Cruise passengers like nothing more than sharing knowledge with other travellers. From planning to packing, and enjoying all that a ship has to offer, they are constantly exchanging great cruising tips.
As we approach the start of Australia’s wave season next month, we’ve compiled 100 of the best. We will be sharing 20 tips with you each week over five weeks.
Feel free to share your best tips in the comments section and help your fellow cruisers out.
They may well make it the final list!
Part 1 – Before your cruise:
1. Cruise port security is nothing like the airport
You and your carry-on luggage still have to go through the x-ray machine and metal detector but you do not have to remove liquids or laptops from your bags.
Cruise lines also do not require you to keep your carry on liquids to 100ml. However, the security agents do flag liquid bottles like wine and can of soda for additional screening as the lines do have rules about how much alcohol or soda you can bring on a ship.
2. Be nice to the crew
They work long days and all days of the week to make sure you have the best time on board. Being courteous to them will go a long way in helping them provide you with the best service.
3. Bring your holiday attitude
Every cruise is different. Let your hair down, go with the flow and have fun! Say hi to any familiar faces, meet new friends, explore the ship and find your favourite spot and activities.
4. Make reservations early to get the best
Reservations for restaurants, shows and spa can be made online weeks prior to your cruise. Your favourite slots might be fully booked if you wait until you are on the ship to make reservations.
5. Make sure you have all the right travel documents
This sounds like a no brainer but the adventure cannot start without getting them lined up right. Most cruises would require a passport and for some local sailings that don’t, you’d still need to bring an official identification. Also, check for Visa requirements of the countries you are visiting and make sure you have travel insurance.
6. Research your ship
This is important for those who would like to maximise their time on board. The more research you do ahead, the less time you spend figuring out the details while on the cruise. A quick look online will let you know what facilities and activities are on board, which restaurants are complimentary and speciality and more. It would also be helpful to look a the shore excursions offered on your itinerary so you can budget for any that you are interested in or organise other tours on your own.
7. Pack a carry on bag
Your checked-in suitcase will only arrive at your room later in the afternoon and possibly after dinner if it is delayed. Pack anything you think you’ll need for the day in a carry on bag, including medications and important documents. You can also pack your swimsuit in your carry on, as the pools and hot tubs are often already open if your room is not ready.
8. Arrive early for embarkation
Most cruise ships will begin boarding four to five hours before sail away. Plan to arrive at the port early, especially if it is your first time at the port. You don’t want to start your cruise stressed out!
9. Put your suitcase under the bed
Putting your suitcase under the bed will really help create more space in your cabin. You might also want to unpack your things and put them in the wardrobe if you are on a longer sailing so you wouldn’t need to constantly reach under the bed.
10. Cabin upgrade offers
You might get a cabin upgrade offer from the cruise line for a small fee. Getting an upgrade from an interior room to a balcony room might sound very enticing but it might be helpful to check where the room is situated in the deck plan to make sure you are happy with its location. Some rooms are close to the engine or have views of the lifeboats!
11. Pack a night light for the cabin
This is especially helpful if you booked an interior room. You will have no light seeping into your room without any windows. Once you turn out the lights at night, it is pitch black. The night light will help you get to the toilet safely at night.
12. Cruise lines do provide babysitting services
This one is for parents who are thinking of cruising with kids. The ships have kids clubs where you can drop them off in the day but also have a range of babysitting options. This includes late night in-cabin babysitting, group babysitting and also mealtime babysitting. Check with your line to see what they offer and how much it costs per hour.
13. Browse the daily cruise schedule
The schedule will have plenty of ideas for what to do on the day, perfect for those who prefer to play things by ear. The newsletter usually features daily event highlights, entertainment, special offers at the bar and spa and more. If you need more ideas, just ask the crew! You can also take a photo of the daily schedule so you can easily refer back to it throughout the day.
14. Get to know your cabin steward
Cabin stewards not only have plenty of information about the ship but also the ports that the ship visits. They may have been to these ports personally or heard about the other guests talking about their experiences on shore. If they don’t know the answer to your question, they’ll know whom you need to ask.
15. You can ask for the bed configuration to be changed
You might get in to your room to find a double bed but would much prefer two single beds. Just inform your cabin stewards (or even leave them a note), they would be happy to make the change.
16. Check your onboard account regularly
Keep an eye on your on board daily spend. Things can sometimes be incorrectly charged to you or packages not correctly applied to your account. Checking on your account regularly will allow you to correct these issues promptly and also keep track of your spending so you don’t get a shock on the last day of your cruise and spend it trying to fix your bill.
17. Breakfast in the Main Dining Room
Some people do not realise that the Main Dining Room serves breakfast too. But this one is for the early risers as breakfast service usually ends around 9am. The buffet breakfast can go on till 10 or 11.
18. You can order multiple servings in the main dining room
If you can’t choose between the selection of entrées and mains on the menu, you can just order both. It is your holiday, go on and indulge!
19. Ask for half portions
You can also half portions when you order multiple servings so you can try all that is offered and not waste any food.
20. You can always ask to change table
Table sharing can be fun as you get to meet new people and make new friends. But if you’d like a quiet meal with your travel companion or don’t enjoy the company of your current table for any reason, feel free to ask for a change of table.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.