I recently went on a cruise with my family for my mother’s 60th birthday. While not my first cruise by any means, I realized there was not a lot I knew about cruises. As a well-traveled young adult, there’s a certain way I’m used to traveling. However, that doesn’t mean that a cruise isn’t a valid way to travel. If you prefer luxury accommodations and don’t care about seeing cultural sights, a cruise can be a good way to see parts of the world. In fact, the cruise we recently went on went to Messina, Capri, Athens, Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos all in the span of nine days. Still, there’s a lot you need to know before your first cruise. With that in mind, here are some tips and tricks, as well as ethical concerns, to keep in mind before your first cruise.
You Will Be Nickel and Dimed to Death
Like all traveling, cruises aren’t priced as advertised. That’s perhaps the most important thing to know before your first cruise. Everything from the barely working satellite wifi ($150!) to the shore excursions and additional gratuities are not covered. At the minimum, expect to pay at least $200-$300 more than the advertised price. And try not to get sick or pay for any of the shore excursions. The doctor does not take insurance on the boat, and you need to pay out of pocket. The shore excursions are also way overpriced, and anything and everything can be arranged beforehand online for a fraction of the price.
The Workers are Not Payed a Minimum Wage
You don’t build a 40 billion dollar business by being ethical. Cruise lines know this and are looking to maximize every dollar. Using international laws, many cruise lines employ workers primarily from places like the Philippines and Eastern Europe. A lot of these workers are not paid what they should be getting paid. They are also trained to use ‘professional smiles’ and make all passengers feel pampered at all times. A lot of them even do it just to travel the world. This came increasingly apparent to me when I walked down the hall and saw three crew members laughing and smiling to each other. But as soon as I passed, they particularly stood to attention.
When I was younger and had gone on cruises, I was not aware that this was the case. I remember laughing waiters and stateroom attendants who made sure you were having a good time. But that’s exactly what you’re supposed to see. Everyone should know about this before your first cruise, and should plan accordingly.
You Will Probably Overeat so Lose a Few Pounds Before Your First Cruise
If there’s one thing in abundance on cruise lines, it’s food. And lots of it. I had nights where I eat lamb chomps, lobster tails and three types of cakes. I also probably gained around five pounds. Before your first cruise you should be aware that you will be eating a lot, especially if you don’t have a huge amount of self-control. Even at the dining hall you can order as many entrees, appetizers and desserts that you’d like.
For all of its faults, a cruise is an experience that everyone that can afford to should try. If you’re someone accustomed to luxury-style travel, it can even be a good deal. That being said, a cruise can feel difficult and confining if you’re a more experienced traveler. But for those that want an all-inclusive vacation, a cruise is more like a floating resort hotel. And if you know this before your first cruise, you could end up having a very memorable time.