updated 3/9/2007 4:01:12 PM ET 2007-03-09T21:01:12

Travelers new to cruising often have more excuses as to why they've never sailed than there are ships at sea. And often these excuses are based on misconceptions about what a cruise vacation is really like. Here we answer some common questions to give you better insight into the cruise experience.

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Isn't it expensive?
The upfront price may come as a shock, but remember your cruise fare includes your accommodations, food, activities (including children's programs) and nighttime entertainment. Add that to the option of reduced-rate airfare and transfers, and you can actually save bucks going on a cruise as opposed to a land-based vacation. Note: there are extra expenses. For more info, check this: Hidden Costs of Cruising

Won't I get seasick?
Most ships are so big and well stabilized you can hardly tell you're moving, especially in the calm waters of the Caribbean and Alaska's Inside Passage. Radar helps big ships outrun hurricanes and other bad weather patches, but if you do happen to pass through some rough water, any queasiness can usually be relieved by an over-the-counter medication like Dramamine or Bonine. If you are very prone to seasickness, ask your doctor before you leave home for the Transderm patch, available by prescription. Alternative remedies include ginger capsules and acupressure wristbands, available at most pharmacies.

Also, note that the pursers desks on most ships can provide an emergency ration. For more info, check this: Avoiding Seasickness

Can I stay in touch?
On most ships you'll get CNN or some other cable news network on your in-room TV. A daily newssheet may also be available that combines wire reports with stories from major newspapers. You can make phone calls from the phone in your cabin (though it's prohibitively expensive) and, of late, from your cell phone as well. Most ships have some kind of email capability (they range from just-like-home to basic but serviceable). For more info, check this: At Your Service: Connecting at Sea

Is cruising safe?
Ships must follow an extraordinary number of rules and regulations that assure passengers' (and crew members') safety while on board. The Coast Guard conducts rigorous quarterly inspections of all ships operating from U.S. ports, looking to make sure they comply with its emergency-response requirements. Rather than sinking a la Titanic, fire is the biggest concern, and when it comes to fire safety, ships operate under international rules known as Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The rules require most ships to have smoke detectors, sprinklers and low-level emergency lighting for escape routes. Within the first 24 hours of sailing, everyone on your ship is required to participate in a safety drill that includes trying on a nifty orange life jacket and locating your assigned lifeboat, on the odd (and rare) chance that you need to use it.

Slideshow: Caribbean way of life

Will I be bored?
You may need a map to navigate around today's big ships, and there's something to do in nearly every corner. For intellectual stimulation you can listen to guest speakers, participate in a Bridge tournament or attend a wine lecture. To get your heart pumping, play some hoops or visit the ship's gym, and then reward yourself with a cool one at the sports bar. There are pools for soaking and swimming, shops for shopping and spas for pampering. You can participate in a contest, learn a craft or watch a movie. Or simply grab a book and get a tan.

Even on small ships there's plenty to do during times when the vessels are at sea; most notably, these tend to offer strong enrichment-oriented activities. Plus, remember you're not on the ship all the time — most itineraries include a variety of different ports of call.

Won't I get fat?
OK, we know the rumor that the average person gains about five pounds on a one-week cruise. But for those watching calories, be assured there will be low-fat (and often low-carb) options on the menus and boast at least some healthy choices at the buffets; the newest trend is trans-fat free food. Meantime, you can burn calories by working out in the ship's gym, walking fast or jogging around the various decks (we like ditching the elevators in favor of the stairs), and mountain biking, hiking and kayaking at the ports. For more info, check this: What's Cooking in Onboard Cuisine.


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