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Whether it’s a relaxing detox or a family getaway, a cruise can offer you the perfect escape, allowing you to tour the world from the comfort of your deck chair. While most people hop on, try the food, dance the night away and then hop off, there are a few tips I wanted to share before your next cruise trip which could make it that little bit better.

1) With Kids? Choose Carefully

If you are planning a family trip on a cruise ship, understand most ships have facilities for children, but some are perfectly catered for families. Look a little deeper into the children’s programs, the size of the facilities and what they offer for the parents.

2) Sea Sickness

It is one of those frustrating parts of getting upon a ship and another reason why many people are scared of taking these trips. Let me first say you will barely notice the ship moving, in my experience. One massive tip which was shared with me was to try out the Sea Bands, which can be put on your wrists and tighten the pressure points, dampening the sea sickness feeling. Some people take on dramamine or bonine, which should be taken before getting on and then you can continue during your journey. Tip: Choose a central cabin, as there should be less movement. I’ve also been told a higher cabin can help as well.

3) Drinking Alcohol? Get All Inclusive

I am a fan of an all inclusive trip, I won’t lie. However these packages aren’t for everyone. If you don’t plan on gorging and drinking hefty amounts then you can probably save a bit of money, however for anyone planning on drinking the alcohol you might be surprised by the prices if buying on the ship. You can save yourself a small fortune just by signing up to the all inclusive package, which allows for unlimited drinks/food as well as peace of mind.

4) Get A Great Deal

You will be spoilt for choice the moment you tap in the words into Google, but there are some easy ways in which you can save yourself some money. There are a number of deals & special offers you can find on specific cruise sites. You can also sign up to email newsletters where you may be alerted to ‘early bird’ deals or discounts.

5) Cruise Attire

It is time to pronounce your T’s and pretend you are the child of a Swiss banker…Well, you don’t have to act a role out, but it is good fun to dress up! On the itinerary, it will detail the ‘formal nights’ where you will be expected to dress smartly. These will vary drastically, so you just need to ensure you have enough for those nights, while the rest of the time you can relax and wear what you would normally wear on a holiday. For the formal clothing, men should either pick a suit or a tuxedo, but not many actually wear a tux (unless they are trying a James Bond wannabe look), while females tend to wear a nice dress (I’m definitely not an expert on women’s fashion, just thought I should say that outright). Oh, regardless of the evening, don’t wear shorts and sandals to dinner, you still need to be casual smart, so I wore a lumberjack shirt and jeans. No tank tops / vests allowed at dinner.

6) Room Key Payment

A lot of people take out cash before getting on the ship, however nowadays most room keys are electronically coded so that anything you buy will be charged to your room with your key card. Think of it like a credit card. I love this concept, but it also takes away the reality of how much you are spending, so be careful when tucking into the pina colada’s if you aren’t on an all inclusive package.

7) What To Do In A Medical Emergency

If you have a medical issue of any kind, make staff aware by email beforehand and then once more when you get on the ship IF you feel the need to. In general, they will be aware of how to handle an emergency, however I warned them of my girlfriends diabetes type 1 so that they could be aware if she wasn’t with me and collapsed or had a hypo. If you are having an emergency, one positive is most cruise ships have a value guarantee where you will get a full refund, however you have to inform the cruise ship company within 24 hours of getting off and can only get off at an official port of call.

8) Can You Bring Your Own Booze

This all depends on the ship policies, which are all different, so your best bet is to check on the website or email in to verify, however a lot of them allow you to bring food and alcohol onto the ship. This can be an important note if you are going onto a cruise that doesn’t sell alcohol, as they could just charge a corkage fee.

9) Ensure You Get A Porthole

We are all in search of a great deal, but one thing to be wary of is that some of the cheapest rooms come with no porthole, meaning no natural light or view outwards, which can add a downer to the mood. This can leave you feeling a little trapped and claustrophobic.

10) 1st Day Bag

When you arrive at the port, the staff will take your luggage and move it to your rooms, while you go through the ship and normally don’t see you luggage for an hour or two. I therefore recommend having a bag on you with some essentials, such as water, money and a camera. Also remember to pack any medicine you may require.

11) Pack Your Gym Gear

We swam in the pool, we took a yoga class and I hit the gym, however about 90% of the people I spoke to forgot to bring their swimming costume or workout clothing. You might not have any plans on exercising while on holiday, but it is worth packing your gym gear and swimming costume just in case you get tempted, especially considering the number of classes they have included. Who knows when you might feel like trying Zumba for the first time.

12) Time Your Meals With The Shows

Not just does it mean you can eat and watch the show, but also, most people arrive during the ‘pre-show’, meaning the crowds are in full force. If you arrive a little bit later, you normally manage to miss the busiest period, yet you catch the entire show (even if it is painful to watch).

13) It’s Bad…But Don’t Be Early

It is a weird phenomenon, but people seem to arrive immaculately early for a cruise. It doesn’t always happen with flights, trains or buses, but with a cruise ship everyone seems to be 4 hours early. What this means is that as soon as people can board, the queue builds for miles long. The wait is painful, therefore if you just wait a little bit longer and arrive a bit after, you can normally skip the queues quite drastically. I aim for 1 hour before the final boarding time.

Written by | tombourlet

Tom Bourlet is the creator of Spaghetti Traveller and has been addicted to travelling ever since taking a roadtrip across the USA.

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