Cruise Ahoy !
With the Christmas and New Year festive period upon us, it also the time for many to take a break and have a well earned holiday. And top amongst vacation plans for many is a cruise holiday!
With the stressful and busy lives that many of us lead these days, it is not surprising that cruise holidays are the fastest growing section of the travel industry. After all, the ticket price is typically inclusive of ALMOST everything – notable exceptions include alcohol, spa treatments, professional photos, guided on-shore tours, etc.
The First Time Cruiser
Have you booked your first ever cruise holiday during the festive and new year holidays?
Are you feeling just a tad uncertain about how to make sure that your cruise holiday is smooth sailing (pardon the pun!) ?
If yes, then here are some quick tips to help you have an enjoyable and stress free cruise holiday.
Getting ready for theme parties
All cruise ships will have a few theme nights – e.g. Mexican, Caribbean, Bath Robe, Formal black tie, etc. – in the itinerary. These parties are always a blast when you are dressed appropriately as it helps to make you feel more involved.
So do give the cruise line a call to find out what are the themes beforehand so you can prepare your costume. Theme nights are always great fun and even more so when you dress up in costume. You will be pleasantly amazed as to how much effort some seasoned cruisers go into their custom-made outfits!
What to pack
Here are some items you might want to bring along for your holiday. Unsurprisingly, the ship’s retail shop will stock many of the items in this list so it’s not the end of the world if you miss a thing or two. However, the cruise line knows that you can’t buy it anywhere else especially mid-cruise, so be prepared to pay a premium.
- Power board
Most cabins only have 1 or 2 power sockets available! In the modern day full of power hungry devices, this is nowhere near enough.
- Hot Water Flask
Because of safety concerns, there are no kettles in ship cabins. While you can order hot water served in jugs served free to your room, the water don’t stay hot for long and you may feel a bit guilty bothering the room steward umpteenth times. It is not at all convenient and you have a bawling baby screaming out for some milk!
Luckily, the 24 hour dining areas have hot water available (for making tea) so do bring a hot water flask and top it up when you are having your meals.
Everyone is given a Cruise Card that act as your room key as well as for the only accepted payment method for everything on the ship. These are credit card sized and the best way to carry this around is on a lanyard. You can buy one of the ship-branded lanyards (which almost everyone will be wearing!) at the gift shop. Or you can be special and bring your own favorite one aboard.
- Walkie Talkie
Contrary to popular belief, mobile phones DO NOT work on ships in the middle of the ocean! So keeping in touch with various members of your party on a big ship can be challenging. A great solution is to get a few good quality walkie talkies. It not only looks cool but your kids will have a blast as well
- Waterproof action camera like the GoPro
With all the water activities, having a water proof camera is great for capturing wonderful memories. For this, I definitely recommend the GoPro action camera. It is small, simple to use and takes fantastic videos as well as still shots. With its fish eye wide angle view, it doesn’t miss a thing!
Check In Early
Yes, you are typically given an embarkation time when you book the cruise but it is not strictly enforced. The reason why cruise lines do that is because they want to spread out the check-ins so they don’t have a mad rush of people embarking all at the same time.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t arrive and embark earlier! Most of the time, they won’t turn you away and this means that you have more time to enjoy the ships facilities and get in first on some important things. The early bird catches the worm!
The Digital Detox
If you need to get connected, there is wireless access available but at exorbitant prices. The highest price I have seen is not far off a dollar a minute!
If you can wait, I would recommend holding out for shore days when you look for free Wi-Fi spots or Internet cafes where it is a lot cheaper. Unfortunately this strategy didn’t work very well for me on the last cruise as almost all of my shore days were on remote islands with no public access to the Internet!
In any case, do yourself a favour and put away the technology devices if you can. You will be having so much fun on the ship that you won’t miss them at all!
Get A Copy Of The Bill!
If you have chosen to link your credit card as your payment method (instead of cash) for the Cruise Card, the cruise company will automatically charge your card with the amount spent on your Cruise Card. This can take a week to appear on your credit card account by which time, you may have forgotten what you spent and if the amount is correct.
I would strongly recommend that you print out your expense statement the night before disembarkation. You can use the printout for reconciling the amount charged later when you get your credit card statement. I was overcharged once by a few hundred dollars and I successfully disputed the amount because I had a copy of the Cruise Card statement!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. The cruise industry is the fastest growing travel sector in the world and you are about to learn why. I wish you a safe, memorable, enjoyable and stress-free cruise holiday!
If you found these quick tips useful, please check out my bestselling eBook “Secret Cruise Tips For The First Time Cruiser: Your Key To An Enjoyable And Stress Free Cruise Holiday” available on Amazon (readable on many eBook readers or via the Amazon Kindle app available on Apple and Android devices).
You will find heaps more invaluable tips and the book was written specifically to help first time cruisers like you have an enjoyable and stress free cruise holiday. It covers all areas of your cruise holiday: Pre-holiday planning and packing, Pre-departure and embarkation day, On the ship, Ports of call and shore excursions and Disembarkation.
The Amazon eBook links are:
Amazon US store: http://amzn.to/1xYZGor
Amazon AU store: http://bit.ly/1sFQz51
– Regards, Ben Better
(This article is written exclusively for Melbourne Ahoy by best selling travel author Ben Better)