Useful Cruising Tips
Cruising is a wonderful way to explore the world with your family! From the Far East to the Caribbean, cruise ships go just about anywhere you can imagine. For families, cruising can be an extremely easy, hassle free and low cost vacation. Cruises are virtually all-inclusive. One price includes accommodations, meals, activities on board, kids programs and entertainment. Unpack once and let the ship’s crew do the rest. From cleaning your cabin twice a day (including fresh towels), to 24-hour room service, it’s all included.
As regular cruisers, our family has gained lots of experience over the years. We know the ends and outs of cruising and love sharing our knowledge. Here are our most useful tips to make your cruising experience as wonderful as possible. Please contact us if you have specific questions about cruising with your family.
USEFUL TIPS & INFORMATION:
Cabins - Choose the best cabin you can afford – a balcony cabin or suite makes the cruise a lot more pleasurable. Many ships have a few family suites that can accommodate large families. Regular cabins sleep 2-4. As a family of 5, we usually book 2 cabins next to each other, if the family suites are booked or too expensive.
Pregnancy – Most major cruise lines will allow pregnant women to travel only until week 24 of their pregnancy, and will require a note from the doctor stating the estimated due date and health of the mother.
Boarding the ship – Even though you’re excited to board the ship and get started with your vacation, don’t arrive too early. Remember the ship has arrived that morning and has to disembark all passengers and clean all cabins etc. If you go early, you’ll just be waiting around and the kids will get fussy.
Sea Sickness - If you find yourself a little queasy, eat a green apple, drink a ginger ale and sit on an outside deck mid-ship and gaze at the horizon. The medical staff will also have sea sickness medication if all else fails.
Dining Options - Check with your ship regarding dining options. You may choose a set time to dine every evening, or open seating (you dine when you’d like). Speak to the maitre d for any special requests. We always find a special table – one good for the kids, tucked away from others, and reserve it for the entire cruise.
Tendering – may be required in some ports without a dock. This takes time to load all passengers in the small boats and bring them to shore. Ship’s staff will help you with getting the kids on and off and with any strollers or gear.
Daily Program- Check for the day’s activities – everything from bingo, movies, cooking demos, line dancing, karaoke, and fitness classes in the daily program.
The Muster drill – This drill on day 1 of your cruise is mandatory and everyone should attend to learn about what to do in case of an emergency.
Extra Charges – Some things that are not included in the cruise fare are: gratuities (some lines are now charging a set tip of $10.00/day per person), alcohol, soda, spa services and shore excursions.
Bar Drinks – For most lines, a 15% gratuity is already added on to your bill.
Don’t miss the ship – Be sure you know the all aboard time when visiting a port of call. If you’re late returning, the ship will leave without you. Carry the port agent’s contact info to shore in case you do miss the ship.
Cash – ATM’s are available on the ships, but the fee to withdraw money is usually exorbitant. You may also be able to draw money from your ship board account.
Internet/Phone – Check with your cell phone provider before your cruise. Roaming charges can be extremely high at sea, I learned the hard way! You can purchase time for Internet service on board, but it is very expensive. You’re better off finding an Internet cafe at one of the ports of call.
Disembarking – The night before disembarking you’ll put your luggage outside your cabin, be sure to bring a smaller bag to carry off with a change of clothes, medications, toiletries and anything else you may need that morning. The process of disembarking is usually not quick, and may require you to wait in a public area for your turn with an immigration agent. Have snacks and something for the kids to do while you wait.