The rich and famous sail around the Caribbean in their 50-foot private yachts, being fed grapes by monkey butlers while soaking in the glowing rays. For the rest of us, however, the best we can usually do is cram ourselves onto six-thousand person cruise ships that stop off in every tourist-overrun port there is.
That said, when you’re on-board the ship, it doesn’t actually feel completely cramped or overwhelming (except in the bathrooms, perhaps) - there are more activity rooms, restaurants, shopping areas and bars than you’ll know what to do with.
Throw in the all-you-can-eat buffets, and it truly seems like a fantastic experience. That, we can say with certainty. With equal certainty, we can declare that there is a plethora of questionable things that we don’t see on the surface. The captains, with the help of their crew and management, keep a handful of sometimes-sinister, sometimes-greedy things swept under the watery carpet.
18 People Do Fall Overboard
It’s only a matter of time, right? With the right combination of cocktails and, of course, the endless surrounding ocean, people can and do fall overboard. Captains would love to keep this under wraps as much as possible, but unfortunately for them, in the age of cell phones, it’s hard to sweep under the rug. Since the turn of the century, reports suggest that roughly 300 people on cruise ships have fallen overboard.
17 There’s A Morgue On Board
As morbid as it might sound, things could actually be a lot worse if the ships did not have a place to keep the bodies of those who have sadly perished. Considering that the majority of cruise ship passengers are 50+, the chances of someone meeting their demise are higher than normal so the companies simply need to be prepared for the worst.
16 Passengers Are Being Watched
You might think that you’re venturing across the seven seas on an enormous cruise liner, and while that technically is true, you’re also starring on an episode of Big Brother and you didn’t even realize it. Outside of the cabins, cameras are scattered all over the ship - so next time you’re thinking about stealing a souvenir from the shop, better not.
15 Crew Can't Get Too Friendly
If the idea of a romance at sea is high up on your bucket list, then make sure to limit your potential suitors to guests. Even if they’re sporting Angelina Jolie lips and a Kylie Jenner-sized bank account, crew are strictly forbidden from engaging with passengers in anything other than a crisp high five.
14 The Captain Speaks In Code
Just like airplane pilots have their own set of code-words to keep the passengers calm, ship captains and crew adjust their loudspeaker announcements so that the cruise’s guests don’t get all riled up. There’d be nothing worse than a hoard of alarmed passengers, especially when the only way out is through the choppy waters. Code Adam, for example, indicates that a child is missing.
13 They Can Lock You Up
It might not look like anything from Orange is the New Black, however, the majority of cruise ships are, in fact, fitted with an on-board jail. It might sound a touch intimidating to hear that but, indeed, it is necessary. More often than not, these so-called jails are nothing more than small, empty rooms in one of the ship’s bottom decks.
12 They’re Exploiting You For Cash
Unless you’ve ordered Uber Eats from Aquaman, the cruise company is literally the only place in the ocean that can sell food, drinks, or souvenirs. They can ramp up the price as high as they want. While some ships do offer reasonable prices, there are a handful that cause passengers a heavy amount of wallet-related disappointment.
11 Cruise Price Is Negotiable
Imagine this: you’re shacked up in your luxurious $5,000 cabin, stuffing your face with shrimp and living the high life - right across the hall, however, another couple is doing exactly the same, for a fraction of the price. If you’re thinking of booking a cruise, make sure to shop around because there are a number of money-saving offers out there. A call to the company in hope of a discount wouldn’t be remiss either.
10 Ships Have Their Own Laws
Assuming that the ship is not docked (in which case the laws are reflective of the country the ship is currently sitting in), cruise ships can actually set their own laws. Well, sort of - it’s due to something called maritime law, and thanks to it, US passengers can drink and throw away cash on the slot machines at 18, not 21, for example.
9 Tiny Bathrooms
When we look at photos of mammoth-sized cruise liners, everything just appears to be so big. Once you’re on board, however, the cabins and the bathrooms are actually tiny. While there will still be room to scrub away and do all the basics, there’s no way there’s space for bathroom yoga or anything like that.
8 Excursion Packages Are A Rip-off!
Even though cruise companies would love for this to remain a total secret, disgruntled staff members have come out and admitted that the majority of excursion packages on offer are an absolute rip-off! If you have the time to arrange the activities privately with tour companies before hopping on board the ship, you’ll save hundreds.
7 People Get Sick (A Lot)
As much as we hate to admit it, people fall seriously ill on cruises far more often than we’re comfortable with - and we’re not talking about your typical case of seasickness either. In the first half of 2016 alone, for example, there were 11 ship outbreaks of norovirus. With stomach cramps, vomiting, and worse, it doesn’t sound like fun at all.
6 Not All Rooms Are Created Equal
Please, people, we’re begging you - have a good look at the ship’s deck layout before you finalize your cabin choice! While they might all look the same, they’re certainly not going to feel the same. Cabins at the front of the ship are more vulnerable to rocky waves, which means that you’re more likely to get seasick. Uh, no thanks.
5 The Charging Situation Sucks
While this one shouldn’t matter too much considering that you’re out in the middle of the ocean and there aren’t exactly too many places to go missing, people are still heavily reliant on their electronics. What many guests don’t realize until they actually hop aboard, however, is that the electric outlets are few and far between.
4 The Staff Are Painfully Overworked
Sure, the fat cats in the fancy office buildings with their gold-plated swivel chairs might be living the life of luxury, but cooks, cleaners, instructors, and the rest of the on-ship crew are severely overworked. With maritime law the only rules in place, crew members can be forced to work shifts as long as 12 and 13 hours, without overtime or benefits.
3 The Water Is Home-made
You’d assume that because you’re literally boating around on nothing but water that a refreshing glass of H20 would be easy to come by. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. There’s no access to fresh, running water so ships are forced to use desalination systems that, believe it or not, remove salt and impurities from the ocean water you’re sailing on!
2 Passengers WILL Be Left Behind
Of course, the captain would love to have every guest present on the ship before trudging out of the dock, but that isn’t always the case. If you’ve departed the ship for an on-land excursion or to walk around the pier, it’s vital that you’re back on board with plenty of time to spare. The ships pay huge fines if they overstay their welcomes, so one angry passenger isn’t going to bother them too much in comparison.
1 Guests Can Get Free Upgrades
It’s always important to keep an eye on prices for your cruise package, even long after you’ve booked. It sounds a little strange but the reasoning behind it that a drop in price means that you might be able to get refunded, or, at the very least, upgraded. Cruise liners always want to keep their passengers happy, so making sure that everyone’s in a good mood before they hop on board is a high priority. All you have to do is ask!
Sources: Washington Post, Cruise Critic, Goats On The Road