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First Hand Cruise Suggestion

Updated on September 12, 2018


After all the reservations are made and the countdown begins, the anticipation starts. New questions start to arise, what to bring, am I dressing up or going casual, do I need matching shoes for all my outfits? So much to think about.

NCL's Private Island
NCL's Private Island | Source

Help Is On The Way

I can help with these questions and more. Why am I able to do this? I have been sailing since I was in my early 20's. Back then I was a hairdresser on the seas. In the early 60's one man from Denmark owned most of the beauty shop concessions on most of the Luxury Passenger Liners. After working for a complete trip, (could be 7 days to 45 days), we would get back to our home port and be transferred to another ship immediately for one reason or another.

Look for another Hub in the near future about that entire experience, now, back to the helpful tips. My husband and I have been on over 35 cruises in the last 20 years, sometimes bringing other family members with us but most of the time just the two of us.

When planning your wardrobe, make a chart. Make 10 columns across the top for morning/afternoon/evening/beach clothes/sleeping/underware/toiletries (includes makeup)/odds and ends/ and an extra one if you need it.

Going up and down on the same chart, list the days of the weeks you will be away. Now start filling in the spaces with your wardrobe ideas you want to take with you. This makes it so easy and you won't be tempted to keep putting more clothes in the suitcase.

Don't forget to add purses/shoes/ accessories/sweaters etc. DON'T FORGET YOUR MEDS! Also, very important, bring any water shoes, sun tan lotions and anything else you might need as even though you can buy these things on the ship, it can get very expensive.

One major suggestion is to NOT take a different pair of shoes for every outfit. My first trip with my husband I had shoes for everything and took a special duffle bag just for the shoes.

Another important thing I learned was to mix some of your clothes in different suitcases in case one of them happens to get lost or late to your stateroom. I had that happen once. I also took one Dramamine on sailing day to get my system use to the ship. Just the sounds of the movement on the ship gave me a dizzy headache. After just one pill when we left and possibly one before dinner or bed would be enough for my system to get use to the feeling of the noise from the engines. After that I never took any more.

Have a great trip and who knows, maybe I will see you on one.

The state rooms are small, be prepared

Now you can plan your shopping. THIS IS IMPORTANT-While you are shopping, buy a hanging shoe holder with hooks, you will see why later.Also, get some kind of motions sickness item. There are many on the market, some pills, some patches for behind the ear, wrist bands etc. You probably won't need it, but its better to be safe than sorry. We take one as soon as we get on the ship and most of the time won't take another one the entire trip.

If you can't get them the ships doctor has them.


Take your suitcases out 2-3 weeks before the departure date.Pack at least 2 weeks before leaving.Place a dryer sheet in each suitcase to make it smell nice. Suitcases get a musty smell if they aren't used alot.

Use the long plastic bags that the newspapers are in when they are tossed on your door step for your shoes and any other small items. This will keep the clothes clean if the shoes get on them. If traveling with another person, sometimes its good to share a few suitcases and each of you use half. This is good if some of the luggage gets lost or doesn't get to you right away especially if you have to fly meet a ship. Luggage has known to get lost. We know! By sharing the suitcase, you will each have some clothes in every suitcase.

WEEK BEFORE-check your list and see if there are some items you can take out of the suitcase. Funny how some things just make it in there and we don't know how. Maybe you can wear the same shorts, pants, skirts or sweaters twice. This will save weight if you are flying and space for those cute little gifts you want to bring home. You don't need a different pair of shoes for every outfit either. No one will notice.

Put your meds and documents in your carry on. If you use a shoulder bag its better to put the important papers etc in there as you most likely won't sit that down anywhere and possibly leave it. Put all liquids like creams, suntan lotions, perfumes etc in small zip lock baggies.

After packing, put a bright colored strap around all your suitcases. Keep them all the same colors. Don't put them on the handles as the luggage is handled a lot and it will probably be torn off. You can actually buy luggage straps in the stores like Walmart etc. I got mine in an odd lot store. After the cruise the luggage is all placed at the pier and you have to go out and locate your own pieces and take them. Usually the porters will keep them together if they look alike. This makes it easier for everyone, especially you as you just want to get going and go through customs.

Vacation Day

Dress comfortably! The day is finally here. If you have to fly to meet the ship, try going a day early and staying in a hotel. It might cost a little more but you will be happy you did it on sailing day. You won't be tired from flying and running etc. Its well worth it! We have been on so many cruises where we had to fly to meet the ship in Puerto Rico, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. We now only go on cruises that leave from NYC and drive there and park on the pier.We have had a lot of stressful situtations where the planes were late coming or going and had to have people pick us up and wait. We don't have a great selection of cruises going out of New York, especially in the winter but we have been to almost every island there is and we just like sailing so we don't care. Sometimes we don't even get off the ship and just enjoy the quiet at the pool etc.

NCL's parking pier in NYC
NCL's parking pier in NYC | Source


The New York City Pier is great, in fact they always remember us when we pull in. Its well worth not having to rely on people to come and get us or fight the traffic both ways. After we pay we pull over to the side and the elevator is right there. I stay there with the luggage as my husband parks the car.(Remember to bring the parking receipt with you, keep it in your wallet). If a porter is at the elevator he will take all your luggage and you won't see it until you sail and it will be in your room. We always tip the porters. Keep your carry on with you.

Checking In

We leave Pennsylvania early and get to the pier early so we avoid standing on the lines. We usually get there by 10am for a 4 o'clock sailing. We start boarding between 12 and 1.We check in as soon as we can and this gives us an earlier boarding pass.There is usually coffee, juice and coffee cake to snack on and there is a larger snack bar to purchase other snacks. There are very clean rest rooms available.

We bring newspapers and magazines and just sit and people watch which we both love to do. The time goes by pretty fast.

When the embarkation starts you will be called according to groups. That will be explained when you check in. Every ship has their own unique way of doing this. We always go on NCL so we know the whole procedure very well.

Once we are on the ship we go right to the dining room as the state rooms are not all ready yet. There are places to eat all over the ship but we chose the dining room. One time, after eating in the dining room we went outside on the deck and ate there too! That was in our younger days, we can't do that any more!

By the time you are done eating an announcement will be made that the rooms are ready. You can go and leave your carry on there but most likely your luggage will not be there yet or just one of your suitcases will be there. Go up on deck and check out the ship.

Just a little piece of information-on a lot of the ships take note of the rugs in the hallways. Each side has a different color rug. This is to show you if you are coming or going. The last ship had dolphins swimming in the forward direction. If you were walking against the way the dolphins were swimming, you were going toward the back of the ship. Take note of your hallway.

Remember the Shoe Holder?????

When you get all your luggage and start unpacking, hang the shoe holder on the inside of the bathroom door. The bathrooms are small and never have enough counter space so this is where the hanger comes in handy. You can put all kinds of things in the pouches like brushes, combs, make up, tooth paste and brush, hair spray, meds and deodorants etc.

Favorite Cruise Line

We always sail on NCL as we love the FREE STYLE sailing. On most Cruise Lines you pick what time you want to eat, either first or second seating and you usually sit at the same table in the same dining room and with the same people. On NCL you eat whenever you want and where ever you want. You can dress any way you want (with a few guidelines, like no shorts or tee shirts in the dining rooms for dinner), but can dress formal or casual any time you want. You can sit with some one one night and the next night sit alone or with someone else.

There are lighted boards around the ships with the waiting times for all the dining rooms.

NCL also has the Latitudes Past Cruisers Rewards. There is always a cocktail party just for the Latitudes members and some cruises might have two depending on the length of the cruise. There are a number of perks. You can read about them on their site.

We have never been disappointed on NCL.


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