"" Writer's Wanderings: 10 Tips For Cruisers - New and Experienced

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

10 Tips For Cruisers - New and Experienced

Already booked or just thinking about it? Whether you are new to cruising or have a couple dozen under your belt, there are always new tips that can help to make your cruise experience a little easier and more fun. Here's ten tips I found.

Do your homework before you cruise. Search online for the ports you will be visiting and find out what there is to see and do. Don't just rely on what the cruise line has to offer for excursions. If you're a seasoned traveler, you may want to make you own way through the port to see things but if not, certainly knowing ahead of time what you might want to do will help you make good choices if you take a ship's excursion.

Plan your own ship tour. Most cruise lines give you a little booklet in your room that shows the layout of the ship. Unfortunately it is usually a cross section of the ship which is really hard (at least for me) to figure out. The deck plans on the cruise line's website can be copied and printed out before you go. Then you can easily chart a tour of your own on your own time during embarkation day.

Pack a disposable rain poncho or two. No one wants to think about a rainy day on vacation but it does happen and you don't want to let a little rain spoil your day in port. Remember also that most excursions from the ship will go rain or shine.

Take along a power strip. Just a small one. It will help you with charging all those electronics. Most staterooms only have a couple of easily accessible outlets.

A thermal mug is a great idea. Often you can buy one of these on the ship as a souvenir. You can buy coffee at the coffee bars and have a lid on your cup but if you want to save some money and carry around your coffee or tea, take along a thermal mug and fill it at the buffet or wherever they have the free coffee set up.

Hate loud music? Pack some earplugs. Either on board entertainment venues are lowering the decibels or my hearing has lessened but rather than take a chance of having to leave the theater (I find it physically painful if it's too loud) I buy some soft earplugs and keep them handy.

Tuck in a yellow highlighter when you pack. Every cruise line has a daily newsletter that is usually delivered in the evening for the next day. It's nice to highlight the things you don't want to miss and then tuck that page into a pocket for reference during the day.

Love the food? Exercise! Walk around the outside deck. Visit the gym. Take the steps instead of the elevator. Move. 'Nuf said.

Pack light. I know. Easy for me to say. Remember you pay extra at the airlines for baggage. It may be more economical and certainly easier to lug less. Some ships have self-serve laundries and all offer laundry services for a fee which may work out to be less than paying for an extra suitcase.

Check on those bar and spa gratuities! Whether you are buying a soft drink or an alcoholic drink, there is always an automatic gratuity. If you want to add more for great service, go ahead but  remember that there is usually 15% automatically added to your tab. That often applies to the spa too. I got caught on that. I didn't pay attention and added my own gratuity which doubled it. The attendant was extremely friendly as I left. Same goes for your room gratuities. They are almost all automatically added nowadays.

Is that ten already? Just one more. Pack a good book like Death Among the Deckchairs.

What your best tip?

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