Have you taken a cruise on a ship where English was not the primary language spoken?

Several years ago I took a cruise on a Hurtigrutin ship.  Every announcement was in several languages.  By the time, the announcement was made in English, the other passengers went back to talking, laughing, etc.  Most of the time I wasn't able to hear what was said.  I ended up going to the front desk for information. Often they didn't know either.  It was not a big problem just an annoyance not knowing if it was something important being said.   The cruise was wonderful, though otherwise.  We also had this on MSC but it was not a problem for us.  My husband speaks and understands Italian. 


Anyone one else experience this problem with announcements in foreign languages?  ? Do you avoid ships where English is not the primary language spoken or is this immaterial to you? 

Tags: MSC Hurtigrutin English not primary language spoken on a ship

14 Answers

Never been on a cruise with foreign language as opposed to English, but I did take a ferry from Marmaris to Rhodes some years ago. The ferry was through the night and after about 2 hours sailing, an announcement was made (In Turkish) over the tannoy. Next minute, virtually all the passengers started running around and putting on life jackets. I was pretty scared as I did actually think the ferry was sinking and this was an evacuation announcement. However, after about 5 minutes with more Turkish announcements, everybody took their life jackets off and carried on with what they were doing. I was not very experienced in those days about what happened on ferries/ships but obviously then discovered that this was the mandatory drill. Oh well, you learn as you go !!

I can imagine that this could become quite serious in a real emergency.

I wonder how foreigners feel when cruising on American ships that only make announcements in English. I guess most of them speak or at least understand English.

How funny that one of the best cruises that we ever took was on the Hurtigrutin, where English was not the primary language. It was a cruise through Norway and the food was fabulous. The scenery was terrific and service was wonderful. I would take this cruise again if there weren't so many other places that I want to visit.

I know that English is the international language for air travel. I do not see the same requirement for sea travel BUT, I have seen indications that a basic knowledge of English is a requirement.

This issue goes beyond the point of daily announcements on board. What happens in the event of an emergency? There needs to be a common understanding of common language, especially for unexpected situations.

I've had friends that got stuck on excursions where only a foreign language was used. Not good. One of my favorite aspects of a cruise is the enrichment lecturers on sea days. I read somewhere that because they employ 4 or 5 different languages on MSC that they avoid lectures and shows where speaking is required, understand too though that their new ships for the American markets will be different. No, I wouldn't book a cruise where other than English is used. I have enough trouble trying to understand some of the crew and those on shore excursions.

On one cruise we decided to cruise my home state, it was San Fran to Vancouver via two weeks cruising Alaska. When we had the first muster I noticed a very large group of French people. They called them the "French Connection" on the ship; they brought their own interpreter. In Juneau I decided to take the A J underground gold mine tour. Turned out about 15 of the French booked it also along with their interpreter. It was a great tour but not easy as we went underground where it was cold and wet, they gave us rain gear and ear plugs, as they fired up a compressor and drill for us too. The cute little interpreter had her hands full trying to explain everything in French to those cold and wet folk and I don't believe they were understanding nor liking the tour. At one point one of the mine's guides, a fairly young fellow with much hard rock gold mining experience, was doing an excellent demonstration of blasting procedure and in doing so used a lot of humor in his delivery. At one point he showed how they set off multiple charges of dynamite in a sequenced order in order to break off huge slabs of rock. Then he demonstrated how minors took a steel spud and repeatedly stuck it into the rock to make sure another loose slab wasn't apt to fall on the crew. So, as he did that he got to a point where there was an echo sound from the spud, he asked us all, did you hear that? "That was an A-flat." An a flat minor. Of course I split a gut, but the French just looked on with stolid expressions. The interpreter was yammering away trying her best to get this bit of humor across, but to no avail. The poor guide told me later, "nobody told me today I was going to be guiding French tourists." I understood later the French were unhappy as they were told everything would be in French.

Yeah. The Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan. It might have had some English in it . But it wasn't the English I was taught in escuela.

Why do I have a feeling someone is going to flag that post

This was exactly why I was always concerned when I couldn't hear an announcement. I was afraid it might have been something really important. I watched the reactions of the people who understood the message. If they went about there normal activities, I assumed it was just about activities and nothing of an emergency.

I was browsing old threads and came across this one. I thought it was a cool question and decided to bring it back up. I've never cruised on a ship where English wasn't the primary language. Would be interesting to hear if others have. Might be new people here that weren't around when this thread first posted.


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