Visit any cruise-related message board or Facebook group, and you’ll likely find a wide variety of very friendly people who are willing to answer just about any question you could come up with. You will also generally see that the same questions crop up time and again, including some that can’t necessarily be answered by anyone except the person posing the query. Mind you, that won’t stop everyone from offering up their opinions, but ultimately, you’ll figure yourself on the receiving end of so many conflicting thoughts that you might be more confused than ever! Among the questions others probably can’t answer for you…
1. “Which specialty restaurant should I eat in?”
Unless you’re taking a survey and basing your dining decision on the results, the best way to figure out which meal is worth paying a surcharge is probably to do a little research. Everyone on a message board might love steakhouses, but if your tastes lean more toward a great bowl of pasta, their opinions won’t much matter. If, however, after looking at menus you find yourself struggling to decide between the many options at a particular restaurant, you might have better luck asking past guests what their favorite dish in that venue was!
2. “Will my kids be bored?”
My niece is the kind of kid who, like her uncle, loves being near the water. So if there’s a pool, waterslide, fountain or other way for her to stay wet, she’s set for life. But some children require a lot more interaction and will be bored unless the ship in question has a great lineup of activities to keep them entertained. By researching the ships you’re considering sailing on, you’ll get a better idea of whether or not they offer what your tyke is looking for.
3. “Do I need to get a balcony?”
For me, the answer to this one is always “yes.” But many would rather spend the money that a room with a view (let alone a verandah) costs on something else. After all, if you think of your cabin as simply a place to sleep, then a cheaper interior room will do you just fine. But if, like me, you spend a lot of time staring at the ocean and contemplating life (or the lint in your navel), then the balcony is not only worth it, but a necessity.
4. “Should I buy the drink package?”
Poke around, and you’ll find whole spread sheets devoted to figuring out the “break even” point which makes buying a drink package worthwhile. From that perspective, this question is essentially answerable. But for me, it isn’t necessarily about whether I’ll consume the requisite number of beverages at which point the package pays for itself. Instead, it boils down to having everything paid for in advance. During one recent cruise on which the drink package was not available, I found myself keeping a running tab in my head as to what my liquor bill would be when we got home. So the question isn’t only whether you’re a party animal or, like my dad, the kind of person about whom we joke “One beer, Mike, two beers, no Mike.” It’s also whether you’re looking to pay up-front or as you go!
5. “How is the food?”
This is perhaps the most debated, discussed and, ultimately, subjective question that you could possibly ask. I’ve known foodies who raved about buffets and folks with far simpler taste who complained about specialty restaurants. It’s also worth noting that every single restaurant on every single ship in every single fleet is capable of having an off night. That alone is worth keeping in mind when you are perusing reviews. One thing I promise: You will never, ever go hungry.
6. “How much clothing should I pack?”
Chances are good you’ll either over or under pack so just accept that fact and move on. It’s sort of hard to figure out exactly what you’re going to want until you discover your own personal “cruise style.” This has less to do with style of clothing than it does actual style of cruising. You might get on board and find yourself spending the majority of the week sitting on your balcony in a bathrobe. You also might surprise yourself by unexpectedly morphing into a social butterfly who dances the night away. Interestingly, many of us find that packing never gets easier. On my most recent cruise, I thought I’d packed perfectly, only to discover by day three that I hated everything I brought. Hey, it happens.
7. “Which cruise line should I choose?”
I’ll admit, I struggled with this question when planning my first cruise, asking it of everyone I knew who had ever set foot on a ship. Some believed Celebrity would be my perfect fit, while others suggested Princess. Ultimately, I went with Norwegian, had an amazing trip and got hooked on cruising. Eventually, my goal is to try all of the major lines (next up: Carnival), but even once I’ve done that, it won’t necessarily make it any easier for me to tell others which line is right for them. In the end, my answer boils down to this: If you’re on a cruise, you’re gonna be having a great time.
What cruise question do you have that is impossible to answer?