As a veteran of five cruising holidays (both here and overseas), I’ve learned quite a few tips and tricks worth noting, particularly if you are a first-time cruiser.
The hubster and I had to learn the hard way (ie through experience), but now I’m sharing my best cruise tips and tricks with you (’cause I’m nice like that 😉 ).
Tip 1: Choosing a Cabin
When you book your cruise, you will be asked to choose a cabin. But what should you look for? Is it a pro or a con to be close to the stairs and lifts? Higher up or lower down? In the middle or at the end of the ship?
My top tip – DON’T get a room under the buffet dining area. On our first Mediterranean cruise, the hubster and I were woken early each morning by scraping noises overhead. It took a couple of days for us to work out our room was under the buffet, and that we were being not-so-pleasantly serenaded by the movement of chairs on the floor above …
Tip 2: What if there’s no Window?!
Interior cabins are cheaper, but the disadvantage is that you don’t get any natural daylight. So how do you know that morning has broken?
We learned this tip on our cruise to New Zealand in 2012. Turn on the television in your cabin to the “shipcam” station – ie, the camera showing the view from the bridge -usually the picture is accompanied by elevator music.
All you have to do is mute the volume when you go to sleep at night – because it’s dark outside, the television screen will be dark. But as it gets light, you will have your very own “window on the world” to let you know it’s time to rise and shine!
Tip 3: Room Service for Breakfast
We are sleepy heads and find it very hard to get up and at ’em when on a cruise, even with the lure of a wonderful breakfast waiting for us upstairs.
We found that ordering room service was a lovely way to start the day. Breakfast itself is included, so all you are paying for is the delivery fee – usually only a couple of dollars. Well worth it in our books!
Tip 4: Water Water Everywhere
When you’re on a cruise, it can be very much a case of “water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink” – of cold water anyway. We bought a cheap ($2) plastic jug in port, which we filled with tap water from the bathroom and kept in the bar fridge in our room.
You can get water from the drink stations in all the restaurants, but it is so much more convenient to be able to have cold water in your own room.
Tip 5: Electrical Adapters
Uh-oh! You’re on an overseas cruise and suddenly realise you’ve forgotten to bring an adapter.
We’ve found you can usually hire – or even borrow one for free – from the reception desk, so make sure you ask before you try to buy one!
Tip 6: Shore Excursions
Sure, you can book your shore excursions through the cruise company – but it can be quite pricey. If time at your port of call is tight, you are probably better off sticking with the cruise line (for example, we did this when we docked at Salerno in Italy for only half a day and wanted to squeeze in a trip to Pompeii).
However, if time is not so much of an issue, it’s cheaper with other companies – either book online before you go, or pick one up when you arrive in port.
In some ports (like Port Vila in Vanuatu), you will find a line of taxis waiting. Don’t be afraid to haggle on the price of hiring the taxi for the day – if they won’t agree, try the next one.
I’m dreaming of doing another cruise, perhaps in North America … in the meantime I enjoy remembering our past cruising holidays, and sharing all my best tips, tricks and pics, here on the blog!
If you’ve ever done a cruise, what tip would you like to pass on to first-time cruisers?
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