I get a lot of questions about cruising. If you have been keeping up with my recent articles, you know I think it’s a great way to travel. Especially with Princess Cruises. Still, there are a handful of things you should know about cruising before you come aboard. Here are some good tips and facts:
1) If you even remotely get motion sickness, take your meds well before you get to the ship. It takes several hours for this type of medication to kick in and that means you could be miserable for a while. The newer ships are pretty good at stabilizing the boat, but no one can control the weather. Rough seas are a possibility.
2) If you are celebrating a special occasion, tell them. Most cruise lines will try to help you celebrate. Princess decorates your door, brings you a special dessert at dinner, and we have even had champagne waiting in our room. I should note; however, that my friends did the birthday decor shown in the picture. ‘Cause they rock like that.
3) If you have a bad back, don’t be shy about asking for extra padding on your bed or changing out the mattress altogether. I know for a fact that Princess Cruises is very accommodating on this one.
4) I always pack wine. I use Wineskins that I pick up from BevMo. It’s bubble wrap for your favorite blend. Also, be sure to check the cruise website for allowable amounts. Princess and Carnival allow one wine bottle per person and Disney let’s you carry on as much as your arms can manage. Go Mickey Mouse. Most cruise lines prohibit hard liquor from home and if you buy bottles while cruising, they will hold it for “safekeeping”.
5) Everything is linked to your room key or “Cruise Card”. Your Identification, your status with their company, and most importantly, your credit card. It’s easy to get carried away with your spending when swiping your room key. Try to keep tabs so you’re not blown away when the bill is slid under your door on the last night.
6) The cruise company will most likely put a hold on whatever credit card you place on the room. This means they will reserve a certain amount of money ahead of time. If you use a debit card, they will do the same but it will hurt more because it’s your actual funds. You might not be able to withdraw cash or use the card at all if the hold is equal to your balance (usually about $300 to $500). I highly recommend you use a credit card so your real funds are free. You can also put cash down on your room at the beginning of the cruise.
7) There is a laundry room so you can do a wash if needed. You can also pay for laundry services on most cruise ships. For the longer trips, you can pack less.
8) If you love your soda, pay for a soda sticker for your cruise card. For one flat fee, you can have endless drinks. Otherwise, you pay for each cup. Silly and costly. Note: water, tea, and coffee are usually complimentary.
9) A cruise itinerary is really just an appetizer. You stop for a day in a variety of cool places. You are not going to get a true grasp of the culture you’re visiting. But this is a great way to see if you like a certain port, then can plan an extended trip there later. Let the cruise be your taste test.
10) Make time to explore the place you embark and the place you disembark. For instance, many cruises start in Southampton. Get to England early and check out London. There is a bus station that will take you right to the port. Likewise, if you disembark near Rome, well don’t pass up a chance to stay a couple days and enjoy classic Italy. Don’t let the cruise be your only adventure.