. For comparison, the average US bedroom size is 132 square feet. A master bedroom might be 132 square feet. Cruise ships have a shopping list of different sized cabins. The larger ones, called suites, can be extremely large and priced accordingly. In your regular life, how much time do you spend in your bedroom when you are not sleeping? You will not be spending much time there on a cruise ship either.
  5. I don’t like dressing up. I’ve heard an urban legend about sailing transatlantic in the 1950s, the golden age of cruising. (This probably applied 40 years earlier too.) The day you boarded and the day you disembarked allowed for casual clothing. Every other night was a black-tie formal wear evening. That was then, this is now. Some cruise lines cater to people who like dressing up. Others might be expensive but focus on “country club casual.” Others are entirely casual. Your travel agent can guide you.
  6. Aren’t passengers generally older? Years ago, it was said cruising was for the “newly wed and nearly dead.” Then the Love Boat TV series in 1976. Suddenly it became a popular vacation for active singles. Cruise lines cater to different passenger demographics. Some might be ideal for “people whose children have grown.”  Your travel agent can help you choose.
  7. I don’t like flying. Avoiding flying is one of the reasons people choose cruising. It has been said the romance of air travel has become the romance of bus travel. When you cruise, you can expect a degree of attention and respect. If you want to avoid the discomfort and expense of flying, find your nearest homeport. What cruise lines sail from there?
  8. Aren’t kids running around all the time? Children are a blessing, but sometimes you might like to be in a child-free environment. At one extreme you have cruise lines like Disney Cruises, focusing on welcoming families. Further along you have lines like Viking and Virgin that require passengers to me a minimum of 18 years old.
  9. Don’t they charge you for every little thing? The cruise industry undergoes transformations. Perhaps 100 years ago, everything except alcohol and tipping might have been included. Then various operations onboard became profit centers. Specialty restaurants appeared. WIFI became a requirement. Spa treatments or spin class might cost you. Today you can buy liquor by the drink or purchase a beverage package on many cruise ships. Others have gone towards the all-inclusive approach, including liquor and tipping in your fare.
  10. You can’t go beyond the rail of the ship. My wife made this observation before our first cruise. The cruise ship is a resort, not a freighter. There are plenty of activities. Some people choose a cruise simply to enjoy the ship. Others prefer to explore on land. They might enjoy a cruise stopping at a port a day. If you want to get out and explore, choose a cruise line with multiple port stops.

One of the most important features is the care and attention given by the staff. Years’ ago, Club Med became popular because of its all-inclusive model. Other resort companies followed. In our Club Med experience, I felt everyone was treated equally. (A good thing.)  On a cruise with a good cruise line, everyone is treated like royalty. There is a difference.

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Ed. Notes: CruiseCompete and its member travel advisors provide many curated cruise and land deals, offers and amenities on over 50 cruise lines with over 500 cruise ships sailing all around the world.

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cover photo: Sun Princess at Doini Island in Papua New Guinea Dennis Cox © Dennis Cox / Photo Explorer Productions, All Rights Reserved


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