The cruise ship industry has grown to bring in well over $35 billion every year. Millions have discovered the joy of traveling to several countries without the hassle of immigration and checking into hotels.
To make the most of your cruise vacation, you need to know the hidden secrets that are not revealed in glossy brochures. The more you travel, the more you understand how to make the most of your cruise.
Six Secrets That Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know
1. Main Dining Is Unlimited
You are not restricted to a single entrée, main course, and dessert. You can, and should, try more. There is no restriction to what you can ask for, or the number of helpings. Basically, it is an open menu with no restriction about portions.
Moreover, if you would like something that is not on the menu, you can ask the chef to whip it up for you. Do be aware that they will not be able to make everything that you ask for, but they can accommodate requests within reason.
Since most large cruise ships make 20,000 meals a day (three per person for 5,000 passengers and 1,500 crew), make sure you ask early.
2. Wash Your Hands Frequently
Gastrointestinal problems are quite common at sea. Oasis of the Seas, owned by Royal Carnival, had a deadly outbreak in 2019.
More than 500 people had to be quarantined for a week.
The outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on ships is quite alarming. With over 5,000 people milling about a few thousand square feet, outbreaks are hard to control.
The best protection is to wash your hands frequently. Due to the slight movement of the ship, you unconsciously reach out for rails and balustrades more than you would onshore.
Please wash your hands vigorously to keep them clean.
Don’t worry about diseases, though. All cruise ships have an infirmary onboard to take care of health problems, such as food poisoning and sprained ankles.
Of course, if your condition is serious, you could be disembarked and treated at the nearest port.
Your health is your most valuable asset. Should you fall ill in a foreign land, you require the best care.
That is why it is important that you browse through travel medical insurance policies and buy one that suits your budget and needs. Insubuy offers a plethora of extensive travel medical insurance plans that can cover you for necessary medical treatment while on a trip abroad.
3. Cruises Are Never All-inclusive
The biggest misconception is that once aboard, everything is free.
Plain tap water, tea, and coffee are free, however, bottled water can set you back $4. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the main dining room are free, but the food and beverages at specialty restaurants will require extra payment.
Some of the entertainment is free, but you have to pay for alcohol, laundry, internet, shore trips, and almost anything else if it is not included in your package.
You are allowed to bring your own alcohol, but in limited quantities. Most cruise lines also allow you to bring a few cans of soda onboard.
Often, it is cheaper to buy a bottle of wine than a glass. Buy the whole bottle and ask the server to reserve it in your name. That way, you can consume the rest of it the next day.
4. You Can Plan Your Own Shore Excursion
There is no need to go with the basic trips that the cruise lines have planned for you.
If your ship docks at Civitavecchia and you have already seen Rome, head to Tivoli, Anzio, and even Naples if you find the time.
Of course, you need to arrange transport. However, since cruise ships visit highly developed destinations, public transport is easy to find, and often cheaper than the standard excursion.
Keep in mind, though, that the ship can depart without you if you are late. If you get stuck in traffic, calling the helpline does not mean the captain will wait.
Exercise a degree of caution in planning your trips. Also, the cruise line is not responsible for crimes that happen onshore. You have to deal with local law enforcement on your own.
5. Unexpected Themes
Theme cruises have become popular. Chris Jericho’s Rock and Wrestling cruise, for example, features professional wrestling and Jericho’s heavy metal band.
A cruise can be partially themed. The big surprise is that you might not know it before you board.
Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of strangers dressed as Chewbacca making weird sounds in the main dining room.
Before you click the “Buy Now” button, research carefully if it is a general cruise, or a themed one.
6. Mishaps are Possible
Just a decade ago, 50 people lost their lives when the Costa Concordia ran aground off Italy. Cruise ships regularly get minor scrapes from smaller vessels.
The Carnival Sunrise lost its engines and generator to fire, and passengers were left without water and electricity for days until they were evacuated.
The strangest episode was the Sea Princess, which had to go dark for 10 nights on a trip from Sydney to Dubai as pirates were stalking her. The story was never confirmed by the owners, but there can hardly be any other reason.
28 million people travel on cruise ships every year, and the vast majority of them have no incidents to report. But, you cannot simply wish away these tales. If you are new to cruising, choose a region that is well-traveled, and a cruise line that has an excellent track record.
Repositioning cruises are a great way to cross the Atlantic in style. These are cheap cruises when ships travel from Europe to Miami, or vice versa, for maintenance. Cruise lines depend on repeat customers, and usually offer a deal if you book another tour while onboard. Since cruise itineraries are decided up to 24 months in advance, you can often land a hefty discount.
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