Ok guys, so one of my passions in life (besides cooking and writing about it in my food blog) is traveling. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always had this passion for travel. I’ve always been fascinated by how big the world is and how small we are in comparison to it all.
Back in my early 20s I was a travel agent for about 5 years. I loved it, but the pay was not that great. I did it for the love and the travel benefits. Then things in the travel industry started to change. More people were booking on the internet instead of going through an agent. The airlines used to offer us free tickets every year, then they stopped.
No longer were hotels offering free stays, or car rental agencies offering free rentals. It’s sad what happened to that industry. I chose to leave a job I once loved because the travel benefits were no longer there. I decided then and there that I needed to make enough money to be able to travel freely in life. Well, MANY years later, I feel I’m at that point. It was a long road to get here.
The last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to cruise on a whim every so often. My boyfriend Cary started working on cruise ships as a musician. So sometimes he’ll get a contract on a ship and be gone for 6 months or more. Yes it’s hard to be apart sometimes, but we always seem to make it work. I’ve been fortunate to be able to cruise on almost every ship he has worked on.
I’ve become quite cruise savvy, and decided I needed to share my knowledge of cruising with you guys. There are many things I wish I had known before cruising, so I feel if I can help someone out who is a first time cruiser, or just wants more information, then great! That makes me happy:)
Cruise Tip #1:
Consider buying Travel Insurance. I know I am totally guilty of not doing this, and luckily (knock on wood) I’ve never needed it. With that being said, one of my friends had booked a cruise without insurance and had a sudden family emergency at the last minute and couldn’t make the cruise. Not fun to deal with if you don’t have insurance. Travel Insurance is usually pretty cheap, around $30 per person. I now highly recommend it. I recommend World Nomads for Travel Insurance.
Cruise Tip #2:
Consider an Interior room. Yes the though of having a balcony where you can sit and have coffee the next morning while looking out at the ocean is enticing. But the cost difference is HUGE between balcony cabins and interior cabins. In reality you are only going to be sleeping in your room, because you will be too busy doing other things on your cruise. So hey, why not save some money and use it towards a shore excursion instead. And honestly, I still enjoy my morning coffee with a balcony view, on the main deck. 🙂
Cruise Tip #3:
Check your documents. Make sure your passport or visa if required is up to date. Also call your credit card company or bank to let them know where you will be so they don’t put a hold on your transactions thinking it’s a fraud.
Cruise Tip #4:
If you have to fly, choose a flight the day before you cruise and spend the night near your port of call. Because nobody wants to miss their cruise because of a flight delay. Plus this gives you more time to relax before you cruise. Win Win! 🙂
Cruise Tip #5:
I’m guilty of over packing, and trying to sit on my suitcase to get it to zip closed. 😛 But over the years, I have to say I’ve become much better at packing light. I am now able to go almost anywhere, with just 1 carry on suitcase, YES it’s true!
I started by looking at what I did not wear on my vacation when I returned home. Turns out it was over half of everything I had brought.
First off, most cruise ships have laundry facilities (double check ahead of time). You can do it yourself or pay to have someone do it for you. You might be thinking, who wants to do laundry on vacation? Well to me it’s worth it, and to not lug around 3 heavy suitcases with stuff I’ll never use. Oh, and closet space is very small in the cruise cabins. So you don’t want to try and figure out where you’re going to store your suitcases once you unpack.
There are a few ways to get everything to fit in your carry on suitcase. You can simply roll each piece of clothing tightly and place next to each item.
Or you can use Space Saver Bags (No Vacuum Pump Needed).
I have tried both methods and discovered the space saver bags made my clothes super wrinkly. Rolling the clothes and fitting them in my luggage worked much better for me and clothes have less wrinkles if any at all. Because who wants to iron on your vacation? Not me! 🙂
Note: I have only been on Caribbean cruises at the time of writing this, so this packing advise is for warm weather. 🙂
Basic things the ladies need to pack, and keep it basic.
I pack 1 fancy dresses (for formal nights, this is optional if you want to participate in this). One pair of dress heels, yes only one ladies! I’m a shoe lover too, but there is no need to have a whole suitcase full of shoes! 🙂 I choose a silver pair, it goes with every dress I have.
2 – 3 swimsuits, 1 – 2 cover ups (trust me you will live in your swimsuit and cover up almost the entire time. You can buy some cover ups that look like dresses, so it’s comfortable to have lunch in them or walk around to go shopping.
2 pairs of flip flops (one dressy, one casual). Make sure they are both comfortable to walk a lot in. I’ve experienced bloody toes from flip flops I had not worn in prior. Not fun! I also put my shoes in a gallon size ziplock bag to put in my carry on, so they don’t dirty up my clothes.
1 pair of tennis shoes, wear them on your first and last day so you don’t have to pack them.
4 light weight skirts, 4 light weight shirts, 7 pair of underwear, 2 bras, 2 pair of socks, 1 workout outfit. (Yes with all of the eating you do on a cruise, it’s important to get some sort of a work out in).
2 purses (small), 1 beach style and 1 dressy for formal nights.
Makeup bag and toiletries.
FYI: Every ship I have been on has a body soap dispenser and a shampoo dispenser in the shower (you can check this ahead of time to make sure). If you need conditioner for your hair, you will need to bring your own.
Hairspray, you will only need it for formal nights mostly. And on these nights I suggest staying inside the ship. Once you open the doors to go outside it’s like stepping into a wind tunnel and your fancy dew will be blown out. I happen to like the wind blown look for my hair, just not on formal night. 🙂
Guys, you usually pack pretty basic right?! Sorry I didn’t make a long list for you. Basically you will need a couple of swim trunks, a nice outfit to wear for dinners, a pair of dress shoes, flip flops, tennis shoes, and a few casual outfits to wear.
Sunscreen, depending on the airline rules if you’re flying with carry on only, you may only be allowed a small bottle. You can always purchase more when you land.
Cruise Tip #6:
Turn off your cell phone data!
This is a HUGE one, believe me you do not want to be stuck with an $800 cell phone bill at the end of your vacation.
Turn off your cellular data.
Turn off your Wifi.
And just to be extra safe, put your phone in Airplane Mode.
I have an iPhone, so I use this for taking all of my pictures.
I use it to set an alarm clock if needed as well.
I also use it to keep track of time. When you go to shore you are always supposed to go by (ship time) even if island time is different. So if your phone is in airplane mode, it will not automatically adjust the time zone. It will always show ship time. You don’t want to be late coming back from a shore excursion and miss your boat!
Cruise Tip #7:
Always book your shore excursion through the cruise line. I can’t tell you how many excursions I’ve been on (booked through the ship) that have come back late, due to traffic or whatever. The ship will NOT leave without you if you booked the excursion through them. But if you wanted to save a few bucks and booked through someone else…well then you better have enough money to catch a flight to the next island of port the ship stops at because the boat will NOT wait for you!
Cruise Tip #8:
You can shower in luxury with plenty of room in the spa area of the ship. I have not tried this yet, but you can bet I will when I go on my next cruise! Because the cabin showers are tiny! I cannot wait to try this! 🙂
Cruise Tip #9:
Skip the photo ops. Ok splurge for 1 really great family photo. But don’t let the photographers suck you in every day and night for more photos. The photos on the ship are expensive, and it’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and see all 20 of these amazing pictures they took of you, only to cave in and buy them all.
Cruise Tip #10:
Skip the Spas, they will try to offer specials especially on the first day you arrive. The prices of these services are nearly double what you would pay ashore. My advice, get a massage in your hometown before you leave. Or better yet, get a massage on the beach! A lot of beaches will have this available for a fraction of the price. I once got a 30 minute full body massage on the beach in Mexico for $20. 🙂
Happy Cruising! 🙂
Discloser: This post contains Affiliate links
Walter M. Bay
Very useful tips, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to see more tips like these.