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Cruising Facts Beginners Need To Know

Updated on February 7, 2016

Cruising Facts And Tips

A cruise ship is a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages. There are more than 300 major cruise ships that operate around the world. More and more people are discovering the thrill and adventure elements of a cruise vacation. Are you taking your first cruise in a couple of months? To ensure you have a smooth trip, consider these facts and tips, that include what to pack on a cruise, what to bring on a cruise and more.

Preholiday Planning And Packing

Do ample research about the ship. Internet is a perfect research tool, and all the cruise lines have extensive websites with tons of information about their ships. Short cruises tend to attract a younger crowd, while longer cruises are popular with the older people. Periods around holidays are chosen by those who travel with their families. Weather need not be a concern, as cruise lines operate during periods that offer the best experience.

A Few Things To Note:

  • Choose your ship and cruise itinerary carefully.
  • Check what sort of identification you need when traveling to your destination.
  • Notify the cruise line of any special dietary restrictions way before the embarkment day.
  • Try to avoid major public holidays when most establishments remain closed.
  • Consider using a travel agent to make your bookings. Many cruise recommendations that are mentioned on the internet, may not be applicable to your country. If you do not have time to do a lot of research before travel, it is best to harness the expertise of a person who has been in this profession for years.
  • Do not carry your entire wardrobe to the ship. Life aboard a cruise ship is laid-back and casual. Dress for comfort. No one would take notice even if you wear the same outfit twice, and even if they do notice, it is unlikely, they would even care. Most cruise ships have self-serve laundry facilities and fee-based dry cleaning services for the clothes that get dirty.
  • Store your luggage under the bed.
  • Be sure to bring multiple bathing suits. If you are a waterholic who enjoys spending much time poolside, you will need more than one bathing suits, at least two or preferably three swimsuits.
  • Bring no more than two pairs of shoes. They weigh too much, and also occupy too much space in the luggage.
  • Pack properly for your first day on the ship. You require a change of clothes for the dinner, and probably a bathing suit in your carry-on luggage.

Choose Your Ship And Cruise Itinerary Carefully

The Embarkment Day

The basic things to keep in mind after you enter your ship, include the following:

  • Explore the ship, and get organized.
  • Grab lunch in the buffet restaurant.
  • Safety drills. Passengers are made to practice with the crew members, the safety measures they would take in an emergency situation, such as putting on life jackets or assembling in assigned areas. The drill takes place just before the ship sets sail. It is mandatory for all passengers on board to take part in it.
  • Drag your luggage into the cabin and leave it. Get back up on the deck quickly, and enjoy the sites of the shipmen throwing off the lines and leaving port.

On The Ship

Basic tips:

  • Check out the ship's daily newsletter which is slipped under your door every evening to know more about the port you are to visit, timings of shows, or the lectures being held the next day.
  • Dining. On most of the cruise ships, the dining expenses are covered in the cruise price. Traditionally, the ship restaurants organize two dinner services per day, the early and the late dining, and the passengers are allocated a set of dining time. This allows the ship to have enough time and space to accommodate all guests. Modern cruise ships often contain one or more casual buffet style eateries, which may be open 24 hours, with menus that vary throughout the day. The ships also feature numerous bars and nightclubs for entertainment.
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family. Most cruise lines have ships that are cell phone friendly. Be sure to leave family the name of your ship and the itinerary. They also have Wi-Fi enabled internet cafes from where you can log onto the net from your own device. Bring a supply of walkie-talkies enough for each family member to communicate while everyone visits a zone of their choice.
  • Shopping and facilities. Most of the travel expenses are covered in the initial cruise price. But for gift shop purchases, spa services, and payments for short tours that you choose on board, you would be provided a swipe card upon check-in, and the amount would be settled at the end of the trip with your credit card or cash. Most ships have onboard ATM machines that work well with foreign debit cards. It is best to carry a small amount of local currency when in foreign ports, for taxis and purchases at small street shops.
  • Medical facilities. Medical services consist of a doctor and a nurse to take care of temporary illnesses and minor accidents on a fee basis. It is cheaper to get medicines in port or bring them with you from home (especially tablets and patches to allay symptoms of sea sickness). If you suffer from a serious illness, carry copies of the prescription medicines.

Shore Excursions

Shore trips can be booked a few months before departure on the cruise line website, or onboard, and to be more innovative, via cabin TV. For the first timers, it is always better to go with cruise lines organized tours, in which your transportation and meals would be taken care of, and you can reach back on ship in time. If you are confident enough, you can book with independent local tour operators or go further to explore the port on your own. This would definitely save money.

Disembarkment

Utilize your carry-on bag for toiletries and a change of clothes before giving away your luggage. This is required as you would be booted out of your cabin early, in most ships at around 8 A.M. in the morning.

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