When booking a cruise, I thought it was like shopping at Bloomingdale’s. You walk in, pick out what you want, the price is set in stone unless there’s a sale. No preparation needed, other than your card and everything is wrapped in tissue paper and off you go with the brown bag.
You are served and pampered.
In truth I was almost right. We were served and pampered, lavishly. The stateroom was small but lovely, with a balcony facing the water. The food was exquisite and the list of upcoming attractions tantalizing.
At the table where we were seated we met the Weinsteins. They were a beaming middle aged couple who announced during dinner that they are “cruise addicts”. Apparently they were on their 25th cruise, a landmark for them. Their passion for wanting to share their accumulated wisdom, was infectious. They had their 11 tips for the best experience on a cruise.
We all listened, intently, because they were obviously treated like royalty. They were also getting preferential treatment from the staff and came back with the best bargains after the first shore excursion. OK, so they had some secrets and we better soak up every pearl of wisdom.
My husband and I have gone on another four cruises since.
We are very grateful to Laura and Rob for helping make our experiences unforgettable.
1. Always prebook your spa treatments if you want your hair or nails done when you are at sea. However, if you are flexible with your spa appointments book your treatments on the ship. The spa is always considerably cheaper when the boat is at port (sometimes 50% cheaper).
2. Alcoholic drinks are mostly extra, but anything else, is provided freely and without limit. Drink a lot of water, to hydrate, especially on Summer cruises or trips heading to the Islands and Central America. I always love mixing cranberry juice with water as a tasty hydrating drink.
3.if you’re travelling as a couple, or a close knit group, and want to be able to reach one another w/o being tethered together, it’s a grand idea to use a Walkie Talkie. Cell phone roaming rates on the high seas are impossibly expensive, so try airplane mode, unless you have a short urgent call to make.
4.The cabins all have a phone and you could actually try to find your beloved or buddy from the many points, to check if they returned from an activity and are awaiting you in the room. Surprise them with a yummy treat when you meet them or invite them out for a spa indulgence…
5. Always book early when the ships have a lot of inventory. Prices actually go up as the sailings get more booked. Good ships will always book fast.
6. Make sure that you unpack at the same time as your cabin mate. Space inside staterooms is hardly ever large enough, so agree between you which area is going to house your belongings. It’s a terrible waste of time to miss out on activities, because you can’t find your things.
7.On the day of boarding the boat, you’ll have your luggage checked in and brought to you later in your cabin. If the boat is full, this could take a number of hours, thus it’s good to pack a small bag with a fresh change of clothing, some basic toiletries, your medicines and some water and small snack. This is ‘just in case’, since more often than not, as soon as you board, there is a princely spread awaiting you in the area you’ll be directed to.
8. Listen to the announcements on the speakers, usually by the Captain, inviting you to the next set of possible activities. It’s frustrating to miss out on a long awaited shore cruise or lecture you’ve been anticipating, because you weren’t paying attention.
9. Eat sensibly, taste all the delicacies available, but try not to overeat, and use the gym and deck to exercise, filling your lungs with the pure, fresh sea air. Feeling sluggish does takes away from the experience.
10. Try to be open to all the interesting new people you’ll meet, soak up different cultures and overall experiences.
11. Make sure to ask the advice of your social director, before you pay double for a desired object, because you bought it in the wrong place. If you are given free time and unexpectedly see something you like, compare prices in the surrounding stores (they often have similar merchandise) and try bargaining.
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