Changing Clothes More Often
A cruise is different than other types of vacations in that you may want to change clothes more often during the day because of all the different things there are to do out on deck, indoors, and ashore. You'll want casual comfortable day clothes. The suggested dress for each night will be announced in the daily program.
Take comfortable, easy clothes for when you wake up late with just a few minutes to get to breakfast, or to see the sunrise as you enter port, or when you want to go to the gym/sauna/health club. There are ample opportunities for exercise aboard most ships. If you plan to use the gym, take your work-out clothes with you, including your sneakers.
On a 7-day cruise, you'll usually find the following evening dress
Two or Three "Casual" nights
This means jacket and tie not required for men. Sport shirts and slacks are the standard. Women should also dress for comfort and fun, nothing fancy is expected.
One or Two "Informal" nights -Mid-way between casual and formal
This usually means coat and tie (tie is optional) for men. For the women, a nice outfit you might wear out to dinner would do.
Two "Formal" nights
"Formal" suggests a dark suit or tuxedo for the men. For the women, cocktail dress, dressy skirt or slacks outfit.
Many ships have theme nights and the suggested dress could be Fifties/Sixties, Country/Western, Italian, Pirate, Mexican, Greek or Caribbean, depending on your destination. A passenger Talent Show may take place, so don't forget your sheet music, kazoo, or tap shoes if you think you'll want to participate. The cruise line brochure will provide more information on these programs.
Pack at least one sweater or windbreaker on warm weather cruises, and more than one if you're going to Alaska, Scandinavia or any of the spring/fall transitional weather cruises. Even in the Caribbean, it can be chilly on deck in the early morning or after sundown; Some women find they also need a sweater, shawl or jacket indoors at night when the air conditioning may be too cool.
Don't forget a light raincoat or disposable poncho for the occasional shower.
Your travel documents, prescriptions, and Valuables such as Jewelry, Cameras, and irreplaceable items of clothing should always be in your carryon luggage. Don't entrust them to anyone to carry for you.
Leave your contact information with family and friends so that they can reach you if necessary. Include the Cruise Line, the ship, your cabin number and your flight schedule. With your documents will be a maritime phone number as well as many ships today have satellite facilities so that personal cell phones can be used while the ship is at sea.
Proof of Citizenship
You must always travel with proof of citizenship. If in doubt, check with your local us customs office. Their phone number is located in your telephone book.
Sunglasses, a hat or visor, and your medications are a must. Remember to keep medications in your carry-on luggage.
Extra Supplies for Your Camera
Remember to have extra film and batteries for your camera so you don't waste time (or money) buying them in foreign ports or onboard the ship.
Small Carrying Bag
Onboard ship, be carefree. A "Fanny Pack" is a great way to carry just what you need. If it cannot fit in the fanny pack, then you don't need to carry it!
A small pocket calculator can come in very handy for foreign currency exchange on cruises overseas.
A travel alarm clock might be an item you desire to have. Your cabin does not have a clock, and even though most ships do have wake up services, you might want the clock for general knowledge of time.
If you look forward to reading in a deck chair, do take your own selection of books. Most contemporary cruise ship libraries are limited in content and shipboard boutiques stock the same types of books you'd find at the airport.
A fold up suitcase for souvenirs and all the clothes that will not fit back into the original suitcase can be useful on your return trip.
If you're worried about being seasick, there are a few over the counter remedies available such as Bonine, Dramamine and Mazarine. These are available at your local pharmacy and onboard the ship. The newest remedy for motion sickness is based on the principle of acupressure. By wearing "The Sea Band" snuggly around each wrist, pressure is applied to the point which controls your equilibrium. This is available for purchase at Pharmacies as well as on board many cruise ships.
If you are using the cruise line's air/sea package, look for their uniformed representative at the airport baggage claim area. You will need to claim your own luggage. The Cruise Line's representatives will assist you to the waiting motor coaches for transportation to the pier. Additional details from the cruise line are included with your final documents. One should read these carefully, especially if you're using the cruise line's hotel package before or after the cruise.
The majority of airlines will carry a reasonable amount of pieces for free if the weight does not exceed 70 pounds. Bags that are in excess are subject to extra charges. If in doubt about the amount of luggage you are taking or the weight, call your airline in advance.
Do Not Lock
Do not lock your baggage, unless you have the approved TSA Locks. Otherwise security at the airport or the pier will “cut” them in order to inspect them.
Carry on Your Valuable Items
Do not place jewelry, money, medicine, one of a kind documents or fragile items such as cameras or radios in checked baggage. International flights have different allowances for luggage. Check with your air carrier.
Your Luggage at the Pier
If you're not using the cruise line's air package and transfers, you can check your luggage with the baggage master at the pier and it will be delivered to your cabin. If you need a map of the pier because you are arriving independent of the cruise line transfer program, let us know and we will include it with your final documents.
Your Luggage On-Board
Your luggage will be delivered directly to your cabin, but don't expect it right away. It will take several hours to reach your cabin, so carry with you anything you'll need immediately on arrival, e.g. a change of clothes or toiletries. If your luggage still hasn't shown up by 30 minutes after sailing, contact the purser's office.
Cruise ship cabins are not like hotel rooms. They are designed for your comfort and convenience and will efficiently accommodate you and your belongings, but they may seem smaller than you remember from the brochures. Ships devote maximum space to the public areas where passengers spend the most amount of time.
Cabin Steward or Stewardess
You'll be meeting your cabin steward or stewardess soon after arrival. He or she will keep your cabin tidy; keep your ice bucket filled and your towels fresh and clean. They can bring you breakfast in your cabin, plus room service. They can answer most of your questions, and you'll generally find a much higher level of service than you've ever experienced in a hotel.
Your electric hair dryer, curlers, or shaver may or may not be compatible with the electrical current on some older ships, so check your cruise brochure to see if you'll need an adapter. You'll have no problem on newer ships which are wired for personal appliances.
Ship’s Daily Program
Make it a practice to review your ship's daily program which will be delivered to your cabin each night so that you can make plans for the following day.
Safe-deposit boxes are available on many vessels right in the cabin. If not, just inquire about one at the Purser's Office shortly after boarding.
If you plan to make use of the ship's laundry or pressing services, do so early in the cruise. Laundry takes a bit longer aboard ship than in a hotel, and neither laundry nor pressing are accepted toward the end of the cruise. Some ships have dry cleaning facilities, and self-service launderettes.
A confirmation of the dining room seating requested for you should be in your cabin when you arrive or will be denoted on your boarding pass. If not, see the Maitre d' as soon as possible to make sure your request is on record.
The Maitre d' will be available in one of the lounges for this purpose during embarkation, or shortly thereafter. If you are particularly eager to have a specific table location in the dining room, make a request with the Maitre d'. Don't forget to take the card confirming your table number with you to the dining room on the first night or two, so that you know where to go.
Most ships have 2 “seatings” for meals, that’s two couples per table. It's considered courteous to be on time (or no more than 10 minutes late) so that the dining room can function at its best in serving all passengers. It's usually fun getting to know your fellow table mates. But, on occasion, you may find you just don't hit it off. No problem, just ask the Maitre d' to change you after the first or second night.
Have as much or as little from the menu as you wish. Your waiter will be happy to bring you second portions. Have 3 shrimp appetizers, if you wish, and skip the main course altogether. It's all up to you. If you have a craving for a dish not on the menu, your head waiter can sometimes arrange for it to be specially prepared for your table. Ask a day or two ahead and plan to tip them for the extra service.
Be adventuresome with your culinary choices and experiment with some of the new or exotic tastes offered on board ship such as caviar or escargot. If you are unhappy with it, it’s okay to send it back and try something else.
If you decide to skip dinner some evening or if you think you might like to have dinner ashore some night in port, it's courteous to let your table-mates or one of your waiters know in advance, so they don't wait or worry unnecessarily about you.
Alternative Dining Choices
Most ships now offer the choice of having breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room, or a more casual buffet on deck or near the pool. And, on days when you want to get an early start going ashore, have breakfast in your cabin. Also, many ships now offer alterative dining venues. Some of these have a cover charge and reservations are required. Once on board, you can make the decision.
There will be a photographer present at most events, and photos of the previous days' activities will be posted by the next evening. If you want copies, it's best to order them day by day because it's easy to forget, and it will be difficult for the photographer to locate your special choices later.
Take Your Time
On arrival in port it always takes time for the ship to be cleared and tour buses organized. Relax and enjoy your morning coffee. Don't rush and wait in a hot crowded gangway. Enjoy your time and wait for the announcements that the way is clear. You are there to relax, don't turn the going ashore part into a rush hour commute.
Don't miss sundown on a cruise ship. It's one of the prettiest times of day, especially at sea. Your daily program should have the exact time
Be prepared for your port visits. Your cruise brochure tells you a few things about each port and you'll usually be given some information aboard ship before each port, but this can't really prepare you fully.
Some cruise lines sponsor pre-planned shore excursions. Traveling in a group to a port’s major highlights is a great way to see it all and make new friends. By paying a bit more you're eliminating the worry and responsibility of planning and operating your own tour. Be prepared, however, to move at the group's pace, spending more or less time in some places than you would if you were on your own. Many ships will allow you to pre book the shore excursions online at the cruise lines web site.
On Your Own
To set up your own tour, pick a registered taxi, many come to the pier when a ship is in port. Tell him where you want to go; you can see the same places as the pre-planned shore excursions if you wish. Before you get in his taxi, negotiate an agreeable price for the number of hours you wish to tour. In the negotiating process, you can also determine if he speaks enough English to give you a "guided" tour.
Choosing Your Driver
Be selective in choosing your driver/guide, and you'll have a very memorable port visit. Your driver will expect a tip on top of the price you've agreed if he does a good job of explaining things and suggesting what to see. Do not go with a "gypsy" cab driver, check out his vehicle and make sure he has a registered cab. Often the licensed cabs will be available immediately at the gangway, while the gypsy cabs are outside the gate. Make your choice wisely; cheapest price is not necessarily the best deal.
Sea Legs and Land Legs
Don't be startled if you notice that your legs are wobbly when you first go ashore. After you get your sea legs, they sometimes readapt slowly to solid ground.
Some ships are prepared to pack a box lunch for you to enjoy ashore. If you are planning on spending the day out, ask your head waiter if this can be arranged, and make your request the night before you want it.
Things to Bring
In the tropical ports, don't forget your sun block, sun hat if necessary and a long-sleeved shirt for the evening.
You Don’t Have to go Ashore
An important tip about going ashore is that you don't have to go. Some people prefer the peace and quiet of a day aboard ship when everybody else is gone.
The Cashless System
The cruise ships have a "cashless" system for payment of on-board purchases, so that you're not bothered with carrying money on board the ship. You can pay either by cash or credit card at the end of the trip.
In the Caribbean, Mexico, and Alaska most shops and restaurants are accustomed to accepting U.S. dollars for purchases so you needn't worry about foreign exchange in these ports.
Bring local currency if you are traveling in Europe, Asia, South America or the South Pacific. Especially if you're traveling on your own and not with the cruise line's air and transfer arrangements or utilizing accommodations not associated with the cruise line.
Credit cards are accepted in most ports of call, but one should carry more than just one type of major card since not all are accepted everywhere.
The safest way to carry extra cash is with travelers checks. Most stores will accept them and you are able to cash them on the ship at the purser's office.
Tipping aboard ship is an old tradition. If you've never cruised, it may seem mysterious, but after you see the kind of personal attention you can receive on a ship, you'll probably find that like most people, you'll enjoy the opportunity to acknowledge the performance of your stewards in the dining room and your cabin service.
St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie)
Rio de Janeiro