13 Things Cruise Lines Won’t Tell You


Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Contents -


1 Never pick a cabin di­rectly un­der the gym, the pool or any late-night venue. Know that if you book one at the front of the ship, you’re go­ing to feel some up-and-down mo­tion.


If your ship per­mits it, pack a charg­ing sta­tion or power strip. Many ves­sels have only one or two out­lets per cabin.


Check to see if you’ll need an adapter. Even if it’s leav­ing from a Cana­dian port or is run by a Cana­dian com­pany, your ship might be Euro­pean and have Euro­pean out­lets. 4 If you’re ar­riv­ing by car, don’t park in the cruise ter­mi­nal, which can cost $20 to $30 a day. Leav­ing your ve­hi­cle off-site and tak­ing pub­lic tran­sit to the ter­mi­nal may halve your costs.


On­board crime is in­fre­quent, but you won’t be able to sim­ply dial 911 if some­thing bad hap­pens. Cruise ships fall un­der the same In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­ga­ni­za­tion reg­u­la­tions as cargo ships. “If you’re in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters, typ­i­cally it’s dealt with by the gov­ern­ing coun­try of the ves­sel,” says

Nathan Small, who’s worked on ex­pe­di­tion cruises for six years. If you’re the vic­tim of a crime on a boat reg­is­tered in Rus­sia, you’ll need to head to a Rus­sian court to see that jus­tice is served.


Pas­sen­gers can book many of the same land ex­cur­sions larger cruises of­fer for a frac­tion of the cost by ar­rang­ing them pri­vately with tour com­pa­nies be­fore­hand. 7

Wash your hands. There were 13 gas­troin­testi­nal ill­ness out­breaks on cruise ships in 2016, ac­cord­ing to Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion. Thank­fully, rates have de­clined so far in 2017—only five out­breaks be­tween Jan­uary and July—but it’s bet­ter to be safe!


Thanks to laws that al­low cruise lines to reg­is­ter their ves­sels in for­eign na­tions, com­pa­nies work­ing in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters don’t have to com­ply with Cana­dian or U.S. labour reg­u­la­tions, even if they leave from Cana­dian or U.S. ports. Crew mem­bers on larger ships may be work­ing 12 to 13 hours ev­ery day, with no min­i­mum wage, over­time or ben­e­fits. Re­search com­pa­nies’ labour prac­tices be­fore book­ing.


Ever won­der where ships get all that fresh­wa­ter? Many of them make it. Gi­ant on-board de­sali­na­tion sys­tems re­move salt and im­pu­ri­ties from ocean wa­ter so it’s safe to drink.


And what about waste gen­er­ated on the ves­sel? Ships are legally al­lowed to pump waste­water and sewage over­board once they’re in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters, says Small. 11

Don’t ex­pect to post to Face­book or watch Net­flix. Wi-Fi can cost up­wards of $30 for 300 min­utes, and the con­nec­tion will most likely be tor­toise-slow. Ad­just your ex­pec­ta­tions, says Small, and come pre­pared to con­nect with the peo­ple around you in­stead.


Sorry, pro­cras­ti­na­tors: Most cruise lines now favour early­book­ing pro­mos over last-minute deals. For the low­est price, book when com­pa­nies an­nounce an itin­er­ary, of­ten about 18 months out.


Want to pack light? Check to see if your cruise in­cludes laun­dry ser­vices for a small added fee. If you’re tak­ing an arc­tic or Antarc­tic cruise, they may also pro­vide the gear you need. “You don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to buy your­self a parka, pants and boots,” says Judi Cohen of World­wide Quest. “They lend you a dry sack to store your valu­ables in, and there are binoc­u­lars on board.”

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