If you’re about to embark on your first voyage in the not too distant future then have a read through of our Top Tips for Cruise Virgins.
If you think of something we might have missed, feel free to leave your own advice in the comments section to help out your fellow cruisers!
1. Check and double-check your booking details:
This might seem a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised how many holidays are ruined due to people misreading their booking details – after all, the time that passes between booking and actually sailing can be anything between 2 weeks to18 months, so there’s plenty of time for you to forget the small details.
Our advice is to make sure you are absolutely certain of the 6 following things BEFORE you leave:
- The contact details of the agent or operator with whom you booked.
- The times and flight numbers of your flights (if applicable)
- Your luggage allowance
- Transfers details – how are you getting to the port and at what time and with whom?
- The name of your ship and it’s location in the port.
- The earliest/latest times for embarkation/disembarkation
Helpful hint: Organisation is imperative. Keeping a one sheet checklist of the above points is a sure-fire way to ensure you keep on top of things.
2. Ensure you have the right documentation for your cruise:
This is quite closely linked with the above, but its importance is such that it warrants its own headline. No matter which cruise you are sailing on, there will be documentation that you are required to bring. Failure to bring the correct documents with you could result in you not being allowed to travel.
The most common document is obviously a passport – check the expiry date and ensure that you have enough years on it to visit the countries your cruise will visit as per the itinerary.
Depending on which countries you are visiting on your cruise, other forms of documentation may include visas, estas and proof of medical vaccinations. These are essential so ensure you are well versed in exactly what is required. If you’re in any doubt at all, contact your cruise agent or tour operator to get a complete breakdown of what is required.
The only form of non-compulsory documentation (although most cruise lines do insist that you have it before departing) is your insurance policies, but be warned – not being covered could result in massive financial implications should you fall victim to injury or theft so it’s advised that your cover is fully up to date before you travel. You can get some great value-for-money policies if you shop around so there really isn’t any excuse to not have any. However, make sure you check what kind of cover your policy entitles you to – try and make a decision based on quality of cover rather than price. We recommend taking a look at one:stop’s specialist cruise insurance which offers comprehensive cruise insurance for people of all ages.
Helpful hint: Don’t get caught out – if you need to apply for new or updated documents, do so as soon as possible as processing times can vary and you’ll need to ensure you have everything you need well before you travel.
3. Ensure you have the relevant currencies:
If you’re going on a cruise that visits a number of different countries then there’s a fair chance that you’ll need a few variations in currency.
The best advice we can give here is to make sure you’ve got this sorted out before you leave for your holiday. There are 3 advantages to this; the first being that you can shop around for the best rates and leave safe in the knowledge that you’re fully prepared, secondly, you won’t be at the mercy of inflated exchange rates and admin fees when in a foreign port terminal or exchange bureau. Thirdly, you won’t have to spend time queuing either in port or on the ship waiting in line for the bureau de change.
Helpful hint: Take a look at this website which details all the currencies for each country.
4. Familiarise yourself with your cruise ship:
Technically speaking, during the duration of your cruise the ship you are sailing on will be your home, so try and get a good idea of the layout. You’ll obviously want to know where to eat, drink, dance and relax but also try and pay attention to the exits and procedures you have to follow to get to them. Nearly all cruise ships will have a ‘muster drill’ within 24 hours of your arriving on the ship. This is a short (but compulsory) meeting where the crew and staff will familiarise passengers with evacuation procedures and the position of the lifeboats. It goes without saying that it’s in your best interests to pay attention to this.
Helpful hint: Many larger ships (and indeed some smaller ones too) have maps handily laid out in your accommodation upon your arrival. Carry it around with you the first couple of times you venture out to explore…just in case.hint:
5. Combat potential sea-sickness:
The chances are, if you’ve never been on a cruise before then you’ll have absolutely no idea whether you’re prone to sea-sickness or not. Some of the world’s larger oceans and seas can be quite unpredictable and depending on when and where you are cruising, it’s not out of the question that you might experience some ‘choppiness’. To counteract this, stock up on sea-sickness pills and sea-bands – take/use them the minute you start feeling a little queasy for maximum effect.
The most important bit of advice here is: Don’t worry about it too much! Nearly all cruise ship are equipped with stabilisers that work wonders when it comes to minimising any rollercoaster-esque movements so the chances are you’ll be absolutely fine! However, if the worst comes to the worst you can always head to the ships medical room where you can pay a nominal fee for a special injection to make everything a little more comfortable. The chances are you’ll feel quite tired to begin with, but after a little snooze you’ll be ready to start enjoying the pleasures of being at sea!
Helpful hint: Rubbing lavender oil on a couple of your pulse points (temples and wrists) might seem like a crazy old wives’ tale, but having experienced its wonderfully calming properties first hand, I fully endorse it. Our Sales Director, Gareth, has also informed me that ginger ale and ginger biscuits are also well worth a try!
Is there something we’ve missed? Leave a comment below!
Next week we’ll bring you part 2 of our Top Tips for Cruise Virgins with advice on dress codes, shore excursions and making onboard bookings.