11 Hottest Cruise Topics in 2011

December 27, 2011
11 Most Popular Cruise Ships of 2011
11 Hottest Cruise News Stories in 2011
Main Page: 2011, the Year in Cruising
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(5:10 p.m. EST) -- No doubt about it: There's a whole lot of ocean out there. And while there's always plenty to report on cruise ship adventures (and misadventures), it's the little -- and not so little -- things that our readers strive to learn more about.

Take, for instance, the simple act of keeping your balcony door open or closed at night. Following up on a reader request, we asked the cruise lines about their policies and were surprised to find that … well, just about no one has one. Indeed, balconies were a popular subject in 2011, if the response to our slideshow on things to do on your verandah (and one to avoid) is any indication.

What follows are the 11 stories that really got readers chatting among themselves over the past year -- which makes sense since many of the pieces were reader-generated to begin with (we're still marveling at their insightful tips for first-time cruisers). And while ways to get free drinks on a ship and our guide to fighting hidden costs were predictable crowd-pleasers, we can sleep a little better knowing that the seasick-inclined now know where the world's roughest cruising waters are. Missed that one? Read on.

The Scariest Moments on Cruise
Our readers provide 13 terrifying tales of things that go bump on a ship, from an almost-ghost on QM2 to the searing tale of the cruise passenger who fell asleep on the Lido -- and spent days recovering from what may have been the worst case of sunburn ever. Read more.

13 Things Not to Do on Your First Cruise
Hey, even veterans could use a few pointers when they board a ship, so we rounded up 13 tips that every cruiser should keep in mind. Making room for souvenirs in your suitcase is solid advice, but who knew you shouldn't get your teeth whitened? Read more.

7 Ways to Get a Free Drink on a Cruise
Tons of passengers have sat through a cruise-ship art auction so that they can sip cheap Champagne on the house. But there are some other ways to keep that bar tab down that you've probably never realized. Read more.

The Great Balcony Door Debate
Should you keep your balcony door ajar at night? Can you per cruise line rules? We thought it would be an easy issue to resolve, but it turned out to be anything but an open-and-shut case.
Read more.

9 Things to do on Your Balcony -- and 1 Not to
If you're lucky enough to have a balcony, you know what to do on it: Eat a meal, have a party, drink coffee and watch the sunrise. But there's one thing you shouldn't attempt, and it can have disastrous consequences if you push your luck. Read more.

Avoiding Rip-Offs When Shopping in Port
So many in-port shopping opportunities, so little time. But how can you avoid taking the bait on those too-good-to-be-true deals you've been told about?
Read more.

10 Hidden Costs -- and How to Fight Back
They creep up on you when you least expect them -- Internet fees, booze tabs, shorex tariffs. They're those out-of-pocket expenses that aren't included in your fare, and they can add up quickly. Learn to save money without sacrificing any of the fun. Read more.

World's Roughest Waters for Cruising
Pack the medications and look into the horizon: We've identified some of the roughest waters in the world for cruising. (And, alas, it seems no region is immune to gale-force winds and choppy seas.)
Read more.

11 Things to Do on Your Sun Deck -- and 1 Not to
Climb a rock wall, rent a cabana, watch pirates sing and dance -- the list goes on and on. There's no shortage of things to do on sun decks these days, but there is one thing that you definitely shouldn't do. Read more.

7 Things Not to Do on the World's Largest Cruise Ship
We spent a week investigating every square inch of Allure of the Seas. And by the time we debarked, we'd found more than a half-dozen things you shouldn't do onboard (and only one of them involved the buffet). Read more.

At-Sea Credit Card Horror Stories
Nothing can rob you of don't-worry-be-happy vacation bliss quicker than a credit card mishap that holds your cash flow hostage. So be proactive and check out our trio of horror stories, and how you can prevent them from happening to you. Read more.

More on 2011 in Cruising
11 Most Popular Cruise Ships of 2011
11 Hottest Cruise News Stories in 2011
Fare Compare: Check Prices on 2012 Cruises

--by John Deiner, Managing Editor