First off it is not recommended to head out on a cruise without being fully vaccinated. Most cruises require this, but some don't, so check. By most accounts, having had both shots, should keep you from contracting it, and if it sneaks past, you will have much milder effects. Still, hand sanitizer is cheap and a little goes a long way. We can't stay hidden in our homes forever can we?
First off pack your carry on with the foreknowledge that your suitcase will probably not be delivered to your room for at least a couple of hours after boarding.
Most cruises offer Welcome Packages that can be arranged to be waiting in your room when you board for an extra expense. They often contain champagne, chocolate etc, and can have an extra unexpected WOW factor for your travelling companion.
Look into your dining options on board, and don’t think your only option is the crowded buffet hall. There almost always will be other dining options, that usually are much less crowded, and either priced less, or at least comparable to prices you would get on land.
Most passengers won’t even consider any of the other options until at least the second night on board. First night on board there are often special deals at the other restaurants – ask upon arrival – you might just find yourself with a free bottle of wine.
Some information may be available on board about the port of call, but experience has shown it in many cases to be nothing more than a small map detailing the jewelry shops in the area. Knowing a bit about where you are stopping can inform what you can do/see/taste in the time allotted, or even if you want to leave the ship at all.
Nothing says you need to leave the ship while in port. In fact you will find the ship and its amenities much less crowded and enjoyable if a certain port of call holds less of an interest to you.
Many people feel if they don’t book an outer cabin with a balcony, they are not getting the true “Cruise Experience”. While this may be true for some, experience has shown that most people spend very little non-sleeping time in their cabins.
***Also note when choosing a cabin, the upper levels tend to feel the sway of the ship considerably more than the middle or lower decks.***
For many people, enjoying some alcoholic beverages will be a part of their cruise holiday. Before booking you should ask about the cruise’s BYOB policy. Some cruises allow you to bring a bottle or two of wine on board with you. Others do not allow any. Check it out before you arrive to avoid having anything confiscated.
Most cruises these days operate on a cashless system on board, with everything being charged on your room card. It’s worth noting that it’s very easy to lose track of how much you are spending, so to avoid an uncomfortable surprise at the end of your trip, come up with some sort of system to keep a ball park idea of how much you are spending.
Checking the cruise’s FAQ can help you understand their policies, and tipping expectations. Many bars automatically add a 15% service charge to all purchases, so you may want to avoid double tipping.
More often than not, these cruises operate in International waters, and the ship’s power output/electrical plug may not be what you are used to. You may need to purchase an adapter, and purchasing one prior to boarding will be considerably cheaper, than buying one on board after departure.
Save yourself an unexpected surprise upon returning home by switching off data roaming on your smart phone before departing. It’s also worth asking ahead of time about the availability of WIFI on board, and the charges involved.
STATEROOM – Your cabin on the ship.
BERTH – The name for the built in bunk or bed in your stateroom.
BOW - The front of the ship.
STERN – The back of the ship
PORT - The left side of the ship when facing the bow (front) of the ship
STARBOARD - The right side of the ship when facing the bow (front) ow the ship.
MUSTER STATION - An area near your cabin, where you should gather in the case of any emergency.
LIDO DECK – Where the pool is.
DECK PLAN - The map of the ship.
GANGWAY - The ramp you walk on or off the ship on.
DOCK vs TENDER - Next to each port of call on your cruise’s itinerary, it will state “dock” or “tender”. “Dock” is where the ship will dock at a port, and you will walk down the gangplank directly onto land. “Tender” is where the ship will anchor close to shore, and you will be transferred across to land on a smaller boat.
PORT EXPENCES – Each port of call will levy a charge, based on local taxes, and fees, which will be charged to the ship, which will then pass along to it’s passengers. It should be noted that these fees are not usually included the price of the cruise.
ROLL – This refers to the side to side movement you may sometimes feel while sailing.