The end goal

Cruising Series, Part V: General Cruising Tips


This is part of a travel series on cruising.  The other parts in this series are:

Part I: Why Cruise?  Reasons to choose cruising as a vacation.

Part II: How to Pick the Best Cruise for you

Part III: Why Use a Travel Agent for Booking a Cruise

Part IV: Tips for the First Time Cruiser

Part V: General Cruising Tips

Part VI: Tips for Group and  Multigenerational Cruising


Tips for Cruising

If you are a frequent cruiser, you may already know these tips, but these are just some reminders that I think are useful whether you are on your first cruise or your 10th cruise.  For some other specific tips for cruising, also check out Part IV of this series HERE .

Bring a surge protector. Or extension

Belkin Mini Surge Protector
I discovered this a few years ago and can not travel without it. The Belkin Mini Surge Protector.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector
The Belkin Mini Surge Protector. One of my favorite things about it is the prongs rotate so it can fit in most outlet situations–even the less than ideal ones (you know, like the one behind the headboard that already has the bedside lamp plugged in too!)

This is my favorite travel secret and actually applies to any trip!  I NEVER travel without it—whether cruising, flying, or road trip. Long trips and short trips alike. I have also NEVER not used it when I had it!  Between my camera, tablet, smartphone, Apple watch, portable batteries and my husband’s laptop, smartphone, and fitness tracker, do you realize how many plugs or chargers we need?  This allows me to charge pretty much everything I need using one outlet.  And we don’t have to fight over them either.  There are plenty of similar products out there but I like this one because it doesn’t take up that much room AND the plug swivels to allow for different orientations.  It is really useful because even though some of the newer ships out there may have added the occasional USB outlets, there still aren’t usually that many outlets.  Plus if you are traveling internationally and need an adapter at the hotel, you can use ONE adapter and still charge all your items.  This saves lots of space in the luggage while still allowing plenty of flexibility.


Take the stairs

Although the days of the 24-hour buffet are pretty much over, there is still no shortage of food by any means!  In addition, food portions tend to be large and the desserts are awfully tempting!  A good way to keep active and burn some extra calories is to take the stairs instead of the elevator as much as possible!  I usually let myself take them as slowly as I need but I try to always take them!


Try something you might not normally do

There are so many different activities that are available on most cruise ships that you should consider taking the opportunity to try a new activity like Zumba or mahjongg.  Who knows, you might discover a new talent or hobby!

Special Electric Mahjongg table
Whether there is a fancy table or not, mahjongg and other card and board games are a frequent sight on cruises. Just ask if someone is willing to teach you and you may acquire a new friend along with a new skill!


Wear sunscreen

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of wearing sunscreen on a daily basis.  Even if it is cloudy and/or cold, you should still remember that you can get sunburned even on overcast days.  In addition, different parts of the world may have more intense sun than you are normally used to (hello, Caribbean!), and water (and icebergs) can reflect extra light (so don’t forget to get the bottom of your chin!).

Protect your skin from the sun!
Don’t just use the sunscreen when you are actively sunning. Protecting your skin all the time is a good habit not only for staying healthy but for staying young-looking!


Make reservations early!

Most cruise lines have specialty programs and restaurants that can really enhance a special interest when they are available.  Not only do the specialty restaurants fill up, but special wine tastings, cooking classes, behind the scenes tours, and special tasting/chef’s dinners don’t stay available for long! It is a good idea to make reservations for those as early as possible, such as online when available or as soon as possible once you board.  Even though some may have an additional fee, they tend to have limited availability and be quite popular so don’t hesitate to save your spot if it is something you are really interested in participating in.

Private Karaoke room
Specialized activities, like this private karaoke room or small group events will tend to fill up fast. Don’t miss out by waiting to long to reserve!


Book Shore Excursions early

Most Shore Excursions are available for online booking quite early, if you choose to go through the cruise line.  Make sure to double check, but many either don’t require you to pay in advance or have generous cancellation policies if you change your minds.  Many of the popular ones do book up early, though and you may find yourself out of luck if you wait too long (or if you have a large group that wants to go together, there may not be enough spots for everyone on the same one).

Some places, like Pompeii are beautiful and fascinating! And VERY popular!
Some places are popular no matter what but if you decide to participate in an organized tour,
you should make sure to sign up before all the spots are gone!
One advantage is that sometimes tour groups get in earlier, before the crowds peak or avoid lines to enter!).


Participate in the future cruise programs

Almost every cruise line (at least that I’ve been on) has a “Future Cruise” desk where you can book or put deposits on future cruises.  They usually also offer special incentives (like onboard credit) when you do this so you should really consider taking advantage of it as this can make a great travel agent deal even better (you can put down the deposit and then, once you get home, have your travel agent sort out the other details).  Some cruise lines don’t require you to pick a firm travel date right then and there, and allow you to take back your deposit if you don’t end up using it, or if you change your mind.  Be sure to at least check it out because it can be a really good bonus with very little downside.


Book as early as possible

A few years ago, it was possible to get some incredible last minute deals from cruise lines but they’ve pretty much wised up and those spur of the moment deals are no longer as impressive, nor are they as frequent.  You don’t really want to rely on them if you are planning a big vacation on a specific date or if you have to fly (particularly internationally) to the embarkation port.  Any potential savings on your cruise fare will probably be more than offset by higher airline costs.  Instead book early—your agent can usually help you make adjustments if a lower fare suddenly becomes available or alternatively, you have a better chance of being offered an upgraded cabin for a really reasonable price.  This way, you lock in probably the best fare possible for the room you like and may even get a great deal on a better cabin.

The end goal
A little planning means that once you start your vacation, you can completely relax and unwind!
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I am connected to the cruise industry because my husband works for Princess Cruises.  For the most part, the information provided should apply to any ocean cruise company. If a link is provided for products, it may be an affiliate link (if I can figure out how to get that work).  I was not otherwise compensated unless specifically noted.  The  words, opinions and insights expressed are all my own.