We at www.CRUISE.co.uk realise how many things there are to remember and think about when booking a cruise, packing for it and planning how to make the most of it. So we’ve put together ten of the most useful tips for your next cruise: everything from being organized to beating sea sickness (and you’ll be surprised how much magnets and walkie talkies will come in handy…)
1- Pack With A Purpose
Thinking outside the box will give your holiday that edge that nobody else has; do the simple things like remembering to bring a portable radio for the balcony so you can create your own private atmosphere (you’ll be surprised at the stations you can tune in to from sea!) How about bringing some sticky notes? It might sound silly but if you do, you can leave your cabin attendant notes on the mirror everyday asking for more ice, towels, teabags or whatever else you need! Oh, and don’t forget to research what type of plug sockets there are on-board. This is a problem everyone underrates but what’s the point in bringing all your electricals if you don’t bring the right plug! Click here to read our plug guide (yes we have a plug guide and it has everything you need to know).
Our specialist cruise consultant Judy told us: ‘A great tip I have learned from a fellow traveller during my time as a travel agent is to take flat pack fabric storage containers in your case. These can then be popped into shape and a whole manor of things can be stored in them and they can also fit into the most awkward of spaces.’ You can read more of Judy’s tips here.
2- Smart Phones At The Ready
For those of you with the latest technology you’ll be able to access our guides from your smartphone when you’re either on the way to your port, sailing on the ship or have reached your first destination. Any questions whatsoever that you have at any point, you will find an answer to on our Q&A’s here! If you want any info or tips for the ports you’re headed to then get scrolling through this! By clicking here you can set up alerts for price drops on cruises you’re interested in and can also find a cruise tracker so you know where the ship you’re travelling on is now. You’ll also find deck plans for your ship if you want to know how far away the nearest cocktail bar is to your cabin (priorities). A great way to interact with people travelling on the same ship as you leading up to your departure date is on our forum! We have a whole section dedicated to people cruising soon that you can find here, just click on the cruise you’re going on or start your own conversation!
Our specialist cruise consultant Anthony told us: ‘A live chat with passengers you’ll be sailing with is a great idea; social media is a great platform for interacting with other people and I can speak from personal experience that I have made some great friends and built some great relationships from websites like Facebook!’ Read more of Anthony’s blog here.
3- Be An Early Bird
You might be on holiday but you want to make the most of it, right? Well you won’t be laughing if you snooze your alarm one too many times and either miss your departure, the cut off point for breakfast or all your planned activities for the day! The night before an early-morning excursion why not order room service for breakfast? It is complimentary on most cruise lines and this way there’s no risk of getting stuck in a long buffet line and missing your departure- nightmare! Another way to feel organized is to book your cruise early but keep a watchful eye on the prices- if it changes since you booked it you might be able to go back and pay the new discounted price whilst still securing your original booking.
Our speciality cruise consultant John told us: ‘I know from experience that people have missed out on cruises, assuming that booking 12 or 18 months in advance is too early. Be organized then you can sit back and wait for the cruise experience of a lifetime to come around’. You can read more of John’s blog here.
4- If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get
You might feel cheeky but if you don’t ask if there’s any chance of an upgrade then you won’t get one and if you’re a loyal customer to the cruise line your chances are even higher, so keep on booking (granted you should wait until nearer the date of your cruise, or maybe wait until you’re even on-board). If you’re making a large booking for around 15 people or more, the cruise line might even give you one cabin for free or at a discounted price, so bite the bullet and just enquire! And this could be a long shot, but some major cruise lines will give free passage to guests qualified to lecture on-board. So if you feel you might have the skills or experience then give their entertainment office a ring- after all, stranger things have happened!
Our speciality cruise consultant Brad told us: ‘Costa are offering a full refund of the cruise fare, transportation arrangements confirmed to get you to the cruise AND will even pay for your journey back, if they haven’t won you over within 24 hours of boarding. Cruise line’s are more giving than you might think!’ Read more of Brad’s blog here.
5- Hack The Sea Sickness
If you’re new to sailing your stomach might not settle at sea so make sure you follow these remedies to give you a cure: ginger ale and ginger pills will be found on-board just for this purpose and green apples are also the most popular recommendation for a natural solution to feeling ill from the motion (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!) No one wants to have to retire to their cabin every time they feel a little unwell so try relaxing in the pool instead; this is brilliant because you’ll move with the water in the pool rather than the ship which will ease any nausea, plus it’ll feel cool and refreshing which is an added distraction. Lastly, to prevent sea sickness altogether try booking a room on a lower deck and towards the middle of the ship as you’ll find the motion is a lot subtler there. Check out our guide on seven positions on a cruise ship here!
Our specialist cruise consultant Henry told us: ‘My wife is one of the world’s worst sailors, but by taking some anti-sea sick tablets she loves her cruising!’ Read the rest of Henry’s tips for cruising with an illness here.
6- Stay Connected
Travelling with a large group of family or friends? Well some ships may not have great wifi and if they do there’ll be a daily charge per person, so why not bring along some walkie talkies! That’s right, they’re not just good for the kids Christmas presents because with these you can save yourselves the fee, never worry about getting lost and can go off and do your own thing with the ease of meeting up later with no hassle. Or if you’re wanting to connect with those at home but are on a ship that charges for internet by the minute, have your email or message already written then when you pay for your first minute you can merely copy and paste and send it off in a flash- saving time and money!
Our cruise consultant Molly told us: ‘Sometimes one of the biggest disappointments for me is the internet connectivity on-board; it wasn’t until after I had got home I realized the connectivity promised wasn’t available in the UK, but once the ship reached the destination (New York)!’ Read more of Molly’s blog here.
7- Choose Your Cabin Wisely
Although you have a few options for which cabin you think suits you best, it is important you consider the pro’s and con’s: for example, inside cabins are usually a safe choice for first-time-cruisers, however might not be good for those with claustrophobia as there’s no window (the same might apply for those with seasickness if you choose a room with a porthole!) And balcony rooms might be perfect for couples who love that exclusive, luxury feel but is an added worry for families sharing the room with kids so maybe check recommendations for the person or group you’re travelling with before you book! Also, maybe check before you go where your cabin is positioned on the ship as some can be louder than others e.g. sleeping under a well-travelled area might mean hearing the constant sound of people dragging around deckchairs!
Our speciality cruise consultant Hannah told us: ‘The golden rule: don’t book a guaranteed cabin in any given category unless you would be happy with a cabin in that category! By booking a guaranteed cabin you are agreeing to allow the ship to allocate it. So cheapest isn’t always best!’ Read more of Hannah’s tips on her blog here.
8- No Need To Tiptoe Around Gratuity!
Yes, most gratuities are automatically added on to your bill and it is usually a certain fee per day, per person, but it’s equally distributed between cabin attendants, waiters and chefs. Not to mention, you will always have the freedom to alter it at your discretion or remove it completely and many passengers do this so there’s no need to feel like this is an awkward topic! The process is simple and only requires you to take a trip to reception, fill in a form and there you have it. Although, most travellers do prefer to wait until the end of their trip to decide if they want to do this to make sure that the gratuity they pay has been worth the money. A lot of cruise line’s offer you envelopes if you want to leave individual tips to your personal cabin stewards or waiters if you feel you have loved their service that much.
Our speciality cruise consultant Edward told us: ‘You have two options: to pre-pay your gratuities before you sail, but keep in mind that this will go into a big pot and is shared out between all of the crew, some that might not even serve you! Or remove them and tip the crew that serve you if you feel they have gone the extra mile and deserve it’. You can read more of Edward’s blog here.
9- Use Metal To Keep You Organised
This may sound like a weird one but one fact that’s always forgotten about ships is that they’re made out of metal! So turn the walls in your cabin into a plus-sized daily plan for your holiday by bringing magnets from your fridge at home to stick your itineraries and deck plans up opposite your bed or on your door. This way you’ll never forget each tiny detail of the ship or the plan you made yourselves for every day of your time on the ship. Use magnetic clips to hang up your key card (we’re all bad for throwing this down when we come in from a busy day and losing it the moment we need it) or you could even leave notes for your family and friends if you’ve all gone your separate ways for the day. If you’ve had some excellent service why not go the extra mile and leave a nice message for your cabin attendant or maybe a ‘sorry for the mess’ note (you know who you are!)
Our specialist cruise consultant Eve told us: ‘It’s better to be organized so you can have peace of mind that you’re all set and know exactly what you have got planned in ports each day.’ Read more of Eve’s blog here.
10- A Checklist Goes A Long Way
Okay, if you’re a first time traveller you won’t class yourself as a cruise geek just yet but being organized is key for avoiding all stress and hassle during your stay (after all, that’s what holiday’s should be free of, right?) So there’s nothing wrong with a checklist! There’ll most likely be a lot of things you don’t even think to bring so let us name just a few that you musn’t forget:
- Travel insurance and passport (okay, obvious but very important)
- Camera or video camera (how can you make people jealous if you can’t show them the sunset view you had from your balcony?)
- Chargers for your electronics and a travel adapter (you’ll be surprised how many people forget this)
- Alarm clock (your cabin won’t have one and your time is limited: no time to lose!)
- Guide books and maps for your destination (time to embrace being a tourist)
- Extra hangers (your cabin will supply a few but if you’ve brought one too many outfit options you’ll need one too many hangers)
- Wine (if this has perked you up a little bit then yes, we can confirm it’s true: most cruise lines allow one bottle per passenger so…white or red?)
- Earplugs (you never know what your cabin will be placed next to but if it’s slightly noisy these will solve everything)
Our specialist cruise consultant Claire told us: ‘I take the company ‘Go Pro’ on my cruises so I can record my trip for everyone to watch- it’s sure to make informative and amusing viewing, especially for people wanting to visit the same area of the world as me!’ You can read more of Claire’s views on her blog here.
There you have it newbies, a guide for your first trip! What was your favourite tip? Where are you sailing to first? Or for anyone who’s sailed before, leave us the most useful things you’ve learnt from your journey’s!
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