10 Secrets Cruise Lines Don't Tell You

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Cruise Travel is an ever expanding business and the cruise industry is projected to continue to grow throughout 2019 with an estimated 30 million travellers expected to cruise, up 6% from 28.2 million in 2018.

In the coming year 18 new ships are on order and a total of 272 cruise ships are projected to be in operation by June 2019.

The cruise industry continues to make a positive impact on communities around the globe by sustaining 1,108,676 jobs equalling $45.6 billion in wages and salaries and $134 billion total output worldwide in 2017.

There is no doubt that cruising is huge and that those that cruise tend to cruise often. If you are considering a cruise vacation for the first time here are--

10 Secrets Cruise Lines Don't Tell You:

1. Balconies Are An Upsell

Balcony cabins often cost at least 30% more than inside cabins. It’s an up-sell many die-hard cruisers swear by, but others feel is an unnecessary expense. Cruise lines try to persuade you on the fresh ocean air, the magnificent view sand the extra sliver of square footage, which certainly has some appeal. However, with all the on-board activities and ports of call to explore, consider how little time you will likely spend in your stateroom. For most cruise passengers it is ultimately a place to sleep with about 2% of the actual uptime spent on the ship. If you do decide that a balcony is necessary, make sure your view isn’t obstructed (for example, by the pool deck overhang or lifeboats) or you’re not too exposed to other passengers to enjoy any privacy. You may also be downwind from a smoker which can make things less than desirable.

2. Cabin Options

The next item when purchasing a cruise vacation is what type of cabin you will need. On most ships there at least 35 different varieties with 10 or more decks to choose from. It is simply mind-boggling when it comes to different options. After you have selected Outside, Inside, Balcony or Suite you will now have to choose a bunch of sub-categories. That is when a cruise professional is needed to help you guide your way through the never ending options. Sometimes an upgrade that you have paid for isn't really and upgrade - stuck near an elevator, pool deck, promenade, dining room, dance floor, laundry room or the engines and you might be bothered by stomping feet, late-night revelers and mechanical noises. Cabins at the front and back of the ship usually have different layouts than the standard staterooms you might be expecting. If seasickness is a concern, you might prefer a lower mid-ship cabin. Remember, the cruise ship seller may simply place you wherever on the ship, not knowing your needs and wants. Again, a cruise ship specialist will help you navigate the options and be more cautious with unnecessary upgrades.

3. Casino Rules

One of the draws onboard any cruise is the onboard Casino, but be aware that these Casinos do not play by the rules. These floating Casinos operate on international waters with no gaming commission or governmental agency overseeing the action. Insiders talk about tampered decks, rigged games and tighter-than-usual slots. If you are tempted to play, remember the ship always wins.

4. Read The Small Print

The small print states that the cruise can leave port without you if you are not boarded on time. That is why people that cruise often arrive a day before to make sure that they are not delayed at the airport, or stuck in traffic. Taking a room for the night also allows you to unwind before you start your exciting cruise vacation.

5. Cruise Ship Crime

Just because you are on a huge vessel with fellow passengers does not mean that you should let your guard down. Theft, sexual assault, missing persons, murders, piracy, port robberies and the like can and do happen. Cruise lines don’t like to talk about it, naturally, and only a few voluntarily release crime statistics. A recent Senate Commerce Committee report showed that only a tiny portion of alleged cruise crimes are publicly disclosed. Out of 959 crimes reported to the FBI since 2011, only 31 were revealed on a U.S. Coast Guard web site. Without accountability, its hard for consumers to ascertain a cruise line’s safety record. This is not to fear-monger. Crime is more likely to occur on land than at sea. But having it occur on a ship presents some unique problems. If you are victimized on a cruise, you can’t just call 911 and get the police involved. You’ll be dealing with the ship’s security officers who are on the cruise line’s payroll and might not be so apt to rock the boat if crew are involved. On international waters, you’re not protected by the same protocols or laws you might expect on land or back home. You may have to deal with a series of authorities at various ports of call along your voyage, none really want to get involved in an international incident. You may not avoid petty crime, but it is important to have situation awareness, travel in groups both on the ship and off and stay out of trouble spots. Cruise ships are just like a floating city and with a new city and new people, it is best to be super cautious.

6. The Washrooms Are Stinky

Depending on your cabin, but more often than not, the washroom in your stateroom will have a particular odour. There is usually little ventilation and cruise ship cleaning staff try to mask the smell by utilizing chemicals. It is best to travel with a natural spray air freshener so the smell does not gain entry into your other living space.

7. The Private Island Upsell

You may be tempted that a cruise you picked has a particular port that offers a private island. When the cruise ship docks, however, the small, private island is then filled with some 3000+ passengers all wanting the same thing and the private island turns into a typical beach resort, especially if your cruise ship isn't the only one docking. Do not be persueded by the term "private island" and instead look for honest reviews online about where your particular cruise will be docking.

8. Cruise Ship Excursions

Cruise ships will no doubt try to sell you on their own packaged shore excursions. They emphasize that they’re the only ones to guarantee the ship won’t leave without you should some unforeseen delay occur (which, if you read #4 is really not true!). These cruise ship excursions are considerably overpriced compared to similar tours you could easily arrange on your own without the cruise line mark-up. These expensive ship-sponsored tours usually involve crowded motor coaches with flocks of cruisers following a tour guide’s flag around a set itinerary like sheep. Often, factory gift shops and tourist-trough restaurants are on the agenda. With a self-arranged tour, you have more freedom and flexibility to design the more intimate, authentic, self-paced experience you want. Most local tour operators are professional and want to treat you right lest a bad online review impact their business. With a little internet ingenuity, you can arrange a local tour before you arrive, or you can find many enterprising guides at the port as soon as you descend the gangway. You can also find fellow cruisers to share the cost of a taxi van tour for the day. Just get an early start and make sure you head back to port well before the ship sails off into the horizon.

9. Ports Are Not Guaranteed

You may have found a particular cruise that docks at a port you really want to see and experience, but sometimes a cruise may skip a port. It’s usually due to inclement weather, mechanical difficulties, political instability or other issues that impact safety. Be aware that there will be no compensation or recourse for this change in plans. You’ll likely spend a free day at sea instead of exploring an alternate port of call.

10. You Will Spend More Than You Think

You may think you’ve paid for the majority of your cruise expenses upfront, but the truth is there is a lot of upsells on a cruise ship. Don’t consider a cruise to be an all-inclusive getaway. À la carte cocktails, wine, photographers, cappuccinos, sodas, specialty restaurants, on board jewellery shops, art auctions, spa treatments, casino trips, shore excursions etc… can add up on you. It can be hard to keep tabs on your spending when you defer payment to the end of the cruise. Generally, cruises can be great value vacations if you’re disciplined enough to stick to the included offerings.


You’ll discover endless thrills for every kind of adventurer onboard any cruise ship. From the daredevils to the culinary crusaders, and fun-loving families to couples on a romantic getaway, you will be sure to find an affordable cruise that makes a great vacation.

However, with all the planning and upsells we highly recommend that you consult a cruise professional to help guide you through the marketing.


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