10 Cruise Traveling Tips for the “first timer”
*please note: all images were taken with my handy dandy iphone 🙂
A little “me” time.
It was supposed to be just a weekend away-three days at the most. We were going to fly in a day or two before the cruise and then head home the same day the cruise ship docked a few days later. A little “me” time away from the responsibilities at home to the sunny and warm skies of the Bahamas and then back home to the grind. Except, we got stranded. So sad-I know! Forced to spend a few extra days in the gorgeous weather while everyone back home was facing 8-9 inches of snow, we made the best of our flights being cancelled…. at the beach, trying new restaurants and meeting the locals. Life is rough sometimes! AND this is the one time over packing came in handy! I wasn’t stranded without a clean pair of under gutchies!
In all seriousness, Greg was at home holding down the fort while I was away enjoying my toes in the sand and my hair full of salt water. I needed that..BAD. Living in SW PA we get A LOT of gray days and they really start to affect me around this time of year. It affects my moods, my inspiration and I know when it’s time to get away for some vitamin D. I always come back so refreshed and inspired with new adventures, a tan……and with a few extra pounds.
My rules when traveling.
I have rules when I travel: you can’t eat at chain restaurant, we must ask the locals for fun things to do, avoid SUPER touristy places at all cost, look for culture, spend at least a smart part of every day at the beach, be adventurous, do the things that are what that specific area are known for, wake up REALLY early on at least one day to watch the sunrise and no sleeping past 9am…there’s too much to see and experience and you must have a go-with-the-flow personality because plans could change at any minute. I guess you can say, it’s not really relaxing but I think I thrive on the “get up and go” part of traveling. I can sleep at home! haha!
I don’t think I’m a cruise person.
I think we checked off all of those boxes during the West Palm Beach and Bahama trip. I also found out on this trip…I don’t think I’m a “cruise person”. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time, but I think the free spirit in me doesn’t like being told how long we can stay in one place before they heard you back onto the boat. There’s no “get up and go”….only “get up and wait to dock, wait to load on to a bus, wait to drive to the location… to wait to get back to the boat”, I felt really restricted. And don’t get me started on the process to get off the boat…that was a cluster. Thankfully we were among those that brought a passport so we were able to get in the quicker line. That’s a tip for you: always take your passport when traveling, often times you get priority over those who only have state issued ID. Would I go on a cruise again….MAYYYYYYYBE if the deal was so fantastic I could overlook the limitations it places on being “adventurous” but in general, I just don’ t think it was for me.
With that said, I did love that you had something to do while traveling from point A to B…being able to hang at the pool, entertainment or eating your little heart out (with super unhealthy food) while you wait to get to your destination-all things not made possible if you’re flying there. BUT…still not my thing! I think the cruises are fantastic for the traveler who doesn’t mind touristy things, an inexperienced traveler who wants to visit multiple places without the hassle of organizing it separately, a family with children or older couples who want someone else to do all the planning. Who knows perhaps I’ll go on another one someday and it will totally change my mind but in the meantime, I love traveling, getting off the plane, into a rental car and making my own plans!
10 Cruise traveling tips:
- Take your own insulated water bottle. If you don’t want your ice to melt and you don’t want to drink out of the small glasses they give you on the ship, take your own insulated bottle.
- Take a surge protector strip. The rooms on the ship are obviously small and they don’t come with a million plugs in the wall. When you have a phone, a portable charger, an iphone watch, etc., etc., that need charged, trust me the strip comes in handy. At the very least bring a splitter so that you can plug in multiple things at once. #firstworldproblems
- Don’t buy the wifi on the ship. Everyone else who purchased it is also trying to use it as well. When you have THOUSANDS of people trying to use it….it sucks! I paid $15 for one day and I later found out that I could have paid $10 thru my cell phone carrier and it probably would have been better service. Check with your service provider before going on the trip. (this obviously will depend on where you are traveling, but it’s worth a try!)
- Let your credit card company know that you will be traveling. Lucky, this is something I do anytime I travel but I think it’s something that gets over looked many times. There was a woman on our ship that didn’t call and she had signed up to go on an excursion with her children. They wouldn’t let her off the boat because there was a block on her card because her credit card company saw it as possible fraud. She missed her excursion and after she FINALLY got it figured out, had to go on a different one. She was not a happy camper. As a side note, find out if your credit card charges out of the country fee’s. Sometimes these can vary from 1-3% of your purchases out of the states. Sometimes it’s best to take cash.
- Take your own bright and fun colored towel! The ship provides you with towels..but they are all the same. I took a big round watermelon towel and was able to find my seat anywhere I went on and off the boat.
- Be nice to the staff. Something we don’t think about is that some of those staff members have been away from their families for 7 months. (one of them told us that they are away 7 months and home 3 months and so forth) in order to provide you with an amazing experience. Be nice to them! Besides, they are able to get you perks like free drinks if you aren’t a jerk! haha!
- Be on time. Let me say this LOUD and CLEAR: they will not wait for you! As mentioned earlier with the women and her credit card, if you are late either getting to the port for whatever reason, they will not wait for you. There are thousands of other people who did make it back on time and you will have to find your own way home. With that said, don’t rely on your phone’s time because often times when you’re out at sea, the times don’t change right away until you get back into service.
- Ask lots of questions before purchasing your ticket including “what is there to do when the ship ports?”. Our ship ported at a shipping yard and anything there was to do on the island was 12 miles away. We knew this ahead of time but I don’t think a lot of people did. I think they were under the impression you could just get off the boat and go to the beach when in fact, in order to get to the beach, you had to take a taxi (which can be sketchy) or pay to go on an excursions where they would take you to a local resort. Make sure you ask so that you aren’t frustrated later. Of course there is always the option to remain on the boat and enjoy the amenities there since lots of people clear out for the day and it’s less crowded.
- Be a smart packer! The hallways are small, the rooms are small and when you have to lug around your suitcases and navigate thru people it’s hard with a million bags. Condense as much as you can, you’ll thank me later.
- “All you can drink” packages were being shoved down our throats while we were there. For a set amount, you can drink as much as you want without worrying about the bill. But buyer beware, the cost of the packages usually mean you have to order between 7-10 drinks per day before you save any money. And since you have to buy the package for every day of your cruise, that means you have to drink that much every single day you are on your ship — even when you are in a port of call. Most people will find that they are better off simply ordering drinks the old-fashioned way.
If you are a frequent cruiser/traveler, I’d love to hear the tips you have! 🙂
Perhaps if you have the money to, you could take to the seas in your own feadship yacht. That would be the dream!