Before You Cruise

My friend Heather just got back from a Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas.  I asked her to compile some tips for me before and during the journey — this is what she came up with. I hope this helps. Props to her for making this so organized!

BEFORE THE CRUISE

Get your passport

Check prices online

Call cruise line directly

Lock reservation with deposit

Call cruise line monthly as well as check website for price changes – if goes down call cruise line and lock the lower price. Hint – this is how travel agencies make their money – as the price goes down they make more – why not have that apply to you

Check out the excursions – preplan and pay before cruise – be sure to take a day to relax in between

Check out the extras – soda packages etc (its cheaper than when on board)

Get the transfer pass – from airport to pier – no worries about luggage and well worth the few bucks to avoid the hassle

Notify your credit card company or banks that you will be traveling out of the country – otherwise they MAY lock the card (some banks prefer a list of ports of call)

Complete the online check in

If you can arrange it – arrive to departure port a day early (especially if outside the US)

Stay a day or two in your last port as these two places are often very interesting (European cruises, Med cruises, Asian cruises, etc). This is really the only way to see those ports

PACKING

Pack wrinkle releaser as irons are no longer allowed

Formal nights – ATTEND and get pix taken – its well worth it

Pack light – rent the tux for formal nights – will be about 80 to 100 USD. DO bring dress shirts and at least one plain if a suit is striped. Ladies – pack as many pair of hose as is formal nights – you WILL run at least one pair

Appliances – curling irons etc – ships are 110 no adapters needed. Most cruise lines have
hair driers as well

Leave your laptop at home – internet service is available on ship

Shoes – tennis shoes, dress shoes and a pair of casual shoes – think comfort
Bring an extra bag or backpack for souvenirs

Bring a lightweight jacket as it gets cool at night on deck. For ladies – pashminas are wonderful as well as versatile

Fanny packs or similar are great for ports as it leaves hands free for shopping bags

Put an away message on your email/voicemail with a return date of a day or so AFTER you get home

ON THE SHIP

Keep up with events there is something for everyone

Go to the shows – many headliners and a wide range and variety of entertainment

Breakfast room service is wonderful – and FREE

Laundry service for the essentials is available on ship – watch for the discount days

Also, read your bill – be it on the ship or in a port. Many times the tip is already included

Pictures – prepare for a couple hundred bucks

Valuables – use the cabin safe for jewelry and extra cash etc

I prefer the later dinner to allow more time in ports

Tipping – waiter, assistant waiter, steward and head waiter. Personal philosophy – do NOT allow for auto billing. Just as in the US if service is outstanding – tip more. If service is acceptable – the recommended. If service is not quite there – adjust accordingly. Of those mentioned the Head Waiters are salaried. Enough said.

2 Responses

  1. The number one thing to do is stay healthy BEFORE the cruise. You don’t want to be sick onboard. Eat, rest and take care of yourself! Secondly, be sure to fill out any online information BEFORE you board! This will save you a ton of time. On Royal Caribbean it’s called a “set sail pass”. Get all your documentation together and jump online and plug it in! Also, when you board, to make it faster, pretend you are going through airport security. Pack anything that might set off the metal detector! Also, keep close control of the kids!

  2. HI ,
    I’M CRUISING ON THE MONARCH OF THE SEA..I WAS WONDERING IF YOU KNOW IF YOU CAN BRING WATER AND BEER ONBOARD THE SHIP WHEN BOARDING FOR THE FIRST TIME?? THANKS,MARC

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