2nd Aug 2016
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Cruising: are you missing out because of myths?
Cruising: are you missing out because of myths?

Are you missing the joy of cruising because you've heard a lot of negative comments? Kay O’Sullivan reveals the truth of what it’s like to holiday at sea.

It’s for really, really old people
Not so. Truly. This has been one of the biggest changes in cruising in the last decade. Last year, more than one million Aussies embarked on a cruise holiday and no single age group dominates the cruise market. That said, there are some ships with more young ones on board than mature travellers, which is where expert advice will help find the right fit ship for you.

I’ll be forced to do things
What, and how much, you do is entirely your decision. If you want to laze by the pool day, after sunny day, then that’s what you do.

I’ll be bored stuck on a ship
You won’t run out of things to do, that’s a promise. You can learn to cook under the tutelage of chefs; go sky diving; be entertained by Las Vegas comedians; pump iron in cutting-edge gyms; do yoga or Zumba with the ocean as a backdrop; discover how to make the most of your Mac with resident computer geeks … And, of course, it’s not just about the journey –you will be visiting some of the world’s great destinations. Expertly trained excursion staff will offer guidance on what to see and do, be it Mykonos, Venice, or outer Mongolia. 

young woman on the deck of a cruise ship

The food is dreadful
That was once true but not now. The buzzwords on board are quality and variety. Top chefs such as Marco Pierre White, Nobu Matsuhisa, Jamie Oliver, as well as local lads, Luke Mangan, Curtis Stone and Luke Nguyen, have all been employed by cruise lines at some stage. You will never go hungry on a ship.

I’ll feel claustrophobic in the cramped cabins
Today’s cabins are cleverly designed to maximise space. If you are still concerned about having enough room, it might be worth paying for an outside cabin i.e. one that has a window to the world or, even better, a balcony. The Royal Caribbean Quantum-class ships are bringing the outside world to inside cabins, with the advent of virtual windows that feature cameras beaming the scenery into your room 24/7. But with all the entertainment options –fabulous lounges, bars, restaurants, theatres, pools and gyms – and the number of shore excursions available, you may not spend all that much time in your cabin.

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    COMMENTS

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    6th Aug 2016
    7:02am
    My favourite holidays involve long walks in the great outdoors, with hardly any other people around.

    A bit like the place it seems Kay is in the picture of her at the bottom of the article.

    Can't imagine that happening on a cruise.
    Bonny
    6th Aug 2016
    8:14am
    I couldn't see myself on a cruise either until I took the opportunity to try one. So I picked one where I could get off at the ports it visted and fly home. Funny even with 1500 passengers on board it never felt crowded even sailing into Sydney as oart of the 5 ships soectaclour last november.

    You can walk right around the ship on a couple of decks and maybe meet one or two people going other way. Even at shows there was plenty of room. I hate queues so if I saw one I went the other way and did plan b.
    Gra
    6th Aug 2016
    11:08am
    Ever been on a cruise Barak? Even on a ship with 3,500 passengers on board and the 2,500 crew to tend them, the ships are so big you never are crowded for room, even when it comes to dining, whether it be breakfast or dinner, the dining rooms are spacious so again, you never feel like you're on a suburban peak hour train.
    As for going for long walks in the great outdoors, cruising allows you to do that in many more locations. I hark back to our cruise of the Hawaiian Islands and our walks on Mount Halakaela (Maui), the wonderful walk through the Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii and many more. I only wish I was young enough and fit enough to take on the hike around Diamond Head on Oahu. I know, Australia is a big country with many great places to see and we have done a lot of that, but it doesn't hurt to see what the world has to offer and cruising is a great way to do that.
    PlanB
    6th Aug 2016
    7:27am
    I would feel like I was trapped in a club -- which I would hate -- been to a club as many time as I can count on my fingers and was always glad to get out -- I am also not interested in "entertainment" and like to be out in amongst nature with no one else around.

    I also always think of a cruise ship as a floating Petri dish
    Anonymous
    6th Aug 2016
    7:29am
    Ha ha. That last bit does seem to be one of their big problems.
    PlanB
    6th Aug 2016
    7:32am
    Yep sure does Barak -- plus if I go somewhere and like the place I stay a little longer -- can't do that on a cruise -- everything is a quick look and back on board -- That would frustrate me no end.
    Gra
    6th Aug 2016
    11:24am
    Depends on where you go and which cruise line you do it with. If you want to hang around the bars or casino yes, I can see you feeling that way but surprise, surprise, there are many more places to while away the hours while at sea. Try one of the pools, one of the theatres or go grab a coffee in one of the coffee lounges. Have a game of bowls or bocce, practice your putting up on the top deck or sit back on your balcony and watch the world glide by. Most cruise lines these days are very wary of the spread of germs - Celebrity for instance has crew stationed outside dining venues armed with hand sanitizer and you don't get in until you have cleaned your hands with it. Same goes with toilets, there are crew outside with sanitizer dispensers and you don't get past on the way OUT until you clean your hands.
    Sail with Norwegian Cruise Lines around Hawaii and the only time it is only the one day in port is when you visit the big island of Hawaii. There you have a full day in Hilo on the east coast and then overnight you sail around to Kona on the west coast. All sailings are done at night so on the other islands visited, Maui and Kauiai, you spend two full days. The cruise is ex Honolulu so how long you have there before the cruise and after is up to you.
    missmarple
    6th Aug 2016
    3:21pm
    Plan B and Barak, don't knock it until you try it, in 2014 I took my 94yr Mother on her very first cruise only for 7 days incase she didn't like it, well blow me down she absolutely loved it and wanted it to go longer, and as for being petri dishes, you are soooo very wrong, out side the dining rooms as Gra said there are staff making sure you use the sanitizer, and the only water we drank was bottled, there was plenty to keep you occupied or do nothing if that was your choice, i myself have been on 3 cruises and if finances were better would go on more
    Mez
    11th Aug 2016
    10:08pm
    Royal Princess ship was like a huge luxury floating mini city and 5 star hotel.
    Very spacious and stable and elegant
    Eclair
    6th Aug 2016
    9:20am
    The ill-informed negativity in reader comments on this website appalls me. With no knowledge of a subject they are willing to burst in with their sneers, grumbles and buckets of cold water. I only know two things about cruises: firstly, all my most-travelled friends swear by them and declare it is their favourite way to holiday, secondly, my idea of hell would be to share a cruise with some of the negative commentators on this site. For some people B Negative is more than a blood group, it's a mantra.
    PlanB
    6th Aug 2016
    9:28am
    Well you go and enjoy your cruise Eclair-- I was just saying what I like and what I don't and being on a cruise would NOT be what I like, if others like them go for it and enjoy
    Eclair
    6th Aug 2016
    10:26am
    Thank you PlanB but I prefer to read the advice of someone who has actually tried something before they knock it. And, let's be honest, you were mainly listing the things which you don't like which is about as interesting as listening to a stranger's list of aches and pains. Why don't you save your posts for topics on which you can give informed comments. Then you can be adventurous and try a positive comment and then, what the heck, you might even try a smilie face. Here is one for you so you can try if on for size :)
    PlanB
    6th Aug 2016
    10:49am
    I have spoken to quite a few that have been on cruises -- some loved them some didn't -- some got very ill -- but as I don't NEED to be "entertained" I chose to stick to being able to please myself where I go and how long I stay in a place -- I like to explore places and find out all about them not just land and look and leave.

    However to each his own
    MICK
    6th Aug 2016
    11:07am
    I have only been on 1 cruise befor Eclair and have to agree with many of the sentiments. Were it not for the fact that our cruise made port every day I know I would have gone nuts. I am not one to sit around and eat all day and other activities depend on the size of the ship...and can more easily be done at home, and much cheaper.
    Our observation was that cruising mainly attracted older people who were not all that mobile and/or slovenly people who had at best minimal interest in walking and self exploring.
    My wife and I made the most of our Greek Islands cruise: did not do any arranged (con job) excursion and just walked everywhere. Priceless...although we missed out on some of the BS spiel tour guides give as some of their history seems more like fiction than fact and is best avoided. We found this out during a bus tour the week prior to our cruise.
    Horses for courses. Some will enjoy but cruising but it takes a special sort of person to think that cruising is anything other than a means to an end.
    Mez
    11th Aug 2016
    10:12pm
    Negative comments are from the jealous people who are stuck in their large and empty old family home with huge rates and impending repairs and renos required but little money left over because they stubbornly refuse to sell and downsize and re allocate their finances so as to afford a cruise overseas!

    6th Aug 2016
    10:14am
    "The food is dreadful" - my wife and I went on a P&O cruise a couple of weeks ago and the food was, let's say, SUB-standard. NEVER AGAIN. Go Princess!
    MICK
    6th Aug 2016
    11:08am
    P&O used to be highly regarded but that seems to have vanished years ago.
    Anonymous
    6th Aug 2016
    11:47am
    If you are in your 20's or 30's and like to booze-on, party, dance, don't have much taste for food or pleasantries in cuisine, and prefer to dress like a slob, then P&O is for you.
    MICK
    6th Aug 2016
    1:18pm
    Don't forget the food poisoning scares about a year ago.
    Gra
    6th Aug 2016
    3:24pm
    P&O are stuck in the 20th century, sub standard ships and that flows on to all else they provide. The other cruise lines leave them wallowing in their wake.
    roy
    6th Aug 2016
    4:13pm
    LIKE.
    Old Geezer
    7th Aug 2016
    5:07pm
    So with cruising it either bad food or being run over by gophers and wheelchairs.
    Mez
    11th Aug 2016
    10:17pm
    Still jetlagged after being on a month's cruise in the Mediterranean on the Royal Princess ship.
    Beautiful!
    Just read my other comments on this post.
    Scenic Tours river cruise in Europe was also wonderful 2 yrs ago and both came to similar costings overall although they are becoming pricier.
    MICK
    6th Aug 2016
    10:39am
    All of the above Kaye although the food is not all that bad if you can get used to the same menu every day.
    The only good thing about cruising is that it is relaxing on the ship. If not for ports who would have interest.....but maybe just does not suit us as we are very active whilst most cruisers, from observation, are not.
    Enjoy. To each his/her (own) poison.
    Rae
    6th Aug 2016
    10:55am
    i enjoy cruising as it is mostly stress free.

    The Caribbean cruises are low cost, cruise overnight so you can enjoy a whole day on a different island before moving on. Same happens in the Mediterranean.

    Food on Princess and Queens is wonderful. I actually like the Queens the best.

    I love the hydrotherapy available for an extra charge as you can enjoy the hot pools, spa jets, warmed tiles and saunas etc. Meet interesting people and numbers are limited so it is never crowded. Get in early if this is an option available on your ship though as it is popular.

    I also love watching the ballroom dancing and wonderful dresses etc especially on a Queen cruise with lots of Americans on board.

    The only time I was really disappointed was on a Princess cruise as part of a last leg from New York back to Sydney. The ship was great but it was full of very elderly Australians on the 104 day world cruise which slowed everything down. Even that would have been okay except we were there to cruise the Panama, which was fabulous and Easter Island.

    We didn't get onto Easter Island because of the demographic. I found out afterwards it is rare for a ship to be able to get passengers ashore there. Because the 10 days at sea was a bit tedious if I'd known I would have flown from Lima to Easter Island and reboarded the ship there. It would have been worth the risk of stormy seas on the day the ship arrived.

    If you really want to go to Easter Island a ship only has a 20% chance of getting you there.

    Love cruising though and will certainly go again.

    The around the Pacific from Sydney to Sydney looks good as does Hawaii. Only problem I can see is the cruise season here is during the cyclone season as well so be careful of pacific cruises around Christmas especially if prone to sea sickness.

    The islands are lovely though and well worth a visit.

    Long walks in the outdoors are possible on a cruise you just have to plan ahead.

    I love the shows but found P&O cancelled all ours due to cruising through cyclones on a family Christmas Cruise, Princess has reasonably enjoyable shows but Cunard really do it amazingly well with stars on board to perform, actors for theatre and excellent speakers on educational topics.

    One of my favourite activities is the jigsaw room. It is quite and the people you meet there clever and entertaining.

    If you have been scared to go try a short duration cruise. I love them.

    I've travelled as a couple and as a single and both worked. We took the balcony cabin as two but when solo I don't mind the interior cabin which is roomy enough for one and very dark for catching up on naps. I sleep surprisingly well in that darkness. Almost as good as sleeping on a long distance train.
    Gra
    6th Aug 2016
    3:47pm
    We did Hawaii a few years back on NCL's "Pride of America". This ship is based in Honolulu and does a 7 night cruise taking in Maui, the Big Island of Hawaii and Kauai. We did the cruise in September and the weather was beautiful, seas had barely a ripple on them. All sailing is done at night so you get to have full days on shore. two days are spent docked at Kahului on Maui so that gives you a chance to sample the night life and take in a Luau if you wish. On the big island the first day is spent at Hilo on the eastern side then overnight she sails around the southern tip of the island to Kona on the western side. If you're lucky you might even catch sight of the lava fields with lava flowing into the ocean - spectacular. Next night she cruises to Kauai, arriving early morning, where you will have another overnight stay.
    We flew out of Sydney to Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines and would thoroughly recommend them.
    Dickb
    6th Aug 2016
    11:08am
    I have only done about 5 cruises with different cruise lines and enjoyed them all. I am about to do another one in early Sept on the Pacific Dawn. Some people have been on 90 or more cruises. Its a way of life. Some people even live on a cruise liner full time as it is cheaper than a retirement home. My experience of the food, entertainment and activities on a cruise have been positive, affordable and enjoyable. You can do nothing or you can become involved in the diverse range of 'sedentary' as well as the more physical and healthy activities. One cruise I did, I only left the ship once (out of four stopovers) and found it great with the ship almost deserted with most people doing shore excursions or just getting off the ship to walk around. The cruises I find are value for money and if you do not drink excessively or eat in the specialised restaurants (extra cost), you do not have to spend a lot of money. All entertainment is free and first class.

    The comment 'if I go somewhere and like the place I stay a little longer -- can't do that on a cruise -- everything is a quick look and back on board -- That would frustrate me no end'. would be no different to land and air based travel where pre-booked flights and accommodation would most likely not be able to be be changed unless a financial penalty was incurred or the traveller paid more for flexible airfares and hotel accommodation.
    MICK
    6th Aug 2016
    11:18am
    Cheaper than a retirement home? Doubt that one.
    Pretty spot on with the rest of the comment. The good thing about a quick look is that one can plan to come back down the track and stay for a week or more if a place is appealing. Better to work it out this way rather than lob up and be disappointed.
    PlanB
    6th Aug 2016
    3:53pm
    DickB, thats why I never go on organised trips I choose where I want to go and when I want to go and also leave -- if I like the place stay longer -- if I don't I leave -- can always organise a tour operator IF you want to get to know lots about a place. I have never been on an organised trip
    Anonymous
    6th Aug 2016
    6:44pm
    Dickb, I hope your cruise on the Pacific Dawn will be better than my wife and I experienced on the Pacific Aria two weeks ago. The cabin hadn't been vacuumed when we boarded and wasn't over the week we were aboard, the meals were VERY mediocre, you couldn't get a meal throughout the day and evening like on Princess, the non-bar entertainment was almost non-existent, the TV programs were about eight years old or older, small TV sets with bad sound, eating venue tables dirty and sticky, no daily free high tea, stained bottom sheet on bed, and empty drink cans and dirty glasses around evening venue the next morning.
    We have cruised with P&O once before, a long time ago (have gone with Princess five or six times since) and only went with them this time to introduce our doctor and his family who had never cruised, wanted to, and this was the only time this year he could get away from work. This cruise was so "below average" we felt responsible for their negative experience, but because they had no benchmark for comparison they said it really wasn't "that" bad - poor, at best!
    Old Geezer
    6th Aug 2016
    8:58pm
    I was on the Aria in January and yes we did have a stained sheet which was promptly changed. We liked that we could have a triple cabin and not have bunk beds and the cabin seemed bigger than ones on other ships. OK we were in a cheap inside cabin as we wanted to try it out and at the silly price offered we though why not? We were given a free soft drink package when we booked it which was a nice bonus.

    Only problem we had with the food was that hot food was luke warm at best.

    Yes the TV was a little dated but we only had it on the cruise channel to see whether it was night or day outside. Problem with inside cabin was that it was easy to sleep in and didn't we get into trouble the day of disembarkment when we slept in and had to be woke by the room stewards.

    Entertainment was good and the young girl that was with us wanted to go to the second show as well as the first one each night as she loved it so much.

    I actually liked the casualness of the Aria in that you didn't have to frock up and wear monkey suits like you do on some of those fancy cruises. It wasn't at all pretentious or stuffy. As for high tea and champagne fountains some love but I'll leave them myself.
    Dickb
    6th Aug 2016
    11:23am
    My brother does a lot of annual relocation cruises which are only one way but with good deals. These are where the ship has completed its southern cruising season and relocating from Australia to further north or the northern hemisphere for the cruise season there. Because they want to fill cabins, cheaper deals are offered as once the ship sails, they have lost out on the extra income on cabins not occupied. The down side is of course is they are only one way so you must fly back to Australia or find a cruise that may be travelling down under as part of an extensive cruise.
    MICK
    6th Aug 2016
    1:17pm
    The high cost of one way flights are indeed the problem.
    PlanB
    6th Aug 2016
    4:59pm
    One of my Friends came down with Legionnaires and another with a severe stomach bug
    Believer
    7th Aug 2016
    1:50pm
    Probably ate the food that gets put out on a hot day and did not think about how long the meat or fish had been sitting there. Never touch the stuff myself.
    PlanB
    7th Aug 2016
    2:12pm
    No this Friend was very particular so would not have eaten food that was not supposed to be fresh and Legionnaires came from the A/C as it was tested
    Bonny
    9th Aug 2016
    7:34am
    99% of people can get exposed to legionella and it does not effect them. So your friend must of been one of unlucky unhealthy people who got it. I don't eat buffet food myself as too many people fail in basic hygene.
    Mez
    11th Aug 2016
    10:05pm
    Buffet foods were great and extensive on the Royal Princess ship and the Scenic Jade river boat.
    No issues except over eating which some people probably had mistakened for gastro.
    Believer
    7th Aug 2016
    1:48pm
    Been on a World cruise whilst still working and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially when your going to so many places and don't have to pack or unpack! Also it gives you a good idea of where not to go for a week or 2 and some places are down right dangerous but so interesting and a good way of finding out how other people live. We enjoyed it so much we went on another around Australia and it was the easiest and cheapest way to get to Broome! Loved it all so much we are doing it again next year but only one way to UK. Fly back when we feel like it.
    Mez
    11th Aug 2016
    10:01pm
    I totally agree and cruising has been cheap to do these past few years and still safe in most places before it gets invaded by Muslim terrorists.
    Tunisia and Turkey stops were cancelled because of political unrest and Marseilles, Italy and Greece all had the occasional patrols of soldiers seen around in the cities.
    Mez
    11th Aug 2016
    9:54pm
    Still jet lagged from a month long cruise around the Mediterranean and stopping off at ports to either walk and shop and sight see like archeological and art museums. My partner and I went on the Royal Princess ship which is a very stable and 5 star ship of 3500 to 4000 passengers.
    Food is wonderful and the weather was warm to hot.
    Mixed age groups and nationalities and everything went smoothly.
    We had a hotel style 5 star room with a balcony and took heaps of photos with my smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy S7 so the camera is very good and were able to email or mms photos straight from the Gallery app whenever wifi was available in or near ports.
    Wifi should ve free on board and also, I learned from another Aussie in the laundromat that Aussies do not have to pay gratuities because we do not in Australia.
    When another person at a shared dinner table said this I decided to follow it up and true enough......we didn't!
    Have been on a Scenic Tour river cruise 2 yrs ago going from Budapest to Amsterdam and that was highly recommended and many Aussies and Canadians were on it but mostly Aussies.
    Everything was inclusive in costs incl. organised on shore excursions whereas the ship did not so you did your own via Princess Cruises website which are reliable and reasonable in costs.
    Small swimming outdoors on the top deck as well as a huge movie screen with a gym nearby and many shops, bars, lounges and restaurants on the ship!
    All highly organised and superb service on both the ship and the boat! Both have superb entertainment at no extra cost as well.
    I can keep raving on about them and highly recommend them!
    Both cost about the same and one does not have to pack and unpack and waste valuable time at airports with cruises!
    Magnifique!
    vinradio
    27th Mar 2017
    10:07am
    I love cruising, but now, being widowed, and having a son who likes to arrange his own holidays, my biggest gripe is the single supplement! I have been on the huge ships, but in 2018 I'm going for a smaller European owned ship on a short cruise to Tasmania, from my home port, and return. There are only 600 passengers, so more like a floating country club.it will be interesting to see what it's like.
    vinradio
    14th May 2017
    8:02pm
    Personally, I love cruising, have been on cruises overseas, and from Australia, by myself and with 3 12 year old boys in tow on one occasion. Loved them all, will go on more, though the single supplement is a pain as I am widowed now, and my son who is now a young man of 26, prefers other types of holidays. I know all about solo cruising groups and offers, but sometimes they are still too expensive for me, as a pensioner.


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