For better or worse cruise lines are adapting and changing in order to appeal to a broader market segment. Even with all of these changes and the cruise companies’ marketing efforts to bring on new passengers, some “old school” myths still persist among non-cruisers that are keeping them from trying a cruise.
“Cruises are for old people”
It is hard to believe that people still believe this, but there are some who say they don’t want to take a cruise because they don’t want to “be around a bunch of old people” for a week. While this still might hold true on a few lines with longer itineraries, more and more young people are choosing to cruise for the value, fun, adventure and activities. Cruise lines like Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean have put features on their ships like water slides, water parks, surf simulators, ice rinks, in-line skating tracks,and expansive kids programs and facilities. More and more excursion providers also offer activities like zip line tours or scuba diving that also appeal to a younger crowd. Shorter cruises tend to have more young people because younger working people tend to have less vacation time and less disposable income. Passengers are more likely to be a younger crowd on these 3 to 5 day cruises. Even in the 7 to 14 day cruise length, passengers tend to be multi-generational. Cruises over 14 days or even longer “World Cruises” are probably the only itineraries where you wouldn’t find many young people if any at all.
“Oh, I would be so bored on a cruise ship, all those days with nothing to do.”
This is another one of those cruise myths I can’t believe still persists. I’ve been cruising since the 1970’s when an amenity on a cruise ship meant a small square pool and a dance floor in a lounge. The energetic activity staff always made sure we had fun on these near featureless ships with a variety of games and mixer type activities. I can’t recall ever being bored on any of those old ships. The ships today are filled with a multitude of features and amenities to keep passengers “busy” and having fun on their cruise. Smaller ships don’t have all the bells and whistles but usually feature several pools, a spa, ping-pong tables, darts tournaments, golf simulators, dance lessons, trivia contests, wine tasting, enrichment lectures, computer classes, and naturalist lectures. Many passengers enjoy bingo and casino gambling. Larger ships include amenities like ice rinks, bowling alleys, cantilevered pool tables, rock climbing walls, and water slides, plus many of the many activities similar to those offered on the smaller ships. There are many fun activities offered on a cruise ship and always something to do for fun loving people.
“I don’t think I’d fit in with all those rich snobs.”
While the first class passengers on the transatlantic liners of yesteryear may have been wealthy society members, the surprisingly affordable price of a cruise has come down relative to income levels over the last 30-40 years, making cruising affordable to people from all walks of life. You are just as likely to meet a crane operator, teacher, or construction worker as you area a physician or lawyer. With some cruise prices starting at under $300, nearly everyone from every walk of life can afford at least a short cruise. Cruisers are also some of the friendliest and most social of all groups of travelers. Cruises present great opportunities to make new friends. Passengers choose this type of vacation because they want to meet new people and make new friends.
“I hate to be on a strict dining schedule and don’t want to be told when, where, and with whom to eat.”
This is another big misconception about cruising. Even cruise lines that still have traditional set dining times offer lots of flexibility to their passengers. For example, Celebrity Cruise Line passengers will have a set dining time of either the main or late seating for their evening meal. During breakfast and lunch the main dining room offers open seating. Other day time dining options include a full buffet at breakfast and lunch, a spa cafe, a pool side grill, and pizza station. Other evening options include a very small casual dining buffet area with sushi, international selections, and a pasta station. They also offer full service sit down dining a casual restaurant for just a $2 service charge or a full upscale dining experience in the gourmet specialty restaurant for around $30 per person. Many other traditional cruise lines have started some sort of evening dining options nick named “My Time Dining”, “Personal Choice Dining”, “As You Wish Dining.” These dining options generally allow passengers to choose between a fixed dining table or open seating in the evenings. For the ultimate in dining choices many cruisers choose NCL which has no fixed dining times, rooms, or assigned tables. The down side of NCL is the need to wait for table, wait for a reservations, and less personalized service. However, repeat NCL cruisers love the ultimate flexibility of having no schedules. As a lover of traditional, set time and table dining, I have always found the fixed time and table to be more relaxing than having to worry about where and when to eat. I know there is a table waiting for me with a friendly familiar waiter there to take my order and serve my food.
“I don’t want to have to get dressed up for dinner every night.”
Even on the most traditional cruise lines, the days of formal dinner dress every night are nearly gone. The Cunard Trans-Atlantic cruises still have the very traditional formal every night, but most cruises have no more than two or three formal nights. Even on those formal nights, the cruise lines offer options for cruisers who don’t wish to get all dressed up. The cruise lines generally have some sort of alternative casual dining with a more relaxed dress codes. Other lines write their dress code in such a way that makes the formal dress code optional. For example Costa’s dress code says the following “There will be two formal evenings where you may choose to either dress formally, elegantly in a suit for men and cocktail dress for the ladies, or more casually in elegant resort wear, as how you want to enjoy your night is up to you.” Some lines, like Carnival, even allow nice shorts in the main dining room on casual nights. NCL is all casual all the time. They do have one designated dining areas for those who wish to dress up a bit, so “formal” is completely optional. However, each cruise line has its own vibe in terms of how dressy or how casual the line is. Passengers should realize that if they choose a more traditionally formal line they won’t have as many casual options in the evenings. Passenger wishing for a more formal experience may feel over dressed and out of place if they choose a more casual line. The trick is to pick a line that fits most closely to your own personal style.
Many of us have yet to take our first cruise. If you are considering taking a cruise but have been hesitant because of negative things you’ve heard about cruising, we here at Cruise Talk Central encourage you to ask questions. Our staff and member should be able to provide you with the information to help you in making your cruise decisions.