"I wish I knew before..."

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#1
Chicago
370 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
If you had to list your top 5 points/tips that you wish you had known before you went on your first cruise what would they be? Examples, like binder clip for the shower curtain or that the first drink is NOT free, etc.

My friend is going on a cruise for her honeymoon and neither have been on one before and she just doens't have time to read these boards, wedding planning and all, so I thought I might compile a list for her. I tried composing one myself but found that I just kept forgetting things. Thanks for everyone's help!
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#2
Tampa, Florida
975 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
A couple of things: the food is not gourmet. It's good and plentiful but we had heard everybody raving about the food on a cruise ship and how wonderful it was and how you gain so much weight so we had very high expectations. The food is like banquet food-good but not great. (I don't have to cook it or clean up after it so it's that much better to me!)

Don't bring so many clothes-nobody cares if you wear the same thing twice.

Board the ship as soon as you are able on the first day. It counts as a cruise day and you are paying for it so enjoy it!
#3
New Mexico
14,242 Posts
Joined May 2004
1. Read your cruise contract, especially the parts about cancellation and port/itinerary changes.
2. If you buy insurance, read that contract so you understand what it does and does not cover.
3. Take less clothes and more money. Corrollary: Buy fewer clothes in advance so you have more money to take.
4. Don't go to the Port and Shopping Guide talks.
5. You don't HAVE to do something in each port. You can always enjoy the ship amenities without a crowd.
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Been There Done That:Crown Princess Jan 2017 Cape Horn, Regal Princess Sep 2016, Diamond Princess Feb-Mar 2016, Royal Princess Oct. 2015, Africa Sept. 2015, Caribbean Princess Dec. 2014, Ruby Princess Dec. 2014, Crown Princess April 2013, Crown Princess Oct/Nov 2012, Grand Princess Dec 2011, Sapphire Princess March 2011, Emerald Princess July 2010, Maui by Kayak March 2008, Grand Princess March 2007 (Man Overboard Cruise) Carnival Spirit March 2006, Golden Princess June 2004, Star Princess July 2002, Ryndam June 1998, Nordic Prince 1986, Norway 1984
#5
2,874 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Hello

These are just my opinion and I'm sure others will disagree:

Stay out of the casino unless you have lots of money.

Alcohol is expensive so watch it.

Most ships have shops and these shops will have some very nice sales.

Make sure that you have enough money on your credit card to cover the gratuities automatically. DO NOT EVEN consider not paying the gratuities.

A cruise is an adventure unlike any other vacation, so keep cool and cheerful. A smile is truly the international language so do this often on your cruise. Be kind, patient, and gracious with the cruise staff.

Do not let problems fester...see the Head waiter for the dining room or the Purser's office if you need assistance. Ususally the first night of a cruise the converastion at dinner can be quiet but as you get to know each other generally this really improves.

Do some research on the ports as there are many ports you can see on your own...not spend any money or very little.

Read the board when leaving the ship that states when you need to be back on board the ship.

Do not overpack. Ships have self service laundries and sometimes there will be a special price on laundry and dry cleaning. Take an extra swimming suit.

Participate in formal night...taking a jacket and tie (him) and black pants/top (her) is not going to ruin your packing.

Get some exercise every day and this includes a long walk around the ship. Use stairs when going places.

And...enjoy the romance...stars, moonbeams, sunrises and sunsets.
#6
Oklahoma City, OK
11,258 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Read the daily paper to know what's going on board the ship the next day.

Plan to catch at least one sunset and one sunrise.

Meet at least one new person each day.

As others have said, take half the stuff, twice (or more) the money.

Above all else, decide to have a good time before you even go.
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Carmen

Celebrity Galaxy 11/04
Grand Princess 2/06
Carnival Conquest 10/06
Celebrity Mercury to Alaska 9/07 very cool - literally!
Vegas, baby! 11/08
NCL Spirit 1/09, where everybody knew my name (which was strange and a little fun at the same time)
NCL Pearl 3/10
HAL Oosterdam 5/2011, back to Alaska we went!
RCCL Mariner OTS 3/2012 - another 1st!
NCL Star 12/2012 - more firsts!
NCL Jewel 12/2013 - Christmas on the water
NCL Jewel 11/2014 - and a few more firsts!
NCL Sun 5/2015 - North to Alaska, this time into Denali!
NCL Dawn 11/2015
NCL Dawn 11/2016. I'm really getting used to not cooking on Thanksgiving!
NCL Pearl 11/2017


Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
#8
Phoenix, Arizona
6,277 Posts
Joined May 2008
Half the clothes.
Read the activity paper each day.
Try a little of every activity but
DON't stress because you can't do it all.
Take a power strip.

Relax and enjoy it. That's why you chose a cruise.........
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2017 CRUISE CHEERLEADING SQUAD
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152 days at sea so far:
Mexican Riviera, Carnival Jubilee, 1992

Southern Caribbean, Carnival Fascination, 1997

Mexican Riviera, Carnival Elation, 1999

Alaska & Denali, Dawn Princess, 2002

Ensenada & Catalina, Carnival Paradise, 2005

Western Caribbean, Carnival Conquest, 2007
Grand Mediterranean Inaugural, Carnival Dream, 2009
Grand Mediterranean 2nd sail, Carnival Magic, 2011
Hawaii, Sapphire Princess, 2012
Grand Mediterranean Inaugural , Carnival Breeze, 2012
Alaska, Diamond Princess, 2012
Transatlantic, Carnival Sunshine, 2013
Panama Canal, Carnival Legend, 2014
Eastern Caribbean, Carnival Breeze, 2014
Ensenada, Baja California, Carnival Imagination, 2015

Alaska, Carnival Legend, 2015
Ensenada, Baja California, Carnival Imagination, 2016
Last Mediterranean, Carnival Vista, 2016
Transatlantic, Carnival Vista, 2016

Ensenada, Carnival Imagination, 2017
Alaska Back 2 Back, 2017
















#9
Florida
1,223 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
You don't have to go to the port "meetings" or sales pitch. You can watch all that on your tv in the cabin. They videotape everything. Same with debarkation. You can watch all that info on the tv.

Breakfast room service is wonderful. Don't forget to try it. Have a couple of bucks ready for a tip.

Cell phone clocks - some times work, but mostly not.

Start thinking about a ritual you want to do each time on a cruise. (As there will be more than this one hopefully) If you don't do one on your first cruise, you can't say you have always done the same thing every cruise.

Boarding/checking in is just like at the airport and hotel. Nothing complicated.
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NANCY




#10
USA
1,333 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
5 things I wish I would have known:

1. Put suitcases under bed (more room in closet)
2. take 2 bathing suits (they don't dry overnight)
3. Don't stress about wardrobe (no one cares what you wear)
4. less shoes (one day, one night pair that matches everything)
5. You don't have to buy every photo (really how many do you need of you in that formal?)
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Cruise Girl Forever
#11
Whitby Canada
50 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
#1 Don't buy the photo's they are very pricey and tend to wrinkle on the way home.
# 2 Take wine to drink in your cabin , you can bring 2 bottles of wine on board at every stop . Average mixed drink costs $ 7.50 . Beer $ 6.00.
# 3 Rent the formal ware from the ship saves a lot of weight and worry.
# 4 Use public transit at the ports , so much cheaper.
# 5 Stick to 1 cruise line , perks add up fast for frequentcruisers.Freedrinks , free laundry , free internet , free spa,s .
# 6 If you can do it, don't take a lap top Internet cafe's available at most ports,there are computers on board ( Air time is 56 - 65 cents a minute and very slowwwwwwwwwww average e mail can cost $ 4- 5) not worth it !
#12
Charlotte
3,551 Posts
Joined May 2007
1. Don't be self-conscious about your appearance in a bathing suit, shorts etc. There will be all body types aboard in all types of attire.
2. Don't spend a lot of money on new clothes. Bring only things that you love and feel good in.
3. Plan your outfits with versatility, multi-use, and easy care in mind. And when it comes to shoes (especially for daytime), comfort trumps style.
4. You don't need to pack beach towels - they are provided.
5. Save all your change during the months/weeks prior to the trip
- trade it in for $1 bills just before you leave to use for extra tips and incidental spendng. I had over $150 last cruise from doing this.
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7/99 Carnival Imagination
6/01 Carnival Paradise
6/03 RCI Sovereign of the Seas
7/06 RCI Adventure of the Seas
12/08 Holland America Westerdam
6/10 Carnival Glory
6/12 Carnival Ecstasy
6/15 Carnival Victory
7/16 Carnival Magic
1/17 Carnival Conquest
#13
238 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
1. Some excursions or limited-space activities do sell out, so if there's something you really have your heart set on doing, buy/book it early.

2. Pack a swimsuit and clothes for the first night's dinner in your carry on -- that way you can hit the pool right away if you want and don't have to worry about when your luggage arrives in your room.

3. You can order as much food as you want in the main dining room in whatever combination you want. If you want to order three appetizers and no main course, you can do that! Want an extra lobster tail, you can get it.

4. Check to see which other ships are starting/ending cruises in the same port the same day when figuring out if you're going to fly in early or out late -- for some ports this really doesn't matter, but I don't recommend anyone try to fly out of San Juan airport the same day another 10,000+ cruise passengers are debarking if you can help it.

5. You can find great ideas of things to do in each port by reading the port of call boards here, and booking your own tour or activity can offer some fun alternatives that the cruise line doesn't.
#14
New Jersey
475 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Just a couple of thoughts:

The photos can be pricey, but never had a problem with them wrinkling. Princess had a package of buying six, getting two free. As well as buying a nice frame for only $5 more.

Versatileness works well with clothes. Best purchase ever made were two pair of convertible pants - unzip the legs, and they become shorts for walking around in ports, zip them back on and they're khakis for dinnertime. And depending on how much walking (and how hot it is), I've gotten away with wearing a duo-dry T-shirt while in port, then throwing on a button-down collared shirt on top for dinnertime as well.

I've also gotten away with one pair of shoes - black, no-slips that work well in port as well as on formal nights. Just wash any dirt off of them.

What works well for me is one carry-on per person. I've packed for ten days using one suitcase that fits in an overhead airline compartment.
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Carnival Triumph - May 2004 / Eastern Caribbean
Discovery Cruises Sun - Dec. 2004 / Bahamas
Norwegian Dawn - Jan. 2007 / Eastern Caribbean
Disney Wonder - Oct. 2007 / Bahamas
Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas - Oct. 2008 / Western Caribbean
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess - Oct. 2009 / Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean (repositioning)
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas - Oct. 2010 / Eastern Caribbean
Disney Dream - Feb. 2012 / Bahamas

http://www.guidegecko.com/hartsastro...-guides/u,2341
#15
Florida
1,116 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Go alone....we have so much more fun that way & meet more of others on the ship.

Don't rebook excursions....rain!!!!!!!!!

pack, then take out half...you won't wear it.

take a power strip and air freshener. (yes, it is a small bathroom)

bring wine, water & soda on board

pre buy drink coupons & prepay grats

inside rooms are A-OK. Unless you love a balcony...we don't need one. we are NEVER in the room.

tip generously.

let people out of the elevator before you try to get on.

wear rubber soled shoes on deck....lots of slip & falls.

eat whatever you want....it comes right off after the cruise. They use lots of salt.

The cruise shampoos work fine...the wind will mess your hair anyways.

the pool water is cold and the hot tubs lukewarm, at best.

take a multi outlet cord

try a porthole.....they are neat.

make love often...keeps the hubby cheerful.
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Carnival Freedom Jan 2012
Carnival Destiny Halloween Cruise 2011
RCI Radiance of the Seas 2010 Western Caribbean
Carnival Inspiration 2009 Western Caribbean
Carnival Liberty 2008 Eastern Caribbean
Carnival Inspiration 2006 Western Caribbean
Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas 1999 Alaska
Carnival Fantasy 1992 Bahamas
Scotia Prince 1992 Nova Scotia







#16
32 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I've seen a couple people mention to bring wine and sodas on board but check your cruise line. Ours did NOT allow those to be brought on board and held them for you until you left the ship to go home.
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Rhapsody of the Seas - West Carribean - 2003
Navigator of the Seas - East Carribean - 2004
Coral Pricness - Alaska - 2006
Brilliance of the Seas - Mediterranean - 2009
#17
616 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Chat with the crew. Not just your room steward and the waiters, but also any sailors you see working on the ship, engineers, security staff, entertainment officers, cooks/chefs, .....

Most of them are very happy to talk with passengers, and you'll hear some great stories about life on board, life at home, interesting facts about the ship, hints and tips about upcoming ports, and you might just make a new friend or two!

VP
#18
New Jersey
475 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Originally posted by Vampire Parrot
Chat with the crew. Not just your room steward and the waiters, but also any sailors you see working on the ship, engineers, security staff, entertainment officers, cooks/chefs, .....

Most of them are very happy to talk with passengers, and you'll hear some great stories about life on board, life at home, interesting facts about the ship, hints and tips about upcoming ports, and you might just make a new friend or two!

VP
I'll agree with this. By asking our waiter, I found out the "pecking order" of the wait staff (vests were assistant waiters; those that wore jackets were "full" waiters; and those in the red jackets were wine stewards.) It was one of those things you always wondered when you saw them.
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Carnival Triumph - May 2004 / Eastern Caribbean
Discovery Cruises Sun - Dec. 2004 / Bahamas
Norwegian Dawn - Jan. 2007 / Eastern Caribbean
Disney Wonder - Oct. 2007 / Bahamas
Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas - Oct. 2008 / Western Caribbean
Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess - Oct. 2009 / Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean (repositioning)
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas - Oct. 2010 / Eastern Caribbean
Disney Dream - Feb. 2012 / Bahamas

http://www.guidegecko.com/hartsastro...-guides/u,2341
#19
5,819 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Arrive in your port city a day ahead of time; it's the cheapest insurance you can buy, and it will save massive stress.

Pack lightly, but do dress appropriately for dinner.

Wear comfortable shoes, especially in port.

Research your ports ahead of time, and reserve private excursions. Never take a ship's excursion -- the financial savings are nice, but the real perk is the smaller groups.

Don't be afraid to try new things.

You don't have to take adavantage of everything to have fun. Don't feel that you must do an excursion in every port, must buy all the stuff they put out in the promenade, must eat at specialty restaurants, must have a suit . . . you can have a great cruise at a more moderate price.
#20
montana
56 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
What wonderful information for us new cruisers! I'll be spending hours/days reading this forum before we leave. Thanks.
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