10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cruising

by Donna Heiderstadt

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cruising

by Donna Heiderstadt

Some things about cruising are obvious — you’ll island-hop or cross an ocean, attend a safety drill, and have the chance to hear the captain's welcome toast — while other details may escape the attention of the average passenger. Fortunately, we're here to fill in the gaps: Here are ten things you didn’t know about cruising.

Some things about cruising are obvious — you’ll island-hop or cross an ocean, attend a safety drill, and have the chance to hear the captain's welcome toast — while other details may escape the attention of the average passenger. Fortunately, we're here to fill in the gaps: Here are ten things you didn’t know about cruising.

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Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
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There are more than 323 cruise ships at sea right now.

There were approximately 323 cruise ships operated by more than 50 cruise lines worldwide as of early 2022, about 7% fewer than pre-COVID numbers. But, with 25 new vessels either already at sea or soon-to-be sailing — plus 21 more on order for 2023 — the cruise industry continues to recover at a rapid pace.

There were approximately 323 cruise ships operated by more than 50 cruise lines worldwide as of early 2022, about 7% fewer than pre-COVID numbers. But, with 25 new vessels either already at sea or soon-to-be sailing — plus 21 more on order for 2023 — the cruise industry continues to recover at a rapid pace.

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Cruise ships make their own water.

While the sailor in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” laments, “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” guests aboard today’s cruise ships enjoy plenty of potable H2O. That's because the vessels are equipped with onboard desalinization systems that turn saltwater into distilled or filtered water. From there, the water is mineralized for flavor and mildly chlorinated — and is perfectly safe to drink.

While the sailor in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” laments, “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” guests aboard today’s cruise ships enjoy plenty of potable H2O. That's because the vessels are equipped with onboard desalinization systems that turn saltwater into distilled or filtered water. From there, the water is mineralized for flavor and mildly chlorinated — and is perfectly safe to drink.

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Crossing the equator has a special ceremony.

What do King Neptune and kissing a fish do with crossing the equator? For decades, they’ve been part of a “crossing the line” ceremony where seasoned sailors who have crossed it before welcome “Pollywogs” (first-timers) with an initiation involving splashed water, cracked eggs, or smooching a dead fish — all presided over in cheeky good fun by a costumed King Neptune. 

What do King Neptune and kissing a fish do with crossing the equator? For decades, they’ve been part of a “crossing the line” ceremony where seasoned sailors who have crossed it before welcome “Pollywogs” (first-timers) with an initiation involving splashed water, cracked eggs, or smooching a dead fish — all presided over in cheeky good fun by a costumed King Neptune. 

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Cabin door decorations are a thing (on some lines).

Some cruise passengers enjoy decorating their cabin door to easily identify it or to celebrate a special occasion. Select cruise lines — including Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney — permit it, while others, such as Norwegian, don’t. 

Some cruise passengers enjoy decorating their cabin door to easily identify it or to celebrate a special occasion. Select cruise lines — including Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney — permit it, while others, such as Norwegian, don’t. 

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You can take a dog on a cruise — on the Queen Mary 2.

Can’t bear to leave your fur baby home? You can book one of the 24 kennels — complete with a smartly uniformed kennel master, a lamppost and fire hydrant on the outdoor deck, and visiting/play hours for owners — on a transatlantic cruise aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Cats can be also be accommodated, though you’ll need to book well in advance.

Can’t bear to leave your fur baby home? You can book one of the 24 kennels — complete with a smartly uniformed kennel master, a lamppost and fire hydrant on the outdoor deck, and visiting/play hours for owners — on a transatlantic cruise aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Cats can be also be accommodated, though you’ll need to book well in advance.

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The longest world cruise to date is 274 nights.

Many world cruises last 100 to 180 nights, or three to six months, but Royal Caribbean is upping the ante with an epic 274-night Ultimate World Cruise (sailing roundtrip from Miami from Dec. 10, 2023, to Sept. 10, 2024) aboard the 2,476-passenger Serenade of the Seas, which visits 65 countries and all seven continents. Fares are costly — from around $61,000 per person — though you can't book online: The cruise line requires guests to call and reserve their spots.

Many world cruises last 100 to 180 nights, or three to six months, but Royal Caribbean is upping the ante with an epic 274-night Ultimate World Cruise (sailing roundtrip from Miami from Dec. 10, 2023, to Sept. 10, 2024) aboard the 2,476-passenger Serenade of the Seas, which visits 65 countries and all seven continents. Fares are costly — from around $61,000 per person — though you can't book online: The cruise line requires guests to call and reserve their spots.

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All cruise ships have godmothers, godfathers, or godchildren.

This nautical tradition dates to the mid-19th century. Recent godmothers have included Katy Perry (Norwegian Prima), Malala Yousafzai (Celebrity Edge), Queen Latifah (Carnival Horizon), Christie Brinkley (Regent Seven Seas Splendor), and Sophia Loren (all MSC ships). Pitbull is the godfather of Norwegian Escape, while the kids of the Make-a-Wish Foundation are the godchildren of Disney Wish.

This nautical tradition dates to the mid-19th century. Recent godmothers have included Katy Perry (Norwegian Prima), Malala Yousafzai (Celebrity Edge), Queen Latifah (Carnival Horizon), Christie Brinkley (Regent Seven Seas Splendor), and Sophia Loren (all MSC ships). Pitbull is the godfather of Norwegian Escape, while the kids of the Make-a-Wish Foundation are the godchildren of Disney Wish.

Formal night on Queen Mary 2
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Not all cruises have formal nights.

Formal nights are mostly a thing of the past — although Cunard still has a nighttime dress code and Seabourn, Silversea, Regent, and others encourage fancy attire for some longer cruises. Don’t want to pack a suit or cocktail dress? Simply skip the festivities by dining at the buffet restaurant.

Formal nights are mostly a thing of the past — although Cunard still has a nighttime dress code and Seabourn, Silversea, Regent, and others encourage fancy attire for some longer cruises. Don’t want to pack a suit or cocktail dress? Simply skip the festivities by dining at the buffet restaurant.

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You can’t bring an iron or steamer onboard.

Yes, clothes crumple and crease in transit, but it’s smart to pack your most wrinkle-resistant fabrics for a cruise because irons and steamers are not allowed in cabins for fire-safety reasons. You don’t have to look rumpled, though: Many large ships have shared laundry rooms with an iron (or pressing services for a fee), while some luxury vessels have butlers to look after your wardrobe.

Yes, clothes crumple and crease in transit, but it’s smart to pack your most wrinkle-resistant fabrics for a cruise because irons and steamers are not allowed in cabins for fire-safety reasons. You don’t have to look rumpled, though: Many large ships have shared laundry rooms with an iron (or pressing services for a fee), while some luxury vessels have butlers to look after your wardrobe.

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Carry-on alcohol policies vary by cruise line.

Cocktail bills can quickly add up — unless you booked a beverage package — but don’t try to carry on bottles of your favorite distilled spirit before checking your cruise line’s policy. Most, except Costa and MSC, allow at least one bottle of wine or champagne per passenger for consumption in your stateroom (some have corkage fees in dining rooms), though they may forbid beer or spirits.

Cocktail bills can quickly add up — unless you booked a beverage package — but don’t try to carry on bottles of your favorite distilled spirit before checking your cruise line’s policy. Most, except Costa and MSC, allow at least one bottle of wine or champagne per passenger for consumption in your stateroom (some have corkage fees in dining rooms), though they may forbid beer or spirits.

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