The Biggest Mistakes Guests Make Before and During a Cruise

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people walking in an old city

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Even the most experienced cruiser has something to learn. There’s no better perspective than that of a crew member, who has to deal with sorting out the result of their oversights. They often also have a wealth of suggestions to make the most out of their cruising experience.

Amenities

One thing I have often observed is repeat cruisers who are shocked at the lack of a particular amenity or facility on that particular ship. Fair enough, ships tend to follow a pattern, and, within ship classes, they might be similar in most aspects, like the layout of the decks or dining offerings. However, the cruising industry is ever-evolving, so newer ships within the same class might come up with new, exciting features which you cannot just assume will be present in previous versions.

An obvious solution to this is to check Youtube Videos of the ship you’ll be on. I don’t know about you, but in addition to educating you about the features you’ll be able to enjoy, I’m sure it’ll pump you full of excitement about your upcoming adventure. Look carefully at the floor plans, the location of your cabin in relation to the facilities you use the most, as well as to the elevators, the gangway (think of how tired you might be when coming back from port). You will also want to note nearby areas you might want to keep at a distance, like main dining rooms, or children’s areas. Even more so if you have any mobility limitations that may be challenged by design failures.

Costs

Next in the list is failing to prepare for expenses. Cruise Lines are getting better and better at including certain goodies with the bookings, however, they are generally limited up to a point, and a few things to keep in mind can prevent you from feeling embarrassed, or like a rookie, or both! For instance, the Beverage Package. While it was in effect free, the service charges associated with the package were most likely added to the cruise fare, so you’re pretty much done with alcohol expenses, right? Wrong! Make sure you’re aware of exclusions, like taxes charged while in port, price caps, or specific types of alcohol or serving sizes not included. Believe me, not knowing about them will make no difference in whether you’ll have to shoulder these charges or not.

a glass of champagne with a body of water in the background

Time

Also worth researching is the opening times for the various venues, particularly dining rooms, which is only going to make your daily planning smoother. Like to sleep in on sea days? Better know what will be waiting for you on the other side of your duvet once you decide to get up.

a buffet with food on it

Something even the most experienced traveler might not encounter on other types of trips is time changes, especially the way they are handled on board. The official time a ship changes time zones is at 2:00am, meaning at the beginning (or end, depending on how you see it) of the day. You might read about it on the daily publication which is sent to your room the night before the day it’s intended for, making things slightly more confusing. If in doubt, ask your Room Steward or Guest Services about the correct moment when you should change your clocks. Don’t even THINK about letting your phone decide for itself, as it will almost never do it right. You’ll ideally change it before going to bed the night before that 2:00am mark. Another place you can easily check is the onboard telephones which always automatically update when there is a time change.

Excursions

Finally, one of the main reasons to take a cruise is the shore excursions they offer in each port. And, just like one or more of them might sound like a bucket list experience for you, many others might feel the same way. Now, Tour Operators can only fit so many people per bus, boat or such (helicopters?!), so these experiences are FAR from having unlimited spaces. Like in nature, the early bird will get to ride that camel, or spot that humpback whale! Get pro-active, and get those tickets the moment you spot them online. – That Guy (On Board)

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve cruised on many of the major lines. I rarely do ship excursions. They are usually overpriced and overcrowded and too short. I’ve done much better either doing it myself ( going to a beach) or arranging a private tour. As long as your tour is with an established company and you get back an hour before , you are fine. Sometimes certain excursions are locked in with the ship like the Alaska Railroad in Skagway. Then you have no choice. But when ships started charging $50 or more to go to the beach for 4 hours , and I could go for 6- 8 for $6-$10, I went on my own.

    • In Belize, I found a tour to Lamina which either the cruise line didn’t offer or for much more than what I found online. We did have to walk out of the port area but their rep was there with a sign. I was concerned about an “all day” trip but their website said if for any reason we missed the ship then they’d pay to get us to the next port. Not sure how I’d enforce that but I took the excursion. The return to port was an hour before the last tender.

      On the way back, van had a flat and no spare, so one had to be transported to us. It was touch and go whether we’d make the last tender. When we arrived, possibly five minutes after the scheduled tender departure time and raced to the dock, the tender was fully loaded and appeared to be waiting for us because the tender left as soon as we boarded. The excursion company must have called to tell them we’d be there in five minutes. And I am Platinum status with the line, so maybe that helped for a five minute reprieve.

  2. so true about the time changes.. It was very confusing last month. The excursions are $$$$ but in some ports u have no choice as outside transport companies may not be allowed in the port area only the cruise line transports can enter causing issues if you did hire outside tours.
    The one thing I missed in our suite was a make-up mirror and a night light vs keeping all the BR lights on…

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