Top 5 Tips for an Unforgettable Caribbean Cruise

I’ve been to the Caribbean a few times, and with every trip comes more knowledge about this beautiful and exotic region. Here are 5 Caribbean cruise tips.

1. Research Your Ports

Make sure you know what you do when you get to port. Some ports, like Nassau and Aruba offer things for cruisers right off the pier, while others, like La Romana, Dominican Republic don’t offer much right off the ship. When booking your cruise make sure you do research through the cruise line, message boards or excursion companies like Cruising Excursions for up to 60% off excursions.

2. Keep an Open Mind

This tip is mostly valid if you cruise the Caribbean June-November, or hurricane season. The captain’s decision to skip a port is usually in the best interest of the cruise passenger or the structural integrity of the ship. Roll with the flow.

3. Stay on Ship Time

Make sure you stay on ship’s time and not island time on your cruise. A big Cruise Director joke is that one of the best shots you can take of the cruise ship is when it’s sailing away from the pier. It’s a very true statement, but you don’t want to be the one taking the photo! Get back to the ship on time and don’t always rely on your phone. If your phone is on, it could sync up with the local time. Oftentimes an hour different.

4. The Ship is Not a Bank

On my last cruise people were complaining that the service charge to use the ATM was outrageous, and they were right. The ATM surcharge aboard the ship can go upwards of $8 per transaction.

I found two ways around paying this surcharge.

  1. Go to a table at the casino and buy chips with your sail card, take those chips and cash them right after you make the transaction.
  2. Think ahead and bring enough bills with you when you get on the ship. One of my last stops before I leave home is stopping by the ATM. If you have cash, they are happy to give you as many singles as you need.

Be cautious when using ATMs in other countries. I used my ATM in Honduras a couple years ago and someone skimmed my card number and tried to purchase an airline ticket to Europe. Luckily my bank stopped it before it was processed.

5. Keep an open mind

As long as you stay safe and keep your surroundings in mind, don’t be afraid to go against the norm when you’re on vacation. If you see a little market, go in it and see what they have.

Earlier this year I was visiting Aruba and had the bus drop me off downtown and I walked backed to the cruise ship. I found all kind of cool places to eat, casinos and markets on my way back to the ship.

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