24 secrets cruise lines won’t tell you

No trip is all-inclusive

That ‘all-inclusive’ rate typically doesn’t include alcohol, tips, shore excursions, internet, dining outside the dining room, and what you spend on casino or bingo play. And please, do come play: Your odds are often even worse than on land.

Choose your room carefully

Always look at the ship’s deck plan before you choose your cabin. Don’t pick one directly under the gym, the pool deck, the disco, or any late-night venue. Know that if you book a cabin at the front of the ship, you’re going to feel some up-and-down motion.

Come prepared to charge

If your ship permits it, pack a charging station or a power board. Many cruise ships still have only one or two outlets per cabin – and that’s not going to cut it in 2019.

Don’t buy excursion packages from us

Shhh… here’s a secret: You can book many of the same land excursions we offer for a fraction of the cost by arranging them privately with tour companies beforehand.

Above all, wash your hands

There were 11 disease outbreaks on cruise ships in the first six months of 2016, almost as many as in all of 2015. Most were norovirus, a highly contagious bug that causes stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Wait until you reach land to go online

Our wi-fi prices can be crazy high for sub-part performance. So save your surfing for port days, and ask the crew for the nearest free hot spot. (Since they can’t afford ship wi-fi either, crew members flock to internet cafés when they disembark.)

We make our own water

Ever wonder where we get all that fresh water? We make it. That’s right – giant onboard desalination systems remove salt and impurities from ocean water so it’s safe to drink.

The earlier you book, the cheaper

Sorry, procrastinators: Most cruise lines now favour early booking promotions over last-minute deals, and the least expensive rooms sell out first. For the lowest price, book right when we announce an itinerary, often about 18 months out.

Got robbed? Not our problem

We’re not required to report thefts of less than $10,000, so no one knows how much petty crime really happens on board. But it’s a lot: Leave your valuables at home.

We can protect you from pirates

We really do train for pirate attacks (even though they’re extremely rare). We can’t share many details, but let’s just say that our ship’s fire hoses are good for more than fighting fires.

Leave your car off-site

If you’re arriving by car, do not park in the cruise terminal, as they invariably charge a small fortune. Off-site car parks typically cost half as much, offer shuttle service to port, and have your car waiting with the AC on at trip’s end.

The threat of sexual assault is real

You’re twice as likely to be sexually assaulted on a cruise as you are on land, a 2011 study found, and two thirds of assailants are crew members. Yet cases are hard to prosecute, with alcohol often involved and police often not on board. Stay safe by sticking with a friend.

We offer more than shuffleboard and bingo

As cruise lines compete to offer the coolest attractions, you can now find zip-lines, bumper cars, ropes courses, rock walls and hair-raising water slides on board. Walk a ‘plank’ on the Norwegian Getaway that hovers 180 feet above the ocean. Or try simulated surfing or skydiving on a Royal Caribbean ship.