I’m not a frequent traveler, but I do have important cruise advice any first-time cruiser would do well to remember.
First and foremost, plan for what you’ll need to bring. As long as you pick an age-appropriate cruise, keep your watch synced with the ship’s, and have local currency, you’re all set!
Tips for smart packing:
Great, you’ve booked your first cruise! Now, what should you pack?
Before you ever leave port, your careful packing can help alleviate stress once on-board and enhance your enjoyment of the cruise.
Pack warm clothes for both warm and cold climate cruises. Even on warm destination vacations, I’ve been surprised by at least one unseasonably cold day and wished I had packed at least one warm outfit. Think about what excursions you’ll be taking and try to have the right gear. If you’re taking an Alaskan Cruise in the summer, you won’t need a snowmobile suit, but having a raincoat, bathing suit, warm socks, hiking boots and a handful of sweaters is a good idea for those gloomy June days.
When it comes to dining and formal wear, understanding the dress code is important, and almost every cruise line has one. Most lines will offer tuxedo rentals for a slight premium. Budget-friendly cruisers should pack a jacket and tie for men and at least casual dresses and a blouse for women.
Most cruises will offer another buffet style dinner for those guests not wishing to participate in formal dinners, but be warned that many do enforce a dress code for dinners after 6 p.m.
Besides prescriptions, bringing over-the-counter medications is also a good idea. Aspirin, antacids, and pain relievers could come in handy. My cruise ship headache was exacerbated by having to purchase two aspirin for $9 (and that was well over a decade ago). Also, you may want to bring some toiletries, such as soap and shampoo if you don’t wish to use the generic dispenser mounted to the shower wall.
In addition, I recommend bringing along a few plastic bags for wet things such as swimsuits. Bring a few extra clothes hangers as the state room never seems to have enough.
Back on Time!
If you’re ever departing the ship to visit a city or island, sync your watch to the cruise ship time, so you will definitely need to be back on-board before it departs. This is particularly important when planning excursions. The ship will in fact leave without you, and often ship time and local times are different.
Read the tour or excursion descriptions carefully. Many are geared towards the elderly and move at a much slower pace. If you prefer to move at a faster pace than most, be sure that you are choosing the proper tour, and vice versa for those with limited mobility.
Where’s the ATM?
Plan to have local currency ready, especially when exploring ‘off the beaten path’ places. Many quaint coastal villas just don’t have places to exchange your money for local currency or, worse, offer terrible exchange rates because there simply isn’t any alternative.