Cruise Tips During Your Cruise

 

To prepare yourself for this exercise of thinking about and reading about taking a cruise, I suggest you find and crank up some steel drum music! While playing the music, try this:

Close your eyes and pretend the music is coming from a live Caribbean steel drum band. You’re in a comfortable lounge chair and although you’re in the sun you can feel a cool ocean breeze across your face. In your hand is a glass of cold tropical fruit punch and you’re trying to decide whether to have lobster or Filet Mignon when you meet with your new friends in the ship’s dining room this evening! You’re far away from the rat race and you can think clearly about the important things in life while your body receives some well deserved rest.

Now open one eye and browse through the following bits of information that will help you enjoy the best vacation of your life!!!

The following is a tapestry of tips that are in no certain order and remember:

“Sometimes it’s those little things that make all the difference!”

 

  1. Fluids Are Important – I’m sure there’s a lot of fluid in all that food you’re eating at the buffet – still it’s a good idea to stay hydrated. Tropical drinks are good for you I’m sure but don’t worry, it’s still cool to walk around with a bottle of water.
  2. Shoes – Be sure to wear comfortable shoes for walking around sightseeing and make sure they have non-slip soles. The ship’s deck is often wet from being washed down. A friend of mine decided to walk around the pool deck barefooted, he slipped down at a newly varnished slippery spot and busted his ribs. The busted ribs caused a lung abscess and he almost died. He was in the hospital for several weeks. Now the reason I’m telling you this is to help you remember to bring non-slip water shoes or sandals that wrap around your heel. Also, bring comfortable non-slip walking shoes. If you’re going to the beach a slip-on pair of water shoes come in handy. There is often sharp rocks under the water – not to mention stingrays!
  3. Dress up night – Most people don’t like to dress up but hey, pretend you’re a kid and make it fun. Somehow being dressed up makes a night more special. If the ladies don’t have an evening gown just a regular dress or a nice pantsuit will do. If the guys can’t stand a tie just get a turtleneck shirt and jacket. If none of that appeals to you there’s always room service and a nap to get ready to party all night long!
  4. Photographs – Something that goes along with dress up night is a formal portrait. They cost a little more than you may want to spend but it’s a lot cheaper than a portrait studio at home. It’s also a great chance to get a family portrait if everyone’s there.
  5. Protecting Photos – You’ll probably end up with lots of photos to bring home. If you pack a large manila envelope with a thick piece of cardboard in the bottom of your suitcase you can place your photos there for the trip home.
  6. This Tip Is Real Important – The last night of the cruise you have to pack your bags and place them outside your cabin door to be picked up. Don’t forget to leave something unpacked to wear home! If you don’t you’ll look pretty silly wearing your pajamas home.
  7. This Is Also Very Important – On the last night of the cruise when you place your luggage outside your door, ALWAYS use a zip tie, not only for the main lock but also for the side pockets. The reason is because while your luggage is outside your door, it’s available to the general public to rifle through it or hide something it it. This rarely happens but it’s best to be safe.
  8. Gratuities – Other than room and board and a very small paycheck the tips are the only real salary the workers receive and they really work hard. Please be sure to put back extra tip money so you won’t accidentally spend it. Most cruise ships automatically charge your gratuities to your Ship Credit Card account.  In the past, I preferred paying all the tips in cash but because of how many of the employees you never see get paid, I now recommend allowing the ship to charge your on board account. If you do allow the ship to add the tips to your on board account, you should at least give them a little extra in cash if they’ve done a good job. If you divide your extra tips out ahead of time it will save you from running for change on the last night of the cruise. Remember the room steward and waiter each receives a minimum of $4.50 to $5.50 per day and the assistant waiter receives $3.50 to $4.50 per day. You can give the Maitre d’ or “Head Waiter” a total of about $1.00 a day but only if he spends time making sure your meals are perfect. As I understand it, the “Head Waiter” or person in charge receives a reasonable salary but the regular waiters, assistant waiters, bar waiters and room stewards are at the mercy of the generosity of the cruise ship passengers. Another time you should tip is if you order room service, try to have a couple of dollars for the person delivering the food. The tips for cocktails and soft drinks are automatically added to your bill. Here’s something else to remember about tips: If you purchase a prepaid soft drink card for unlimited soft drinks, the tip added for the purchase of that unlimited card is divided among everyone. Because of that, if a waiter realizes you’re only going to be using that card, he shouldn’t, but he may ignore you. That reality doesn’t sound very nice but you know your common sense tells you that these workers are trying to make money – not to be greedy but usually to send back home to their families that desperately need it to survive. Please be sure to give the bar waiter a couple of quarters each time you get a prepaid soda. This will help insure that you don’t get ignored. I know they’re all nice but don’t forget what motivates them!
  9. The Ship’s “Credit Card” – You don’t need to carry around money on the ship. Everything you buy like souvenirs, soft drinks, mixed drinks or even photographs are charged to your Ship Credit Card. When you first board the ship you can go to the Pursers Desk and give cash as a deposit for your card or give them a credit card number. If you give a credit card number or even a check card it can usually be done while checking in even before you board. If you plan to pay with cash, you can leave a deposit but most cruise lines automatically give you a credit account and you can “settle up” at the end of the cruise with either cash or credit card. If you give a cash deposit you’ll have to stand in a long line on the last morning of the cruise to get back what’s left over. Take note that if you leave a cash deposit, you can’t get any of it back until the last day of the cruise unless you get it for a small fee from the cashier in the casino. You can avoid that long line if you close your account on the last evening but of course it would be a bummer if you wanted to purchase a last minute drink or souvenir after you’ve closed it. If you decide to give a cash deposit and have no access to any additional funds, it would be a good idea to ask the Pursers Desk not to allow your account to be overcharged. If you give a credit card or check card it will save you that last minute hassle. Please note however, the ship will not accept a pre-filled gift card. It can be a pre-filled credit card or check card but it must be linked back to you either through your bank or through the credit card company.
  10. Another Point – I’d like to make a point that is something I learned the hard way: Most cruise lines will put several large holds on your credit card during your cruise. After your on board account is actually charged it may take several business days before your credit card company will release those holds. If you don’t have extra funds in your bank this could cause you problems. If you have funds in your checking account and need some spending cash, you can write a personal check for up to $200 at the Pursers Desk. Remember, your Ship Credit Card that you will be given when you check-in is something you will need everywhere you go, guard it very carefully: you see, it’s more than a credit card. It’s also your official ID for getting off and on the ship and it’s also your room key! I’m sure you’ve heard a similar phrase before, but quite literally: Don’t leave your room without it! A neat suggestion is to purchase a spiral key chain that you wear around your wrist; you can then have the Purser’s Desk to punch a hole in your credit card so you can wear it everywhere. I usually wear a lanyard around my neck that has a clear plastic holder for my Ship Credit Card.
  11. Gambling – I’m not a gambler but some people like to donate, yes I said donate… one more time with emphasis, DONATE a few quarters to those one armed bandits just to hear the sounds and see the lights flash. Always set a daily limit before you start and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t even bother waving ’cause it ain’t lookin’ back! Years ago, before computers, it was possible to win big on the first night of the cruise just to get everybody excited but I’ve been assured by those “in the know” that it just doesn’t happen that way anymore. Now if you want a sure thing, the “sure thing” is that you are going to lose money. I don’t want to sound too pessimistic, so the truth is: There is a possibility you could win some of the money others are losing, but if you do, just leave and put it in your pocket and carry it around for a few hours with a big smile on your face. If you don’t, that one armed bandit will practically reach down and take it all back! With all that said, let’s be perfectly honest here: The more money people lose in the casino equals more profit for the cruise company. As long as the cruise company is making a reasonable profit from the casino and other on board activities that are optional, the price of taking a cruise will remain an exceptional value as it is today.
  12. Seasickness – If you get seasick it will ruin your cruise. Unless you’re absolutely sure you don’t get seasick be sure to take something to prevent it just in case. You have several options. A doctor can give you a prescription for a patch that will last the whole time. You can also take one a day Dramamine or Bonine. If it makes you sleepy just take it at night instead of in the morning. If you don’t like taking medicine you can buy wristbands that are supposed to prevent seasickness through pressure points on your wrist. Something else that doesn’t involve drugs is to drink Ginger tea. Since it’s not practical to walk around drinking hot tea I just take a couple of Ginger tablets morning and night. It’s not only supposed to prevent seasickness but is also supposed to help your food digest. It’s available at your drug store in the vitamin section. Get some before you leave!
  13. Check Out This Great Information –  This is a page by Michael O’Gara that’s dedicated totally to the subject of seasickness. Click Here:  http://www.mikeogara.net/seasickness/
  14. Wear Your Sweater – (even in the Caribbean) I know this sounds crazy but they will probably have the air conditioner too cold, especially in the large showroom. They do this on purpose to keep everybody awake after eating that big dinner meal! A long sleeved flannel shirt that you can roll up real small and keep in your bag will work as well.
  15. Sun Block – A bad sunburn can ruin your cruise. Be liberal with your suntan lotion because the sun on the water in the tropics is extra hot. Try to put your Sun Block on in your room while your skin is cool and so you can take the time to rub it in liberally.
  16. Cool Sunglasses – Sunglasses will make you feel like a real tourist and protect your eyes. While on the ship you’ll be going in and out of the sun so you may need a neck band attached to your glasses to make removing and carrying them around easy.
  17. Hot Tubs – Most cruise ships today have hot tubs that are big and roomy and provide a great way to relax. The hot tubs are of course very popular. If you find the hot tubs are too crowded you might want to come back to the ship early during a port day. While everyone else is off the ship is the best time to enjoy the hot tubs on board. One thing important to remember is that hot tubs are always loaded with chlorine and will fade your new swimsuit unless you purchase one that’s resistant to chlorine. If you don’t have one that’s resistant to chlorine you should wear your old one in the hot tub and save your new swimsuits for the beach.
  18. Waiting – When traveling with a group it’s nice to do everything with everybody, but if you’re not careful you’ll spend most of your time waiting for the slowest person! If you can, it’s better to hang with just a few people and say hello to the rest of the group whenever you run into them.
  19. Use The Safe – If your room steward were to be caught stealing, he or she would be sent home immediately, so usually just about anything you leave out is safe. On the other hand, why tempt them? Cabins on most ships have a safe for you to use free of charge.
  20. Use Your Walkie Talkies – The latest craze when cruising is to bring along a couple of Walkie Talkies to keep in touch. On a small ship keeping in touch is not much of a problem but on a large ship you can keep in touch with others if you have radios. While you don’t walk around the ship in groups it’s still nice to sit as a group while watching the shows. With some communication you can let others know where you are sitting. If you bring teenagers you can keep tabs on them or simply use the radio to fetch your husband! If you plan to use them be sure to purchase good ones that have sub-channels. For the most part however, these things are more trouble than they’re worth – I will admit though, they can save you a lot of legwork. Something new that some cruise ships have available are called DECT Phones to communicate with each other. They work just like a cordless phone in your home. Each cordless DECT phone is assigned a phone number so all you have to do is give out that number to the others in your party like your spouse or children and as long as you’re on the ship, you’ll never be more than a phone call away. These phones are usually reserved for the guests staying in suites. They’re much better than Walkie-Talkies of course, and there is a substantial cost of at least $25 each per week. The latest idea is if you purchase internet service, you may be able to stay in touch with a smart phone app. Just don’t forget to place your phone in “airplane mode”.
  21. Don’t Call Home! – Think about it, you’re on vacation to get away from everything at home. If there is something wrong at home, what can you do about it in the middle of an ocean? We called home one time and found out that the ones we left at home weren’t getting along and having arguments. It worried us for the rest of the trip! If you’re concerned about people at home calling you on the ship, don’t worry: it costs fifteen dollars a minute! They won’t call.
  22. Lounge Chairs – Some ships have plenty of lounge chairs but of course some don’t. You may have to get out early to get one if you’re planning on lying out but it’s considered rude to put your towel on a lounge chair and not come back for hours. Speaking of towels, on some ships there will be a couple of pool towels in your room. Be sure to return them to your room for the room steward to replace. Other ships have a location on the pool deck where you sign for and pick up clean towels. For this distribution method, don’t forget to return them to the assigned drop off point. If you forget they will charge you. If the towels on your ship are distributed by your room steward, he or she will bring you clean ones.
  23. Towels – A great idea is to bring your own bright colorful beach towels. It actually solves several little problems: First of all, you don’t have to be concerned about someone accidentally taking your cruise ship towels and leave you owing an unexpected charge for them. Secondly, from the other end of the pool all the identical lounge chairs with identical towels blend together making it more difficult to keep an eye on your personal belongings like camera, book, sunglasses, and mp3 player, etc. – but if anyone goes near your bright colored towels, they’ll “stick out like a sore thumb”! I remember last year there was a lady that had indulged on too many Bahama Mamas and inadvertently sat down on the wrong identical lounge chair. The lady who was the rightful owner noticed and thought she was a thief …what ensued was almost a cat fight right there in front of everyone!
  24. Lounge Chairs – Lounge chairs can be hard to find during times of peak usage and as usual, some people don’t know the meaning of modesty or minding their own business. Don’t worry though, because there are always a lot of places on the upper decks where you can find a more private spot for your lounge chair.
  25. Going Ashore – At some ports the Ship will drop anchor right at the dock. At those ports you can come and go as you please all day long. At the other ports the ship drops anchor in the bay and you have to take a small boat called a “Tender” to shore. Since everyone can’t ride on the tender at once, sometimes the ship hands out tender tickets to go ashore. If you are in a big hurry to get ashore be sure to get your tender tickets as soon as they begin handing them out. That will insure a ride on the first tender. If the ship is stopping at a private island it is imperative to get there first if you want your pick of the best spots on the beach. For the rest of the day the tender goes back and forth every thirty minutes.
  26. Don’t Be Left Behind! – This tip is very important. If the ship says it is going to leave at a certain time… it leaves at that time with or without you! Be sure to return to the ship AT LEAST an hour before it is scheduled to leave.
  27. If You Do Get Left – If you get left behind your only option is to hire a small plane to take you to the next port. If you’re broke, you immediately become a homeless person in a foreign country which is not a good thing. Always find and take with you the local phone number of the cruise line’s representative. Also, find and take with you the local phone number and location of the nearest American Consulate.
  28. Shore Excursions – If you plan on purchasing a shore excursion from the ship you need to go to the shore excursion desk and buy your ticket before it sells out. You need to be aware however that the excursions sold by the ship are almost always more expensive than if you take a taxi on your own. If the excursion is sightseeing or going to a certain location or tourist attraction, you should just take a taxi – but NEVER go alone. Go with a group of friends from the ship and split the taxi fare. Always use an official taxi service and always agree on the taxi fare before getting in. NEVER pay before you get to where you’re going.
  29. Water Excursions – If the excursion is more involved and especially if it involves a boat, it’s best to go ahead and pay the extra money to the ship. If you do buy your excursion from the ship it’s nice to know that the ship will wait for you about 30 minutes if the entire group is late. Another advantage of purchasing your excursions from the ship is that you can reserve and pay for them in advance through the Cruise Line website. This can put you first in line to get your excursion tickets before they sell out! Please keep in mind that bad weather or not having enough tickets sold for an excursion could result in it being canceled. The ship will refund the price if this happens.
  30. For Your Excursions – Nobody likes to get wet but in the Tropics a rain shower can form very quickly. You can be prepared in advance for an unexpected shower by bringing a fold-up umbrella or preferably a poncho in your backpack. Don’t allow a shower to “rain on your parade” while you’re on an excursion!
  31. If You Smoke – If you smoke, plan on smoking outside in the designated areas or only in the lounges with designated areas. The casino may also have a designated area. Be aware that many cruise companies are prohibiting smoking in any of the staterooms. Find out in advance exactly where the designated smoking areas are located. It’s also important to know that it’s against the rules as well as a safety hazard to throw your cigarette butts overboard. Even balconies on most ships are now banned from anyone smoking. There are not many ashtrays so a small personal ashtray that fits in your pocket could come in handy. Something else that will come in handy if you’re a smoker is a flameless cigarette lighter – remember open flames are a fire hazard as well as cigarette butts.
  32. Children – If you’re vacationing with children they must be at least 6 months old on the day the ship sails. The only exception is Disney Cruises which will allow a baby 3 months old to sail. Be sure to sign them up with the children’s program. They will make new friends and life long memories as well as give you a much needed break. The children’s programs are great! If you hesitate to take children out of school for a cruise, just remember a cruise can be very educational. If you take your children on a cruise during the school year there will be more chaperons available to teach and give one on one interaction with your children. Babysitting is available for babies one year old and up for about ten bucks an hour. It’s best however, to not bring babies if you can avoid it.
  33. How To Fall Off A Cruise Ship – The short answer is you can’t! It’s absolutely impossible to fall off a cruise ship BY ACCIDENT, that is. Now if you want to end it all (which is not really the end but a tragic beginning), you can jump from anything that’s as high as a cruise ship! You’d be better off to just join the circus or even better – change your name and become a beachcomber! To totally prevent a person from jumping, they’d have to completely cover the outside of the ship with chicken wire. Now wouldn’t that be a pretty site! If you were to get completely stupid drunk (which you should never do) and try to jump leap frog from one person’s sweaty shoulders to another person’s sweaty shoulders while on a narrow cruise ship balcony, then it could happen. There’s probably a few certain people that can vouch for that.
  34. Cameras – Surely you won’t forget your camera but this friendly reminder can’t hurt. The main thing is to remember that if you still use a old 35 mm camera, don’t wait until you board ship to purchase film because it’s going to cost more. If you plan on snorkeling (and you should) a great idea is to bring along a disposable camera that is waterproof. They aren’t very expensive at discount department stores. If you have a camcorder or even better, a Go Pro, you can bring home some great memories but just be sure to put it down long enough to enjoy the cruise yourself. Also be aware that many of the Las Vegas type shows and many of the comedy routines have a copyright and can’t be filmed.
  35. The Camera Crew – On a lot of cruise ships there are camera crews that film highlights of the whole cruise and sell the DVD for about thirty bucks. You won’t regret buying it! If you’re going on an excursion where several people may ask your guide to hold their cameras as well as yours, be sure to mark your camera for quick identification.
  36. Bottled Water – When you get to your cabin you may find a liter of bottled water and a few cans of soft drinks. They appear to be complimentary but if you read the fine print you’ll see that there’s a charge if you open them. Don’t touch! The water in the rooms of all the new cruise ships has been purified so one idea is to pack at least one water bottle and keep it filled.
  37. Study The Layout Of The Ship – It’s fun to explore the ship but usually you don’t learn your way around until the last day! If you study ahead of time everybody will think you’re smart. To remember which way to turn when getting off the elevator, make a mental note of which painting or design is on the wall of the hallway or even the color of the carpet that leads to your room. If you do this you’ll always know which way to turn when you get off the elevator on your deck. Memorize not only which deck your room is on but also the dining room and other important places like the ship hospital.
  38. Soft Drinks – Coffee, tea and punch are free but soft drinks have to be purchased from the bar waiters. Most cruise ships allow you to purchase a soft drink card for about $46 bucks and with that card your child can purchase all you allow them to drink. Something new is that now you can also purchase an adult card for not only unlimited soft drinks but even a limited number of non-alcoholic mixed drinks. If you drink alcohol, you have the option on many ships to purchase at the beginning of your cruise, a card for alcoholic drinks. The cost is about $50 per day and every adult person in your room must buy one. You’re limited to about 15 drinks per day or less if the waiter determines you’ve already over indulged.
  39. Alarm Clock – The alarm clock may be the very thing you’re trying to get away from. If that’s the case DON’T bring one – but it would be a shame to miss a beautiful sunrise or worse yet – breakfast! Don’t worry though, the informal breakfast buffet usually serves until at least 10:00 AM!
  40. Friends Of Bill W. – If you see a notice for a meeting of the “Friends of Bill W.” and you don’t get an invitation don’t be upset. The “Friends of Bill W.” is just the way the cruise ships announce their meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you see a meeting for “Friends of Dorothy”, that would be a get acquainted meeting for gay and lesbians.
  41. Snorkel Gear – If you plan to go snorkeling you can rent snorkel gear at the beaches or if you purchase an excursion from the ship the gear is provided. If, however, you have a snorkel mask that fits perfectly, you can bring your own. Keep in mind that the snorkels you rent are not sanitized. I still believe that a bad cold I caught one trip was because of the snorkel equipment I borrowed! Just rinsing a snorkel in sea water will not sanitize it.
  42. Tight Clothes – Most people have clothes that fit snug and clothes that are loose fitting. Wear the snug clothes at the beginning of the cruise and save the loose ones for the last few days. By then they may be snug too!
  43. The Toilet – Whatever you do, never flush the toilet while sitting on it! This may sound funny but the suction is so great you can really be injured seriously. Thankfully now most ships have the flush button behind the lid so you have to get up to reach it.
  44. Candles – Some people like to burn scented candles in their cabin to keep a pleasant aroma in the air. Sorry! It’s against the fire safety rules to have any open flames burning. Instead just bring a spray air freshener or a plug-in freshener. Some people suggest a hang-up car air freshener. I think the best idea is to use flame-less candles. They safely provide a nice aroma with the ambiance of a flickering candle.
  45. The Last Morning – Try not to be too upset if the service you receive is not as prompt on the last morning as it was for the rest of the cruise. The reason, first of all, is that they have already received their tips the evening before. The main reason though is that since they work so hard during the week without many breaks they sometimes slow down on the last morning because they know another group of passengers will be boarding soon and demanding their full attention. Please be understanding and try to have patience.
  46. Binoculars – Bring a good pair of binoculars and they could come in handy when looking out over the ocean or at islands you pass by. They also come in handy when looking to see which other ships are docked in port and when a ship passes by in the distance. If you decide to pack binoculars, don’t waste your money on a cheap pair – a cheap pair will just get you frustrated.
  47. Shopping – If you’re going to be shopping for a particular type of jewelry or anything that can also be purchased here at home, it’s a good idea to get some prices before you leave. It will be nice to know exactly how much you’re saving.
  48. This Tip Is VERY IMPORTANT – People sometimes make mistakes in life that places them on the wrong side of the law. If that has ever happened to you be sure that all the loose ends have been tied before you go on the cruise. The reason is that a security check is done on all passengers before and when returning back to port. If for any reason there is an outstanding warrant for you, the authorities will arrest you before you can leave the ship. I saw this happen to an elderly lady that had some problems with the law many years earlier. They announced her name over the public address system as if there was a message for her. When she went to get the message they took her away in a detective’s car that was waiting at the dock. They wouldn’t even let her get her luggage! Thankfully she had a relative on board that retrieved her luggage.
  49. Medicine – This shouldn’t need to be said but don’t forget your medicine! Also throw in some over the counter medicine for those little emergencies. One very important note to remember: If you put your medicine in a daily reminder container, BE SURE to keep your prescription with it to avoid trouble with the authorities when they check your carry-on. The ship always has a doctor but he is very expensive. Travel Insurance is a necessity. Cruise experts agree you shouldn’t leave home without it! Your health insurance from home is usually USELESS at the hospital on the ship.
  50. Are You Concerned About Your Weight? – Everyone knows about all the good food available on a cruise. If you really pig out like I do you can expect to gain about five pounds. Unless it’s a matter of your immediate health I think you should forget about your weight and remind yourself that you’re on vacation! That of course, is easier said than done so here are some suggestions:  The best solution is to diet before you leave. Start dieting about two weeks in advance and knock off about five pounds. After a two week diet the food on the ship might just taste even better. Another solution is to take advantage of the sauna, the exercise room and the exercise classes that take place every morning. There is also a jogging track on one of the upper decks as well as a basketball court. I remember walking by the exercise room one time and they were in there huffing and puffing and sweat was pouring down their faces as I thought to myself, ” Don’t these people know they’re on vacation?” If you don’t like plan A or plan B, you have one more option: the dining room has what they sometimes refer to as a ship shape menu where you can order meals that are low in fat and calories and the taste is pretty good!
  51. Do You Buy And Drink Alcoholic Beverages? – My advice is not to drink. If you do however here are some things to think about. Don’t drink too much because who wants to get sick or have hangovers? If you’re having a good time don’t you want to remember that good time? Remember, the few people who have been lost at sea are the ones drinking too much and decided to dance on the railings. With all of that said, there are some people that like to drink so much they save money by bringing a blender in their luggage and making their own drinks in their room.
  52. More About Alcoholic Beverages – If you buy liquor while off the ship at one of the ports you need to know that most ships take it from you as you get back on and store it until the last day of the cruise. More ships are now making it against the rules to drink your own booze in your room.
  53. Cell Phones – Your cell phone won’t work on older cruise ships unless you’re close to the US shoreline or in the US Virgin Islands but you will need your cell phone when you get back just in case you need to call someone before you get home – and don’t forget your cell phone charger. Don’t forget to put your phone on “Airplane Mode”! Something that many of the new cruise ships have introduced is that for an extra charge you can use a satellite link to make your cell phone operable. This sometimes is not something you have to sign up for – they just hit you with the charge when you use it! Don’t forget to take the cell phones away from your teenagers while out at sea!
  54. Never Call Home! If there’s a life or death emergency at home, they will pay the money to call you – but if you call home something minor could ruin your vacation especially if you call someone that’s a “Drama Queen”!
  55. Wine With Dinner – Usually while having dinner a wine steward will come around to offer you an opportunity to order a bottle or glass of wine. If that’s your “cup of tea” don’t order expensive aged wine because the movement of the ship prevents the ship from being a good environment for aged wine. If you have a bottle of your own you can give it in advance to the head waiter and for a small charge they will chill and serve it for you at dinner.
  56. This Tip Is Extremely Important – Every cruise ship that leaves port must have a lifeboat drill and everybody has to participate. Many of the new cruise ships keep the life jackets at the muster station where you go before boarding life boats. If you’re on an older ship, when you first get on board and find your room, you need to make sure there are life jackets in your closet. Place them where you can quickly get to them. If you require medicine every day, have a waterproof container either on your person or where it can be grabbed quickly. Look at the back of your stateroom door for instructions as to where your gathering place or “muster station” is located. Next look at the daily schedule to find out the exact time of the lifeboat drill so you can return to your room a few minutes ahead of time to put on your life jacket. Check the details because you may be on a ship that stores the life jackets at the muster stations instead of in your room. You’ll look like a real dork but it’s information that could save your life. Don’t try to hide in your room to avoid it because they will take a roll call or scan everyone’s card!
  57. Pack A Backpack – If you plan on going to a beach on one of the islands you’ll need a backpack or something similar to carry a towel, camera, suntan lotion, bottled water, reading material or whatever you think you’ll need. The key to chilling out and being relaxed is to first of all: Be organized! Need a towel? > got a towel right here! Thirsty? > got a bottle of water right here! Need a snack? Need a band-aid? If you have an organized backpack, you can prop your feet up because you’re ready for anything! Don’t forget to put a copy of your passport in your backpack too!
  58. Hurricanes – Are you worried about hurricanes? If you are – don’t be! As long as a hurricane isn’t hitting the port you’re supposed to leave from you’ll be fine. The ship has the ability to know exactly where any bad weather is and how to avoid it. The worst that could happen is the ship may visit islands it hadn’t originally planned. Instead of basking in the sun at Saint Thomas you may be basking in the sun in Mexico or Jamaica. It’s still a win win situation!
  59. Restaurant Reservations – Most cruise ships now are giving you more choices for dining. One of those choices is an opportunity to dine at a nice, supposedly upscale restaurant for an extra charge. If you would like to do that one evening then it’s important to make your reservations as soon as possible if you didn’t reserve it from home before the cruise. On our last cruise every reservation for the entire week was filled on the very first day.
  60. Spa And Beauty Shop Appointments – If the ladies plan on having their hair done for formal night be sure to make the appointment as soon as possible. The same goes for making an appointment for getting a therapeutic massage at some point during the cruise. Check the prices on the first day of the cruise for sale packages. You may be pleasantly surprised!
  61. Manage Your Time – There’s going to be so many things available to do you may want to do it all! Don’t even try! It’s your vacation – just relax!
  62. Hanging Your Clothes – I usually just live out of my suitcase but if you like to hang up all your clothes be sure to bring some extra clothes hangers.
  63. Meeting and Making Friends – You’re bound to make several friends on the cruise that you’ll want to keep in touch with. If you make up some business cards in advance you won’t have to go searching for a napkin to exchange addresses.
  64. Bread and Butter – I love bread and butter with my meals but on many cruise ships the only butter available are little packets wrapped in foil. They are kept very cold so they’re always too hard to spread on your bread. The solution is to hold one of the foil packets in your hand while you’re ordering dinner and by the time your bread arrives your butter will be just soft enough to spread.
  65. To Insure Good Service – Good service from your room steward or waiter and others can make your cruise. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get on their “good side” from the very first day. Some people give an extra tip on the first day rather than waiting until the last day. Just to stand out among the other passengers, some cruisers hand out two-dollar bills or gold dollars that are available from your local bank. The idea that I like is to purchase some international phone cards in advance and hand them out on the first day. Most of the employees are far away from their loved ones and they love to be able to call home.
  66. A Collapsible Cooler – If you pack a fold-up cooler and some quart size plastic bags you can order room service the evening before an all day beach outing and take a good lunch with you. The room service sandwiches fit perfectly in the bags and you can get ice from your room steward. Remember to order the night before because only breakfast is available during the morning.
  67. When You Make Reservations – If you didn’t buy an expensive cabin or you’re unhappy with your assigned cabin when you first arrive on board, upgrades may be possible. When you first board the ship (try to get there early), go directly to the Hotel Guest Relations desk and ask for a room upgrade. We originally had a small cabin with a window and upgraded to a suite with outside balcony for only $99 more. This was probably an “exception to the rule” but it was well worth it! I should probably point out that because cruise vacations are becoming so popular, most ships are filling up completely and the chances of being able to upgrade are very rare – but it sure doesn’t hurt to ask!
  68. Break A Nail? – A broken fingernail can be a disaster on formal night for you or a friend but you can be “to the rescue” if you remembered to pack a small bottle of nail glue.
  69. Do You Toss And Turn? – On many cruise ships the full size beds are really just two twin beds sitting side by side. With very much movement at all on the bed you’ll end up on the floor. The solution is a couple of small c-clamps that you can pick up at the hardware store for pocket change.
  70. Do You Need A Bib? – If you throw in one of those little Shout Stain Sticks it will come in handy to salvage your clothes when you get a little carried away with all that good food.
  71. Sheets In The Wind – If you’re staying in a balcony room you may not lose your sheets but you could lose your swimsuits if you leave them to dry on the balcony. Bring along a few strong clothespins or spring loaded clamps to prevent things from ending up in the ocean.
  72. Another Balcony Tip – When the sliding glass doors are open, the heat outside will suck all of your cool air out in just a matter of minutes which is of course a big no no! You should always keep the sliding glass doors closed. If you can turn off your room’s air, you can pack a bungee cord to hold the doors open.
  73. Your Daily Schedule – Each evening a daily schedule for the next day’s events will be placed in your room. If you have a simple felt tip highlighter you can mark for easy reference the things you don’t want to miss the next day. With regard to your daily schedule, find out ahead of time whether or not your ship changes time zones. If they do and you don’t hear the announcement, you may miss something important – like breakfast!
  74. Germs! – Nobody wants to get sick while on vacation. Be sure to bring along a bottle of hand sanitizing lotion to keep in your room and in your beach bag. And speaking of getting sick, if you get an upset stomach, stay in your cabin and don’t report it to the crew right away or they may quarantine you to your room. Of course, if it’s more than just eating too much – call the ship’s doctor right away. Getting sick while on vacation is probably 75% luck of the draw, something that’s out of your hands and best not to be obsessed about. The other 25% can be controlled mostly by just washing your hands. The best alternative I know of is not hand lotions but rather Clorox Wipes.
  75. Post-it Notes Or Magnetic White Board– If you hook up with some new friends or have other members of your family that you hang with, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with each other. A solution is to stick post-it notes on the outside of your cabin door to let everyone know where you’re at.
  76. Electrical Outlets – There’s never enough outlets or they’re in the wrong places in the cabin. Simply bring a small extension cord with extra outlets on it.
  77. Remember Your Friends – Be sure to pack your address book in case you need someone’s address or phone number. Also bring your email addresses so you can let everybody know what a great time you’re having on vacation. Don’t forget your password to your Internet email so you can log on from the ship computer. A nice gesture is to hand out your contact information to all your new friends so you can keep in touch. A great way to do this is of course with having some business cards handy.
  78. Do You Need Cash? – If you need cash for an excursion or for tips, etc. – the Guest Relations or Pursers Desk may be able to cash a check for you. If their policy prevents them from cashing personal checks, try the Cash Window in the ship’s casino. The casino is operated by a private company and their policy may be different.
  79. Do You Like To Read? – Something that is relaxing can be reading a good book. Your cruise ship will have a well stocked library on board as well as plenty of quiet places to read. Something your ship will not have is magazines. Be sure to bring your own magazines for reading material. Do you read at night? If you do, you should pack a small clip-on reading lamp that attaches to your book. The usual night light is too bright and may interfere with your roommate sleeping.
  80. Most Of All Don’t Forget God – Remember that it’s good memories you want to make so don’t forget your morals. Make new friends, have a great time and be happy. Look at the sunsets and enjoy the beauty. At night look up at the stars, say a little prayer and be thankful.