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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 yourself!

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