There are a number of widely held concerns that travelers who haven't taken a cruise cling to. They are the same few doubts that stopped me from taking my first cruise.
But I soon discovered the joys of traveling the high seas and learned that many of the myths are misguided.
Here are some of the myths and realities that I encountered along the way. Let’s start by dispelling some of the myths and concerns about cruising.
Myth 1: I will be surrounded by old people
If you choose the right cruise line, you'll be surrounded by people just like you. According to the Cruise Lines International Association trade group, the median age of all cruisers across all cruise lines is now 48, and it keeps getting lower (of course, this figure includes children).
While cruising has the reputation of attracting older passengers, the reality is that the profile differs based on a combination of the destination, time of year and the line itself. Selecting the best match for you is essential. For example, you can cruise around the Mediterranean and Caribbean on the following:
- Cunard and Holland America offer a more formal and traditional cruising experience and so are likely to have more older couples age 60 and above.
- Royal Caribbean provides high-energy attractions like rock climbing, ice skating and waterslides and will be chock full of families and young couples.
- Seabourn, Crystal and Silversea, which sail smaller ultra-luxury ships, offer all-suite staterooms and butler service and attract honeymoon couples, young and middle-age professionals.
- Europe-based MSC Cruises and Costa provide a youthful and multilingual experience and attract families and groups of young travelers from around the world.
- Carnival Cruise Line provides nonstop fun around the ship and attracts 20- and 30-somethings dressed in shorts and T-shirts.
Try Cruiseable's Bliss Filters over there on the right to find the right match.
Myth 2: I will get bored
I have yet to meet someone returning from a cruise complaining to me that they got bored. On the contrary, they usually tell me they did not have enough time to do everything they wanted to.
When you are not out on excursions, cruise lines provide many on-board activities, events, entertainment and facilities to occupy their guests through the day and well into the evening.
However, as you're your own person, it's important to travel on a ship that caters to your passions and interests. As discussed above, there are a wide range of choices available, and you will not get bored if you select the right one. For example, if you need non-stop action, you are unlikely to get bored on the large, resort-style passenger ships offered by Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines. If you prefer attending enrichment lectures and classes, then companies like Cunard, Holland America and Azamara will satisfy you.
Myth 3: I will feel trapped
Ships usually cruise at night and spend the morning and afternoon in ports, which means there is limited time when you are out at sea feeling trapped. Evenings on ships are a busy time, taken up by dining, watching shows, meeting new friends for drinks in the bars, gambling in the casino, dancing in the nightclub — and sleeping.
If you're still worried, I recommend going on one of the short two- to three-night taster cruises that most lines offer. This will help allay any fears you have.
Myth 4: I will get seasick
Seasickness is unpleasant and cruise lines do everything they can to reduce the probability of you suffering from it. Steps they take include scheduling and sailing itineraries that minimize the chance of encountering rough seas, using ships equipped with stabilizers to help keep the ship steady in rough seas and swells, and taking advantage of modern radar systems to avoid poor weather.
If you're concerned, or prone to seasickness, there are a number of steps you can take. These include traveling in a cabin in the middle of the ship and low down, as movement is minimized here as well as taking over-the-counter motion sickness pills like dimenhydrinate (marketed as Dramamine, Gravol, etc.) in North America and cinnarazine (marketed as Stugeron or Stunarone) in Europe with you.
We've also got you covered with our 7 tips to avoid getting seasick on a cruise.
Myth 5: I am at risk of catching norovirus
Norovirus is a form of gastrointestinal illness that usually causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. People with it can also have headaches, fever and stomach cramps. It is also far more prevalent on land, with up to one in 30 people suffering from it every year. As it's contagious, and spreads easily through touch, it tends to get a lot of publicity and coverage when it breaks out on a ship. It spreads fast when passengers are not disciplined about hand washing and sterilizing, and so you'll see cruise lines promote strict cleansing habits.
Ships take many steps to prevent an outbreak such as having passengers sign a declaration that they have not suffered from vomiting or diarrhea for 48 hours before boarding. They also ask them to wash their hands frequently with soap and water and to use the alcohol-based antiseptic gel available around the ship. Crew members regularly sanitize handrails, elevator buttons and other equipment handled frequently by passengers. These steps ensure it is uncommon to come across the problem while cruising. I've encountered only one small outbreak on a ship in the past decade and was not affected by following the advice to avoid it.
What other myths or stereotypes have you come across? Let's add them to the list!
Updated from an earlier version. See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!