Still on the fence about whether a cruise vacation is right for you? I feel you. I felt the same way.
My first cruise was way back when. At a time where I didn’t have to color these grays I’m getting…say circa…the dawn of the new millennium. It was a honeymoon cruise and was a special treat for the two of us just starting out on our new journey together. After our honeymoon, I took a break from travel in general. No cruises. No flights. A road trip every summer was about all I could handle between work, college, a new marriage and a toddler. And then, about five years ago, the tide began to change. I was no longer a 20-something, newlywed, college student with a toddler. I was a seasoned wife with a teenage daughter. A daughter and husband who loved boats and me, the girl who loves to travel. It was time to revisit cruising. And revisit we did…again and again. Six cruises in the past 12 months alone. It helps that we live on a peninsula surrounded by water with more cruise ports close by than we can count on one hand. But I digress. If you’re thinking of booking a cruise vacation (and I emphatically petition you to) here are tips that I wish I had known as a first time cruiser: 1. Power Strip – Put four or five family members in a stateroom and see how much jockeying for plug-in-time ensues. Or just pack a power strip. This way, mom can charge her phone at the same time that Dad is charging his camera battery, while one of the kids is charging a tablet. Problem solved. Use caution though – a power strip with six or seven electronic devices charging all at once might cause unforeseen problems. You should also consider bringing a brand new power strip (still in packaging), because cruise line personnel can confiscate a power strip that’s deemed to be potentially unsafe.
9. Embarkation day discounts abound – Most folks are checking out the ship and getting settled in on embarkation day. Check out the “embarkation day” specials when you board. Spas most always have an embarkation day special. Also, specialty restaurants people haven’t happened upon yet are easy to get reservations at on the first night. Carnival’s Steakhouse offers a free bottle of wine if you dine on embarkation day.
10. Pop up laundry hamper – While you’re at the dollar store picking up your magnetic dry erase board, think about picking up a cheapie pop up laundry hamper as well. They are easy to stow in your cabin closet and will keep all of the dirties corralled in a designated area. When you are packing up on the last day simply dump all the dirties into a suitcase and fold the hamper back flat and slide it into the suitcase or leave it on the ship. It was only $1.
11. Battery operated tea lights – Another dollar store find. These make amazing nightlights for bathrooms!
12. Always pay attention to SHIP’S TIME – You don’t want to be the knucklehead running down the dock as the ship is throwing off tie-lines to sail away. Ship’s time rules on the high seas. It doesn’t matter if you’ve sailed into a different time zone. Keep your watch set on ship’s time. Don’t rely on your cell phone, which may switch to local time if you are in port and take your phone off airplane mode. A wristwatch is always best.
13. Purchase an international cell package before leaving – My husband had a whopping cell phone bill after our last 8-nighter. Of course, if had he pre-purchased a Caribbean plan before we left port it would have been a whole lot cheaper. Contact your cell phone service provider and let them know where you will be traveling. They will likely offer a package to suit your needs.