The most common reasons we hear for people to not go on a cruise are “I don’t want to be bored stuck on a ship” and “You don’t get to really see a place when you go on a cruise”. The first one simply isn’t true unless you refuse to do any of the activities, and choose not to interact with anyone. The second one is true, but seeing a place isn’t really a reason you take a cruise. If you wanted to tour Italy for example, a cruise wouldn’t be the best way to do that. A cruise is a totally different type of vacation.
Here is some of our advice, tips and general information we have learned from the cruises we’ve been on. Hopefully it will help you out whether you are taking your first cruise or you tenth. If you have any questions you don’t see answered her, or would like us to add anything, just email us.
First you want to make sure to find out what your cruise does, and doesn’t include. There are some all inclusive cruises out there. But we find that most cruises include food, with some upscale paid restaurants such as sushi or steak, that you will need to pay extra to dine at. Usually soda and alcohol will also cost extra.
Specialty coffee, sodas, and alcohol will cost extra. Speaking of coffee, if you love/need coffee bring a travel mug so you can take it with you around the ship.
Don’t spend all your money before you leave a tip. That’s something one might forget because too much fun is being had. If you’re worried about it, you can find out what the recommended tips is and pay the tip when you pay for the cruise. (more and more cruise line are making this mandatory)
Bring cash for offshore shopping and tips….the ATM fee on the boat is crazy!
You can usually find a list of excursions and their cost ahead of time so you know how much to budget for those.
You can pay for wi-fi on board the ship, but it is usually very expensive, and much slower than anything you are used to.
Pack wisely and light, don’t over pack! It’s a cruise not a fashion show, and you will have to carry your luggage at some point. There will be at least one formal night at dinner, it’s optional but if you plan to go pack accordingly.
Pack a light jacket because it can be cool at nights and in some of the rooms on board.
Let clothes pull double duty, and limit how many shoes you bring.
WHAT TO DO
DO EVERYTHING!! okay, don’t do everything, you’ll collapse from exhaustion. But a cruise is the perfect time to try new things, so look over the activities for each day, and have fun doing as much as you can handle. If you are a planner, you can have the entire trip scheduled, if you are laid back type you can just wing it (although the most popular excursions may be full).
Make sure you do the things that you want to do on the itinerary, even if “the group” isn’t there. You don’t want to regret not trying something new for free.
Seriously though, we’ve heard many people say they would be bored if they were ‘stuck’ on a cruise ship. This just doesn’t end up being the case. When the ship is having a ‘sea day’ they have a few different things to do at all times. (More than a few if you include paid options like the spa or the casino etc.)
When you get to a port of call sometimes you do not need to do one of the ships excursions. You can just get off the ship and walk around, or book a tour from a local. It depends on what you want to do……try to include a ‘city tour’ in whatever you chose to do.(One advantage of booking excursions through the cruise line is that they guarantee to bring you back in time!)
Find some time to exercise! Most people just want to eat and sleep when they are on vacation (which is understandable, it is a vacation), but it’s a good time to start an exercise routine or continue a preexisting one! I know that I come back from a cruise feeling bloated and gross and wish I would have made up for it in the morning work-out class. Working out can help you feel rejuvenated and sleep better; hence actually coming back from vacation relaxed, and maybe on a new work-out schedule!! And there are lots of choices, dance classes, the gym, or just walking the deck.
Bring a deck of cards and board games and invite strangers to play. Cruises are great places to meet other people who are there to relax and have fun; people tend to let down their “big city” persona and defenses on a cruise, so make some new friends!
If you have kids, definitely look into what type of kids club activities the ship offers. And for what ages, and at what times.
Other random tips:
When eating in the dining room, it’s OK to order multiples of one thing or order one of everything, it’s your cruise…gorging oneself is just one of the many perks. Also there are always low calorie and vegetarian menu options available.
Bring any and all medications that you possibly would ever need (like Dramamine)-including stuff for your tummy when you eat too much
Make sure you have a watch if you want to know what time it is. Your phone may not be accurate if you are switching time zones
Remember the goal is to have a great vacation and relax!