Advice Magazine

5 Very Weird Things About Cruising

woman sunbathing camouflage mountain
Not sure what to pack for your next cruise? Don't wear camouflage in the Caribbean. - Photo by gurinaleksandr / Shutterstock

A cruise is a pretty straightforward vacation in most ways. Show up at the gangway, head to your cabin, unpack, and start enjoying yourself. There are, however, a few quirks you may not be aware of, including these five things that often surprise first-timers:

1

Ship time may be different from shore time.

As ships sail though different time zones, they usually adjust their official onboard clocks to match the time in port — but not always, since it’s at the discretion of the cruise line.

As a result, it could be 2 pm on the ship’s clocks and 3 pm in port. Make sure you know the observed time before venturing onshore so you don’t miss the ship when it sails away — or precious time in port.

2

You shouldn’t wear camouflage.

Wearing camouflage-style clothing on many Caribbean islands (including Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, and St. Kitts) is against the law because people have tried to impersonate local police or military officials to harass or rob people. If you’re seen wearing camouflage clothing while in port, the real police on these islands may ask you to change your clothes or — worse — charge you a fine or even arrest you. 

3

The food may have traveled farther than you did.

Because of strict quality control regulations that cruise lines choose to follow, most food is shipped from the cruise line’s headquarters. So even if you’re cruising in Alaska or Asia, that grilled halibut, prime rib, and bottle of Chianti you’re enjoying at dinner were brought to the ship all the way from, say, Miami (where Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Lines are based) or Rotterdam, Netherlands (where Holland America Line and SeaDream Yacht Club get their provisions). 

4

There could be dead people onboard (really).

In the unfortunate event that a passenger or crew member dies while at sea, most ships have spaces to hold the bodies until the next appropriate port of call — and passengers are not notified in these incidents. Some cruise lines just use regular freezers; others have mini-morgues. 

5

You’ll probably drink some desalinated seawater.

Cruise ships carry fresh water onboard in large water tanks for drinking, washing, and doing laundry, and they often pick up more water in port. However, big ships don’t have the space to carry enough potable water for thousands of passengers and crew for an entire cruise, so they have desalination machinery to convert seawater into drinking water. (Cheers!) The good news: You probably won’t be able to tell the difference.


Heidi Sarna
Heidi Sarna   Google+

Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributing writer for Bon Voyage magazine. She has also written for the International Herald Tribune, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel Weekly, and Parenting.

5 Comments

HeidiSarna's Avatar

Posted by HeidiSarna 3 days ago

@CCLCruiser - My article doesn't say bodies are frozen; some ships have dedicated mini morgues and some do not and so use regular refrigerators/freezers to preserve a body until an appropriate port is reached (if not embalmed or refrigerated, corpses start to decompose very quickly). RE desalinated water, the article doesn't say it's bad or wrong, it's merely sharing information that not everyone is aware of.

CCLCruiser's Avatar

Posted by CCLCruiser 1 month ago

Most pools ARE saltwater...they are drained and refilled nightly as are the hot tubs...Also not open 24/7. Cruiselines have a morgue and they certainly don't freeze the body. Where does this misinformation come from? What is wrong with the desalinated water? It is likely much purer than any public water supply in the states! This is a non article. Pretty amateurish.

CMHDavid's Avatar

Posted by CMHDavid 3 months ago

"Some cruise lines just use regular freezers; others have mini-morgues." Freezers really? I can't imagine any cruise line using a FREEZER to put a body in.

Cruz1961's Avatar

Posted by Cruz1961 3 months ago

Not all pools on ships are salt water. A great majority of hot tubs are open 24/7. Its true that on board stores and casino are closed while in port, however bar service is NOT closed and neither is the spa. The wind of course depends on the weather conditions.

deaniam2's Avatar

Posted by deaniam2 3 months ago

The pools are saltwater also and will have a current in them to match the motion of the ship so you may end up in a wave pool instead of a serenity pool. Of course the other passengers may be splashing around anyway so have fun regardless. The hot tubs are not usually open 24/7 :( The should change. Stores, casinos, and alcoholic beverages are stopped or closed during port of calls. Very windy on top (open) decks, wear a strap on your hat.

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