- Watch for sales. Cruise lines often have deals for booking early and even last minute, such as onboard credit and discounts.
- Consider booking through a travel agent. We used AAA on our last cruise and received a lot of incentives such as priority boarding and a dinner at a specialty restaurant.
- Choose your cabin location wisely. I avoid cabins near areas that are loud and receive heavy traffic (thin walls). I also stay away from hallway entrances, there will be a lot of people passing by the room near the stair/elevator lobbies. People walking by at 1 am while you’re sleeping can be annoying.
- Decide what cabin is best for you. My first cruise cabin was a balcony, the second was an interior ocean view cabin (meaning we had small windows to look out of). I have done balcony ever since. I don’t like to hang out on the crowded pool decks, so it is nice to have the privacy of a balcony where I can enjoy the breeze. It also gives you a little more space to stretch out in.
- Reserve your spot for shows to ensure you have a seat. Guests without reservations still have the opportunity to see the show, but it makes it easier for you if you have a reservation.
- Book shore excursions. I always book through the cruise line because they offer a guarantee in the event that your excursion’s return to the ship is delayed.
- Buy travel insurance. You most likely won’t need it, but it is great to have just in case.
- Inform your bank that you will be traveling. Most banks have this option online, put in the dates and locations of travel so that they don’t assume your card has been stolen and disable your card.
- Complete the online check-in. This way you will have forms already filled out and your boarding pass and luggage tags printed.
- Use Priority Boarding if you are eligible. This was an awesome benefit to have, we walked into the cruise port, talked to one person for a few minutes to ensure we had all the documents, then we walked onto the ship. Easy. The normal boarding process typically involves a long line (depending on what time you arrive). You can get priority boarding from travel agents, the cruise loyalty program, or when booking some suites.
- Have your cruise and identification documents at easy access.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You may be standing in lines for check-in. Once on the ship, elevators are crazy the first day with everyone trying to explore the ship, so you may be taking the stairs to get places faster and will be thankful for good walking shoes.
- Leave your luggage with the porters. This way you will not be lugging your suitcase around until your room is ready and you’ll move through security faster. The porters will take your luggage and it will be delivered to your cabin. Remember to tip your porter.
- Give yourself plenty of time to arrive to the port. This way you’ll account for unexpected traffic and the unfamiliarity of the city.
- Go to as many shows and events as you can.
- Go to seminars and learn something new. I enjoy going to art seminars to learn about featured artists and the art auctions are a lot of fun to sit in on. I’ve also learned how to shop for diamonds and about treasure hunting.
- Lounge by the pools (or on your private balcony).
- Take a run. Enjoy the state-of-the-art fitness center and running track.
- Find some thrills. Some ships now offer ziplining, rock wall climbing, water slides, and more.
- Seek out peace and quiet. Get away from the noise and busyness and take some time for yourself. You’re on vacation after all!
- Eat a big breakfast on the ship. If you want food in port, you’ll have to spend money on it. We eat a large breakfast before we get off the ship so that we won’t get hungry for several hours and eat as soon as we get back on after our port day.
- Bring your Cruise ID card. This will be scanned when leaving the ship and you’ll have to have it to board.
- Carry photo ID with you (such as drivers license), a credit card and some cash. Passports are typically not necessary and can be left in your room, but be sure to check your daily cruise compass for specifics.
- Bring anything that you might need including medicine and water. Check the weather and bring sun or rain protection. You might also want to have insect repellent depending on where you are and what you will be doing. Leave valuable jewelry in your room safe.
- It is totally acceptable to take a nap after busy shore excursions.
- If you are doing any activities near water, bring dry bags or pouches to keep your items dry. I like to have this waterproof case with me. It is big enough to hold cash and cards, as well as a phone, and you can keep it on your neck while in the water.
- Check your bill. This should be delivered to your room and you’ll want to make sure you do not have any incorrect charges and get those fixed with customer service. If you wait until you are off the ship, you may find it difficult or even impossible to correct these charges.
- Have your identification documents at easy access.
- If you are able to carry your luggage, take advantage of the self disembarkation. You’ll have to carry your luggage off the ship on your own, but you’ll be one of the first to get off the ship and through customs.
- If you choose to utilize the ships luggage services, you’ll pack your suitcase and leave it in the hallway the night before debarkation day, but make sure you leave yourself clothes to wear the next day! Or else you’ll be wearing your PJs as you leave the ship.
- Take your time and enjoy a last (already paid for) breakfast on the ship. Unless you have a tight timeline.
- Keep your room card with you. These will be scanned as you leave the ship and you can’t leave without it.
- Leave tips for outstanding crew members. If you received excellent service from any members, you’ll be provided with an envelope in your room to leave tips for them or you can also hand them tips. They have worked hard to provide you with an amazing experience, so remember them before you leave.
Last, don’t forget to have fun!! Do you have any cruising tips? If so, leave them in the comments below!
Until next time,