You’ve scoured the internet and found your bargain cruise, dug out your passports from the bottom drawer and the dog’s booked into the kennels but there’s still that voice in your head telling you that you’ve forgotten something…
For some, a cruise is the holiday of a lifetime and having a good idea of the do’s and don’ts before you depart can make all the difference between a dream cruise and a holiday from hell.
We’ve put together a few tips below to help you along.
- Communication is an integral part of peoples lives these days, we live in a connected society and while some will switch off their mobile as they walk up the gangway, others may need or want to remain in contact with the outside world.
- The good news is that most modern cruise ships will have telephone and internet access. The bad news is that using it for any length of time can start to get VERY expensive, so be sure to check the rates before watching Coronation Street on iPlayer!
- Some river cruises do provide free wireless internet access although using your mobile will still incur roaming charges which can also be very expensive. And remember that it also costs to receive calls while roaming abroad.
What not to wear
There was a time when a cruise meant white ties and evening dresses after 6pm and that is still the case for some but for many modern cruises, a more casual approach has been adopted, although evening wear is sometimes a requirement. The fact is that each and every cruise line will have their own dress code so checking before you pack may prevent a wardrobe disaster.
One tip worth passing on is to try not to over pack. You’ll no doubt be treating yourself to a little retail therapy so leave some room for a few new additions to your wardrobe.
Saying thank you
The more I tipped, the more helpful staff became is a story you often hear and while it probably shouldn’t be the case, we’re all human and cruise staff are no different.
It’s tough to offer advice on how much and when to tip because like dress code, each cruise company will have their own guidelines. Best to check online before you sail.
One thing that does seem common throughout the industry, is that most drinks carry a 15% gratuity so extra tips are at your discretion.
We can control most things these days but the weather isn’t one of them and for some, a rough sea can mean a rough stomach. Sea sickness isn’t pleasant and if you’re one of those that suffers from it, a few precautions can help to smooth things out.
If you know that you don’t cope well with heavy seas, book a cabin towards thecentre of the ship and the lower the better. Visit your doctor a week or two before you’re due to sail and ask for medication to help, it will sometimes need to be taken in advance.
If you do encounter rough weather and none of these things seems to be working, try lying down and/or eating a dry cracker such as a Jacobs. If that doesn’t work and you are sick then it’s important to drink water to avoid dehydration.
Book early to avoid disappointment
A cruise is an ideal opportunity for pampering and adventure in equal measure. Most cruises have a vast array of on board activities and shore excursions but with upwards of 4000 guests, the most popular of these can quickly become booked up so our advice is to book as soon as you embark.
Don’t miss the boat
If you’re the independent type who likes to do your own thing, port visits can be an excellent opportunity to put in a little shopping or sample the local cuisine, but whatever you do, don’t lose track of time.
Getting back to the ship late will most likely mean your ship has sailed, literally. If this does happen, your only option is to make it to the next port of call at your own expense.
Beware and Be aware
Do you remember the 70’s advertising slogan, “Watch out, there’s a thief about”? It’s true and having all your money and valuables stolen would ruin most peoples holiday so be careful.
Carry as little cash as possible, and keep all money, travel checks, tickets, passports and other documents with you until you’ve boarded the ship. DO NOT leave it in your luggage.
When you’re on board ship, ensure that you keep your room locked at all times. Some ships have a safe in each berth but if yours doesn’t and you have anything of value, consider asking to have them stored in the ships safe.
Many larger cruise ships have an on-board casino and while it can be quite exciting to risk a few Pounds on the roulette table or have a flutter at blackjack, don’t get carried away and leave yourself short. Likewise with alcohol. Let’s be honest, many Brits like a drink and for some a free bar is too much of a temptation! If you’re one of those people, try not to over indulge, a drunken outburst is unlikely to endear you to your fellow passengers.
Do your homework
Like with any holiday, doing your homework beforehand will pay dividends. The internet is awash with sites like ours where you can pick up tips and learn from others experiences, good and bad. Have a read of our ultimate cruise guide for beginners for some independent hints and tips!
Our final tip, don’t forget your passport!