9 things not to hide from your cruise line

In this article, I talk about 9 things not to hide from your cruise line


What are the things that you should never hide from your cruise line? There are quite a few, actually (in case you were wondering!)

#1 Food allergies or dietary requirements

Don’t hide your food allergies or needs, whether it’s religious, health, or otherwise.

Most cruise lines require some notification before you get on the cruise of any issues you’ve got. On some cruise lines for example, if you want kosher or halal, they might need 45 to 90 days warning in order to cater for you properly!

If you have any really serious allergies (for example nut allergies). which could be pretty catastrophic, really important that you make sure you tell them at least 45 days to 90 days in advance, maybe about the time when you’re paying your final balance that your travel agent or your cruise line knows about your needs.

This is especially important with smaller ships or barge cruises where they’re buying food at a much shorter time period. It’s crucial you tell them early on, particularly if you have religious requirements, because whilst most cruise lines now have vegan menus, nut free menus and vegetarian menus, they don’t cater for the more specialised religious type needs.

#2 Gastro and stomach disturbances

The next one is something that people are tempted to do and that’s if you have any gastroenteritis type issues like vomiting or diarrhea.

When you get on board a ship you normally have to fill out a health declaration and share whether you had any of these issues in the 48 hours in the run up to the cruise.

Lots of people who are suffering are tempted not to because they’re worried about the consequences. However, there is a risk if you bring it on board that the entire ship could go down with norovirus, and that could have much more serious effects.

I have actually been on cruises where norovirus broke out, in fact it was so bad, and it spread so widely, that the cruise was actually cut short.

And it’s kind of frustrating knowing that people had probably come on board knowing that they weren’t 100% well.

So, if you do have it, declare it when you go in, you’ll meet with a nurse, or the doctor and they will decide if perhaps you need to be quarantined for a couple of days, or not.

Also, if an illness starts happening on a cruise let the medical centre know.

What they ask you to do if you are suffering from vomiting and diarrhea and it’s clearly quite serious, is you normally just phone the medical centre.

They don’t charge you for any of the medical consultations, or if they give you things like Imodium or whatever to deal with it. But don’t hide it from the cruise line and put your fellow passengers at risk.

#3 Pregnancy

The next series of things I want to talk about are related to children and pregnancy.

So, the first thing that you should never hide from your cruise line is if you are pregnant. Most cruise lines have a policy where if you’re more than 24 weeks pregnant you can’t cruise, and this is particularly true of ocean cruises.

If you’re a little bit over that and you want to go cruising, take a river cruise because they tend to have slightly more relaxed rules. Of course, river cruise boats are always close to shore and so if for any reason you go into early labour, they can normally deal with it, but don’t hide your pregnancy. So, 24 weeks is normally the cutoff period.

#4 Kids

The next thing that’s important not to hide is if you’re travelling with kids, particularly kids under 18 or under 16.

That means you make sure the cruise line knows what the sleeping arrangements are going to be. So, some cruise lines for example will not let kids under 16 be in a stateroom or a cabin by themselves.

Some lines are more relaxed, and they will allow that if there are obviously parents travelling with them, people over 18 travelling with them, and they’re either in adjoining cabin, or in a nearby cabin.

Other cruise lines will want to make sure that if the two parents are accompanying the minors. For example, one parent and one child under the age of 16 is booked into one stateroom, one child and one parent age of 18 is in another stateroom.

So, you need to make sure that you check the rules and cruise line understands what the sleeping arrangements are. Clearly, they want to get you on board, and they will work with you to make sure it works.

So, for example, they might arrange an adjoining cabin, or might find a family cabin for you, but very important – make sure you understand the rules because you don’t want to get caught out!

#5 Children with special needs

If you have kids with any special needs or behavioural issues, make sure the cruise line understands those, particularly if you’re going to leave your kids in the kids’ clubs.

It might be a good idea to check which cruise line is sympathetic to your child’s needs. So, for example, Royal Caribbean actually have various programs within the kids’ programs that deal with kids on the autism spectrum, so there are specific toys and activities to help them enjoy their time.

#6 Mobility Issues

So, the sixth thing you shouldn’t hide from the cruise line is if you have any mobility issues. Also make sure that you’ve booked an accessible cabin, if that’s what you need.

This is really important if there is an emergency on board. So, if you are going to need help getting to the muster station if there’s a problem, really make sure that the cruise line understands that because they will make backup arrangements.

Even if you can’t walk down any flights of stairs, let the cruise line know – don’t hide it! Because if an emergency happens of course, the elevators, the lifts are out of service.

If you have mobility issues, work with the cruise line to make sure that you have the right facilities on board. Now this may mean that you have to hire your own equipment and there are a number of specialist companies that you can work with the partner with the cruise lines that will deliver any items you need to the cruise ship, and they will be installed in your cabin.

So for example, there are companies like specialneedsatsea.com, mobilityatsea.co.uk, and scootaround.com. Cruise lines have different rules around the type of wheelchairs or mobility scooters you can bring on board.

However, they won’t provide any services to help you get around. So whilst you’ll often find you might get some help with a wheelchair onto the ship, that’s normally done portside, the ship won’t send out people with you to go on excursions if you need an escort or someone to push the wheelchair in almost all cases.

If the cruise line knows about your mobility, they can also guide you towards excursions that are going to work for people with reduced mobility, or other issues, but don’t hide mobility issues from the cruise line.

I know it’s unlikely, but it’s really important – don’t hide it so you aren’t at risk in an emergency.

Azamara Pursuit in Katakolon Greece

#7 Restricted Items

The next thing that you shouldn’t hide from the cruise line is if you’re bringing onboard any items which fall into their restricted list.

Cruise lines have different rules and regulations which you should check.

But the main things to think about are they won’t allow onboard are flammable items – things like candles or incense burners, items with a heating element, possibly curling tongs, some won’t allow those, so check if that’s the case.

If you’re bringing on board alcohol or any other kind of drink, cruise lines have different regulations around that.

Remote controlled devices are another one you should check. So, for example, I have a drone, but very few cruise lines actually let me bring it on board, or they make me hand it over to security.

Anything remote controlled, you need to check with the cruise line – so if you’ve got kids and they have little remote-control helicopters, or cars or things like that.

Of course, you’re not allowed to bring onboard any weapons. Whether they’re real weapons or things that are replica weapons, or even things that could look or be used as a weapon like a baseball bat. But don’t hide those things because they are screened and might be confiscated.

#8 Medical Issues and Prescriptions

The next area not to hide from your cruise line is if you have any medical issues or drugs you’re taking.

Now this becomes really important depending on where you’re cruising to. So, for example, drugs such as temazepam or products with codeine, if you’re cruising into the United Arab Emirates, and particularly disembarking there, will end up a real issue because those are banned.

Also, if you’re heading to a place like Japan – even some fairly innocuous things like Tylenol (arthritis medication), or even Sudafed (cold and flu remedy) become issues! So, if you are taking any particular prescription drugs or medication that you think could be an issue, make sure the cruise line knows about those.

So again, don’t hide those things because you don’t want to fall into a terrible situation where a problem you have blows up and the cruise line can’t do anything about it due to their policies.

#8 Filming vlogs and videos

The last one might surprise you, but if you’re planning to take photographs or make videos, which you’re going to post on things like YouTube, like what I do, make sure the cruise line understands that you’re going to be doing that.

Now the cruise contracts allow them to take photographs and videos and use them, but actually it is more restrictive on what you as a passenger can do.

So whenever I go on a cruise line if I know that I’m going to be making a video about the ship or shooting stuff to use in my vlogs here, I will normally contact the cruise line directly (or through the PR company if I’m going by myself) or if they’re hosting the trip, I make sure that they understand it.

You’ll find that the cruise line is pretty relaxed about it normally if they know what you’re doing.

So don’t hide it from the cruise line – just let them know even if when you’re on board, talk to the cruise director or the hotel manager or someone like that and tell them that you’ve got a YouTube channel and you’re going to be making videos for it. It’s better to do that, than fall into a problem later!

So those are nine things that you should not hide from the cruise line to make sure that you have a really smooth cruise.

Watch my video about things not to hide from the cruise line

Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/KTkYwmxx0Ic

Hope you’ve found it helpful! I have loads more videos of cruising advice and tips. So why don’t you watch another one of those right now?

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Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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