Opinion15 Dumb Things People Still Believe About Cruise Ships

15 Dumb Things People Still Believe About Cruise Ships

People believe some crazy things about cruises.

There are some myths and rumors about cruise ships that still get circulated online even though some are hard to believe .

Cruise ships docked at Costa Maya
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Usually it’s people who have never been on a cruise who spread these falsehoods about what it’s actually like being at sea.

No, today’s cruise ships are not like the Titanic and no, people are not just constantly falling into the sea.

Some of the things people believe about cruise travel are just based on what they’ve heard or what movies they’ve seen.  In this article we will look at some of the biggest misconceptions so we can put these rumors to bed.


1. Cruise ships dump toxic waste into the ocean.

Cruise ships are required to follow strict environmental regulations, and they have sophisticated wastewater treatment systems that ensure that all waste is properly disposed of.

Sewage treatment plants on board put any black water through several stages of filtration and sterilization until the water that results is cleaner than the water people get from their taps at home.  But this water is not reused for drinking and rather is discharged into the ocean far enough away from land.

It is true that some cruise lines have gotten into some hot water for illegally dumping in the past, and some are no longer permitted in certain ports of call in Alaska due to prior violations.

There are still old stories circulating online about cruise ships dumping oil, black water, or other substances into the ocean, but some of these are decades old.  Tighter regulations and monitoring have led to a more strict adherence to keeping the oceans clean.  So, don’t believe anyone who says this is common practice.


2. Norovirus is more common on a cruise ship.

Norovirus can spread anywhere people are in close contact, including cruise ships. However, cruise lines have strict – and sometimes seemingly overbearing– sanitation procedures in place to help prevent the spread of illness.

The reason people assume these outbreaks are more common on cruise ships is because the cruise industry is required to report to the CDC anytime an illness exceeds 2% of the total passengers and guests on board.

We have reported before that the average person is not more likely to contract norovirus on a cruise ship any more than on land, but this is a myth some people choose to keep believing.


3. You’ll be seasick the whole time.

While motion sickness affects some people more than others, modern cruise ships have some of the best stabilization technology available and offer a smoother ride than most expect.

We’ve all seen extreme videos of a small cruise ship riding out some giant waves out at sea, but this is not a common case.  In fact, cruise ships make every attempt to avoid or go around bad weather so their passengers can be as comfortable as possible.

Most of the time you will forget you’re even on a cruise ship as it’s incredible calm and stable.  Royal Caribbean would not be able to have figure skating ice shows on their ships without a smooth sailing.

And for those who are more sensitive to motion sickness there are several things they can do like booking a stateroom that is centrally located (midship), bringing some Dramamine or Bonine, and wearing an acupressure wristband.

Cruise ships in port in Nassau
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever


4. Cruise ships are mostly lawless.

Some seem to think that cruise ships are the wild west of the sea and that there is no legal protection while vacationing on one of these vessels.

But cruise ships are subject to a number of international regulations, including those set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  These regulations cover a wide range of areas, including safety and security.

In addition to international regulations, cruise ships are also subject to the laws of the countries they visit. Cruise ships typically call at ports in multiple countries during a single voyage, and they must comply with the laws of each country they visit.

Cruise ships have a strong vested interest in complying with the law. They do not want to be fined or penalized by regulatory authorities, and they do not want to lose the business of passengers and crew. Cruise ships also have a reputation to protect. A single incident of lawlessness can damage a cruise line’s reputation and lead to lost business.


5. It costs too much.

Even cruise lines themselves have complained that cruises are too cheap compared to comparative land-based vacations.  I’ve heard a few CEO’s mention that they are hoping to bridge this gap, but for now cruises still offer some of the best value you can find for what is offered.

I will, however, concede the point that pricing in the cruise industry can be a little deceiving.  The listed price you see on a cruise line’s website or in an promotional email usually only includes the fare price for one person, even though you will have to pay for a second person in most cases even if you’re traveling alone.  (This isn’t the case for solo cruise cabins.)

Recent reports have concluded that cruises are up to 20% cheaper than land-based vacations.

Read more: Cruising on a budget: 12 money-saving tips


6. There’s nothing to do but lay in the sun.

Even if sunburn is your biggest fear about taking a cruise, it’s a total misconception to think that all people do on cruise ships is lounge on the lido deck.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who actually want this kind of vacation, but there are more things to do on cruise ships than I can even list here.

Whether it’s enjoying a skydiving or surfing simulator, racing a go kart around a track, watching a high aerial water show, or soaking in a Broadway-style show, there’s a ton to do on a cruise ship.  And with games, trivia, and events taking place all throughout the day, even the longest sea day can wear you out by the end of it.

Sky Princess anchored off the coast of Princess Cays
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

7. Cruises are only for old people.

There are certainly cruise lines that tend to cater to older demographics.  But it’s way off to say that cruises in general are for old people.  The crowd you sail with depends largely on the cruise line you choose along with the itinerary and duration of the sailing.

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Shorter cruises during spring break will have a younger audience and longer cruises tend to have older cruisers as retired individuals are free of a work schedule.

But today’s cruise audience is young, old, and everything in between.  You can choose an adult-only cruise line or a family-friendly cruise line, but even mainstream cruises will carry passengers whose ages are across the board.


8. You have to eat with strangers.

Much of what people believe about cruising is based on old information.  With the introduction of “anytime dining” and a more casual dining experience, you don’t have to eat with people you don’t know.

Most cruise lines offer a variety of dining options, including both open seating and assigned seating. If you prefer to eat with strangers and get to know new people you can definitely do that.   But if you just want to eat with your cruise partner and enjoy a nice meal together you can do that too.

Read more: 12 biggest dining mistakes to avoid on a cruise


9. All cruises are party cruises.

A “party cruise” is what some people think any time they imagine a cruise vacation.  And while some cruise ships and itineraries lend themselves to having a more vibrant atmosphere, even budget-friendly cruise lines offer serene spaces and quiet relaxation for any traveler.

Some cruise lines like Viking or Holland America Line offer an incredibly peaceful and non-party like cruise experience.   But even with cruise lines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean, today’s ships are so massive that there are spaces for every type of traveler.   Passengers can either party or relax, depending on their preferences.

Symphony of the seas things to do

10. I’ll get claustrophobic.

No one likes to feel cramped.  And for those worried about feeling claustrophobic on a cruise ship here are some things to consider.  While your cruise cabin will probably be smaller than the average hotel room, cruise ships are massive and have tons of space that is shocking to most first-time cruisers.

Cruise ships are designed to accommodate a large number of passengers, and there is always plenty of space to spread out and enjoy yourself.  Most of the time you will forget you’re even on a ship as it can feel more like a shopping mall or resort – a floating resort that is.

Related: How to avoid crowds on a cruise ship


11. You have to get dressed up for dinner.

If you’ve been on a cruise recently you know this one is not true.  While some cruise lines still have formal nights and themed nights in which passengers will get dressed up, there is no hard rule that requires you to get dressed up for dinner.

Some cruise lines like Cunard have certain expectations when it comes to dress standards.  But overall, you can enjoy an amazing meal without wearing a tuxedo, suit, or ball gown dress.  In fact, you might be surprised at how lax some dress standards are for dinner on some cruise lines, much to the dismay of traditional cruisers.


12. I won’t be able to stay connected at sea.

While there was a time when going on a cruise meant you would be disconnected from society for a few days, it’s easier than ever to stay connected on the modern cruise ships of today.

Most cruise ships offer Wi-Fi access, although there may be a fee. You can also use your cell phone on a cruise ship, but you will likely have to pay roaming charges.

Internet speeds through Wi-Fi plans are as fast as land-based internet providers in some cases, allowing you to even stream movies and have video calls with people back home.

Read more: 5 ways to save money on cruise ship Wi-Fi

Sky Princess pool deck
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever


13. You can’t eat healthy on a cruise ship.

I actually think I eat healthier when I’m on a cruise ship than when I’m on land.  Sure, there are plenty of fried foods and sugary treats to tempt your pallet, but the sheer level of food selection means there’s always something healthy to eat if you are trying to stick to a diet.

And for those worried about food allergies, most cruise lines can cater to all kinds of situations, including gluten allergies.  Some cruise lines are better at this than others, but eating healthy is easier and more tasty than ever when on a cruise ship.


14. You feel trapped on a cruise ship.

Personally, I’ve never felt this way.  Perhaps on a transatlantic cruise someone could feel “trapped”, but stopping in amazing ports of call and checking out new cultures and excursions extends your vacation well beyond the ship itself.   And as mentioned before, cruise ships are so massive and offer so much freedom to move around the vessel that the last thing you should feel is trapped.  Most regular cruisers will tell you that they feel the most free when on a cruise out at sea.


15. Crew members are exploited for low pay.

It’s true that one reason a cruise offers such value is that crew members are often from lower income countries and are not paid as much as American citizens.  But people often forget that most crew members are making much more money than they would back home.  In fact, for most this is a dream job and they choose it gladly.

Especially for younger crew members, it’s the chance of a lifetime as they can travel the world at their employer’s expense and have all of their food and lodging taken care of.

They sacrifice time away from their families and the hours are long and tedious.  But they are some of the happiest people you will meet, and you should do everything you can to both tip well and get to know them.

Final Thoughts

Just taking a few cruises will help most people realize how wrong these statements above really are.  We can’t convince everyone that a cruise vacation is an amazing way to get away from it all. What cruise myths have you heard?  Do you have friends who simply won’t go on a cruise because of something they heard or read online?  Let us know in the comments below.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on dozens of cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 9 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Opinion15 Dumb Things People Still Believe About Cruise Ships


  1. The last cruise I was on was a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean. Every night, after dark, the crew dumped hundreds of bags of garbage overboard into the sea. I should’ve taken a video. Absolutely disgusting.

    • I don’t believe this for one second. No one is ever without their phones now and if that had actually occurred, you would have pressed record faster than you came up with this story to post.

  2. There is no reason to convince more people to go on cruises. I used to think cruising was lame until my parents paid for our extended family to go on one. I have now been on 5 and hope to do another soon.

  3. You lost all credibility when you said acupressure wristbands for sea sickness. I’m surprised you didn’t mention checking your horoscope too!

    • Lol, they don’t work for me but I know many that swear by them. Glad you stopped by anyway. Appreciate the insight as always.

  4. Mega cruise ships would be a nightmare in any sort of accident, watch the TV programme made up of cellphone footage from the Costa Concordia sinking (I used to show it to my crew so that they had some idea of what they might expect… my crew, like all crews, only having a computer based training certificate in crowd control)and then think about how on earth an evacuation would take place, when you can’t use the elevators and large numbers of passengers have mobility issues. And will be leaving their wheelchairs and mobility scooters on each landing, making them much more difficult to traverse, while they attempt to struggle down the stairs. Blocking them for everyone else.
    Until they get trampled.
    And the fire proof bulkheads relied upon to contain a blaze have a resistance of 60 minutes.
    Yes, of course the biggest cruise ships, like all ships, comply with relevant IMO regs but no-one has ever conducted a realistic evacuation exercise on one; instead an old exercise, on a much smaller ship, using students in sneakers has been extrapolated to come up with theirs… what could possibly go wrong?
    And I suppose you’re aware that no-one on IMO’s executive committee has a maritime background?
    Most professional(non cruise ship) seaman know that mega cruise ships can’t be evacuated in the time required by the regulations. The cruise industry was lucky with the Costa Concordia in that the Captain ran away so the media could be distracted by pinning all the blame on him and all the other things that went wrong were ignored.
    It’s only a matter of time before it happens again though.

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