TIPS FOR FIRST TIME CRUISERS

  • NEVER travel without insurance! We always say that, "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!" Your vacation is an investment worth protecting, and if it could DEVASTATE you financially if you are uninsured or insufficiently insured! You can buy Manulife Insurance                and although it may not be the cheapest insurance, in this case you get what you pay for and it is the best and most comprehensive insurance that will pay quickly and fairly in case of need.

  • ALWAYS fly in to your departure port the day before. Even if you leave yourself a few hours window, flights are sometimes late and you don't want to risk missing your cruise! It is WELL WORTH the price of a hotel room the night before to have the peace of mind that the extra time will buy you! Never book a flight home before 1 pm. The ship sometimes arrives late in port and up to 6000 people need to disembark and clear customs and this process can take awhile!!! If you have a flight before 1 pm, sign up for a disembarkation time slot early! The early slots can fill up quickly!

  • A balcony is a wonderful treat if it's within your budget, especially if you have kids who will go to bed early. It's amazing to have a private area to gaze at the sea and the stars and the rooms are usually bigger, which makes a difference. Cruise cabins are TINY.  Interior rooms are VERY dark and small, so if you book one, bring extra hanging storage organizers, and a flashlight or a battery operated candle for night time. If an interior room is all that you have the budget for, don't despair! You will have so much to do on board that you will still have a fabulous vacation and can look at the ocean and stars from the main decks!

  • Always check in for your cruise online as soon as you can.It's easy, but if you have booked with me and need help creating an account to check in online, please let me know and I would be happy to help with the process.  Choose an early embarkation time if it is available-then you will have more time to explore the ship before it gets crowded. You may not have access to your room or luggage for a few hours so pack a carry on bag with sunscreen, a bathing suit and any medication or items you may need for your first few hours on board! The best way to carry your key card with you (you will need this at all times to pay for any extras, access your room, sign kids in/out of the kids club, and get on/off the ship at every port) is to bring a lanyard with you and go to the concierge and ask them to punch a hole in it (or to avoid waiting in line bring a single hole punch!) and wear it around your neck. This helps for times when you may not have pockets and you can even wear it in the water at the beach!

  • Ship maps and deck plans are available online. Study them ahead of time so you will know where your room is in relation to the restaurants, theater, pools etc

  • Make reservations ahead of time if possible or as soon as you get on the ship. The spa, specialty dining reservations, and even some of the free included shows such as the aquatheater or Broadway shows  on the Royal Caribbean Oasis class ships can fill up quickly, so reserve in advance online. If you can't get tickets, show up and see if you can get in anyway, because people often reserve tickets, then don't show up.For Disney Cruises, there are a limited number of tickets (they are included but popular) to certain Princess events, so get them as soon as you get onboard! 

  • You can sometimes get a discount for spa treatments on embarkation day or even on a port day if you want to stay onboard. If you plan on using the spa on a sea day, BOOK IN ADVANCE!

  • Budget extra for gratuities. All cruise lines except for the luxury cruise lines add these to your final bill. You CAN remove your tips on certain cruise lines, BUT the cruise workers work VERY HARD for limited money (cruise lines often register their boats in countries like Liberia that have no labour laws so they don't have a minimum wage) and the workers rely heavily on tips, so please be considerate...in most cases, they have certainly earned them! Current gratuity amounts can be found on each cruise lines website but average about $15 per person per day. Don't be surprised by this hidden cost of cruising.

  • Internet is very expensive on most ships. Avoid uploading or downloading unless you want an expensive bill! Turn your phone on airplane mode! If you plan on using the internet, it is usually cheaper to buy a prepaid package before the sailing on the cruise line's website! Ask the crew where free wifi is available in the ports. Your waiter, room steward etc will know where to find free wifi in the ports:)

  • Bring enough cash for the trip and unexpected extras and souvenirs in port or pay with a credit card. The ATM on board will charge you a VERY HIGH FEE to take out cash. 

  • If there is a port you have been to before or are not that interested in, it's a great time to experience the ship without the crowds...consider staying on board in certain ports:)

  • In the main dining room you can often order more than one entree if you want to try different things and you can sometimes ask for things that are not on the menu. If you enjoyed a dish on a previous night, but don't see it on the menu, you can probably still request it...just ask your server!

  • Ships usually stay on ship time not port time. Your watch or phone will probably update to port time so make sure you haven't switched time zones from the ship time and if you have, account for the difference! Double check and make sure to be aware of the time on excursions and leave yourself enough time to get back to the ship on time...expect the unexpected in terms of traffic and delays, or for peace of mind, book shore excursions with a return to ship guarantee. You can book those here 

  • If your budget allows it, try the specialty restaurants. The extra charge is usually worth it especially at Remy and Palo on Disney cruise Line.

  • Read the cruise line newsletter or turn on the Cruise Director's channel on the TV for a comprehensive list of the cruise's daily activities. Try as much or as little as you want.

  • You can often bring 2 bottles of wine on board your cruise in your carry-on. Check your cruise line's website for details.

  • You can order the drink of the day for less than the price of other drinks. If you are planning on drinking a lot, a beverage package may be worth it. You can often buy buckets of beer for less than the price of individual beers.

  • Bring seasickness medication, even if you have never experienced motion sickness before. Dramamine or Sea bands or even ginger are good options.

  • Most cabin walls are magnetic. Bring some magnets to hang your ships newsletter on your wall

  • Check your cruise's dress code. Cruises often have formal nights, and while those are often optional these days, they provide a great opportunity to take great family photos

Contact ME

Allison Blake

416-305-3480

allison@kvi.travel