Whether it’s the first time or an annual tradition, cruises are unforgettable experiences. At least they should be. You can explore new territories, all while remaining mobile enough to visit multiple locations and bucket list items during a single trip.
Of course, as with any other type of travel, that experience can be ruined if you don’t think it through. Too much luggage, isolation in your cabin, or even sea sickness are not fun companions as you set sail to Aruba or the Canaries.
Fortunately, you can plan ahead. Use these 10 tips to make the most of your cruise and ensure that your next trip will truly become the adventure of a lifetime.
Planning for the cruise starts with what trip you want to take in the first place. You might already have a very clear destination in your mind, or you’re just looking for the overall experience. If it’s the latter, consider a repositioning cruise. This type of trip allows you to enjoy a cruise ship at a much lower rate as it moves from one end point to the next starting point. The right time to book your cruise also matters when looking for the best possible price.
Yes, it’s tempting to pack for all possibilities. But in potentially tight cabins, a multitude of suitcases (not to mention their contents) can quickly become problematic. Instead, pack lightly, focusing only on the essentials for the climate in your destination. Bonus tip: pack your first day’s outfit in your carry-on, just in case you get delayed or arrive too late to unpack. Then, use your carry-on for any essentials that might otherwise require a second suitcase.
Staying on the ship is half the fun of a cruise. Getting to explore various islands and coastal towns is the other. Start familiarizing yourself with your excursion possibilities, so you can plan strategically. Some ports of call may have multiple options. Others may just not be as attractive, calling for a spa day on board instead. The more you know, the easier you can plan ahead and build your vacation around your excursions.
You’d be surprised just how quickly lounge chairs fill up. Everyone wants to bathe in the sun, or get that coveted spot right next to the pool. Fortunately, many cruise ships allow you to reserve your space. Take advantage of that option to make sure you always know where to go for some relaxation time. It also helps to know the various decks, so you can expect to a less crowded option when the pool deck fills up. If you mark your space early, you won’t have to worry about complications down the road.
Even the best cruises can be ruined by your stomach if you’re not careful. Some preparations can help you minimize that issue. Book a room that’s close to the center of the ship to minimize the rocking of the waves. Look for options with balconies where possible. Seeing the horizon tends to help your body calm down and fight the seasickness. If you are prone to nausea in these types of situations, talk to your doctor before the trip about potential solutions if neither of these preparations help.
You’ll spend two weeks in the care of a large crew. You will be one of countless other guests they have to attend to. But that doesn’t mean you cannot give yourself small advantages. Kind words to your cabin steward, and perhaps the occasional sweet treat from an excursion, can go a long way toward showing your gratitude. If you have a set spot at dinner, casual conversation with your server can also help. If you put in the effort to treat them with respect, they’ll return the favor.
Many cruise lines allow passengers to bring their own wine and champagne on board, as long as the quantity is within reason. If your cruise allows for that option, take advantage of it. Few things compare with watching a sunset over the ocean from your balcony, with nothing but water in front of you and a glass of bubbly in your hand. Bringing your own prevents you from the temptation of your mini fridge, which can quickly become expensive.
It’s almost a given: on the right cruise, you will make memories that last a lifetime. That, in turn, brings up an obvious question: how can you capture these memories to make sure you can share them after the fact? The answer: You can plan for it. For instance, an underwater camera is great if you plan on some snorkeling adventures. At the very least, make sure that your phone has enough storage space as the trip starts to take plenty of images and videos.
Spas are as essential to cruise ships as poolside bars. Many of them offer packages that allow you to take advantage of their services through the duration of the trip. But these packages go quickly, especially if your trip includes days at sea without a port of call. Book your package early, not just to get the best prices but also to make sure that you don’t miss out. Here, knowing which excursions you plan on participating in will become vital information.
Last, but certainly not least, there is only one way to truly make the most of your next cruise: find a way to enjoy it. Yes, planning matters. You don’t want to pack too much, and you should definitely prepare for the possibility of seasickness. But none of that should take away from the sheer beauty and enjoyment a cruise can provide. Wherever possible, find a way to lean back and relax. Soak it all in, realizing that you’re charting the same paths as explorers hundreds of years before you. Take a deep breath, and make your memories.