Cruise Vacation Part 3

Posted on October 17, 2011


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Have you read our first two cruise blogs? If not…check back to see what you missed.  Now you have done the hard part.  You have decided on the time of year, the cruise line, and the cruise itinerary.  So now you can start doing the fun part of the planning of your vacation.  For me, part of the fun is the actual planning of what we will need and the exciting things we will do on the trip (OK, some of the planning can be a little bit tedious).

– If you do not have a passport, this should be one of the first things you need to take care of.   The post office is the main place for this, but many times you can get a passport picture taken at a number of other places. Always carry your passport in your handbag, personal bag or carry on luggage.

– If you know what ports you will be stopping at, start doing a little research.  Decide if you want to make a reservation for a specific shore excursion, or just wait until you get there and go exploring on your own.  On our last cruise vacation we didn’t sign up for any shore excursions, and we both thought we saw more of the area and had a lot more fun.  If you plan on going off on your own, do some on-line research.  Print out a map.  See what is unique at this port that would be of interest to you and decide which spots you will have time to see.  For the more adventurous…  just pick a direction and start wandering.  When you disembark at a port, just remember there a couple hundred other travelers too.  Don’t stop at the first few shops or cab stands.  Walk a little further and you will have fewer people to deal with. Usually the biggest tourist traps are right when you get off the ship. Discover hidden treasures farther down the path.

-If a different language is spoken at your ports of call, look up some simple but useful word translations and write them down on a little cheat sheet that you can easily carry around.

-Not only should you pack enough of your prescription medicines, but bring along the actual prescriptions. If there is ever a problem, you can prove that these are your prescription drugs.

-On most cruise ships they will ask your preference on dining;  early seating (usually 6pm) or late seating (8pm).  Some cruise ships have a dress code while others do not.  On our last cruise, Carnival Cruise Line offered any time seating.  This gave us a lot of flexibility. You didn’t always have to be on a schedule it you ran into a fun activity.

-Depending on how big of a shutter bug you are, consider bringing along extra camera cards.  Then you can alternate cards each day.  That way if you either lose one, or one goes bad; you will not have lost  the whole first half of your trip. We mark our camera cards A and B. (or add C & D on a really long trip). During your cruise vacation ask others to take your picture.  Even if you are traveling during the driest season, you can still expect it to rain at least once.  Those cheap shower caps all hotels give out, work as a great rain cover for your camera.  You can also bring a zip lock bag to carry it in.  If you happen to have any Silica Gel Packs, throw them in your camera bag to absorb any moisture.

-Bring along one of those wide mouth, hard plastic water bottles on your cruise vacation.  You can pack several small liquids bottles inside while traveling (shampoo, hair gel etc.). In addition, use it as a water bottle at the pool or on your trips to the beach.

-While on board your cruise ship, ask others about the ports, or things they enjoy while on board. You can learn a lot from the trials and errors of others. You may discover some great new adventures in your travels.

-If you have any problems while on the cruise ship, the Purser is the one you want to talk to.  Just remember he/she has probably heard just about any story you can come up with.  So just tell them the truth about what happened and they will be a lot more open to helping you. If he can’t take care of your problem, he can usually steer you to the person who can. He can also answer many questions you may have.

-Cruise lines are coming up with a lot of on board extras that you have to pay more for.  Some of them are a good bargain, and some are not, so don’t get carried away.  One of the options is an “all you can drink” soda (I drink way too much pop, so it was a great value for me).  Even though most of the food on board is free,  most cruise ships have fine dining restaurants that you pay extra for.  It is fun to splurge once in awhile on an exquisite meal.

-Explore the whole cruise ship.  Then you will know all that the ship has to offer. Sometimes you get so involved in the area near your end of the ship, you miss out on some great fun. Check out the daily schedule (often on your TV and a daily print out). Try something new, from learning a new dance,  sampling specialty drinks, card clubs, shopping specials, to learning how to write a book and informational meetings for the next port.

-Just remember that nice little plastic room key is also a credit card.  Every time you buy something they will ask for your key.  They automatically add in any tips.  So make a habit of checking your bill every day.  All you have to do is turn on your TV to the right channel, and up pops your bill.  Not only will you be aware of how fast those little umbrella drinks add up, but you will also be able to take care of any charges that are not yours, if there is an error.

-There are so many more activities on your cruise ship than you have time for (I’ve tried).  So if your idea of fun, is to see and do as much as you can. ..or if it’s to find that perfect spot on boat to just relax; a cruise vacation is perfect for you. You make it what you want.

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Posted in: Travel Tips