I was perusing Reddit the other day and came across a post from someone who had never been on a cruise before and admitted they were terrified of doing so. Despite this, they were ready to try and face their cruise fears, and they’d turned to the online community for advice and reassurances.
There are no doubt many people out there who are in a similar boat — pun intended — which got me thinking. As someone who loves cruising and has heard many people talk about the aspects that make them nervous, I thought I’d try and alleviate some of those concerns.
How? By looking at the most common cruise fears and talking through them in an effort to put them in the proper perspective.
Fear #1: I’m terrified of open water.
The first time you’re so far out at sea that you literally can’t see anything but water in all directions can certainly be a bit unnerving. But it helps to remember that you aren’t floating around aimlessly; the ship has a destination and the officers on the bridge know how to get there.
On top of that, cruise ships are specially engineered for the types of routes that they sail, and are put through lots of testing to make sure that they are up to the highest of safety standards. This includes safety system redundancy and procedures that have been approved by government agencies such as the Coast Guard.
Plus, the ship is constantly in communication with the cruise line’s landside operations center, as well as other nearby vessels. If anything were to happen that required outside help, which is extremely unlikely, those who can provide aid are easy to reach if necessary.
Some people like to pull up a real-time vessel tracking service like CruiseMapper to see what other ships are nearby, giving them comfort that they really aren’t as alone as it seems out on the open sea.
Fear #2: I’m afraid I’ll feel trapped on the ship while at sea.
Nearly all first-time cruisers on a large mainstream ship are surprised to learn just how big the vessel feels once you’re on it. Many liken the size and feeling to that of a resort, shopping mall, or even a small floating city. Unless you’re sailing a very small boutique or luxury cruise ship for an extended period of time, chances are you’ll never feel claustrophobic or trapped while on board.
Now more than ever, cruise lines are designing ships with bright, wide-open spaces both indoors and out, and there are lots of activities and amenities to enjoy at all hours of the day. You’ll probably be having so much fun in so many spots around the ship that the thought of being trapped won’t even cross your mind — truly!
Fear #3: I might get seasick.
If you’re not already prone to motion sickness, you likely won’t have a problem on most cruises. But if you are prone to it, there is a possibility the waves may get to you on windier days. Thankfully, though, there are some remedies you can prepare yourself with before you even step onto the gangway.
Dramamine is a common answer to seasickness, and you can get it for free at the ship’s medical center. However, it makes you tired which is not ideal if you want to make the most of your sea day. Instead, look into preventative solutions you can get ahead of the voyage, such as Sea-Bands or motion sickness patches. Ginger drops or chews are also a great natural remedy if the motion of the ocean gets to you anyway.
If you suspect you might have an issue with seasickness, one way to combat attacks is by picking a cabin that will experience the least motion possible. Generally speaking, this means one in the middle of the ship. Why? Well, think of the ship as a giant see-saw. In rough seas, the front and back of the ship are going to experience more movement while the center of the ship feels far less.
It might also be smart to make sure you have an ocean view (so you can see the horizon) or even a balcony cabin, allowing you to get fresh air. If you find yourself feeling a bit queasy and have an interior or oceanview cabin, head to an outside deck so you can both view the horizon and get fresh air. You’d be amazed how quickly that helps!
Overall though, being on a cruise ship is not like being on a small boat that rocks easily with the waves. I can attest to the fact that many people if they’re inside and not out on the open decks during sail away, can’t even tell that the ship has already left the dock and is now moving. That’s how little many cruise ships rock on a normal day at sea.
Fear #4: The ship might run into a severe storm.
The short answer? Yes, it could… and it does happen on occasion. But there is a whole team of people, both on board and on land, who work hard to make sure that if at all possible, the ship steers clear of bad weather.
That’s not to say that you won’t occasionally have a rain-filled sea day (or worse, have your planned shore excursions turn into a soggy mess thanks to a weather system). Just like on land, weather can sometimes catch we mere mortals off guard. But with the advanced tracking systems put in place by the cruise lines, there’s little chance of your ship running into severe weather.
Remember, the cruise line has as much interest in avoiding bad weather as the passengers do. After all, they want guests to be happy and the ship to sail in the safest conditions possible!
Fear #5: I’m afraid I’ll somehow fall overboard.
I’ll admit that before I took my first cruise, this was something I had a bit of apprehension about. I’ve never been prone to motion sickness, and at that point, I knew enough about modern cruise ships to know that I wouldn’t feel trapped. But I did wonder about those stories you hear of people going overboard, never to be seen again.
Since then, I’ve come to realize that people don’t simply “fall” overboard. They don’t trip while walking on the promenade deck and — whoops! — wind up falling over the chest-high walls and railings designed to prevent exactly that from happening.
Instead, nearly every situation in which you hear about a person going overboard involves someone doing something they shouldn’t have been. Maybe they decided to climb up on the railing to pose for a picture. Maybe they were intoxicated and engaging in bad behavior. And yes, sometimes, people jump overboard intentionally.
If you keep your wits about you, follow the rules, and use common sense, you don’t need to worry about falling off the ship.
Fear #6: I could get sick.
Sicknesses are unfortunately a part of life, and boarding a cruise ship will not make everyone on board suddenly immune to them — as we all know now more than ever before.
The fact of the matter is, you could get COVID, norovirus, pinkeye, or any number of infections on a cruise ship, just as you can at your office, church, or favorite restaurant. The wonderful thing is that following the global pandemic, cruise ships are more equipped to handle health issues than they ever were previously.
From pushing 100 percent fresh air throughout the ship and using medical-grade filtration systems to increase onboard sanitization, cruise ships are up-to-date with lots of technology and procedures in place to keep their passengers healthy.
If you do need to go to the infirmary, ships have updated medical facilities and tools to assist with a wide variety of issues that their guests or crew might have.
To help stay healthy in preparation for and during your cruise, incorporate simple habits into your routine to boost your immune system. This may include taking your vitamins; eating mostly veggies, meats, and fruits; and getting regular exercise.
READ NEXT: 9 Cruise Concepts That Didn’t Quite Catch On