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8 Biggest Cruise Ship Myths

  • Dennis MacDonald/Alamy

    8 Common Cruise Ships Myths

    You’ve been considering a cruise but want to know exactly what you’re getting — and there is a lot of misinformation out there. So let’s break down some of the biggest cruise myths.

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    Myth 1: The best deals are last-minute

    You’ll see cheap last-minute prices for some itineraries — such as a week in the Caribbean for $499 — as cruise lines try to fill space that hasn’t sold. But these fares aren’t necessarily a good deal for several reasons, the biggest one being that the best cabins sell out first. A better tactic is to book an early-bird fare, six to 12 months out. This typically lops 25 to 50 percent off the brochure price.

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    Myth 2: You'll get fat

    Perhaps one of the biggest cruise myths is that you’ll gain five pounds just by stepping aboard the ship. It’s true that a crazy array of food is available 24/7. But cruise lines are aware that passengers are increasingly health-conscious. Menu choices reflect this, with plenty of low-cal, low-carb, vegetarian and other healthful options. Plus, you can work off your baked Alaska splurge in the gym (some ships even have fitness boot camps), on the jogging track or by walking around the decks.

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    Myth 3: You need to be dressed up all the time

    There will be some sort of dress code for the main dining room. But in general, cruising has gotten much less formal in recent years. Most nights you’ll only need “smart casual” attire. And you can always skip the dining room for a more casual meal at a buffet or other laid-back venue — where a Hawaiian shirt is always appropriate.

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    Myth 4: Onboard activities are free

    Many cruise lines have begun charging extra for new premium amenities such as fancy alternative restaurants, small-group cooking classes, simulated-surf machines and elaborate exercise sessions. Whether you indulge in these offerings is up to you.

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    Myth 5: All cabins are alike

    Wrong. An inside cabin (usually the cheapest) has no view, an outside cabin has a closed window or porthole, and a balcony/veranda cabin has a door opening to an outdoor space. And within these categories, there can also be many variations. Look into room layouts before booking. Also study the ship’s layout: You don’t want to end up in a cabin under the nightclub, for instance (unless a disco beat helps put you to sleep).

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    Myth 6: You’ll get seasick

    If you suffer from motion sickness, you should be prepared with appropriate antinausea medication. That said, most ships — large and small — have stabilizers for a smooth ride. If the seas are calm, you’ll feel little movement at all. And if you’re still concerned, inside cabins might actually be a good bet for you. For other sicknesses, you’ll be able to visit a clinic. If you’re concerned, choose a ship that provides such a facility.

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    Myth 7: Cruise ships are confining

    This is off-the-charts false. Sure, you’re at sea and can’t just walk off the ship whenever you want. But it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever feel trapped. These days, some ships are the size of small towns, and most offer entertainment and activities of every kind — from the cerebral to the hedonistic — both day and night. Plus, you won’t exactly be disconnected, thanks to the Internet access that’s available most of the time.

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    Myth 8: I won’t like the other passengers

    Well, maybe not all of them. But you can research the line’s demographics before you book. Cruise experts and websites can give you a pretty clear idea whether a certain ship or line caters to people who bring toddlers and teens, who party hardy till dawn or who prefer a lecture, a long and relaxed dinner, and listening to jazz in a lounge or bar. It’s not hard to choose a ship full of people whose idea of fun is similar to yours.

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