Why Don’t You Cruise?

Last week I attended a series of classes through Cruise Lines International Association and some of the things we learned made we wonder why people don’t cruise more often.  80% of the North American population has never been on a cruise.  Hard to believe?  For those of us who have cruised, it is very hard to believe.  Especially when you find out that 95% of cruise guests rate their cruise experience positively!

So why haven’t more people taken a cruise?

  • “A cruise is boring”
  • “I don’t like sitting around at a pool all the time”
  • “There’s nothing for me on a cruise”
  • “I don’t like being confined to a ship”
  • “All I’m going to do is eat and get fat”
  • “I’m going to get seasick”
  • “I’m afraid of water”
  • “What about hurricanes?!”

Here are some of the common things we hear when we ask friends and family that question.  Most of these misconceptions about cruising can easily be dispelled.

For those afraid they won’t like cruising, I am with you!  I could not imagine myself going on a cruise.  It just didn’t appeal to me.  This is one of the reasons a 3 or 4 night sailing is very popular.  People want to “test the waters” so to speak.

I wasn’t like this though.  We had decided we would do a short sailing out of Fort Lauderdale or Miami.  When I say “we”, I should really say that I decided for us.  When I talked to my husband about it, he had other ideas.  He wanted to cruise on Disney.  Everything else I said was fine, but the problem with that was there wasn’t a cruise with Disney out of Fort Lauderdale!  So this changed everything.

We decided on the Disney Magic on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean sailing.  I went with the longer cruise because I was convinced that if I was truly going to see what cruising was like, I would have to be onboard longer than three or four nights.  This was true!

From the moment we arrived on the ship, there was non-stop activities.  Granted not all activities would appeal to everyone equally, but this was the appeal.  If everyone wanted to do the same things, it would be too crowded.  There was a great variety of things to do.  Movies, games, seminars, spa, fitness, lounges, bingo, shopping, and yes, even sitting by the pool.  We did find that people tended to gravitate towards the same types of activities throughout the cruise so if you met Joe and Sally in the napkin folding, you may see them again in the appetizer demonstration.  As a result, we got to know other cruisers all time who had similar interests as ours.  Over the years we have met so many people on our cruises from all over the world.

The variety of activities is also what keeps us coming back to cruising.  Over the various cruises we have taken, we have attended cooking demos, pool activities, backstage tours, movies, wine tastings, gingerbread housebuilding, Broadway style shows and murder mysteries at sea.  It doesn’t seem to matter, we have a great time.  At first we thought this was because we were cruising on Disney Cruise Line.  We tried another cruise line and were disappointed.  Thankfully, we kept trying and cruised on Celebrity Cruises last year.  It was amazing!  We have also tried Norwegian Cruise Line and have been pleased with the ship there as well.  We now plan to go on Princess Cruises and are looking at other lines as well!

Some also worry about being confined on a ship.  Technically, you are confined.  You can’t just walk off the ship anytime you want (unless you want to swim!).  But ships are so large that this shouldn’t be a big concern.  Sometimes onboard I have not even felt a bit of motion so it was hard to realize that you were on the ocean!  The one thing that I would look for however if you are worried about the confined feeling is to ask your travel agent about the space ratio on the ships you are looking for.  This is the average enclosed space on a ship given the size of the ship and the number of passengers routinely on the ship.  Ships nearly always sail full so you should pay attention to this number.  The larger ships don’t always have the highest space ratio!

Another thing to be aware of is the size of your cabin.  A small, inside cabin will be fine for some, but if you don’t want to feel confined, you may want an ocean view or even a balcony.

Gone are the days of 24 hours a day feeding frenzies on ships.  Yes, some 24 hour a day buffets do exist, but they are few and far between now.  You can still get food on most ships 24 hours a day, but it isn’t the same.  Room service is generally available around the clock.  There is more focus on activities than just eating.  Have I gained weight on a cruise?  Of course, but more often than not, I have not gained.  After 25 cruises, if I gained 10 pounds on each cruise, I would be 250 pounds overweight!!  We do find that we walk much more on a cruise than at home, which definitely offsets the few extra calories that we consume.

My next fear was getting seasick.  To be honest with you, I have been seasick.  But I also have been car sick too!  I have found many ways that can alleviate that feeling of nausea and rarely have problems anymore.  The last time I was seasick was in 2005 when we were cruising to the Panama Canal.  There was a hurricane, about 350 nautical miles away, but it was producing some strong winds and high seas.  For one day I did little more than rest in my cabin, but the other 13 days were fabulous!

Which brings me to my next point — Hurricanes!  This is a big fear and a big misconception that people have.  Remember that 95% of the 20% of North Americans that cruise rate their cruise experience positively!  If hurricanes interrupted every cruise, this number would not be so high.  The truth about cruises and hurricanes is that they rarely affect each other.  When you think about it, a cruise ship is in the ocean everyday of every year.  How many cruise ships have you heard of getting damaged in a hurricane or other weather pattern?  Do you really think that a captain, in charge of not only the safety of the ship and its crew but also in charge of every guest onboard would take a ship into harms way?  Never!

I do recall a few cruises that have been diverted to alternate ports of embarkation/debarkation or needed to extend/shorten the cruise, even fewer that have been canceled due to weather.  When you consider the number of ships that are cruising on any given day, this small number of incidents is amazing.

I said that I have been seasick twice, once with Hurricane Hillary.  The other time was before this and was preventable.  As we were driving to Port Canaveral, we were listening to a local radio station.  They were talking about the high surf warnings in Cocoa Beach.  Despite hearing this and knowing that I am susceptible to motion sickness, I didn’t take anything for it.  Shortly after we got out to sea, I got sick.  This truly could have been avoided.  When I started cruising, I would take Dramamine or meclazine. This didn’t make me sleepy, but it did make me feel dopey.  It did work though so I always bring it with me in case of an emergency.  A friend of mine suggested taking ginger capsules a few days before and the first couple days on the ship.  This worked fabulously with only one side effect (heartburn if not taken with food).  I also bought some ginger candies (must be ginger not just ginger-flavored).  I found that gingerale isn’t always made from ginger so this didn’t always work.

I do know others who find that the ginger doesn’t help them.  There are patches that you can get prescribed from your doctor.  There are wristbands that put pressure on certain points on your wrist that work for some.  What I have found is after a day or so onboard, the motion feeling goes away and I no longer have issues.  This changes when we have rough seas and I take a ginger capsule or suck on a candy and the nausea goes away.  This has made me a changed cruiser!

The final thing that I hear about is that someone is afraid of water.  Again, I want you to think about the number of people that have accidentally fallen in the water off of a cruise ship.  If there are any in recent history, I am not aware of them.  People have jumped from ships intentionally or in a miniscule number of cases have been pushed off a ship, but this rarely happens and does not happen because of the design of a ship.  While I prefer the longer sailings on a ship, if you just can’t handle being so far away from shore that you panic, I would recommend a 3 night sailing or a coastal sailing on the conventional cruise ships.  On a 3 night sailing, you are sailing at night so you won’t likely notice you can’t see shore.  Also, the destination is so close that many times you will see other islands.

Another big recommendation is a river cruise!  I heard something funny, but true about river cruises.  The cruise lines don’t like you saying this.  On a river boat cruise, if the ship starts to sink, all you have to do is go to the top deck and wait.  You will not likely even get wet!  River boat cruising is a fabulous way to see Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and even the United States!  One of my dreams is to wake up, look out my French balcony and see a castle or chateau (preferably in Southern France!).  This is also a good choice for those who get seasick.  There is no “motion from the ocean” on a river boat!

So what are you waiting for?  Why don’t you want to cruise?  Contact Travel On A Dream if you are now ready to cruise and our agents can get you onboard the cruise that is right for you!


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