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7 common cruise questions everyone wants answered

Are you off on your first cruise?

Here are some answers you might be looking for…

I ran a little unscientific poll on my Facebook page asking people if quarantined cruise ships has put them off cruising.

Three quarters said no, they’d still cruise – and many had one booked this year already. One quarter of people said yes, they don’t want to cruise now – but when I drilled down, it turned out, they don’t like cruising anyway.

Cruise ship at sunset
Cruising in to the horizon! Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

One guy said he doesn’t like ocean cruises. I said really? How many has he done. One. I smiled. That would be like an international traveller visiting LA and saying they didn’t like America.

The reality is there are so many variables in a cruise and first time cruisers have so many questions, so I shall endeavour to answer the most common ones for you.

Here are the most common questions people ask before their first cruise:

Is cruising expensive?

Actually cruising is probably the most economical way to see many destinations in one trip. Don’t forget the price includes your accommodation, all meals (at least three per day and any time snacking), onboard entertainment including kids programmes and shows, plus transport from city to city, port to port. Divide the cost by the number of days you’re onboard and you might be pleasantly surprised.

I paid extra to go snorkelling in Cozumel (actually this looker is my sister!)

What is NOT included on my cruise?

Each cruise line varies slightly so check with them, but typically you need to add your airfare, any alcohol (buying a daily drinks plan might be worth considering, although most ships include wine and beer with evening meals at no charge), a compulsory daily tip for the cabin crew (some cruise lines already have this included in the total price, so double check) and any excursions, spa treatments, hair appointments, etc.

Is cruising just for old people?

Ahh thankfully the old adage that cruising is only for the newlyweds and nearly-deads is no longer true.

I have been on a dozen cruises now and each have been full of all ages from families with young kids to college students and 20-somethings travelling in groups, to couples and friends and retirees – who, by the way, have usually seen more of the world than I have and are incredibly sprightly!

But different ships and itineraries will have a huge bearing on the age of your fellow cruisers. My cruise in the Caribbean with my sister, for example, was filled with college age students, whereas my Alaska cruise on Holland America Line had lots of families and retirees.

Cruise ship at Coco Cay, Bahamas
Cruise ship at Coco Cay in the Bahamas. Photo by Adam Gonzales on Unsplash

Will I get bored on a cruise?

You certainly won’t get bored if you have booked a cruise that sails at night and arrives at a new port each day.

Whether you book an official ship excursion or not, exploring new places is what it’s all about. On sea days you’ll find the crew putting on all sorts of activities from cooking classes to fun competitions, game shows and of course the spa and gym are always open – book in advance if you want a treatment though.

To be honest, I’m not much of a fan of these arranged activities, so on sea days I really love to hang out in my cabin, preferably with my own balcony, door open spending the afternoon soaking up the sun with a good book.

And that’s another tip: sure you could book an interior cabin (with no windows) to save money, but I tend to hang in my cabin quite a bit, so I like at least a view, if not a balcony.

Beside pool on a cruise
This is why I prefer my own balcony! Photo by Arun Sharma on Unsplash

Are all cruise ships alike?

Absolutely not. And this is one of the first things to consider when booking a cruise.

What sort of holiday are you after? Do you want a ship with all the bells and whistles, theatre shows, a theme park, cinema, casino and kids programs that are so great you’ll never see the your offspring? Or do you want something smaller, more boutique where your only onboard activity is finding a nook and a book and the crew know you – and your wine preference – by name?

Once you’ve decided the answer to this question, you can hone in on the right cruise vacation for you.

Carnival Sunshine ship
The new “theme park” onboard Carnival Sunshine

Will I get seasick on a cruise?

Not usually. I sailed around the Caribbean and it was as still as a millpond, the same when I cruised from Seattle to Alaska, it was a gentle lull that I actually really enjoyed. I slept for the first day I think!

But I have been known to be a bit queasy when the wind opposes the tide (to coin weatherman speak). If this happens, the best thing to do is rest in your cabin until you get your sealegs. But if it’s really rocky or you think you’ll probably need some help to forge the high seas, pack some anti-nausea pills or wrist bands. There is also a ship doctor on board if you need a quick script.

Read my latest post on my best Tips for Crossing the Tasman Sea >>

Cruise wifi
Find a little taverna for a cheeky beer and free WiFi if you need to be connected

Can I be connected to the world?

It depends where you are, but typically your cell phone will be out of range while you are cruising and then roaming rates will work once near land.

If it’s not out of range you’ll want to read this post about how to avoid horrendous data roaming charges.

Most ships have internet access but this is usually pretty costly as they use a satellite. The best thing you can do is find a pub or café at one of your port stops which offers wifi in exchange for a beer and get Facebooking.

Note: if you are on a global roaming data plan, it does not mean international waters. Make sure you turn it off when you set sail lest you be stung with a monster bill!

What should I pack for a cruise?

I wrote this post with my best tips for packing for a cruise – including what you’re not allowed to take onboard.

I hope that helps! Let me know if I have missed any of your cruise questions in the comments below 🙂


You might also like to read my post: 18 things NOT to do on a cruise! including how to save money, how to avoid data roaming charges, how to get the best shore excursions and more!

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!