With loads of cruises under my belt, I am totally prepared to answer all the top questions about cruising that I have seen throughout forums, comment sections, and heard from friends and family.
From what to pack to best itineraries to how to budget, I will be going through the top 44 questions asked about cruising and the cruise industry to help you guys better understand the cruising realm.
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Why should I cruise?
Let’s start off with the first question Isee time after time from people who have never been cruising for. Choosing to cruise for your vacation is perfect for anyone looking for affordable travel, multiple destinations, activities for everyone, and many other things. If you are looking to truly explore a specific city or location, cruising may not be right for your vacation, however, if you are looking for a great time with your family or friends exploring multiple areas of the world for a fraction of the price, cruising is totally perfect for your dream vacation!
How affordable is cruising?
When someone is attempting to plan their vacation, one of the most important aspects is affordability. While it’s super easy to budget through a good travel planner, I completely understand how the cost of travel can increase exponentially! But do not worry, cruising is VERY affordable. It of course depends on the type of cruise you book, but you can easily find cruises for a few hundred dollars which includes accommodation, food, entertainment, and sometimes other perks. It honestly depends on what you are looking for, however, the one, upfront cost really helps out when budgeting for your dream vacation.
Is cruising just for older people?
What a silly question, of course not! While the cruise industry has definitely earned a reputation for their excellent service towards older folks, in recent years cruise lines have made leaps and bounds towards including families and younger passengers on their ships. As a senior in college, I can attest to the fabulous experiences cruise lines have created for families and younger passengers. From kid clubs to karaoke bars to crystal blue pools to fun nightclubs, cruises are amazing vacations for people of all ages!
Are cruises fun?
Oh my goodness yes! Like I said earlier, cruises have something fun and exhilarating for everyone. Of course, your vacation will be exactly what you make it, so if you go on the cruise with low expectations, do not be shocked when you don’t have a great time. But, if you go on your cruise excited, you will be delighted to know that you can do whatever you want on a cruise! Whether you want to spend the day napping on the pool deck or watching a movie ordering food service to your room, there are countless ways to have a blast on a cruise ship. With so many options of activities on cruise ships, how could you not have fun?
How is the food on cruise ships?
The great thing about choosing to cruise for your vacation is that all the main dining facilities onboard are completely included in your fare! That means you can go to the buffet 10 times a day or order 4 desserts and 2 appetizers at the main dining room. I have always been able to find delicious food on all the ships I have been on. Now it might take some trial and error, however, you will quickly fall in love with all the food offerings on your cruise vacation. If you are looking to indulge a little, check out your cruise line’s specialty dining packages and restaurants to receive extra tasty food onboard.
Where can I cruise to?
That is a fabulous question! And the answer is practically anywhere. While the price of cruise itineraries will go up when sailing to remote locations like Antarctica, there are over 300 cruise ships running at a time in the great oceans taking their passengers to the most popular and most remote destinations found around the world. Of course, the most popular destinations for cruise lines to visit are in Europe and the Caribbean, however, I bet that there is a cruise going to any vacation spot (on the ocean) that your mind can think of!
What is not allowed on a cruise ship?
While you should totally pack your favorite swimsuits and sandals when packing for your cruising vacation, there are some items you should avoid packing so they do not get compensated on your cruise. These items are sharp objects, illegal drugs, firearms & ammunition, CBD oil or products, candles or incense, coffee makers, hot plates, clothes irons, travel steamers. hoverboards, baby monitors, extension cords, dangerous chemicals, flammable liquids and explosives, hookah & hookah pipes, perishable food or meat products, alcoholic beverages (typically), floats, inner tubes, pool noodles, and beach balls. Now of course this list is subjective to the specific cruise line’s policies, so make sure to double-check with your cruise line to see their prohibited items.
What items are not recommended for cruise ships?
Similar to the last question about prohibited items, the are numerous items that you should maybe leave home during your cruising adventure. While these will probably not be confiscated, cruise lines advise you to avoid bringing them on your vacation. These items include baseball bats, hockey sticks, cricket bats, golf clubs, skateboards, surfboards, bicycles, drones, and kites. Like before, you should definitely check with your cruise line to check what their items they do not recommend packing are.
What are the loudest cruise staterooms?
Once you decide that you want to cruise, you are probably wondering what stateroom you should book. Well, you are definitely going to want to avoid some of the noisiest staterooms found onboard cruise ships. These include staterooms next to elevators, stairs, or crew access areas, staterooms above or below lounges and nightclubs, staterooms directly below the pool deck, adjoining staterooms, staterooms near the anchor, and finally, staterooms on the lower decks. I highly advise you to investigate your specific cruise ship’s deck plans to see where you want your vacation stateroom to be located.
What are back to back cruises?
While I have a whole other post on back to back cruises, this enhanced version of cruising is when you book two consecutive itineraries on the same cruise ship. Back to back cruises are ideal for cruisers looking to spend more time at sea, saving money on transportation and other costs. I personally love back to back cruises and always watch out for them when searching for my future vacations at sea.
What is a muster drill?
Once onboard your cruise adventure you will have to complete a mandatory muster drill. A muster drill is when the cruise employees explain what will happen in an emergency. This includes where you can find life jackets, lifeboats, etc. and ensures your safety in any situation. Don’t worry, cruise lines are not expecting any emergencies to happen at sea. They just have to follow the maritime laws and protect their passengers when sailing on the ocean.
How is the internet while cruising?
Unfortunately, the internet at sea is very limited. While some cruise lines may offer perks to their passengers like an internet package, the internet at sea is typically much slower and less reliable than on land. So if you were hoping to remotely work on a cruise ship, you are most likely out of luck. However, if you are looking for a relaxing getaway, this unwanted perk may be a blessing in disguise! Don’t worry, you will most likely be able to find areas with internet access in your ports so you do not have to go completely off the grid on your cruise.
Are there any extra costs to cruising?
While cruise fares include ALOT in their upfront price, there are a couple of extra costs that you should probably prepare for on your vacation. Most cruise lines will not pay for your flights so you will have to add that as another cost. In addition, you will want to purchase travel insurance, pull out some cash for onboard and in port tips and purchases, and incorporate all the automatic gratuities you will have to pay once you leave your cruise ship. The cruise lines typically add your daily gratuities to your onboard cruise account each night, so you will not need to tip waiters, however, there are other costs you will want to prepare for.
Do I need to get cash for my cruise?
Yes! You should definitely head to your local bank and prepare for your vacation by pulling out an adequate amount of cash for your adventure. You will most likely have unforeseen tips, souvenirs, taxi rides, and other things you will need to pay for during your cruise vacation. You will want to pack some extra cash for your days in port. The ship card you will get on your first day of sailing only works on the ship, so you will need cash (some ports will not accept credit cards) prepared before you go to port.
How do I stay in shape on a cruise?
If you have ever been on a cruise before, you know how easy it is to gain weight enjoying yourself on vacation. While it is completely okay to gain a couple of pounds having the time of your life, you may be looking to stay in shape on your cruising adventure. Personally, I usually lose weight on cruises (weird, right?) because I am always busy doing all the amazing activities onboard. But if you are worried, don’t worry. Cruises are equipped with state of the art gyms that are offered complimentary with your cruise far for you to burn off those calories from the all-you-can-eat buffet!
Are excursions included with my cruise fare?
For most cruise lines, you will have to pay an additional cost per cruise excursion in your ports. While cruise line’s like Norwegian may offer deals that include shore excursion credits, you will definitely need to check with your cruise line to see their policies. More than likely you will have to find and book the excursions you would like. You should either book these through the cruise line or 3rd party local companies (usually cheaper) before your journey to ensure you will have an amazing time at sea without any surprises
Do I need to dress nice on cruises?
This again depends on the cruise line you are sailing with. Personally, I prefer a more laid-back experience where you can wear what you want on all days of your cruise through cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Carnival. If you are looking for a more formal style of cruising, look out for the more luxurious cruise lines like Cunard, Princess Cruises, and Holland America. If you are a family and would love a fair mix of formal and laid-back vacation lifestyle, I totally recommend sailing with Disney Cruise Line.
How formal is formal on cruise ships?
Some cruise lines will have a couple of nights at sea where they expect their passengers to dress up for their shows and dinner. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing! It is actually quite the opposite. Embrace the moment, and do not fret, formal does not mean packing a tuxedo or a ballroom gown. Just make sure you have a couple outfits that aren’t jeans or shorts with flipflops like nice slacks and a nice shirt or a cocktail dress and you will be completely fine! Plus, you will be able to get some fantastic professional pictures taken of you and your loved one, family, or friends.
What is the best cruise line?
How is one supposed to answer this? It truly depends on who you are and what you want to get out of your vacation! If you are a family looking for a lot of amenities and fun for your little ones on the seas, I suggest checking out Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival, or Royal Caribbean. If you are looking for an older crowd or are trying to access some of the more remote destinations of the world, search for Holland America, Celebrity Cruises, or Princess. All cruise lines are great, you will just have to figure out which one is perfect for your ideal destinations, budget, travel group, and time frame!
Can I bring a toddler or baby on a cruise?
Cruise lines typically allow anybody above the age of 6 months to board their cruise ships. That being said, you may want to consider what the cruising experience is going to be for your little ones. I have an article going in-depth on cruising with toddlers, but to keep it short, your child’s experience will highly depend on the cruise line and ship you are traveling with. Some cruise lines offer amazing amenities for their younger passengers while others only offer babysitting services (at an extra expense). Therefore, I would check with your cruise line to check what amenities are onboard to accommodate the youngest of passengers.
Should I use a travel agent for a cruise?
While I have never used a travel agent when cruising, I have heard of other people saving loads of money through them. With that in mind, I do suggest using a travel agent if you have one already for cruising. You will be surprised by the deals and exclusive staterooms travel agents have access to when booking your cruise. Plus, they will be able to better explain the cruising process and all the logistics behind your cruising adventure.
Will I get seasick on a cruise?
It depends. I did not experience seasickness on my first cruise or on any of the cruises after. I think many people overestimate the movement onboard a cruise ship. They need to remember that cruises are literally the size of a small island. That means you will typically not feel any movement during your cruising vacation unless you are sailing through a storm. If you are still worried, purchase some Sea-Bands or Dramamine medicine just in case any unwanted seasickness shows up on your journey.
Will I fall overboard on my cruise?
I can guarantee that you will not accidentally fall overboard on your cruise. As a safety precaution, all decks are wrapped with extremely strong railings and plexiglass guards to prevent any horrific accidents from happening onboard. Cruise lines do not want you to fall overboard probably more than you do to avoid liability, so if you are hoping to not fall overboard, you definitely will not. Over in cruise cabin balconies, there are very tall railings installed to ensure passenger safety.
Do I need a passport to cruise?
Typically, yes. If you are traveling to any foreign port, you will need your passport. However, recently cruise lines have started to accept a passenger’s birth certificate and official government ID in lieu of a passport, so I recommend checking your cruise line’s policies to make sure you have all necessary documents ready for your cruising adventure. I know that is not a clear answer, but this answer is constantly changing recently, so I highly suggest doing some simple investigation or call the cruise line to double-check what you need in regards to identification for your cruise.
What is the minimum drinking age on a cruise?
In general, you will have to be 21 to purchase alcohol on a cruise. However, when I looked deeper into this question when I was under 21, I found that some cruise lines have exceptions. For example, the Norwegian Cruise Line allows passengers between the ages of 18 and 21 to enjoy beer and wine if they have their parents sign a waiver. Also, if you are sailing in Europe or Australia, your cruise line may allow anyone over the age of 18 to purchase any alcohol on board. At the end of the day, you should definitely check with your cruise line by reading their alcohol policy for your sailing (make sure to read the fine print!).
How do I pay for stuff onboard a cruise?
When you board your cruise ship, you will receive a personal identification card for the cruise line to keep track of you onboard. This card is tied to your onboard account, and therefore, anything you decide to purchase will be easy to pay for once you get off the ship at the end of your vacation. Now, this can be both a blessing and a curse. You do not want to go crazy charging all your drinks and random purchases to your account and finish off your vacation disappointed with an obscene bill!
Do I need to pack beach towels for a cruise?
No! I mean you can if you want, but cruise ships are typically equipped with all the different types of towels you may need on your adventure. Of course, this means your stateroom will be stocked with all the typical hotel towels that you enjoy, but you will also have access to towels on the pool deck for all your swimming or sunbathing needs! While you might have to check these towels back in through a ship crew member once you are done, you can definitely bring your stateroom towels into port if you want for the beach. Just make sure to bring it back to your stateroom when you return to avoid a fee at the end of your cruise journey.
How do I keep track of my cruise card?
This one is simple! You can either keep your cruise card in your wallet or, you can bring along or purchase a simple lanyard and cardholder for your cruising vacation to keep your ID on you at all times. I prefer the lanyard method so I always have my ship card handy if I want to pick up a drink at the ship’s bar or am trying to leave quick to the cruise’s popular show. Plus, then you can hang it up when you enter your stateroom so you do not lose it and have to panic during your vacation. But if you do happen to lose your cruise card, don’t worry, the onboard reception desk will be more than happy to help you create a new one!
Can I do laundry onboard a cruise ship?
Typically, yes. While you will want to pack your own laundry detergent for your dirty clothes, most cruise lines offer free do-it-yourself laundry machines onboard their ships. These machines are usually super busy, so make sure to do your laundry at an ideal time (not when arriving back from the port or in the middle of the day). If you prefer someone else to do your laundry or to have dry-cleaning services, you will have to pay an extra fee. However, this is another option for laundry onboard cruise ships.
Do I need to pay for drinks onboard a cruise ship?
If you are wondering about water, no, you will definitely not be expected to pay for drinkable water on your cruising journey. You also won’t typically have to pay for However, if you are looking to drink any soda or alcohol, it may be in your best interest to purchase a drink package. You will be surprised how fast your bill will grow from those $6 drinks you purchase multiple times a day. Therefore, you should investigate your cruise line’s drink packages before you sail, and if you are interested, make sure to book it before you leave on vacation. Most packages offered by cruise lines will be around 20% cheaper if you book them before your vacation.
Are cruises really all-inclusive?
Yes! Well, at least normally. When you book your cruise you will typically see what is all included in your fare. This normally includes all meals, entertainment, taxes, and your stateroom once you arrive onboard your cruise ship. Watch out for special deals from various cruise lines that may have free added perks like an all-inclusive drink package, free excursion credits, or specialty dining options. These deals are typically running year-round, so it should not be hard to enhance your all-inclusive cruising experience!
What can I do on a cruise ship?
Oh my goodness, where do I start!? With the countless activities and spots on cruise ships, you will definitely find something on board that you love. From pools to spas to libraries to nightclubs to tasty restaurants to theaters, you will literally never run out of things to do. Some ships even feature crazy once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like bumper cars, ziplining, racecars, and rock climbing in the middle of the ocean! If there is one thing you take away from this, you need to know that cruise ships are totally a destination on their own! Often referred to as floating cities, many cruisers love cruising just for the amazing atmosphere and areas found onboard.
When should I arrive for my cruise?
I highly suggest booking your flight to arrive a day before your cruise leaves your departure city. Why? You do not want to be left stranded from your expensive vacation because of a delayed or canceled flight. Plus, this way you can rewind and explore the departure city as part of your vacation before your cruising adventure. You can also stock up on sunscreen, shampoo, and other items that would have cost you extra space and weight on your flight in.
Do I need travel insurance on my cruise?
While technically cruise lines do not require their passengers to purchase travel insurance before their cruise, I highly suggest purchasing some before you leave. Why? Well, you will want to be covered if anything goes wrong during your trip. Otherwise, when you experience a delayed or canceled flight that makes you miss your cruise departure, you will not be able to recoup any of the cost. Plus, if you get sick or have any other reason you have to miss your vacation, you will be able to get your money back.
How should I book my shore excursions?
You will want to book your shore excursions before you leave for your adventure. You can either book these through the cruise line or another 3rd party provider (usually cheaper). Either way, make sure to get your shore excursions taken care of before you leave for your journey over the high seas as the internet can be very touchy or even non-existent. You will also want to print out any documents outlining your shore excursion stating if you have paid or not as the cruise line’s or 3rd party companies documents could be wrong. If you forget to book shore excursions before your cruise, don’t worry. On most cruises you can book shore excursions on the ship, however, they can be more expensive and book out faster than if you plan your shore excursions before you leave.
How to find the best deals for cruises?
I use the website Vacations to Go to track all the best deals on cruises. They literally have all cruises you could imagine for any time of the year you are looking to sail. They have most if not all cruise lines for both river and ocean cruises and you can filter where you want to cruise to for how long. Otherwise, if you prefer a professional’s expertise, look into using a travel agent who can find the best deals and staterooms. You will have to pay an extra cost for the luxury of the travel agent, however, this could potentially save you more than you invested if done right.
What documents do I need to bring on my cruise?
Your number one priority when preparing for your cruise should be getting all your necessary paperwork all in one spot. This means your flight and cruise confirmation information, any visas required by countries you are visiting, your passport (or any substitutes indicated by your cruise line), and shore excursion information. You will not have much if any access to the internet during your cruise, so it is of the utmost importance to print out any documents that confirm what you have purchased for your vacation. This may also entail onboard packages or other cruise documents that the cruise lines could accidentally mess up.
What are some frequently forgotten items on cruises?
While I go in-depth on this subject in my guide to frequently forgotten items, you will want to make sure you are not missing some of the items that will make or break your cruising vacation. Some of these items include towel clips so you can reserve your poolside chair and magnetic hooks for your magnetic walls in your stateroom. Other items include a cruise ship approved power strip for your stateroom and a compactable laundry bag. Make sure to bring these frequently forgotten items to make sure your cruise runs better than smoothly.
How do I get my luggage onboard a cruise ship?
Most new cruisers question how their luggage will make its way to its final destination in their stateroom. Do not worry. Cruise ship crew members have this seemingly crazy process down to an art. After you drop your luggage off with the cruise employees during your check-in, they will make sure you do not have any restricted items in your stuff and then send it onboard. From there, room stewards will sort through all the passengers’ luggage to make sure they arrive at the correct stateroom usually from 3-6 pm that same night. It is kind of incredible how these crew members can get thousands of suitcases to the right spot within hours!
What is a guaranteed cabin on a cruise?
A guaranteed cabin is just that, a guaranteed stateroom at a certain level of booking. This means that if you book a guaranteed oceanview cabin you will definitely have an oceanview. However, the downside of these staterooms is you will not be able to choose the location of your cabin. That means you may be right next to the elevator or have an obstructed view. You are going to have to weigh if saving the extra cost is worth the potential of obstacles during your cruise. Guaranteed cabins also normally do not have the same perks and packages as regular bookings (check with your cruise line).
Where does the crew stay onboard a cruise ship?
The crew members of a cruise ship stay on the lowest floor of the ship. While you may be wondering, “wait, I thought I was on the lowest level”, well I mean even lower than that. The crew area is off-limits for guests, and therefore, you can not access it through the main elevators or staircases. Crew members actually have their own secret doorways you will notice on your cruise that transports them to another world of narrow hallways that provide them with quick transportation through the cruise ship.
Do I eat dinner with the same people every night?
While in the “old days” you would definitely eat with the same people every night at different restaurants, most cruise lines have now adopted a freestyle version of dining. This means, if you are looking to eat with the same people at the same time every night, you absolutely can! Otherwise, you can eat with whoever you want, whenever you want, wearing whatever you want (usually). This means you can choose to have a table by yourself or share with other passengers onboard! If you are not into formal dining that can take hours, you can always head over to the onboard buffet where you can grab a quick bite to eat.
What kind of entertainment is on cruise ships?
While cruise lines are famous for their bingo and ballroom dancing activities, there are dozens of other forms of entertainment to enjoy on your cruising vacation. From cooking demonstrations to ship tours to cocktail-making to glass-blowing you can find some of the most unique opportunities while sailing the deep blue. At night you can enjoy fun DJs, string duos, and jazz bands that can be found throughout the ship. Many cruise lines also have large theaters where they put on their own Broadway-style shows for their passengers to enjoy at sea.
When should I book a cruise?
Typically, you should plan to book your cruise at least 60 days beforehand. This way, you can find the best prices on flights and get all the necessary documents ready before you leave. However, if you live in an area like Florida where there are a bunch of cruise ports, you may find crazy deals on cruises if you book a few weeks in advance. While I do not recommend this as you are not guaranteed anything, this can be a super quick way to save a crazy amount of money when traveling to your dream cruise ports.
Phew, that was a lot of questions about cruising answered! I hope these responses any and all of your questions about cruising or your future sailing.
Make sure to check out our free travel planners to prepare for your cruising adventure, and of course, if you have any other questions, either leave a comment below or email me directly! If I know the answer I will respond as soon as possible, otherwise, I will reach out to someone to find out your answer.