Although the number is steadily increasing, many Americans have never tried cruising. Are old cruise myths holding you back?
Cruise lines are enticing travelers with new and refurbished ships, private islands, more ports and incredible onboard attractions, and it seems to be working for some. A 2023 cruise industry update report by the Cruise Lines International Association found 73% of Gen X and Millennials who never cruised are now considering it. Still, old mind worms – like cruises being only for the “newlywed and nearly dead” – may be keeping potential seafarers from getting on board.
We bust five myths about cruising that might be standing in the way of you and your slice of seafaring heaven.
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Cruise Myth No. 1: ‘I’ll get seasick.‘
Mother Nature rules, but tech-savvy ships with stabilizers and weather-avoidance systems take most of the motion out of the ocean, especially on voyages through the calm wash of the Caribbean Sea or the silky waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage. If you’re still leery, pick a port-intensive itinerary and select a mid-deck cabin. Big boats are better, too, unless you’re eyeing an ever-stable river cruise.
AAA travel advisor Tina Hill, who has traveled extensively but only recently set sail for the first time, says she was surprised to feel almost no motion aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, one of the largest ships afloat. “I was not affected at all,” Hill said. “That really shocked me. Because I’ve experienced motion sickness before, I brought medication, but I didn’t use it.”
And, to debunk another myth: cruise ships are not “floating petri dishes.” You’ll find hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and cruise lines strictly enforce health protocols. It’s also worth noting that ships are equipped with facilities for medical emergencies.
Cruise Myth No. 2: ‘I can’t afford it.‘
Remember, cruise vacations are value deals that cover food, lodging, transportation and entertainment, including supervised children’s programs. However, unless you pick an ultra-luxe line, you should expect fees for gratuities as well as optional specialty dining and beverages. Spa services and shore excursions cost extra as well.
Consider pre-booking to avoid unanticipated bills and look for package discounts. Also, many specialty restaurants offer sea-day savings, while spas conversely promote port-day specials.
Cabin selection provides even greater savings potential. Identical cabins are priced differently depending on deck location. Plus, did you know some economical inside cabins offer views? Royal Caribbean’s largest boats have cabins that overlook public spaces, while others boast “virtual balconies” via LED screens. Likewise, Disney’s Dream and Fantasy tout “magical portholes” for real-time views that come along with character cameos. So, although private balconies are blissful, it’s another cruise myth to think they’re a must.
And, while we’re doubling down on the myth-busting, you can also ditch the belief that sailing solo is a no-go for budget-conscious travelers. Norwegian Cruise Line reimagined accommodations for single passengers, devising “studio” cabins with shared access to a dedicated lounge. The latest ships from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Holland America feature remarkable solo staterooms, too.
Finally, repositioning cruises and off-season Caribbean itineraries can make staying home seem more expensive than going away, especially when sailing from no-fly Northeast homeports. (Yes, not all cruises depart from Florida – yet another myth!)
Cruise Myth No. 3: ‘I’ll be bored.‘
If you fear feeling boxed-in and bored, think again. Sure, shuffleboard always awaits, but there’s so much more. Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean sail city-size ships with active vibes. Leviathans from the latter actually contain “neighborhoods” to explore. Adorned with foliage and alfresco eateries, one desirable enclave celebrates Central Park, while another boasts a boardwalk complete with a hand-carved carousel.
These megaships also sport ziplines, rock-climbing walls, surfing pools and ice-skating rinks. Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, which has homeport sailings from New Jersey, carries a skydiving simulator, bumper cars and an observation pod that dangles passengers over the sea. Norwegian Prima, which debuted in 2022 and has homeport sailings from New York, promises infinity pools with breathtaking views, the fastest drop-slide afloat and a go-kart track. Want more? Both ships stage Broadway shows.
Sailing from New York starting this spring, Carnival Venezia brings an Italian flair with its piazza, a huge casino and a marquee comedy club.
Those seeking refinement, can marvel over jaw-dropping art collections and interior designs that draw inspiration from exquisite musical instruments aboard Holland America’s latest ships, Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam. Fittingly, they present stellar entertainment in partnership with Lincoln Center, Rolling Stone, Billboard and B.B. King’s Blues Club.
Cunard beckons with a guest lecturer program curated to tickle your brain, and its Queen Mary 2 guarantees stargazing with a planetarium. Plus, the hands-on culinary centers aboard ships from Oceania and Regent are floating nirvanas for foodies.
Cruise Myth No. 4: ‘I’ll eat poorly and gain weight.‘
Shipboard dining has sailed beyond its buffetpalooza reputation. To plump up or pump up is a choice on ships that offer fine food and sprawling fitness facilities. Yoga, Pilates, boxing, spin classes and even health seminars abound. Plus, multideck boats provide a natural workout if you forgo elevators!
Almost every ship has a rejuvenating spa. Celebrity Cruises leans into the wellness trend with dedicated spa staterooms and clean-cuisine restaurants, while Royal Caribbean’s Vitality Cafe dispenses healthy snacks, fresh-pressed juices and custom smoothies.
Alliances with lauded chefs – think Curtis Stone, Jamie Oliver and Thomas Keller – have upped the ante on creativity and spurred a food revolution afloat. On Carnival’s ships you can even bite into gourmet burgers and barbecue, courtesy of Guy Fieri.
And, don’t assume it’s just specialty restaurants chasing culinary excellence. The main dining room earned high marks on Hill’s trip aboard Oasis: “They’re preparing for thousands of people and the menu changed every day, which impressed me. It was really good food.”
Cruise Myth No. 5: ‘Cruises are crowded.‘
Size does matter. Choosing a smaller ship allays concerns, but don’t dismiss larger boats. It’s all about flow and passenger-to-space ratio. They’re designed to handle more people and support diverse activities simultaneously. On one deck a packed pool party might be underway, while another hosts an intimate wine tasting.
Most ships have low-key observation lounges and private perches to discover. Princess Cruises provides an adults-only retreat on its ships, aptly dubbed the Sanctuary. Other lines have carved out similar spaces. High atop Norwegian’s boats, the Haven amounts to a ship-within-a-ship scenario, delivering enhanced accommodations and access to a slew of exclusive amenities.
The bottom line for skeptical neophytes – especially those uncertain of their sailing style – is larger ships literally offer more room to test your sea legs.
Still on the fence about cruising? Read about one AAA employee’s first cruise experience.
To learn more about cruising and start planning your next trip, reach out to a AAA travel advisor.
Do any of these myths about cruising keep you from sailing? Tell us in the comments.