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Getting the Most out of Your Cruise Vacation

Updated on February 18, 2020
Paddygsound profile image

As an experienced cruiser, I've got tons of tips to make your next cruise vacation a breeze.

Prioritize, Plan and Then Party

I love going on cruises. I have been on a fair few over the years, and I am still amazed by how much there is to see and do on them every day of your cruise.

It is virtually impossible to get around the whole ship in one trip or to take part in everything that they have to offer, but that won't stop you from trying to fit in as much as you possibly can.

To get the most out of your vacation, plan things ahead of time. This will save your poor feet by stopping you from endlessly wandering up and down the whole ship till you get your bearings looking for things to do.

Make sure you do your research before you leave, seeing what the ship and ports have to offer that might be up your alley just makes good sense.

The Internet is available on cruise ships but it is not as great as you wish it could be, it is both very expensive and not always that reliable as it can be influenced by satellite availability, location, and weather. It also doesn't pay to leave it till you are on the ship as the cost of it can be more expensive then if you had made the purchase prior to boarding either through your travel agent or by contacting the cruise line directly.

Prior to leaving a little research will give you a decent idea of what to expect on your trip, reducing the chances of overspending, travel stress and the likelihood of missing out on all of the fun things on offer.

Smaller ships allow for the opportunity to really get around and really take in all that is on offer, however, mega-ships through sheer size make it almost impossible to get around and see everything thing on offer in one trip.

Researching the ship before boarding allows you to get the most out of your journey. I suggest being familiar with at least the basics like venues, activities and entertainment that will be available during your trip.

Whether it be a certain kind of music, entertainment, or maybe you just want to treat yourself to that full body massage. This is your time to pick your goals for your cruise.

This is also true of the ports that you will be travelling to. If you are fully versed in what is available you will be able to more easily arrange things to get the most out of your journey.

A good tip if you don't go ashore at every port, is to make sure you read your daily cruise planner, as the cruise lines offer the most beautiful treatments and massages on those days when the ship is almost empty. It can be the perfect chance to spoil yourself whilst the ship is quiet.

I scored the most luxurious Swedish massage with all the trimmings through doing this. It was amazing how she worked all of the muscles and relaxed them to the point I walked out of the spa feeling like a million dollars.

Whilst on your cruise pay attention to your cruise compass or cruise planner as they are called, these are delivered to your stateroom. These gems hold everything you might need to know about your trip on a daily basis.

The internet is your friend when it comes to getting the most out of your cruise. A little research will help you to know what is what with your trip and any quirks to keep in mind.

I have found that the best results are found online resources like Facebook groups which have the most to offer, as people in the groups have pretty much seen it all. It will help you to get an idea of what to expect and what is worthwhile keeping in mind when booking and taking a cruise. I find that reading through the experiences of other people takes the uncertainty out of the trip for me and allows me to truly relax.

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Plan Ahead

The problem with cruising is that there is a necessity to plan at least some of the things that will happen. Doing so will get some bucket list items done and at the very least ensure that you have a bit of variety during your trip.

Making sure that you book the right kind of dining option and pre-booking all tours as soon as possible are perfect examples. Planning these ahead of time reduces the chances of you being disappointed these sell quickly once everyone is on the ship.

Having every moment of a cruise planned out can quickly suck the fun from it, but having expectations that aren't met means disappointment and even regret. So if you've been dying to eat at the speciality restaurants or get a treatment at the spa, then be sure to book.

A little planning will mean more opportunity for laying back on a sun lounge with a good book and a cold drink.

Be Flexible

Get the most out of your cruise vacation by keeping it loose. By loose I don't mean your clothing (though that can help, with the buffets), but be a little bit flexible. This will reduce the chances of killing those holiday vibes because of unnecessary stress.

No one wants holiday stress so be prepared and a little bit flexible with showtimes, for example, you don't always have to go to the first one as they are always the first choice for almost the whole ship.

If you plan ahead, go for the anytime dining options, this allows you to, as the name suggests, dine at any time. Set time dining can be fine but it will mean that you are likely dumped with half a table of people you don't know every evening that you dine in the dining hall. I personally like the intimacy of a smaller table, even if it does mean a few minutes wait time occasionally.

A perfect example of the benefit of being flexible whilst on holidays was on my first cruise where I almost missed out on going to my favourite Island, Amedee Island. Through being nice to the staff and flexible within what I was happy to do, they were able to help me get those tickets to the island, even though it meant a bit of legwork for them because the had to change booking back and forward.

See my article about the beautiful Amedee Island here.

I am forever thankful to those staff on the Carnival Spirit, their help made for a truly amazing first cruise

Even if I hadn't been able to visit Amedee Island, being flexible with my plans meant that, had I missed out I still would have had options, just at another island.

So keep it cool people and you will enjoy your trip more.

Plan Your Naps and the Way You Attack the Snacks

It is easy to party all night long on a cruise. The problem though is when you have a port day the next morning. Trust me I have seen a few green looking faces making a b-line to the buffet to get at the greasy breakfast hangover cure. Burning the candle at both ends \can mean that you miss out on things because you are feeling poorly.

Going straight to your tour the next morning hungover or still drunk is the worst. So unless you have the strength of five people, be mindful not to party too hard every night. Especially on those longer cruises.

I always make sure that I get a good night sleep and lay off the booze at least on the nights before shore days. Otherwise, you'll end up falling asleep on your tour guide or worse.

If for you the party goes all night long, make sure to book tours for later in the morning or afternoon to save yourself any trouble or having wasted opportunities because you were too tired to enjoy them fully.

Eat properly at least some of the time and try to keep your mealtimes semi-regular. For one thing, you will ensure that you know what time it is as there is a tendency to become lost in time on a cruise ship and secondly it will keep your energy levels up and give you the opportunity to sample the wonder that is cruise ship food. My personal favourites are steakhouses, like Celebrity's Tuscan Grille or Royal Caribbean's Chops Grille.

If entertainment trumps food in your book I would suggest skipping the dining rooms and speciality restaurants unless you booked an early seating and heading for the buffets for faster feeds or there is always room service if you can't bring yourself to leave the comfort of your stateroom.

All these tips should help ensure you get the most out of your trip.

If you have any more tips or tricks for getting the most out of your cruise journeys, please comment below as I would love to hear from you.

Bon voyage

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Paddy


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