Modern mega-ships boot old cruises out of the water

Written for MyCentralJersey.com and DailyRecord.com on 5/12/15

“If I get seasick like I do on fishing boats, my entire trip will be ruined.”

“I don’t want to be bored on the ship after only a few days.”

“All of the buffet-style food and desserts will make me gain weight.”

For the recreational traveler unfamiliar with modern cruises, these are common concerns that usually lead one to forego booking a cruise and instead opt for the safe bet of visiting the same Caribbean resort that they have been flying to for the last 10 years.

At one time, these misconceptions were the reality, and cruise passengers suffered from seasickness, a shortage of onboard activities and a lack of healthy dining options, especially when it came to entertaining every age group in the family. However, today, these outdated ideas couldn’t be further from the reality of cruising, which I have found during my five cruises with Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past 10 years.

When those unfamiliar with cruising think of onboard activities, they generally think of two chief activities — drinking and hanging out at the pool. However, modern mega-ships know that they must be equipped with enough activities for those cruising from five to 12 days. (Photo: ~File photo)

When those unfamiliar with cruising think of onboard activities, they generally think of two chief activities — drinking and hanging out at the pool. However, modern mega-ships know that they must be equipped with enough activities for those cruising from five to 12 days.
(Photo: ~File photo)

Seasickness has almost ceased to exist

The thought of spending day-after-day trapped on a cruise in a bout of seasickness is usually enough for those with a sensitive stomach to forget the cruise and book a round-trip flight to an exotic land destination. However, modern mega-ships are not your uncle’s fishing boat. These ships are 100,000 tons and use stabilizers to provide a smooth ride and can often make passengers feel like they aren’t on a ship at all but instead grounded on land.

These stabilizers, which are large underwater “wings” on both sides of a ship, keep it straight and upright and only grow more advanced with newer ships, especially helpful during times of rough seas like June through November’s Caribbean hurricane season and Mediterranean sailings during the fall and winter.

Diane Jones, a Travel, Ports and Voyages of Old Bridge travel agent who has been on over 50 cruises, said that due to the stabilizers on modern ships and the vast availability of motion-sickness medications and remedies, only one out of the last 100 people she sent on a cruise has come back complaining of seasickness, and Jones said that person did not bring medications with them.

Throughout my cruises, one person I have traveled with has gotten seasick, an ailment which was quickly quelled by onboard medication. On more recent cruises, I struggle to remember I am on a moving ship due to the smoothness of the ride, although ships can get bumpy during storms.

Plus, most cruise ship 24-hour health centers offer medicinal seasickness relief, and passengers who are more predisposed to seasickness, such as women and children, are encouraged to book mid-ship cabins, which are the least motion-sensitive, as well as bring their own acupressure wristbands and motion sickness medication.

The thought of spending day-after-day trapped on a cruise in a bout of seasickness is usually enough for those with a sensitive stomach to forget the cruise. However, modern mega-ships are 100,000 tons and use stabilizers to provide a truly smooth ride and can often make passengers feel like they aren’t on a ship at all. (Photo: ~File photo)

The thought of spending day-after-day trapped on a cruise in a bout of seasickness is usually enough for those with a sensitive stomach to forget the cruise. However, modern mega-ships are 100,000 tons and use stabilizers to provide a truly smooth ride and can often make passengers feel like they aren’t on a ship at all. (Photo: ~File photo)

Boredom is hard to come by

When those unfamiliar with cruising think of onboard activities, they generally think of two chief activities — drinking and hanging out at the pool. However, modern mega-ships know that they must be equipped with enough activities for those cruising from five to 12 days.

“The cruise ship is not only the port of call, but also the destination,” said Meg Daly, district sales manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines. “Your vacation starts the moment you board the vessel.”

Cruisers also flock to cooking demonstrations, beer tastings, spa treatments, Vegas-style shows, Broadway musicals, comedy acts, bowling and dating events, most of which are included in the price of the cruise. I have never paid for a separately priced cruising activity besides shore excursions, and I have never run out of things to do.

Although Matt Ellenberg of East Brunswick prefers going to all-inclusive resorts because he enjoys spending more time at his island of choice, he said that his family had a lot of fun on his recent Royal Caribbean cruise and there was always something to do entertainment-wise.

Jones said that she enjoys cruising because food, entertainment and anything else that cruisers desire is already included and she never runs out of activities.

“Once when I went to a resort in Aruba, I felt bored and was ready to go. I went to the concierge and said, ‘Can you take us off this island?’ ” she said. “There was nothing else to do. We saw a cruise ship and we wanted to say, ‘Take us with you!’

The new Norwegian Breakaway has five waterslides. Norwegian Cruise Line The Aqua Park on the Norwegian Breakaway. (Photo: Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

The new Norwegian Breakaway has five waterslides. Norwegian Cruise Line The Aqua Park on the Norwegian Breakaway. (Photo: Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Dieters have a place onboard, too

Many who are concerned with their health are hesitant to book cruises because they feel that with prevalent ice cream, french fries and pizza, even the strictest dieters are bound to fail. However, this isn’t exactly the case.

Although it’s true that unhealthy options are available, cruise lines know that people are more health-conscious these days and there are plenty of options to reflect that with meals that are low-cal, low-carb, vegetarian and gluten-free.

“Everyone is concerned about their health and weight these days,” Daly said, “so we have menus that can attend to your dietary needs and you can actually walk off a cruise having lost weight.”

Sound ridiculous? It’s not. Cruise ships usually have modern, state-of-the-art gyms and other physical activities such as ice skating rinks, ropes courses, tracks, sports teams, dancing venues and yoga. There tends to be so many options for activities on cruises that you actually feel guilty hanging out at the pool all day.

Usually when I cruise, I end up actually eating better than I do at home due to more healthy options than what I find in my fridge at home, plus I work out more regularly, excited to take advantage of equipment and activities that I don’t have at my home gym.

Although it’s true that unhealthy options are available, cruise lines know that people are more health-conscious these days and there are plenty of options to reflect that with meals that are low-cal, low-carb, vegetarian and gluten-free. (Photo: ~File photo)

Although it’s true that unhealthy options are available, cruise lines know that people are more health-conscious these days and there are plenty of options to reflect that with meals that are low-cal, low-carb, vegetarian and gluten-free. (Photo: ~File photo)

Cruises today aren’t your grandparents’ honeymoon getaway — they’re modern, gigantic ships equipped with all of the modern luxuries and amenities of an all-inclusive resort, often without the jaw-dropping price tag. If you’ve been hesitant to give cruising a try, keep in mind that these outdated myths should be left out at sea.

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