Have you visited Iglu Cruise lately?
They have a very interesting Travel Technology Report :
"In celebration of the technological advances that have seen us go boldly where no man has gone before, Iglu is proud to unveil its Travel and Technology Report for 2012."
Now open one eye and browse through the following bits of information that will help you
enjoy the vacation of your life!!!
The following is a tapestry of tips that are in no certain order.
Just make little notes for yourself if you see something you want to remember.
(Sometimes it's those little things that make all the difference!)
One of the reasons for taking a cruise is to avoid the hassles of driving. If you live within five or six hundred miles from the port, there may be Shuttle Services that provide a bus. If not, check with your Travel Agent and there may be a travel group in your area that has chartered a bus. If so, it's very possible they are looking for new members. If you take a bus to the port it can be a lot of fun and when the cruise is over you'll be glad you don't have to drive home! It will cost less than $100 each and you won't have to pay the fifteen bucks a day for storage of your car or the fifty bucks for gas. Also, if you smoke, it's important to remember that there is no smoking on the bus. If you decide to take a shuttle or charter bus, don't forget to hand the driver at least a dollar each for a gratuity please.
I you must drive, you can avoid storage fees by arriving a day early and staying at a hotel that allows you to park for the week for free!
2. Take The Train - If you have Amtrak service from where you live, a train is a fun and inexpensive way to travel! There's the dining car for food, restrooms, comfortable seats where you can stretch out and if you get a little tired, just get up and walk around!
3. Your Luggage - When you get off the bus or out of your taxi or shuttle, gather your luggage into one place and a porter will take it to the ship. Don't leave your luggage until you're sure a porter has it under his care. About $1.00 per suitcase is a customary tip for them. BE SURE to count how many suitcases you're bringing so you can keep track. If you have some way to do it, mark your luggage so you can identify it quickly. Remember a lot of suitcases look alike, choose a way to mark your luggage so it "sticks out like a sore thumb" while it rides around and around on the conveyor belt or is stacked in the far corner of a large baggage claim area. If your bag were to burst open, you can patch it up real easily and quickly if you have a roll of wide duct tape in your carry-on. When the cruise is over and you gather up your luggage at the dock - be sure to stay with it. Don't lose sight of it until you see your luggage loaded.
To lock your luggage or not to lock it when you check it in at the pier for a cruise has been under discussion for some time now. If you're flying in to your embarkation port, it is recommended to lock your luggage with a TA approved lock. If you purchase that kind of lock, the airport security employees have a universal key they can use if they need to get inside. If you decide to use this kind of lock, try to find one that uses a combination so you don't have to carry the key. With all of that said, the question here is whether to lock your luggage at the pier or not: The short answer is no. Some people say if you place a lock on your luggage, a thief will think you've packed something valuable. If your luggage uses a zipper, a lock is not a deterrent anyway. The best advice I've read is to use plastic zip ties and cut them with nail clippers when they arrive in your stateroom. If you purchase bright colored zip ties it will help you find your luggage. If the security personnel need to open your luggage for some reason, they'll just clip the zip tie rather than calling you there to unlock your lock. Also, if you notice one of your bright colored zip ties missing, you'll know the workers have opened it.
This is 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.
4. Don't pack too much - Remember you're not moving out; it's just a cruise! I know one lady (Hi Norma!) that packed seventeen pair of shoes for a seven day cruise. I call that overkill! If you use large gallon size plastic bags that can be sealed for your shoes as well as everything else, you can better organize your suitcase and prevent damage if a liquid were to get broken. Use good luggage because your suitcase could end up on the bottom of a big stack of heavy luggage. While loading or unloading the ship, time is of the essence. I remember seeing the workers throwing the luggage and stacking an elevator from floor to ceiling! Do you remember the television advertisement from years ago showing an elephant standing on luggage? That advertisement was not too far fetched! Also pack an extra fold up suitcase or at least a good cloth laundry bag for your dirty laundry that you can tie up and tag for the trip back. You're going to need extra room in your good luggage for all those souvenirs. If you don't want to be stuffing a laundry bag all week, you could pack a collapsible laundry hamper for the convenience of it.
Another Tip About Luggage - You're sometimes limited to just two items of luggage especially if you're flying to the port. Be sure to use large suitcases if you have them. This may seem like a simple decision but if your luggage is more than twelve inches thick when empty, it won't fit under your bed. If you choose luggage that's too small, everything simply will not fit. To make matters worse, if your luggage is too large you'll probably load it until it's so heavy you'll just be a pulled muscle waiting to happen! If taking a bus to the port, the rule about two items is only enforced when the bus luggage area gets full. Also be sure to have permanent luggage tags with your home address attached to your luggage just in case it gets lost. For security reasons, turn the address card over or cover the luggage tag so anyone standing nearby can't read it.
If you're driving to the port there will be no limit on your luggage that you load on the ship. If you need extra luggage tags you can get them from a porter after you arrive at the port. If you know in advance that you're going to need more than the three provided with your cruise tickets, simply photocopy the ones that come with your tickets. After you photocopy them, just cut them out and have them laminated. Most cruise tickets these days are electronic tickets anyway and you'll have to print them out from your computer. Just have them laminated and you'll be "good to go"! You'll be surprised at how much tension can be prevented by not having to run around in circles and scribble on tags at the port.
As you are well aware, your luggage could get lost. First, be sure to purchase Travel Insurance and just to make things go smoother if you have to file a claim always make a list of everything you packed and even take a photo of the contents.
5. 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!
6. 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!
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. More about tips - 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 your tip money so you won't accidentally spend it. You can charge your tips to your credit card if you want, in fact many cruise ships automatically charge them to your Ship Credit Card account unless you tell them not to. I recommend giving them cash because it's more convenient for the workers. 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. Envelopes will be provided in your room on the next to last day of the cruise for you to hand the money to them on the last evening. If you divide your 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 $3.50 per day and the assistant waiter receives $2.50 per day. You can give the maitre de' or "Head Waiter" a total of about 50 cents 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!
10. 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. Another point I'd like to make that's 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.
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 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!
Check out this great information page by Michael O'Gara that's dedicated totally to the subject of
13. Take a 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!
14. 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. Next, some cool sunglasses will make you feel like a real tourist.
15. 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.
16. Birth Certificate - Don't forget to bring your BIRTH CERTIFICATE and DRIVERS LICENSE or STATE PICTURE ID for boarding the ship. Be sure the copy of your birth certificate is an official copy with a raised seal or watermark. A plain copy machine copy is not acceptable. A passport will NOT be necessary for visiting the Caribbean and most other places where cruise ships port if you leave from a US port and return from your cruise to the same US port. Something you may not have thought of is the fact that when entering the USA by air, a passport is required right now - and guess what happens if there's an emergency: you have to return home by air! So at least for that reason, it would be in your best interest to get your passport now. It's also recommended that you leave a photocopy of your ID and passport with someone at home and an extra copy to keep in your luggage.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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. They're much better than walkie-talkies but the cost is $25 each per week.
20. 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.
21. 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. Naturally some people don't know the meaning of modesty but don't worry because there are always a lot of places on the upper decks where you can find a more private spot for your lounge chair. Speaking of towels, there will be a couple of pool towels in your room. Be sure to return them to your room or they may charge you. Your room steward will bring you clean ones. A great idea I received from Cheryl, a recent website visitor, 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!
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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 tourist attraction you should take a taxi – but NEVER go alone. Go with a group of friends from the ship and split the taxi fare. Always agree on the taxi fare before getting in and NEVER pay before you get to where you're going. If the excursion is more involved 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 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 lines website. This can put you first in line to get your excursion tickets before they sell out! Please keep in mind however that bad weather or not having enough tickets sold for an excursion could result in it being canceled.
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 a poncho in your backpack. Don't allow a shower to "rain on your parade" while you're on an excursion!
26. If You Smoke - If you smoke it's most convenient to smoke in your room but be sure the other person or persons are also smokers. If it happens that one of the persons sharing your room is a non-smoker please plan on smoking outside in the designated areas. 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. Also 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.
27. Children - If you're vacationing with children 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. Babysitting is available for babies one year old and up for about ten bucks an hour. It's best however, to not bring babies.
28. 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.
29. Cameras - Surely you won't forget your camera but this friendly reminder can't hurt. The main thing is to remember that if you wait until you board ship to purchase film 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 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. On a lot of cruise ships there are camera crews that film highlights of the whole cruise and sell the tape 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. *(Thanks Dave! - Navigator 2003)
30. 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!
31. 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. Remember which painting or design is on the wall of the hallway that leads to your room and 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.
32. 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 forty bucks and with that card your child can purchase all you allow them to drink. Something new is that now you can purchase a forty dollar adult card for unlimited soft drinks or a card for a limited number of non-alcoholic mixed drinks.
33. 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!
34. 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.
35. 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 that you rent are not sanitized. I still believe that a bad cold I caught one trip was because of the snorkel equipment I borrowed!
36. 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!
37. 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.
38. 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 flameless candles. They safely provide a nice aroma with the ambiance of a flickering candle.
39. 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 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.
40. 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. A cheapo pair will just get you frustrated.
41. 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.
42. 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 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!
43. 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. If you have the extra money, travel insurance is not a bad idea. In fact many experts feel it is a necessity. Your health insurance from home is USELESS on the ship.
44. 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 call a ship shape menu where you can order meals that are low in fat and calories and the taste is pretty good!
45. 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 too that the few people who have been lost at sea are the ones that drank too much and decided to dance on the railings. With all of that said however, there are some people that like to drink so much that they save money by bringing a blender in their luggage and making their own drinks in their room.
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.
46. 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. You will need your cell phone when you get back in case you need to call someone before you get home - so don't forget your cell phone charger. 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 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! Your best advice however is NEVER call home! If there's a life or death emergency at home, they will call you - but if you call home something minor could ruin your vacation especially if you call someone that's a "Drama Queen"!
47. 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.
48. This Tip Is Extremely Important - Every cruise ship that leaves port must have a lifeboat drill and everybody has to participate. When you first get on board and find your room you need to make sure there are life jackets in your room. Place them where you can quickly get to them and then look at the back of your room 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 some ships now store the lifejackets 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 take a roll call!
49. Research Your Port Of Calls - The planning and anticipation of your vacation can enhance the whole vacation experience. One thing you can do is get to know as much as possible about the islands you'll be visiting. Get to know in advance which landmarks or attractions you don't want to miss. This will help you decide which excursions you may want to purchase. Making these decisions in advance will make things go a lot smoother on the morning you arrive at the island. While everyone else is bickering over what they want to do on the island you'll be sitting there with a big smile on your face.
50. 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 bandaid? If you have an organized backpack, you can prop your feet up because you're ready for anything!
51. Hurricanes - Are you worried about hurricanes? If you are - don't be; because 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.
52. 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. On our last cruise every reservation for the entire week was filled on the very first day.
53. 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 first. You may be unpleasantly surprised.
54. Manage Your Time - There's going to be so many things available to do that you may want to do it all - Don't even try! It's your vacation - Just Relax!
55. If you're handicapped - If you're handicapped and need a wheelchair be sure to bring your own rather than using theirs. Also if you need a larger handicap accessible room you'll need to reserve it well in advance because there's only a limited number on the ship. You will also be required to provide a doctor's note. Something even better than a wheelchair is to rent an electric scooter. You'll be able to zip around the ship even better than someone with a good pair of legs! You can rent one in advance from several different suppliers and they will have it waiting in your cabin when you arrive. If you plan to rent an electric scooter, go ahead and arrive in your wheelchair because you may be standing in a long line while checking in at the pier.
56. 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. (Thanks Mary! - Navigator 2003)
57. 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. (Thanks Patti! - Navigator 2003)
58. 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. (Thanks Mary! - Navigator 2003)
59. Bread and Butter - I love bread and butter with my meals but on 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.
60. 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 - others hand out *two-dollar bills or gold dollars that are available from your local bank. The idea that I like is to purchase some **phone cards in advance and hand them out on the first day. Most of the servers are far away from their loved ones and they love to be able to call home. *(Thanks Tom and Mary!) **(Thanks Renee! - Navigator 2003)
61. A Collapsible Cooler - If you pack a fold-up cooler and some quart size sealable 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. (Thanks Dave! - Navigator 2003)
62. Packing Your Carry-On - When you pack your carry-on you can speed things up through a customs or security check by putting everything in plastic Ziploc bags. (Thanks Sandy! - Navigator 2003)
63. When You Make Reservations - Don't buy the most expensive cabin. Depending on the time of year, upgrades are possible. When you first board the ship (try to get there early), go directly to the purser's 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 $99 more. It was well worth it! (Thanks Tim! - submitted through website)
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!
64. Your Travel Documents - After you make your reservations and receive your Booking Number from your travel agent most cruise lines allow you to submit your required information in advance through their website. Doing this in advance will reduce your check-in time at the port. Many cruise lines are beginning to switch to "paperless tickets" which makes it even more important to fill out your information online and even print out your own boarding pass.
65. Medical Tip - If it's necessary for medical reasons to give yourself injections, for example with insulin, be sure to let the guest relations desk know so they can give you a safe container to dispose of the used needles.
66. Less Wrinkles - (Not on your face - on your clothes) If you save the plastic bags that your clothes are returned in from the cleaners and reuse them for all your hang-up outfits in your garment bag it will help to prevent wrinkles caused from packing. Another tip about wrinkles is to bring a spray bottle of Fabric Wrinkle Release. (Thanks TBRay and Mike&Karren! - Mariner 2004)
67. Break A Nail? - A broken fingernail can be a disaster on formal night but you can be to the rescue if you remembered to pack a small bottle of nail glue.
68. 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.
69. 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.
70. 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 to prevent things from ending up in the ocean.
71. 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.
72. 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!
73. Are You Flying in? - If you don't live close to the port you may be flying in to embark the ship. If you do, you should always arrive a day early because of the occasional flight cancellation. Also, the prices of flights often drop so check the prices daily. (Thanks Susanita! - Mariner 2004)
74. Germs! - Nobody wants to get sick while on vacation. Be sure to bring along a bottle of hand sanitizer 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. Another tip is a few days before your cruise begins, start taking herbs that strengthens your immune system.
Before you leave, it would be a good idea to visit your doctor for a check up. If you're just a little sick before you leave you know your luck would be for it to get worse and ruin your vacation. Fluids are of course important and while 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 and if you brought the bottled water from home it will save you some money as well as keep you healthy.
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 - 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. (Thanks CruiserLisa! - Mariner 2004)
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 An Adjoining Room? - If all of the adjoining rooms are sold out, simply reserve two balcony rooms located next door to each other and have the Guest Relations Desk to open the divider on the balcony between the rooms and wallah!- you instantly have adjoining rooms!
79. Your Credit Card and Check Card - Before you leave for your cruise, be sure to contact your financial organization and let them know you're traveling out of the country. Many banks and credit card companies will not approve purchases out of the country as a security measure - unless of course you notify them in advance. Also, sometimes a credit card will be damaged with use. To be prepared and prevent this from becoming a problem, bring a back up card if you have one. Many families are issued more than one card for the same account.
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.
80. Do You Like To Read? - Something that is relaxing can be reading a good book. Your cruise ship will have a well stocked library onboard 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.
81. Your Health Care On A Cruise - Before you leave for vacation you should check out the quality of the health care in each of the ports. You can do this by checking the State Department website. Be sure to get Travel Insurance. Two things to check for in the fine print of your insurance is whether or not you can choose your hospital or if they just send you to the closest one. Also, be sure you have coverage for medical evacuation. Before you leave you should also check with your current health insurance to see if they will cover you while outside of the country. If they do and you need to contact them, don't bring their 800 numbers but rather the regular long distance numbers. Their 800 numbers probably will not work outside of the country.
82. 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.