If you asked me to list my top three childhood memories, it’s likely that two would involve a cruise vacation with the family. Mum weaned my siblings and I on cruising – I’m exaggerating when I write that we cruised the South Pacific every New Year up until my twenties, but it certainly felt like that. Looking back, we were so lucky to have been given multiple opportunities to shape our life experiences by traveling to such a beautiful part of the world. I haven’t been back to the South Pacific in a while so reflecting on those times makes me smile…
Over the years, I have indulged in few more cruises – around Mexico, the Mediterranean, and Florida. It seems that with every year, the cruise liners get even bigger, better, and taller. Vacationing on a ship isn’t an option to pass up — there are plenty of liners to choose from, the price options suit all budgets, and you can pretty much see most of the world by water. The best thing is this: you unpack once, and you’re good to go for the rest of the trip. So, when my pen pal’s mum shared that she and her husband – both first time cruisers — were booked on the Royal Caribbean this August, I thought I’d lend a hand with a few tips, with the help of my mum, of course.
So, Aunty Harry and Uncle Judy, here are top tips for savvy cruise traveling. Enjoy your cruise!
Animal creations on the Royal Caribbean cruise from May 2011.
Something to think about when reserving either the early, or late, seating is this: your cruise itinerary may cut into your scheduled eating time. ie, if your dinner seating is at 6pm but you’re still enjoying your tour, which ends at 7pm, you’ll miss your 3 course meal. It’s not a huge problem as you can always order room service (should be included in the fare) but some of the other on-board dining options can come at a cost.
Prior to the cruise, purchase travel insurance. It is essential to cover against trip delays, emergencies, and lost items – and, it will give you peace of mind. Your credit cards may offer coverage, so check in to that.
Bring a pair of flip flops to wear around the pool area and in the shower. With so many people sharing the same space, feet are highly susceptible to germs.
I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten to apply sunscreen — let along bring it, only to realize this after having spent five hours lazing on the deck. Sunburn hurts and can ruin the rest of the trip. On that note, bring a bottle of Aloe Vera too!
Before you sail, research excursions offered by the cruise line, and compare them to tours that you could organize on your own through private companies. Note: if you do decide to go with a tour coordinated by the cruise ship, book it in plenty of time as the last minute line at the Excursions Desk could have you waiting a while with no guarantee of snagging a spot.
Cash Cards and Tipping.
Keep an eye on the balance of your cash/swipe card, which has a tendency to increase exponentially when you are coaxed into buying the ‘cocktail of the day’ for yourselves, and your new group of friends. The tip is sometimes included in the total, so check on that before adding anything extra.
This is a really fun game and if the cruise line offers this daily activity — go!
Even if listening to the piano and drinking a martini isn’t your thing, try to experience the Piano Bar. It’s such a cruisy thing to do.
Usually taken at embarkation, upon arrival at ports of call, and when you’re all dressed up for The Captain’s Dinner, these photos can end up being pricey but I recommend buying at least one photograph on the trip. Every day, I see the photo taken of my sister and I when we took a cruise around Mexico, and it is such a lovely reminder of that time.
… with everyone: The staff, the guests, and your fellow dinner companions. Listening to stories and learning about the lives of people who come from so many different walks of life makes for an even better cruise.
HAVE FUN AUNTY JUDY AND UNCLE HARRY!!! xoxo
Me and my sis at the Captain’s Dinner on a Carnival Cruise.