When preparing to go on a cruise, there are many things that new cruisers are unaware of prior to saying “bon voyage.” As someone who has cruised 9 times, my family and I have picked up a few tips that we believe are quite helpful when deciding to take a cruise vacation.

  1. Watch your onboard budget
    Once you board your cruise liner, you will forgo the cash and instead, be given a handy-dandy little card with your name on it. That my friend is your “cash” while on the ship. Now everyone knows that when paying with actual cash, it is much more difficult to part with; however, once you slide a plastic card into someone’s hand, well…you could easily end up with heart palpitations and your mouth agape once you see the bill at the end of your cruise. My tip: Alcohol and gambling seem to be the main reason why so many people have outrageous bills at the end of their cruises. Set a limit for yourself. When it comes to gambling, I set aside a specific amount of cash before I leave and I budget myself every night. If I lose it, it’s gone, if not, great! With alcohol, allot yourself maybe 1-2 or 2-3 drinks a day. Trust me, after being in the sun as much as you will be, you’ll appreciate the FREE WATER!!!
  2. Pack a large water bottle
    This is something that my dad picked up on quickly. Although you are provided small cups for water on the boat, you will constantly be getting up and down to refill your drink. When you’re laying outside, getting some sun and enjoying a good book on a “day at sea” day, the last thing you want is to pick up your cup and realize that you’re out of water, especially when you are sweating bullets. My tip: Pack a water bottle and fill that baby up before stepping outside in your shades and swimsuit…trust me, once you get comfortable on that lounge chair, and you realize that you have a nice, big, tall bottle of ice water next to you, you’ll thank me for this.
  3. Watch your waistband
    In a previous post, I wrote about the food that can be found on a cruise ship. If you are new to the cruising world, you might just be amazed, no, completely in awe, of what you might see when walking through the buffet line. Not only is every ethnic food made available to you, but you don’t receive just a plate, no, you receive a platter for your food. Piling on your pickings can result in a pooched out belly, tiredness, and the “why did I eat that much” comment. Think about it, when we’re at home, we eat only what is on our plate (our regularly sized plates at least) most of the time. We do not eat pancakes, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, muffins, bacon AND an omelet every morning; however, on a cruise, you can most definitely do that. My tip: I am as guilty as anyone else, but one thing I’ve learned, harder you work out before the cruise, the harder it will be to get back into the routine once you arrive back home. After a week of gorging yourself full of food and slacking on the work outs, the last thing you’ll feel like doing is hopping back on the treadmill. Watch your food intake on the ship. Besides, if you go to the nice evening dinner in the dining room; THAT is where you want to make sure that you’re hungry.
  4. Pack Reasonably
    When going on a cruise, if you are going to the Caribbean or a warm weather area, pack accordingly. If there are several days at sea, or you know you’ll be spending much of your time in port on the beach, pack plenty of bathing suits, flip flops, and athletic shorts (if you’re me that is). Don’t bog your suitcase down with fancy wedges, designer shorts and tops, thinking that you’ll be wearing this every day, etc…9 times out of 10, you won’t wear it. My tip: I tend to go for comfort when on a cruise. I tend to take flip flops (don’t take up much room), 1 nice pair of heels and/or wedges for nice dinner evenings, 1 pair of cute sandals for port days that don’t involve water and/or beaches, a few swimsuits, athletic shorts and t-shirts. Throw in a few sundresses, Bermuda shorts and cute tops for nights on the ship (going to shows, the casino, or clubs).
  5. Tip the Appropriate People
    Considering the fact that all of the cruises I’ve taken have been with my family, my parents have always fit the bill for things; however, I do understand the process of it all. At the end of your cruise, make sure to tip those who have made your cruise a joyful experience, after all, once you get back home, there will be no one there to make your bed and turn it down every day, cook your meals, clean up after you, and greet you with a smile at every turn. My tip: Tip your cabin steward, your maître d’, your waiter, any good casino dealers (mine usually go to the blackjack dealers), and anyone else who has gone above and beyond and made your cruising experience one you’ll never forget.

So, there are just a few tips I have for a great cruising experience. I have many more but in an effort to keep this post somewhat short, I’ll only give you 5 for now. Keep these in mind when thinking about a cruise. It is a great way to see various parts of the world and being on the ship can be just as fun as being off the ship!!!

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