Thursday, August 14, 2014

23 Insider Tips for First-time Cruise Travelers

Carnival Breeze sailing into the Caribbean
Source: Carnival Cruise Lines

Be Organized for Your Cruise
With all the meals, accommodation, transportation, entertainment and lots of board activities provided, cruise guests are really pampered. It's only some small things that make life on board and during land excursions even more enjoyable.
·         Do your homework on visa requirements, also for neighboring countries in case the vessel has to divert due to weather or technical reasons.
·         Triple check that you know the way to your pier where you're embarking.
·         Get a passport in time (weeks or even months in advance) if you don't have one already. Get a passport, even if your cruise will stay in the waters of your homeland, but it might happen that it has to divert.
·         If possible choose only one piece of luggage - the largest permissible carry-on. First-time cruisers often pack at least twice as many clothes as they need. "Roll-aboards" are the most hassle-free. You minimize theft, loss or delay of your luggage when you always carry it with you. Check with your airline on maximum weights and dimensions (length x width x girth).

Grand Turk Island
·         If you have to check your luggage in: Replace your conventional luggage locks. There are now TSA-compliant locks available at most luggage shops. Buy unusually colored cable ties to discourage unauthorized opening of your bags. Potential thieves may have a supply of normal white ones, but they are unlikely to have Day-Glo orange cable ties.
·         Photocopy all important information, including your passport's data pages, both sides of your credit cards, travel itinerary, other ID's and contact information.
·         Get a tiny, soft bag, also called Neck Wallet or Lanyard, that you can wear underneath your clothes, to avoid being a pick-pocket victim.
·         Bring Ziploc bags with you. These are ideal for placing your wet bathing suit in after a shore excursion.
·         Buy travel insurance (that covers health-related issues) now, even if your trip is months away, to get the maximum coverage for bankruptcies in addition to weather concerns and pre-existing medical conditions.
·         Bring some cash (in small notes, as certain cab drivers "don't have enough cash with them") in the currency of your departure and countries you plan shore tours.

·         Make sure to be back in time for your ships departure and double check which time the cruise ship expects you back from your land tour (some stay on the departure's standard time).
·         Buy several pre-paid credit cards for $25 and $50, even though there are fees on them, check out their rules, and compare prices - US-customers get the best prices at WalMart and Walgreens. If pre-paid credit cards get stolen or lost during a land excursion, there's a limit to the amount of money that you could loose.
·         Check that your luggage has tags for YOUR ship, that it doesn' end up on another vessel.
·         Sea-sickness, also very rare, can put a damper on your cruise fun. Talk to your pharmacist which one of these products are advisable: Transderm Scop, a scopolamine patch, that you wear behind the ear, starting about 8 hrs before departure. Bonine or Benadryl are drugs, available over the counter. For a natural remedy bring some ginger with you, which studies have found prevents nausea / motion sickness. Booking an outside cabin in the middle of the ship, which is the natural balance point, is also a good idea.
·         Bring a couple of water bottles (expensive on board!). And to have coffee during the day - and have it warm - purchase a small Thermos or foam-insulated coffee mugs with lids.

Important: electronic / electric devices to pack:
·         your own hair dryer,
·         an extension cord with multiple outlets,
·         a travel night light,
·         battery charger

Test your battery charger, extension cords, power strips etc. at home to make sure everything works.

Source: Grant Turk Islands Tourism

Source: Grant Turk Islands Tourism


Grand Turk Islands


Nassau, Bahamas

Tips for Boarding Your Cruise Ship:
Try to stick with one carry-on piece of luggage
Staterooms are not that large to accommodate huge suitcases. And unless you have booked a cruise around the world you really don't need more than a small suitcase that you carry with you on the plane and when you board the ship, as it may take hours until guests who checked in their regular-size suitcases got them delivered to their stateroom.
Experienced travelers come early and board early
They arrive a day before the cruise starts in the port city and enjoy a peaceful breakfast, maybe some sightseeing or a half day on the hotel pool and arrive on board before the crowd comes in. Most hotels provide a free shuttle to the cruise line.
Start your cruise hours earlier than everyone else
Even if the cabins are not yet ready, you can board and hang out on deck, at the bar, go for the lunch buffet and enjoy your first meal on board or go swimming. The benefit of having a carry-on piece of luggage versus big suitcases, is to have everything you need with you, such as swim suit, sunscreen or toiletry, while passengers who have lots of luggage must often wait for hours until it arrives in their suite.
You will receive a sail card as soon as you arrive at the cruise terminal. This will be used for all purchases on-board and for leaving and returning to the ship while in port. At the casino they will give you a lanyard, a great way to make sure you don't lose your card.

Here are some videos with even more tips:

Precautions - Better be safe than sorry
Travel abroad and visiting new places during a stay-over on a cruise is hardly more dangerous than visiting any city close to home. Just be aware of your surroundings and keep common sense.
Wear a light jacket to carry your camera in an inside pocket and a so-called Lanyard for your money, credit card and copy of your passport. Use a purse or tote to carry only water, food, tissues, maps etc., not for valuables.

Don't wear any jewelry or precious watches, leave them in your ships' safe.
Get a cheap watch, custom jewelry for your vacation trips.
Don't dress as a "tourist".  Rather than sneakers wear leather shoes.  And try to dress similar as the locals do. Don't wear shorts or baseball caps.
Let your credit organization know where and when you are travelling and the destination countries. Credit Card fraud: do not give away your credit card, if a restaurant / shop has no digital device, pay cash or use a pre-paid card.
Leave your cell phone on board in your stateroom's safe. Cell phones are the number-one item stolen from tourists. Get a calling card for emergency calls.
Theft of purses and backpacks represents the vast majority of infractions. Pick-pocketing is, by far, the most oft-reported variety, and happens in crowded squares and aboard public transit. Pick-pockets often work in teams of two or more, one to distract the traveler, while the other lifts the wallet/purse.

Best Coffee in the World: Blue Mountain from Jamaica

Top Reasons for Booking a Cruise:

Multiple Destinations - Unpack Only Once
Your floating hotel takes you from port to port or from island to island and there’s no need to pack and unpack, or to mess with train or ferry schedules, or lug your heavy suitcase along with you. Evening suit / tie and beautiful gowns are no longer required. So pack lightly!

Great Value
Get value for your vacation dollar because cruise fares include a fantastic trip: food, accommodations, daytime and evening entertainment and transportation between travel destinations. Many cruise lines offer all this under $100 per person, per night, which is much cheaper than you would spend on land for a hotel, dinner and a show. On some cruise lines, kids even sail free or at discounted rates when sharing a cabin with two adults.

Cruising is Social

If you love to meet people from around the country - and the world - cruising provides a wonderful opportunity to make new friends. On-board, you will meet people at your dinner table, at the piano bar, in the gym or pool-side.

Ships are Like Floating Cities
Cruise ships have everything you could possibly want on-board. Today's vessels are for example equipped with Wi-Fi, cell service and satellite TV so you can stay in touch with the world during your cruise (if you really want to). On-board shops sell the toiletries you forgot to pack, medical centers can provide medications or a doctor's services if needed, and laundry facilities let you wash your clothes mid-cruise so you don't need to over-pack. Of course, there's also the fun stuff like gyms, multiple restaurants, movie screens, spas, swimming pools, theaters and discos.

Ships Offer a Variety of On-board Activities
Today's cruise ships are designed to keep everyone happy. Want to pamper yourself at the spa while your spouse hits the casino? Or lounge in the sun reading a book while your family plays basketball. You can go to an educational lecture, a wine tasting, a computer class or a dance workshop;

Cruise Ships are Family Friendly
Cruises are fun for all ages. You will have a vacation that your 5 to your 16-year-old will all love, and that has adult activities, too -- ships now have extensive kids' facilities, split by age.

Get Quiet Time and Places on a Cruise
If you can afford a balcony, get one. It becomes your own private refuge - and a wonderful place to sit and relax. You will also be able to find a number of quiet places on board during any cruise - certainly not the pool deck on days-at-sea, but in front of the long windows at a bar during the day, and a number of different decks, inside and out, where you will hardly ever see anyone.

Grand Turks Island


No Single Mosquito on Board!
What I love most on cruises: there is not a single mosquito on board! Coming from Canada where you can only sit on your patio with a screen to keep these critters out, it is a pleasure to sit at night on your state room's balcony with the light on or a candle and read or watch the stars, without being bitten or having to spray yourself constantly.
So have lots of fun on your next cruise!

More Useful Links:
·         Insider Tips for an Amazing Caribbean Cruise
Caribbean Cruise Insider Tips
·         Hand luggage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hand Luggage Requirements for Various Airlines
·         Cruises - First Time Cruisers - Cruise Critic
Advice for first-time cruisers; how to pick a cabin, get a bargain, what to pack.

Dunn's Falls Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Useful Accessories for Any Trip, Not Only Cruises:

  • I love the Delsey Luggage Helium Aero Carry-On Spinner Trolley.  Fits in overhead bins of all major air carriers, and holds a lot of clothing. You can carry it on board of your cruise ship, ready to check-in right away.  No longer waiting for your luggage!
  • A charger is a must!  1,115 times a 5-Star review for the EASY ACCESS AKKU
  • Want to watch the Whales and Dolphins?  Or discover the islands before anyone else? A high-quality, light-weight binocular brings even more fun to your cruise!


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