Cruise Myths Debunked

The cruise industry is often misunderstood. People who have never taken a cruise may believe all kinds of crazy myths about what life’s like on a cruise ship. Even those who have cruised before may be surprised to learn that some of these cruise facts are actually not based on truth at all.

Explorer Cruise ship

Read on as we dispel some popular cruise myths…

MYTH: Cruise Ships Are Causing Over-Tourism

REALITY: Cruise passengers represent just 2% of tourists in the world. Even in a sensitive location like Venice, cruise passengers make up only 5% of visitors.

The cruise industry recognises the importance of tacking destination overcrowding and works closely with communities in key locations to address their concerns.

cruise ship in Venice
Photo credit: Edmund Hochmuth

MYTH: Cruise Ships Are Breeding Grounds For Gastro-Intestinal Diseases

REALITY: Illnesses like norovirus are much more common on land than on-board cruise ships.

Your risk of getting norovirus on land is about 1 in 15 each year. However, during a cruise, your risk is 1 in 5,500. Less than 1% of all norovirus outbreaks occur on cruise ships.

Strict practices are in place to help prevent outbreaks of disease on cruise ships. Passengers are screened before they embark the ship with boarding denied to anyone who has recently had symptoms of illness. Regular hand washing is encouraged. Public areas are cleaned very regularly, including a top-to-bottom clean before each cruise.

Read more: Cruise ship norovirus: Vital information to avoid illness

MYTH: Cruise Ships Operate Outside The Law Once They’re In International Waters

REALITY: Cruise ships are highly regulated, even when at sea. They are covered by local, national and international laws wherever they sail.

Cruise ships up to 12 nautical miles from the coast are with a country’s territorial waters and almost all of the laws of that country will apply. Ships between 12 and 24 nautical miles from the coast are within a country’s contiguous zone and that country has certain rights. Ships more than 24 nautical miles from the coast are considered to be in international waters and are covered by the laws of their flag state (where the ship was registered, which is often the Bahamas).

Cruise lines voluntarily report any serious crime allegation on oceangoing voyages worldwide, regardless of the ship’s location and flag.

Suggested read: What Can You Get Away With in International Waters?

MYTH: Cruise Ships Are Crime Hotspots

REALITY. Crime rates on-board cruise ships are much lower than on land.

According to data from the FBI, cruise ships are 25 times safer than a typical city in the United States. Cruise ships have high levels of security and allegations of major crimes on-board cruise ships are very rare.

Take a look at the security centre on-board a cruise ship…

Read more: How Safe Are Cruise Ships Really?

MYTH: Cruise Ships Release Untreated Sewage Into The Ocean

REALITY: Cruise ships never ever release untreated sewage into the sea.

Ships have advanced waste management systems which treat waste water to a higher standard than the methods used in many cities.

Read more: What Cruise Ships Do With Sewage

cruise ship dumping waste in ocean

MYTH: Cruise Ships Are Really Bad For The Environment

REALITY: The cruise industry is leading the way in environmental advances.

Cruise lines have committed to a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. To do this, the cruise industry is investing $1 billion in new technologies and cleaner fuels to reduce air emissions.

Want more cruise ship pollution facts? Well, onboard a cruise ship, each person produces less than 700g of unrecyclable waste per day, compared to 2kg on land. This means that cruise ships recycle 60% more waste per person than would be recycled on land. Some ships can even recycle 100% of waste.

This video shows the efforts that cruise lines are making to become leaders of environmental stewardship:

MYTH: People Going Overboard On Cruise Ships Is Becoming More Common

REALITY: Over the past ten years, there has been a 35% decrease in the rate of man-overboard incidents. This is despite a 55% increase in passenger numbers.

There have been no known cases of someone acting responsibly who has accidentally fallen over the railing of a cruise ship. Every case of passengers going overboard has been either intentional or the result of reckless behaviour.

Suggested read: What Happens If You Jump Off A Cruise Ship?

MYTH: Cruise Ships Don’t Always Have Enough Lifeboats For Everyone

REALITY: By law, every cruise ship must be equipped with enough survival craft to accommodate at least 125% of the number of people on-board

All cruise lifeboats are tested to meet rigorous international guidelines. Cruise ships must also carry enough lifejackets for everyone on-board, although in reality, they usually have many more than are legally required. The idea that ships aren’t safe is just one of those myths about cruising that’s hung around as a scare story.

Every since the Titanic disaster, safety standards were completely overhauled.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

Read more about me

8 thoughts on “Cruise Myths Debunked”

  1. I’m sorry, but you are not correct in many of your claims. Cruise ships are environmental hooligans causing immeasurable damage to ecosystems and producing staggering amounts of pollution. Sadly the picture you paint is a false one. I understand this is your livelihood but please consider a new career.

    • Hi Glenda. Thank you for your comment. I want you to know that the environment is of huge importance to me. I drive an electric car and eat a vegan diet so that I can minimise my own carbon footprint. Of course, it would be more sustainable for me to stay at home and never take a cruise. But we have to have a balance. I believe that with the changes that the cruise industry is making, including many cruise lines such as MSC and Virgin Voyages becoming carbon neutral, that cruising provides one of the best options currently, and that will only improve as innovations are made. Jenni

  2. I am a single traveller I never feel alone on a cruise ship and mix well great holidays and meet interesting people.

    I know a lot of ladies share but 2 men sharing can some times send the wrong signals.

    However the old single supplement charge any tips?

    I tend to book early 10/ 12 months in advance. Trying Anthem of the Sea single Studio cabin next May 2022. They advertise no single supplement but you pay more for the cabin grade.

    Some times the single supplement can be nearly as much if paying for 2 persons.

  3. We’ve been cruising for the last 8 years, always from Southampton. We made the decision last year to book a fly cruise from Malta. Due to COVID we moved this cruise to next May 22.

    Any tips for our first fly-cruise?


    • Hi Rachael. Great question. I would say 1. Make sure you book it as an ATOL-protected package holiday so that you’re covered if any part of it fails. 2. Fly to Malta at least one day before you cruise so that you don’t miss it. 3. Consider adding on a hotel stay for a few days to make the most of your time in Malta. A good travel agent can make a tailor-made package for you. Let me know if you’d like a recommendation! Thanks! Jenni

  4. Hi,
    Already booked and going on my first MSC cruise in July ’21. (After reading report on the “Magnifica” in Trip Advisor not sure if I’ve made the right decision.) Yes you’re right I should have thoroughly researched this trip first but both Cruise Circle and Planet Cruise were offering very good Solo prices for this Norweigan Fiord cruise Dpt 10th July from Southhampton. I am not on any drinks package as I am not a great drinker however I have seen their drink prices but nowhere can I see that 15% is added as an additional charge. (Read this also in Trip Advisor). May also buy a bottle or two of wine to consume in the non premium restaurant.
    Question – Would slacks and smart polo shirts be acceptable in the restaurant for dinner? All MSC talk about is DJ’s and Suits. I am an OAP but that should make no difference eh?

    Many thanks in anticipation,

    • Hi John. That sounds like a wonderful cruise! MSC Cruises have casual evenings and formal evenings. If you wish to dine in the main dining room on a formal evening it’s suggested that you wear a suit and tie, but in reality, a nice collared shirt would be more than acceptable. On a casual evening, you can wear whatever you like. I hope this helps. Jenni

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