Top 5 frequently asked cruise questions July 28, 2019

If you have yet to cruise, or are considering taking your first cruise, it is likely that you have many questions.

Top 5 questions by Cruise Lowdown

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In this post we will try to answer the most usual queries raised by first-time cruisers. If your question isn't addressed here, use the contact form or social media to contact us directly and we will make sure you have all the answers you need.

1.Is cruising just for old people?

No, cruising is multi-generational. It is true that so called 'baby boomers' and the retired cruise a lot, primarily due to having more time and more disposable income. However, cruise companies have made concerted efforts to attract younger people and families, by providing fabulous new facilities and attractions. If, however, you are concerned that you may be the youngest on board, choose your ship wisely, using the information on this website. Some ships are more family friendly than others for example, whilst others are great if you like a party atmosphere. Cruising is no longer 'just for old people'!

2. Will I get sea sick?

Unlikely, but not impossible although most people do not get seasick. Modern ships have state-of-the-art facilities such as stabilisers to minimise movement, and navigational equipment which allows them to steer around stormy weather.

Seasickness is the reaction of your body's inner ear balance system to the unfamiliar motion of the ship, so if you are prone to motion sickness, then you may still become nauseous until you get used to it.

Here are a few steps you can take to help avoid this:

  • choose a larger vessel and a cabin mid-ships (in the middle of the ship);
  • spend as much time as you can on deck as fresh air, especially a sea breeze plus having space around you is very helpful;
  • use the horizon as a focal point to maintain your equilibrium;
  • whilst your brain adjusts, don't use binoculars or camera or try to read for long periods;
  • stay out of the sun as overheating can exacerbate the condition;
  • don't sit close to any food outlets as strong smells, particularly cooking, can make you feel unwell;
  • avoid sitting up in the crows nest bar (or equivalent) at the top of the ship as the motion is more noticeable there.

If you are worried, take some precautionary medication with you, (although you can usually get these on board), or try an alternative remedy such as wrist bands or eating ginger.

Should you become unexpectedly severely seasick you can also visit the ship's medical centre, although beware that this will incur a charge.

3. Do you have to tip on a cruise?

Tipping (or gratuities as they are know on board) are a traditional way of recognising good service. Historically, they were used to supplement very low pay and were paid in cash at the end of a voyage to cabin stewards, bar and restaurant staff. Today, you are often able to pre-pay your gratuities before your cruise, or have them billed to your on-board account daily at a recommended amount. Some cruise lines have abolished tipping and service charges altogether so it is worth investigating. Read my blog post on tipping for more details.

4. What is the dress code on a cruise - do I have to dress up?

"What should I wear on a cruise?" is something I am asked often. Some people just want to ensure they fit in (or alternatively make a splash - excuse the pun). However, for many it is a concern that they will be expected to dress more formally than they'd like. So what is the dress code onboard a cruise ship? This isn't such a straightforward question - or at least straightforward to answer as different cruise lines have different expectations.

Daytime dress code

What to wear onboard
Generally, the daytime dress code is similar on most ships. Sometimes referred to as 'resort casual', basically, this would be what you might choose to wear on any holiday (jeans, shorts, t-shirts, vest tops, sundresses etc.) plus swimwear on the pool decks. Worth noting that swimwear isn't allowed in any of the indoor spaces without suitable coverups.

What to wear ashore
When you go ashore you are likely to be sightseeing, so make sure you take comfortable footwear. Obviously it will depend on the climate and your planned activities, but again it will be similar to how you would usually dress on holiday. If you are travelling to Alaska or the Galápagos Islands, it is advised to layer up as temperatures and conditions can be changeable. You do need to be aware of local customs and dress respectfully, particularly in the Middle East and, of course, if visiting religious sites.

Cruise evening dress codes
In the past, tradition dictated that there were three evening dress codes: casual, informal and formal. This is not as cut and dried as it might seem. Casual is as it sounds - casual resort wear, more specifically 'smart casual'. Informal actually meant 'semi-formal' with men being expected to wear a jacket and tie plus smart trousers or alternatively a lounge/business suit, whilst ladies were encouraged to wear a dress or smart trouser suit. Formal Dress meant really black tie, with men expected to wear a tuxedo/dinner suit and ladies to wear evening/cocktail dresses (long or short).

Thankfully, dress codes have become much more relaxed on most contemporary ships. A few cruise lines (Cunard for example) do still maintain traditional standards on their Formal Nights. However, most are opting for a compromise. They are prioritising the comfort of their guests, allowing for those who wish to dress up not to feel out of place, by asking those who prefer more casual dress to adhere to a minimum of formality in the main dining room (at least a shirt and long trousers). An example of this is the introduction on Celebrity Cruises of their 'Evening Chic' which has replaced their 'Formal Night'.

Note, if you want to stay casual after dark, there is usually no dress code for those eating in the buffet. However if there are formal nights it is often expected that guests will adhere to the dress code in public spaces. Check out the individual cruise line FAQs which will have details of their dress code policy. However, If you dress as you would on a smart night out you will be fine.

Can i wear jeans?

Denim jeans are acceptable for casual nights. In fact even on the smartest ships, guests can wear smart, dark jeans on more formal evenings. In warmer climates, smart shorts may also be worn.

If you prefer not to dress up, choose a cruise line such as NCL, Carnival or Marella Cruises who predominantly maintain a smart-casual dress code. If you want to embrace The glamour of a bygone era, then Cunard will offer you the opportunity to dress up to the nines and done your tiara.

5. Are cruise ships safe?

Whenever you first mention you are considering a cruise, some bright spark will no doubt reference 'Titanic'.

It is only natural to be a bit nervous about boarding a ship, and to wonder about how safe sea-travel is. However, you can rest assured it is one of the safest forms of transport. In fact the latest statistics estimate the risk of fatality on a cruise is around one in 6.25 million.

Ship safety
The average ship undergoes dozens of announced and unannounced safety inspections per year, and crew are rigorously trained to manage any unlikely potential incidents. Cruise ships are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions at sea, and, whenever possible, seek to avoid bad weather.

Where are life jackets kept?
Every passenger is supplied with a life jacket in their cabin and there are additional life jackets in lifeboats. You will find them either in your wardrobe or under your bed. You will be shown how to put them on at your muster drill.

What is a muster drill?
A muster drill, sometimes called a lifeboat drill is an exercise that is conducted by the crew of a ship prior to embarking on a voyage. All passengers are required to undertake a muster drill before or as soon as they depart following embarkation (boarding).

You will be allocated a muster station which will be shown on your cruise card and on the back of your cabin door. It is usually in one of the main public rooms - a dining room or theatre for example. You may or may not be required to take your lifejackets with you (it is becoming more common now to watch a video rather than having a practical demonstration).

Are there enough lifeboats?
Maritime Law requires all ships to have sufficient lifeboat places for everyone on board. They will be found on the 'boat deck' sometimes referred to as the 'prom or promenade deck'.

What about icebergs?
Unless you are travelling in the far north it is highly improbable that you will come across an unexpected iceberg. To ensure this there is an International Ice Patrol, which monitors North Atlantic icebergs. On Alaskan cruises you may be lucky enough to spot one but your ship has sophisticated navigation equipment to ensure you are in no danger.

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