Saturday, April 20, 2019

5 Mistakes First-Time Cruisers Make and Tips to Avoid Them


*Overpacking
When people start packing for a cruise they do so with their ideal cruise life in mind. They might see themselves starting their day by working out in the fitness room (need workout clothes), then grabbing some breakfast in the dining room (need daytime clothes), heading to the pool for a bit (need swimsuits), go on an excursion or do some shopping in port (need comfy clothes with comfy shoes), head back to the ship for dinner (need fancy dinner clothes), and then to the lounge for the show. It could result in four or five outfit changes per day. Repeat that day after day for the length of your voyage and you’ve got yourself a lot of luggage. Of course you wouldn’t want to wear the same thing twice – other cruisers would notice, right? But the reality is that once you are on the ship, you’re not going to care nearly as much as you thought you would. All those shoes you brought won’t be worn, you’ll wear those pants more than once, and you’ll find everyone else on the ship is doing the same thing.

TIP: Pack half as many clothes and twice as much money as you think you’ll need and you’ll be better prepared.

*Not putting cell phones into airplane mode
While cell phones can often be used on the ship at sea, high roaming charges may be incurred in international waters. Even if you have an international roaming plan, be aware that roaming rates at sea are a lot higher than regular international roaming rates.  For example, I pay 20 cents a minute for calls all around the world. But once at sea the cruise ship rate kicks in and charges me $5.99 a minute. That cost is set by the cruise line, not by my carrier.

TIPS: Keep your phone in airplane mode, particularly at sea. The alarm, clock, camera, and any stored or downloaded music, movies, games, and books will still be available. If you must use your phone, contact your cell carrier before leaving home as they can advise you on the best plans for voice and data while in port or at sea. Many a passenger has come home to an outrageous cell phone bill because they didn't understand how it worked on a cruise ship.

*Trying to do it all
Keeping a few thousand people busy on a ship requires a myriad of activities. Each day you will receive a copy of the ship’s version of a newsletter/newspaper with the scheduled activities and events. It’s the place to find out about everything happening around the ship. You’ll find trivia, games, and sports. Movies, dance classes, and arts and crafts. Seminars on the history of the region. Comedians, bands, and productions shows. Throw in meals and swimming and visiting with family and friends and you’ve got yourself a busy day. You may be wondering how you will fit it all in. You won’t.

TIPS: Mark the activities you’d like to attend then play it by ear. Balance your activities so you don’t go home needing a vacation from the vacation.

*Not paying attention to the time when in port
While on the ship you can somewhat release the need for a clock, but when in port timekeeping becomes crucial. Some ports are in a different time zone than the ship. Sometimes ships match the local time but sometimes they don’t. Cell phones on airplane mode may or may not display the ship's time, either. Before leaving confirm the time and keep on the ship’s time, not the port’s time. All aboard for passengers is usually 30 minutes before the ship’s departure. This time is listed in the daily paper, announced on the ship, and usually posted somewhere near the gangway.

TIP: Keep on the ship time, not the port time, and allow plenty of time to get back. The ship won’t wait for you to return if you made a mistake in timekeeping.

*Taking food off the ship
If you’re planning on grabbing some food from the ship to take into port for a picnic, forget about it. Fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, nuts and seeds, and even baked goods aren’t allowed off the ship. Some ports won’t even allow a cup of coffee. Certain ports have dogs checking every single backpack, bag, and purse, just to be sure.
Black trash bags of confiscated foods
TIPS: If you want to take snacks they have to be prepackaged and sealed by the manufacturer. Granola and protein bars, prepackaged cheese and crackers, and small boxes of cereal are okay. If you are diabetic, plan accordingly.


Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to not looking like a first-timer.