This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Bruising for the Cruise Industry: How the Cruise Industry is Affected By Covid-19, Part II
Before we start looking at the trouble that has been caused by the COVID crisis, it is important to look at some of the rumors that are persistent around the industry. Too often, we see the anonymous reviews of ships, hotels, or businesses that have no real policing. You do not know if you are seeing a competitor, a dissatisfied customer, or even the ex of an employee trashing a business or location just to get back at them. This is why you need to look for recognized writers who are talking about destinations. If a person is willing to put their name on a report, then you should be able to believe it a little more.
Most of the myths about cruising are contradictory. This is not because people are liars, some are but that is not the reason. People are different, they have different wants and needs, and that is shown on how they feel about expenses. As a result, we have many myths that are opposite to each other. In these cases we tend to find the truth somewhere in the middle. The following are some of the most common myths about cruising and how to avoid them.
Dirty Myths About Cruising
- Cannot Get Away / No Room- I hear this a lot when I am setting up fundraising cruises, study tours, or just groups of people who want to travel. They always tell me that they heard cruises are crowded and that you cannot get away from people. This can be true if you go on the “party boat” island-hopper cruises that are a day or less. Even some of the weekend cruises are a little crowded.
However, if you go on an established cruise line, you will find that even though the ship holds thousands of people, you can find space to yourself any time you want to. Your room is always a sanctuary, but you can often find empty bars, clubs, and theaters during the day to sit and relax at. While the seats right by the pool may be crowded, the upper decks and solariums are often sparsely populated. Sometimes you need to search for empty places- but they are always around.
- Party People or Old People (No Intellectual Stimulation)- This is one of the contradictions of the myths. So many people believe that cruises are for old people. Others believe that cruises are for young people. The truth is that it depends on what you are looking for. Some cruise lines, like Princess, cater to older customers who want a more relaxed experience.
Other lines, like Carnival, cater to a younger crowd. If you want to travel with people your age, then you need to talk to your agent about the type of cruise you want to go on. This lets you get the stimulation of the conversation you are looking for. All the while staying within the target demographic of the cruise line.
- No Longer Luxury, No Decorum- This is one of the most common complaints that I hear about cruising. “I have watched YouTube videos on cruises and they are no longer luxury.” If you are getting your cruise advice off of YouTube, you are likely seeing the cheapest cruises “influencers” can afford, or scrounge for free. These freebies are often lower-class cruises and can be a little trashy.
However, most major cruise lines still adhere to the luxury standard that made cruising something that you want to do. Look for cruises with formal nights or cruises that do not allow denim in the main dining room after 6. You will find that you can find a better class of cruising if you look for it. Just state what you want up front.
- Too Expensive (No Deals/No Perks)- The opposite of this is the people who say that cruises are too expensive, that only the right people can go on cruises. I can assure you that this is not true. Cruises are one of the most cost-effective ways to travel alone or with a family. A vacation for a family of four (less airfare) can be under $1,500 for a week if you do some planning.
A similar trip to Disney could cost over $1,800 per person (and you still have to buy food). Cruises include your room, your food, and most of your entertainment. When you are looking at the cost, it is important to include these. As for perks, you generally need to be with a travel agent to get them, unless of course, you catch a sale.
- Boredom/Lazy People- If you watched the movie “Wall-E” and think that all cruising does is have you lay around the pool all day, you have not been on a good cruise. Cruises have some of the broadest amenities of any part of the travel industry. Spas, casinos, Broadway shows, great food. It is like being on the Las Vegas strip, but with everything included (but for the booze unless you get a package for it).
You have the ability to rock climb, jog, play miniature golf, even zipline- and this is still just on the ship. Onshore excursions allow you to open up the whole region to explore. There are many events to do that. So if you are bored and just lay around, it is not that you selected a boring trip- you may just be a boring person!
- Disasters- Titanic, Poseidon Adventure, Speed 2- Movies have made cruising out to be very dangerous. In reality, there have been 203 accidents on cruise ships resulting in 303 deaths, over a five-year period. Cruise ships are safe because the cruise companies know that they can be sued. If you are ever worried the ship is not prepared, then take a cruise.
On your first day, you will have to go through emergency drills before the ship ever leaves port. Cruise ships want you coming back. So they go out of their way to keep things safe. Danger is bad for business.
- Cabins are Tiny- Honestly, you can get a small 113 sq ft room on a cruise ship if you pick the cheapest room on the cheapest cruise. Even these small rooms have their own bathroom. So if you have a New York apartment, you may be getting more space than at home. The rest of us that live in the real world will see these as small rooms.
When you are booking your cruise, look at the room sizes. I travel in small rooms because I spend very little time in the room. If you want to spend a lot of time in your room (why?), then book an exterior room, or a room with a balcony. On most cruises, you can even book a suite, which can be almost the size of a regular apartment. The room size you get is, once again, what you pay for, so do a little research to ensure that you are getting what you need.
- I cannot Travel Alone- Yes you can, it is expensive though. I have done a cruise by myself, it was fun and a good experience. Generally, the cost of a single room is twice that of the same class of a room double occupancy (you save a bit on the port fees, however). When you travel alone, make sure that you are safe. While cruise ships are great for safety, when you are in another country, pick-pockets tend to target single tourists.
- I will Get Sick/Seasick- I discussed the chances of getting COVID in the last article, they are statistically low. However, there is a prevailing myth that people will always get sick when they go on a cruise. There have been outbreaks of Norovirus on some cruises, which can make people sick. This is a chance you take when you go anywhere.
So if you want to stay healthy, wash your hands and do not touch your face. With seasickness, most modern ships have stabilization that makes it hard to get motion sickness. Most of the sickness comes from what you see not matching up with what you feel. If you do get seasick normally, take some Dramamine with you on the trip. Another trick is to look at the horizon to help you stabilize while you eat dry foods.
- Ports are Touristy, Crowded and I will not see Anything Cultural- When you get off the ship in port, you will get mobbed by people. They will be offering your rides, to braid your hair and to show you things that they say only they can show you. This is because that is what they do for a living. If you want to see cultural sites and skip the touristy stuff, book an excursion with an approved guide through your travel agent.
This will ensure your safety and keep you from getting ripped off. If you like the touristy stuff, they also make sure that the places you go are with approved guides. Most ships will wait for things that are with an approved guide. If you do go off on your own and do not get back in time, you may find yourself buying a plane ticket home.
- The Food Sucks- If you have ever been on a cruise, then you know that this is untrue. You can have anything from pick up sandwiches to five-star meals, on most cruise lines these are included in your fare. There are also pay as you go to restaurants, which can be a nice private option. Unless you are picking bad food that you do not like, food on the major cruise lines should be nothing less than wonderful.
- You Will Gain Weight- Most cruise sites say this is up to you. I have lost this battle countless times, I plan to gain weight and then work it off when I get home. One way to mitigate the amount is to make sure that you keep active on the cruise. Eight meals a day and laying by the pool all day pack on the pounds, but if you keep active (I like the rock wall and the basketball court) you can keep (some) of the weight off.
- You Need to Plan it Yourself- You can plan a cruise yourself by calling the cruise line or going through a discount site. If you book through the line, you are paying one of their agents to do it for you. If you book through a discount site, you are paying one of their agents to sell you as cheap a cruise as possible and then upsell you what you want.
I always tell people to get a travel agent. They do not have retainers and most of the time you pay the same amount to them as if you would have booked it yourself. When you book with an agent, you let them know what you want and they find it for you. The best part is, most of them do it for a living and know the ins and outs of the industry, so can make the process much simpler for you.
- As you can see, these myths have problems when people look at the reality of cruising. Cruising is one of those areas where you get what you pay for. If you scrimp and cut corners on the price, you are not going to get the “dream cruise” you see on TV. However, if you work with a legitimate travel agent to plan the event that you want to experience, you will find that cruising is one of the least expensive ways to vacation with your family.