The process of planning a cruise can be tedious, and when you’re onboard, you may feel overwhelmed (or even underwhelmed) at what you can do on the cruise ship. Here are some tips for first-timers to help you enjoy a great cruise experience!
Booking Your Room
Take a close look at the deck plan! You don’t want to book a room that is situated underneath a possibly loud area (such as the lido deck or dining areas). Also, if you easily get seasick or don’t like the up and down bobbing of the ship, you may consider getting a room located in the lower deck towards the middle section. Rooms on the upper decks and towards the extreme front and back of the ship will get a lot of up and down movement during at-sea open ocean days where cruise ships tend to speed up. If you like a great view from a balcony or bigger window, then you should book a room on the higher deck towards the middle.
Before the Cruise
Aim at getting all of your work done before going on the cruise. Internet on cruises can be very pricey! It can range from around 30¢ to over 75¢ per minute depending on the cruise. Also, it is likely that you will have no reception on your phone during at-sea portions of your cruise. If you do, unfortunately, have to do work while you are on your cruise, then aim at sending out e-mails and sending in your progress while your cruise is at a port of call. You may be able to find a location around the port of call city that offers Wi-Fi for a very low cost, if not for free. If you need to send updates while you are at-sea, then a good tip is to compose all of your messages in a word document and then copying and pasting the composed messages into your e-mail when you activate your internet time. Prewriting your messages can save you a lot of money!
Traveling to Your Cruise
Make sure you plan to arrive at your port of call about a day or two before the departure of your cruise ship. Sometimes, you may experience delays or even cancellations; especially if you travel by plane. Therefore, it is good to have a buffer zone between your arrival to the departing city and the departure of your cruise. Plus, arriving early gives you a chance to explore the city which your cruise is to depart.
Note that many cruises have a strict alcoholic beverage policy. For instance, Royal Caribbean does not allow beer or hard liquor to be brought onboard. Often times though, limited amounts of bottled wine and champagne will be allowed to be brought onboard, but a corkage fee ($5 – $25 depending on the cruise operator’s policy) will apply. So, if you’re planning to bring alcohol onboard, make sure it complies with the cruise guidelines and that whatever drink you’re bringing is worth the corkage fee.
If you have children traveling with you, there will likely be a kid’s program for all children on the ship to attend. There are often a wide range of activities arranged for at-sea days anywhere from playing games to watching movies. Programs start early in the day and end late at night, often around midnight. All activities are optional though, and children are not required to attend all, if any, of the ones offered. If none of the programs are of interest, there is always the option of watching television.
If your cruise offers sightseeing days onboard the ship, then you may benefit from finding a good viewing spot. On my first cruise, I was in a room located in the front of the ship next to a door that was not marked and looked like it shouldn’t be opened. However, I heard someone go through it (as it made a very loud closing sound) so I decided to take a look for myself. Turns out, the door led to a small “in-between” zone separating the ship from a little-known front deck and the cozy walkway to the cabins. I was able to get great 180 degree panoramic views of glaciers with little fighting over a good viewing spot while people on the lido deck were fighting over picture-taking spots. I’m not too sure what it is called, but it was a deck on one of the cabin-only floors on the ship I was on. Hence, it is a good idea to do some exploring on your ship!
Departing From Your Cruise
Before you continue on with your vacation on land or head home, it is crucial that you double-check that you have taken the correct luggage with you as there will likely be an identical bag on the ship! It is a hassle to reclaim lost luggage and will cause you to feel rather worried, which is a bad way to end a trip. Never fear though, if you do get your luggage mixed up, most cruise companies offer excellent luggage return services. On a recent Princess Cruise Lines cruise to Alaska, someone took my luggage mistakenly and I took theirs so an employee from the Cruise Line went a few hours to the National Park I was staying at and performed a luggage exchange. My family and I didn’t even know we had took someone else’s luggage until we arrived at our hotel that night, when they told us!
Now, go out and enjoy your cruise! Hopefully you will have a great time at sea exploring what your ship has to offer, in addition to the port of call days where you can do some touring of the local and nearby area.