You’ve booked a cruise and are starting to prepare for your vacation. You’ve done all the hard stuff, booking your room and your flights, perhaps you are coming in the day before and staying the night in the hotel so you can get to the port and get on the ship as early as possible to enjoy all the ship has to offer. But have you done all the research possible? Are there a few tips and tricks to cruising that maybe you don’t know, especially if you are a first time cruiser?
- Pack clothes that are wrinkle resistant! – Seasoned cruisers know that, unlike hotel rooms your cruise stateroom will not have an iron and finding out that dress or shirt you packed needs ironing once you unpack will result in an unexpected charge. Save yourself and pack wrinkle resistant clothing!
- Don’t over pack! – There is only so much room to unpack in your stateroom (which you should do right away, it will make it much easier to move around your room if you unpack your suitcase) and you will find that you won’t need nearly half as much as you think you will!
- Bring a highlighter and magnets! – There is noting worse than looking over the “daily” each evening and making your plans for the following day only to miss the events you wanted to do. By bringing a highlighter and magnet you can mark off the items you want to attend. And the magnets will allow you to hang up those notes on your stateroom door!
- Bring small bills! – There will be times you want to tip those who make your cruise extra enjoyable or who have gone out of their way with extra service – a porter, your room attendant, bartender, waiter. Having small bills allows you to tip these fine folks at the time of their service.
- Check the dining dress code – every cruiseline’s dress code is different and the rules for “formal night” is different. It pays to check the rules around dining room dress codes to help with what you need to pack, especially with airline luggage restrictions! And if you are not interested in formal nights remember you can always head to the buffet or order room service (on your balcony!) those evenings!
- Consider a drink package – while basic drinks like tea, coffee and iced tea and lemonade in the buffet are included in the cost of your cruise; sodas, bottled water and alcoholic drinks are not. Cruiselines offer drink packages that can include both alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks. Many cruiselines will also allow you to bring on two bottles of wine per cabin (subject to a corkage fee)
- Research your ports and the excursions you are going on. – Depending on your ports and your excursions you may need to make some packing additions to your list. Are you going to be doing some hiking? Remember to pack your hiking boots? Spending a lot of time on the beach? Pack a wide brimmed hat? Going to be visiting churches and temples in Europe? You may need to have your shoulders covered and be wearing longer shorts or dresses, check websites of these attractions for any dress codes to avoid disappointment!
- Attend the free seminars and draws. – On the first day or two of the cruise there will be lots of seminars and draws for various products and services. Attend these! Often there will be discounts given to those who attend and there will be draws for free prizes. Someone must win!
- Art auctions. – The art auctions can be fun and interesting! Not only do you get to learn about great works or art and artists but you will get a free work of art and free champagne!
Most of all, enjoy your first cruise vacation! There is so much to do and explore on each ship and each port you will never be bored!