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28 Secrets Cruise Lines Won’t Tell You

The perfect times to book a trip, what "all-inclusive" really means, and more secrets you need to know before setting sail.


No trip is all-inclusive

That “all-inclusive” rate typically doesn’t include alcohol, tips, shore excursions, Internet, dining outside our dining room, and what you spend on casino or bingo play. And please, do come play: Your odds are often even worse than on land. If you're going to pay that much, you should at least go on your dream vacation! Find out your ideal destination, based on your zodiac sign.

iStock/Pavel Losevsky

Choose your room carefully

Always look at the ship’s deck plan before you choose your cabin. Don’t pick one directly under the gym, the pool deck, the disco, or any late-night venue. Know that if you book a cabin at the front of the ship, you’re going to feel some up-and-down motion. Prone to motion sickness? Here are some smart tricks to not get sick on a cruise.

iStock/Jim Felder

Come prepared to charge

If your ship permits it, pack a charging station or a power strip. Many cruise ships still have only one or two outlets per cabin—and that’s not going to cut it. Stash one of those instead of these vacation items you'll almost always regret packing.


Leave your car off-site

If you’re arriving by car, do not park in the cruise terminal, which can cost $20 to $30 a day. Off-site lots typically cost half as much, offer shuttle service to port, and have your car waiting with the AC on at trip’s end. While you're at it, try these other travel hacks to save money on your cruise.

iStock/charles taylor

The threat of sexual assault is real

You’re twice as likely to be sexually assaulted on a cruise as you are on land, a 2011 study found, and two thirds of assailants are crew members. Yet cases are hard to prosecute, with alcohol often involved and police often not on board. Stay safe by sticking with a friend.


Don't buy excursion packages from us

Shhh … here’s a secret: You can book many of the same land excursions we offer for a fraction of the cost by arranging them privately with tour companies beforehand. Even better: try exploring these little known cruise ports.


For God’s sake, wash your hands

There were 11 outbreaks on cruise ships in the first six months of 2016, almost as many as in all of 2015. Most were norovirus, a highly contagious bug that causes stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.


We overwork our staff

Thanks to laws that allow us to register our ships in foreign nations, we don’t have to comply with U.S. labor regulations, so crew members typically work 12 to 13 hours every day, with no minimum wage, overtime, or benefits. Don’t be shocked if your service reflects this. On top of that, they have to deal with the craziest things on the job.


We make our own water

Ever wonder where we get all that freshwater? We make it. That’s right—giant onboard desalination systems remove salt and impurities from ocean water so it’s safe to drink.

iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Wait until you reach land to go online

Our Wi-Fi prices can be crazy high for subpar performance. So save your surfing for port days, and ask the crew for the nearest free hot spot. (Since they can’t afford ship Wi-Fi either, crew members flock to Internet cafés when they disembark.)

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest