13 Things Cruise Lines Won’t Tell You
ADDITIONAL RESEARCH BY ANDREA BENNETT ILLUSTRATION BY SERGE BLOCH
MICHELLE CROUCH ADDITIONAL RESEARCH BY ANDREA BENNETT
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.”