Are you heading away on your first cruise? I learned a few of these tips for what to avoid doing on a cruise the hard way!
1. Don’t leave your data plan on when cruising
I live in New Zealand and am on Vodafone’s Red Plan which is great when I travel as I can pay $5 a day for pretty much all I can eat data. It gives me access to my full plan. Until I’m out at sea!
Suddenly I was racking up data by the minute thanks to updating apps in the background. I only did it twice. An unnecessary $150 on my bill hurt a bit.
Even if your plan covers you for Spain and France and Italy, sailing between them technically puts you into international waters and all plans are off! Turn your mobile data roaming off.
2. Don’t take an organised excursion every day
In some cases the ship excursions are a good idea as you can get to skip the lines in places like the Vatican Musuems by going on an organised tour.
You’ll also have all your transport taken care of, which is handy if you’re docked an hour’s drive away from Rome or Florence and you are guaranteed that the ship will wait for you if your authorised excursion runs late.
But there are days when just wandering around, going off-piste, having a beer in the sun at a seaside a bar in Cannes or wandering through a flea market in Ephesus and finding a local taxi driver who will drive you around for two hours is just brilliant.
3. Don’t eat all day on your cruise 🙂
Believe me, you will be tempted to over eat on a cruise – it’s all included! Swing by the sno-freeze ice cream machine on your way to the pool. Nip up to see what’s on the buffet and grab a little plate for a nibble. A plate of nachos in the sun? Eat all three courses – and ask for seconds – in the dining room… on it goes.
But if you do find you’ve overeaten, here’s the antidote below.
4. Don’t use the lift!
See point 3. Don’t be a fatty boomba and take the lift (elevator!), make it your resolution to take the stairs to make up for all that eating – or give yourself permission to eat more!
Even better, wear your fit bit and count your steps (Note: if you rely on your phone for your daily step count – as I do – it won’t work if you are not using wifi).
5. Don’t forget your travel insurance!
I got a terrible respiratory illness on our Europe cruise. Maybe even flu, although I’m always reluctant to be so dramatic. It was not influenza, but it did require me making two trips to the basement to visit the doctor and spend an hour each time sucking air through a nebulizer and leaving with a bottle of cough mixture and some other remedies.
Total cost US$300. I have insurance and will put in a claim, phew!
6. Don’t lose your ID card
I came back onboard after a day out in another great port and put my handbag through the scanner, but as I was holding my ship’s ID card for them to manually scan when I stepped off the gang plank, I put it in my hat and shoved them through the x-ray machine while I walked past.
It flipped over in the depths of the machine and my card fell out on the floor underneath it. Only I didn’t know that until later.
Without your ID card you cannot get on or off the ship nor buy a drink. Good Lord! It was found and I had a call to scamper down and retrieve it.
See my 4 days crossing the Tasman Sea on Silversea condensed into 2 minutes on this video:
7. Don’t wait too long to book extras
If you do plan on some shore excursions, spa treatments, exclusive restaurants or anything else that you need to pay extra for, do that licketty split. As soon as you get onboard ideally, or even from home, lest you miss out.
The line at the excursion desk was long so I opted to swing by the booking desk after dinner and nab a few things. Even then I was on a wait-list for my Rome excursion.
8. Don’t miss the boat!
Unless you have an insurer who will understand that you got held up in the cute shop in Santorini and pay for a private jet to take you to the next port, whatever you do, don’t miss the boat.
They’re punctual and they leave within a few minutes of when they say they will. The only exception is if your ship’s organised excursion is running late. Then they will wait for you. And that is a good reason to book an excursion (contradicting point 2 🙂
9. Don’t forget to check in on online
If your ship offers this, it saves a whole of time when you’re lined up with thousands of your fellow travellers in the arrivals hall.
Print out your ID cards, barcoded tickets and baggage tags at home and you’ll skip through like a gazelle.
10. Don’t overpack
This is a general rule I try and apply every time I travel. There’s nothing that frustrates me more when I’m trying to squeeze my new purchases into my luggage and I have clothes in there I didn’t wear.
Also your storage space may be limited, so leave your tuxedo at home and rent one onboard for formal night if you really want to be suave.
11. Don’t pack everything into one bag
Your bags may not arrive for a couple of hours (or more) after you board, so remember to keep out your essentials, but also maybe a book, your hat and sunglasses, swimsuit if you fancy getting your kit off and lying poolside until the captain parps the horn three times and you’re backing out.
You will also need to leave your luggage outside your cabin the night before your final destination, so you’ll need a day pack or smaller bag to put your pyjamas and toiletries in – unless you want to carry them under your arm to disembark!
You might also like my post on 10 things to know BEFORE you cruise filled with tips on how to choose the right ship for you and some handy money-saving tips >>
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful!