Let me start out by saying I didn’t think I would enjoy cruising as much as I did. I like to say there is a difference between traveling and vacationing and cruising definitely falls into the vacation category. But there’s nothing wrong with that.
When I travel, I like to “get lost” while roaming the streets of different cities and absorb the unfamiliar culture surrounding me at my leisure. Vacationing on a cruise ship is like getting to taste-test parts of the world in a shorter amount of time with everything you need in a giant floating hotel. Cruising opens the door to choosing where to return later for a more in-depth travel experience.
I never thought I would enjoy being confined to a cruise ship, but it really is a great way to quickly see and experience a variety of locations. In this article, I want to share 5 mistakes to watch out for as a cruise passenger. As always, I’ve learned these things the hard way. Because in the end, that’s what Living By Experience is all about…
1. Not allowing enough time to wait in lines
Lines are a reality on a cruise and you will need to allow time to wait in one more than once. Your cruise will probably start with a line. The immigration and security formalities can be extremely time-consuming. There are often lines for dinners and special events. There are lines to leave the boat when stopped in ports, lines for excursions, and lines to wait in to return to the boat at the end of a day in port. As long as you are prepared for them, try to dodge busy times or have patience, you should be fine.
2. Taking excursions in every port
Don’t get me wrong; excursions are fun. Who wouldn’t want to swim with the dolphins at least once? Excursions can be expensive and crowded though. Book the ones that are important to you, but also allow some time to explore some of the ports on your own. Most ports offer shopping, sightseeing, and a taste of the local culture all within walking distance from the boat. Alternatively, you can grab a taxi or shuttle to other nearby spots of interest. This game plan adds a nice mix of variety to your cruising experience and it makes things easier on the pocketbook too.
3. Not preparing for rough seas
This is more of a “Murphy’s Law” thing. Most cruise ships don’t experience rough seas, but some people are bothered by even the slightest of gentle rocking motions and don’t realize it until it’s too late. Be sure to pack some medication for sea sickness “just in case” even if you’re confident you have good sea legs. You want to be able to enjoy your vacation relaxing and enjoying the sights. It’s less expensive to buy the medication at home and pack it than having to buy it on board. Having the medication handy guarantees your cruise will be smooth sailing all the way. When all else fails – ask the bartender for a ginger ale with bitters. Trust me, it works.
4. Bringing your own alcohol on board
I was caught by surprise by this myself. You are not allowed to bring your own alcohol on board the ship. This not only includes alcohol you buy in a port or before boarding, but also any alcohol you purchase from the onboard liquor store. They will take your purchases away, store them safely and return them at the end of the cruise. There is no way to beat these liquor restrictions. I tried and was only moderately successful in the first departure port by putting some bottles in my checked luggage (which you don’t carry onto the ship yourself). This is not to say don’t buy any alcohol. Just be prepared to not see it until the end of your cruise. Just think what a nice memory of your trip it will be when you’re enjoying your purchases when you return home.
5. Paying Full Price for a cruise
There are so many good deals out there for cruises that paying full price would be a mistake. Those prices are only for the uninitiated. If you have flexibility with your travel dates, you can often find even more discounts if you book during certain off-season dates. Cruising is a marvelous way to see the world. To explore the possibilities, try checking out our Cruise Travel page for some exclusive deals to get started on planning your next adventure.