Cruise Weekly editor Louise Goldsbury gives her top 10 tip for those who are embarking on the high seas for the first time.
1. Don’t freak out
It’s a cruise ship, not a space ship. Although it may seem overwhelming to embark on a new way to travel, cruising is the easiest type of holiday in the world. You don’t need to know every detail before you go, so don’t panic about packing and cabins and currency and drink prices and shore excursions and cruise cards and other things you’ve never heard of. Like the ocean or the river upon which you are sailing: go with the flow.
2. Be cool by the pool
Pack your swimmers and sunglasses in your hand luggage. This means you don’t have to wait for your suitcase to get delivered to your cabin (yes, that’s how easy cruising is – they carry your bags for you). Then hurry down to the grab the best position by the pool – or the pool bar. But beware the deckchair police: some cruise lines impose 45-minute time limits before unattended towels and belongings are whisked away. (Oh, and don’t pack any towels – these are provided for free.)
3. Beware the buffet
On embarkation day (otherwise known as “woohooooo cruise day!!!”), the buffet is usually the only place open for lunch. Everyone gets a little excited about their first free meal – and it’s probably been a long time since breakfast at home – so they race up there and pretty much lose their minds. Don’t be scared, things will calm down tomorrow.
4. Send the kids off
Yeah, it’s a big happy family holiday, whatever, but it’s not really a break unless you get some mummy-and-daddy time. Children’s clubs and teen clubs are free. Take advantage! They’ll be supervised and entertained and will have more fun without you.
5. Shower in style
If you’re always waiting to use the shower in your cabin, head to the day spa. On some ships, bathrooms in the beauty salon and sauna are accessible to all passengers, regardless of whether they have booked a treatment. These more spacious facilities are often stocked with nicer toiletries too.
6. Restaurant rules
Don’t think you’re awesome because you scored the table next to the window – there’s no ocean view after sunset, so you won’t see a thing on the deep, dark sea. The best table is the one with the best service. Be nice to your waiters because they will make sure you have a great dinner. (By the way, you can order as much as you like.)
7. Free water
It’s not necessary to take your own bottled water. A modern ship’s tap water is perfectly fine to drink if it has an onboard filtration system. Glasses of iced water are also available for free in the buffet, restaurants and bars. Even the cheaper-priced ships have free water, coffee, tea, iced tea and lemonade (which is more like lemon cordial).
8. Peculiar packing
Bring a magnet. Cabins are made of metal, so you can use it to stick up the daily programs or notes to your travel companions. Hanging shoe racks are also good for storing small items. And pack an international adapter too, as many ships don’t have Australian power points.
9. Motion of the ocean
To avoid seasickness, book a mid-ship cabin on a lower deck (around 5 or 6). Cabins higher up, or at either end of the vessel, are more prone to rocking and rolling. If you feel queasy, get out on deck and gaze at the horizon, rather than lying down. If you’re really worried, buy anti-seasick tablets and start taking them BEFORE you get on the ship.
10. Stay out of trouble
There are no police onboard but plenty of security staff and cameras. If you become unruly or commit a crime, you may be confined to your cabin with a guard at the door. Some offenders are kicked off at the next port and have to fly home. This includes passengers who get too drunk and cause trouble. Have fun but behave!