Travel

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CRUISING

Pool deck on the new Celebrity Edge

If you’ve been thinking about taking a cruise, you’re not alone. A recent study conducted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) says that 30 million travelers will take a cruise in 2019, up six per cent from 28.2 million in 2018.

In addition, 18 new ships will be launched in 2019, which will bring the world’s cruise fleet to a total of 272 ships.

For those who have not yet taken the plunge, here are some are some frequently asked questions and answers for the first-time cruiser.

Is cruising expensive?

Just like land-based resorts, cruises come in a wide variety of prices, ranging from budget to ultra-deluxe. The price you pay will vary depending on the quality of the ship, the length of the voyage, the range of the itinerary, the type of cabin selected, and the time you choose to sail. Prices can range from a low $80 per day for an inside cabin to as much as $1,200 per day for a penthouse suite with hot tub and balcony.

Balcony cabin on Princess ship

What does my fare cover?

For one all-inclusive rate, passengers get a cabin, meals, entertainment, on-board activities, the use of most shipboard facilities and transportation to every port of call on the ship’s itinerary. Airfare is available from the cruise line for an additional cost. Some cruise lines also offer a booze package where for a flat daily rate of about $75 per person.

Will I get seasick?

Modern cruise ships weigh thousands of tons, have stabilizers to keep swaying to a minimum, and use radar to steer the ship away from bad weather. As a result, most passengers don’t notice much movement after the first few hours at sea.  If you’re sensitive to motion or the ship passes through stormy seas, there are a number of remedies available from the ship’s gift shop, including anti-motion sickness medications, an ear patch, wrist bands.

Playing pickleball on Royal Caribbean ship

Don’t cruises cater to an older demographic?

Not any more. The average age of cruisers has been on the decline for the last 25 years and is now below 45 years of age. The reason for the decline is the growing number of ships aimed at people with active lifestyles and families.

What can I do when the ship is at sea?

You can literally be run off your feet if you choose to participate in the dozens of activities available every day.  For example, most cruise ships have exercise equipment, fitness classes and jogging tracks. Many have paddle tennis courts, basketball hoops, and golf simulators. Some have wave pools and skating rinks.  And every ship has a wide variety of seminars ranging from dance classes and cooking demonstrations to lectures on history, finance and beauty.

What can I do when the ship is in port?

Glacier excursion by helicopter in Alaska

There’s a wide range of excursions in every port of call. For example, you can take a bus tour, ride a boat, take a hiking trip, go snorkeling or scuba diving, attend a beach party or just go shopping. In some locations, you can even cycle down a mountain, float over wineries in a hot air balloon, explore the ocean bottom in a submarine and fly above glaciers in a helicopter.

What’s the food like?

On most ships, the food is comparable with what you’d expect from a good restaurant on shore. At dinner, you’ll get a five-course meal with soup, salad, appetizer, main course and dessert, all of which you can choose from a variety of selections. Most cruise ships also have alternative restaurants that specialize in a certain type of cuisine such as steak, Italian, or Asian. These specialty restaurants usually charge a small extra fee (unless you are sailing on a luxury line), but offer a higher level of food and service.

Are kids allowed to cruise?

More and more parents are taking their kids on cruises – around 20 per cent according to the Cruise Line International Association.  The key is to select a cruise ship that has an organized program with activities geared to the ages of your children.   When kids stay in the same cabin with two adults, they also get a reduced third or fourth-person fare. And from time to time some cruise lines may offer ‘kids sail free’ promotions.

Feature image – Holland America cruise ship

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