Of course, the best value way to see the world is to go on a cruise, as it’s one of the most convenient and exciting ways to travel. Several destinations, a vast array of activities, and great onboard entertainment, complemented by excellent dining options, all go towards creating an experience not to be missed. Whether you’re heading out on your first cruise, or going on your fifth, sixth or seventeenth cruise, we can all take advantage of the following cruise hacks for a more enjoyable holiday.
Book Early (or Late)
The early bird catches the cruise – lock in your cruise as early as possible so you can choose your perfect cabin on your perfect dates. Plus, by booking early, you take advantage of any early-booking bonus offered by the cruise lines! If you’re a “planner”, it’s best to lock it in ahead of time and make that booking even up to a year or two in advance.
However, if you’re more of the spontaneous type and are ready to cruise anytime, look out for those last-minute cruises. Super sales, kid’s cruise free, discounts, bonus drinks packages, wifi or onboard spending money are just some of the things you could benefit from if you are prepared to take “pot-luck” on your cabin and sailing dates. Start looking out for offers 3 to 4 months before embarkation, although some cruise lines have offers throughout the year!
Don’t Head Straight to the Buffet on Day 1
We know that it might be very tempting to hit the buffet right away, especially after a tiring day travelling from home, embarking, unpacking and all that. Think about it. If you’re excited by an all you can eat lunch, that means all of the other cruisers onboard are going to head there too. Thus, you can then expect a huge crowd at the buffet, and this will only make you stressed and even more hungry.
What most people DON’T know is that there are multiple dining options available for cruisers (and not as crowded)… check out the main dining room, snacks at the bars, café’s, sushi bars – even teppanyaki, depending on the cruiseline. Plus (if it’s available on embarkation day, room service sounds pretty good – although I prefer to suit up and take a dip in the pool!
Speaking of food…
Take advantage of the onboard fitness center
There is so much delicious food onboard a cruise to tempt you, so you may need to channel your energies towards the onboard fitness center! Most cruiselines make sure to offer the latest gym equipment, allowing you to stay true to your New Year’s Resolution to get fit, even on a holiday!
You can expect hi-tech treadmills, Stairmasters, weights and more are waiting – all with a great sea view. Rather take an early morning yoga class on deck? Or an aerobics class? Or run a marathon around the deck? They’re all here too!
Bring a Multi-Plug USB Charger
In this day and age where families have phones, tablets, laptops and portable gaming consoles, the constant challenge is charging… and where! Cruise ship staterooms, no matter how big or luxurious, might only have a couple of outlets. That’s why we recommend bringing along a multi-USB charger or dongle that can accommodate 3 or more gadgets for charging.
HINT: If you need another USB port, you can always find one at the side of the TV.
Swimsuits and workout clothes should go inside your carry-on
Your luggage will arrive in your cabin sometime in the afternoon of embarkation, and you don’t want to miss out on all the fun.
Make sure that you bring along any gear you need for play in your carry-on. These include a change of “fun in the sun” clothes, swimsuits, workout clothes for the fitness center (just in case you want to get started on your “Get Fit” kick early), and anything the kids cannot live without for an hour or so. That way you can start your holiday so much sooner!
Set your Watch to Ship Time
With cruising, you’re constantly on the move, which means you won’t be necessarily in the same time zone all the time.
Forget about “local destination time” You are now on SHIP time.
It’s important that your watch or phone is on ship time so you can return to port from excursions and onshore roaming on time. There is nothing worse than arriving at the port to see the ship sailing off into the sunset, no matter how gorgeous that sunset may be!
Shower at the Spa
If you’ve got a partner who takes ages to get ready in the bathroom, the spa is an ideal alternative place where you can shower. Book yourself a massage at the Spa and use their showers to get ready for that special formal dinner! You’re there, anyway, so double down on the luxury!
Inside the shower, you should find towels, hairdryers, and almost everything you need for a relaxing shower, allowing you to get ready without any fuss for the formal dinner or to get the best seats for the evening theatre show.
Wait for that Big Sale before shopping
It can be really tempting to do some onboard shopping as soon as you board, but we advise that you wait until the sale days – usually towards the end of your cruise. More often than not, there will be a HUGE sale in the onboard shops. Get there fast, and be prepared to miss out on that something special, because if you like it, odds-on someone else will too, and they might just nab it before you do! If it’s a must have, grab it as soon as you can.
Find Your Own Space
Apart from your cabin, there will be many other sweet spots on the cruise ship that you’ll want to spend more time in, kinda like your own personal chillout zone.
Head away from the pool and the kids, and step far away from the madding crowd to find those nooks and out-of-the-way hideaways. Turn them into your own private zen area, a peaceful spot to do a little reading, sip on champagne as you watch gorgeous sea views slip by, or to dance with your special other under the moonlight, just the two of you. We suggest the aft and bow areas as a good start, these underrated areas are squirreled away from all the action and they have great views to boot!
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