12 Cruising Myths Debunked

Are you thinking about taking a cruise vacation to get away from all this snow, but you’re just not sure if it will be the right vacation for you and your family? With new ships and record occupancy rates, cruise travel is more popular than ever. Not surprisingly, cruises have become the fastest-growing segment of the travel market during the past five years.

This can make it difficult for you to find the right ship at the right price. To sway those still blowing in the (cold February) wind, it is time to dispel a number of popular myths about travel on the high seas:

Myth No. 1: You have to fly to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale to get on a cruise ship.
Reality: Cruises depart from most major cities; New England in particular has a vast number of cruise line voyages departing from Boston New London, Portland as well as nearby New York City or Philadelphia, all within a reasonable drive from here with no added air fare or airport security hassles.

Lines to consider are Carnival Cruise Lines, Clipper, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America Cruises, Norwegian, Princess Cruises, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn and Silversea. Most offer voyages to exotic from Boston to Bermuda, the Caribbean, New England / Canada, and Transatlantic voyagers which connect in Europe to other types of cruises including a World Cruise leave right out of your own backyard.

Myth No. 2: People only take cruises when the weather turns cold.
Reality: Cruise travel is a year-round pastime. Sure, it is a great way to beat the cold, but families also take cruises during the summer months when children are out of school. It also offers a good way to get away from the cape during our crowded tourist season. Cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas run year-round. The Alaska cruising season runs May through September; Europe between April and November; Bermuda, April through October; and Panama Canal, between September and April.

Myth No. 3: Cruises are too long.
Reality: Cruise lengths actually vary significantly to meet personal tastes. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, during 2004 itineraries of 1-5 days accounted for 31% of the cruise market; itineraries of 6-8 days made up 57%of the market; and 9-17 day sailings accounted for 11%. Less than 1% of all cruises booked lasted longer.

Myth No. 4: There’s nothing for men to do on a cruise.
Reality: Cruise ships are floating resorts, with plenty of fun for men as well as women. The flurry of activities on board a cruise ship is amazing and most men will be dazzled with too many entertainment choices. Typical activities include shore excursions, water sports, pool activities, fitness centers, live entertainment, casinos, bingo, dance lessons, talent contests, karaoke, wine tasting, rock wall climbing, spas, movies and much more. Most days are spent in exotic ports with plenty to see and do. Golfers can play challenging, top-ranked island courses (extra fees may apply); gourmets love the dining; explorers find adventure in every port.

Myth No. 5: Kids are bored on a cruise.
Reality: All of the major cruise lines offer organized programs and camps for children and they usually have a blast. They can participate all day or only in specific activities. This provides for both fun family time and a chance for parents to relax on their own. Daycare and babysitting services also are available, usually at no charge.

Myth No. 6: There are no medical personnel on board a cruise ship.
Reality: Virtually every cruise ship has a fully equipped medical facility and staff on board to handle almost any emergency. The cruise lines also have precautions in place if a person has to be evacuated to a hospital on land (be sure to purchase trip insurance, most cover these types of medical emergencies). Prescription medication should be kept close at hand in a purse or carry-on, rather than in checked luggage. It also is a good idea to carry a written list of medications with dosages in case they are lost.

Myth No. 7: Cruise ships spend all their time at sea.
Reality: Cruise vacationers actually have the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time on land. Virtually every cruise features multiple ports of call, giving travelers a chance to visit beautiful, secluded beaches, vibrant cities and popular tourist sites, as well as enjoy breathtaking scenery. Every port offers a unique experience. Ships usually arrive in port early in the morning, allowing plenty of time for shopping, dining, visiting historical sites and exploring the area. Planned excursions, arranged by the ship├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós staff or local sightseeing companies, also are available for an extra cost.

Myth No. 8: Everyone gains weight on a cruise.
Reality: While cruises are known for having plenty of food available, cruise lines are very aware of the healthy-eating lifestyles of a growing number of cruisers. Every meal offers healthy choices as part of their already extensive food selections prepared under the direction of some of the greatest chefs in the world. Plus, there are plenty of activities on board and off to help people burn away any extra calories during their vacations.

Myth No. 9: A cruise ship cabin is claustrophobic.
Reality: An inside economy cabin does tend to be small and by definition lacks a window but, in actuality, people spend very little time in their cabin except to sleep. An outside cabin (ocean view) has a window or porthole, while a balcony (veranda) cabin has a glass door leading to a balcony usually equipped with a small table and chairs. Most ships feature larger suites for those who truly need more space.

A seven night cruise costs about 35% less than seven nights at a comparable resort.

Myth No. 10: Some people become seasick on cruises.
Reality: Even if you suffer from motion sickness during car rides or on airplanes, it is still unlikely you will become seasick on a cruise ship. Due to their immense size and stabilizers that all ships are equipped with, you probably will not notice any motion at all. Some parts of the ocean, however, are rougher than others. If you do get seasick, medications are available on board to get you back on your feet quickly.

Myth No. 11: You lose touch with the world on a cruise.
Reality: While some people relish the thought of getting away from it all, the cruise industry realizes many folks like to stay in touch. Many of the newer ships have business centers with fax capabilities and Internet access. Cruise ships also publish a daily newsletter with major news, sports scores and stock quotes. Most cabins have televisions and telephones enabling you to call someone on shore through the ship├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós radio operator while at sea. Calls can be made from most ports too. Cell phones, however, will not work at sea.

Myth No. 12: Cruises are expensive.
Reality: A cruise is actually one of the best travel values out there. Where else could you find a shine, new and classy resort, on the ocean, with all meals and entertainment included for the price? Children├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós programs also are generally included at no extra charge.

Airfare and transfers may also be available for an additional fee, but usually at group rates arranged by the cruise line.

A seven night cruise costs about 35% less than seven nights at a comparable resort.

Sites like CruiseCompete.com – where travel agents compete to offer the best deal – help consumers save even more. CruiseCompete.com was launched in 2003, and it enables consumers to secure cruise quotes from multiple travel agencies without having to contact each one separately. More than 100,000 customers have used CruiseCompete.com to request cruise prices from over 100 member travel agencies.