Making the Most of Your Cruise
Cruise ships are wonderful places, but they can pretty
bewildering for newcomers. In such a relatively small space there’s so much to
do! So here are some tips for cruise newbies to help you make the most of your
vacation on the open sea!
Find Your Way around First
On most cruises the first day out of port is spent entirely at
sea. This is partly because reaching the first destination tends to take a
while, but also because that cruise lines like their guests to have a day to
get to know the vessel that is going to be their home for a week or more. Make
the most of this time! There will, for obvious reasons, be a certain number of
safety briefings to get through, but after that you’ll probably find that the
day is yours. Find out where all the fun stuff is, and get your bearings on the
ship. If you have kids, make sure they know their way around and how to find
your suite or cabin. Don’t worry about the kids getting lost: most ‘cruise
crews’ have highly-developed and well-practiced systems for returning lost
youngsters to their parents!
Get To Know People
There will probably be hundreds of people on your ship. You
can’t expect to meet them all, but make the effort to make a few friends on the
first day. You’ll find this is a great way of making your luxury holiday even
more exciting and fun. Again, it’s especially useful if you have kids to team
up with another family of similar age and size: a cruise can be great practice
for younger family members to make friends and learn how to get along sociably
with new people.
Try out What’s on Offer
Cruise lines don’t expect you to sit quietly in your
accommodation as you sail between destinations. They provide a vast range of
activities to suit all ages. You can shop, attend lectures, work out, visit the
library, watch movies, play sports and games, swim, learn new skills and even –
on a couple of ships – try out the onboard climbing wall under the supervision
of expert instructors. Sure, you should take time to chill out in a sun lounger
and read trashy novels – but don’t neglect some of the more exotic pastimes on
offer. After all, you’re paying for them! Most cruise lines do not charge an
extra fee for activities once you are on board – in general, everything is
included in the upfront price.
Visit the Destinations
The whole point of cruising is to take in a variety of
interesting, historic and exotic destinations. You usually don’t get very long
in any one place, so make sure that you use your time ashore wisely. Don’t
worry: the crew won’t simply dump you on the quayside and expect you to
disappear for a day. Cruise lines make a point of organizing trips and
excursions to onshore landmarks and sites of interest. These can often be a
long way inland – passengers on transatlantic cruises often find themselves
docking on the French coast and being taken to Paris by coach – a trip of at
least a hundred miles! If you decide to explore independently when you’re
ashore make sure you take a careful note of the time you need to be back
onboard, and take care to ensure you can find your way back to your ship.
Think About Your Packing
Shipboard life requires a surprisingly wide range of clothing.
Some of the more specialist gear – tuxedos and gowns for formal dinner and
wetsuits for scuba diving – can be hired on board ship. But it’s a good idea to
take a variety of bits and pieces and anticipate a wide range of different
temperatures and weather conditions. Even in the height of summer in the
Caribbean, shipboard evenings on deck can be rather cool – so take more that
flip-flops, T shirts and Bermuda shorts!
Know Where To Get Assistance
The staff of cruise ships are very highly trained to make sure
that your vacation on board is as satisfying as possible. The chances are that
you will have a named member of the crew to whom you can report problems or go
for advice about activities and events that are taking place. All ships also
carry a medical staff, so any minor accidents and illnesses can be taken care
of, ensuring minimum disruption to your vacation.
The key piece of advice is this – lie back, relax and enjoy