In the spirit of celebrating the cruisers among you, today we’re highlighting seven tips to help make your next cruise a smooth one – whether you’re a newbie or an ocean veteran.
1. Arrive a day early for your sailing. This serves dual purposes: first, you’ll be buying yourself a time cushion in case of travel delays. Did you know that hundreds of cruisers literally miss the boat each year because of delayed flights, traffic, bad weather and other unforeseen troubles? Thousands more board the ship feeling stressed, having made it only in the nick of time. By arriving early, you can enjoy a relaxed boarding, and get some bonus time to explore the embarkation city.
2. Unpack right away and unpack together. Take time to examine your cabin carefully; generally these small spaces are well-designed for storage, and you may discover hidden drawers and cupboards you missed at first glance. As American travel personality Peter Greenberg points out, it’s easy to misplace items with all these cubbyholes and shelves; if you’re unpacking together, there’s a chance your companion noticed where you put your flip-flops. Getting this chore out of the way first thing means all you have left to do is enjoy the first day of your cruise.
3. Orient yourself. As soon as you’ve unpacked, stroll around the decks with a map in hand to familiarize yourself with the ship’s layout. For the rest of your time on board, you’ll know how to get from place to place, and how much time it takes.
4. Arrange to meet with local guides. Forget about jostling to sign up for the ship’s crowded shore excursions: hire a local guide in advance to meet you at each port of call, and make the most of your time on shore. A bonus? You’ll have different stories to tell at the dinner table than all the other passengers who took the same ship tour.
5. Make that private shore excursion even better value. A private tour costs the same whether you’re two people or six: find another couple or two to share the cost of hiring a local guide. You’ll be spending less per person than you would on the ship’s shore excursions, and getting a fully-customized experience away from the tour bus crowds.
6. Bring Post-it notes! With hefty roaming and data fees, chances are you’ll bring along a cell phone for emergency use only. Revert to that other great invention: the post-it note! Bring along a pen and a little pad of sticky notes to leave messages in your cabin for your travel buddy. This simple communication system can help you keep tabs on each other’s whereabouts. Travelling with teenagers? Many parents swear by walkie talkies to keep tabs on family members.
7. Socialize. If you’re a social person, ask to be seated at a larger dinner table to meet new companions, and request the second sitting. That way no one is going to rush you away from the table if you’re enjoying yourself with new friends. And if you’re not overly sociable, maybe now is the time to try! Leave your cynicism back on shore and imagine the potential for new friendships on board a ship full of fun-loving travellers, from all over the world.
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