• Natalie Alayne

Top Tips For Cruising

Updated: Jun 21, 2018

From my several years of working on cruise ships I have first hand experience of the dos and don’ts for travelling on the high seas. I may be guilty of over packing but one thing I never am is under prepared. In order to make your next getaway at sea smooth sailing I have compiled a list of top tips for cruising. Here goes . . .

Packing Checklist

1. Travel pillow or your own personal pillow.

2. Universal travel adaptor and power bar for charging your personal devices.

3. Highlighters to go through the activities in the daily program and mark those that you wish to attend.

4. Magnets as the walls in your cabin are usually magnetic and will allow for you to keep things organised.

5. Smart casual attire, as most cruises will have at least one dress up formal evening.

6. A wet weather jacket and wet weather pants if you have them so that rain, hail or shine you are prepared (this is especially useful in Alaska or Hawaii where the weather can change at the drop of a hat).

7. A light foldable duffle bag in case you do a little too much extra shopping (you’ll thank me for this later).

8. Pack your carry on with any required medication and a change of clothes so that you don’t have to wait until your luggage is delivered to your cabin in order to get ready for dinner on the first evening.

9. Photo ID for everyone 18yrs+. For children under 18yrs a copy of their birth certificate is required. For international travel a passport is required. For domestic travel a photocopy of your passport is recommended.

10. It is important to note that irons or anything with an open flame are not permitted onboard so it is advised not to pack them.

11. Check the alcohol policy with your cruise line. Some of them will allow you to bring a bottle or two onboard during embarkation which will save you some money on your bar bill.


1. Give one of your family members a copy of your itinerary and an emergency contact number if possible.

2. Create a safe word with your loved ones so that in case you are ever in danger they know you are in need of their help.

3. Take out travel insurance! While it may seem to be quite a hefty expense upfront, trust me when I say that it will save you a lot in the long run heaven forbid that anything was to go wrong and you needed to seek emergency attention.

4. Take a photo of your belongings in case anything goes missing and you need to make an insurance claim.

5. Pre-book any shore excursions that you are interested in to avoid disappointment of them being fully booked out once you get onboard.

On the Cruise

1. Your room key is your method of payment onboard. Simply swipe and sign to make purchases.

2. The lifeboat drill is mandatory but on most cruise lines you are not required to wear your life jacket (don’t be that one person that turns up with it on unless you feel that the ship may sink while it’s still tied to the dock).

3. Egg crate mattress toppers are usually available upon request. They are limited in numbers so promptly ask your room steward for one if required.

4. There is usually room under the bed to store your suitcase/s.

5. Soon after sail away make sure to turn your phone onto airplane mode to avoid paying unexpected roaming charges.

6. If you are using your smart phone as an alarm clock make sure that your time is set to manual mode. This will prevent your phone from switching time zones automatically. Go into your settings and make sure ‘Set Automatically’ is not selected.

7. On the first night the main dining room and buffet are usually busy because many of the guests have not discovered the specialty restaurants yet. If you book into one of these alternate dining options on the first night you will have an easier time getting a reservation and may even receive a discount.

8. The tap water in your cabin is safe to drink (sea water is turned into drinkable water through a complex process of desalinization).

9. Smoking is not permitted in your cabin under any circumstances. Most cruise lines do not allow smoking on the balcony’s either (if you feel the need there are designated locations for smoking).

10. If the motion of the ocean bothers you, green apples, ginger ale and plain crackers are often reliable crew remedies for nausea. Alternatively pressure point wristbands are usually available to purchase at the gift shop.

11. If the buffet is busy at breakfast or lunch consider going to the main dining room or ordering room service.

12. Cruise Lines will usually have an all you can fit into one bag laundry special at some point in the cruise.

13. If you need to go to the Guest Services/Guest Relations desk it is advisable to do so during breakfast, lunch or dinner service as most other guests are usually a little pre-occupied at those times.

14. Take the stairs if you want to get around faster (some able bodied people will ride the elevator one floor and I am not kidding).

15. Gratuities are normally charged to your onboard account. Some cruise lines include them in the cruise fare.

During Port Days

1. You can check the weather outside by turning your TV onto the bow cam channel.

2. When going ashore make note of the all aboard time at the gangway. I suggest taking a photo of the sign and setting an alarm to go off so that you make it back to the ship. Alternatively, you can take the daily program ashore as it usually has the all aboard time noted on the front page.

3. If you are on a shore excursion make sure to read your tour ticket for instructions (you would be surprised how many people don’t do this).

4. Some ports require tendering which is where smaller boats are used to take the guests ashore. The reason for this is either because the water level is too shallow for the ship to enter or the port has no pier for the ship to dock. If you are on a cruise line approved shore excursion your tour ticket is your tender ticket.

5. Spa treatments onboard are usually reduced on port days. A tender port is the best time to go because it takes longer to get all of the guests ashore and then back onboard again.

6. Internet can be found in most restaurants ashore.


1. You don’t need to go down to the Guest Services/Guest Relations desk to settle your onboard account unless there is a discrepancy on your bill. If you have a credit card on file your balance will automatically be charged to that card. A print out of your charges is usually delivered to your stateroom on the last night of the cruise.

2. Cruise Lines usually give you the option to take your own bags off the ship or you can opt for the staff to take care of them for you. If you decide to take your own bags you will have an early disembarkation window but you are able to disembark any time thereafter. If you choose for the cruise line to take care of your bags you have to wait until they call your bag tag colour which signals that your luggage is ready for collection in the terminal ashore.

3. If you want to take a look at other cabin types, the morning you disembark is the best time to take a sneak peak. When the guests leave their cabins the room stewards go in to clean them and usually leave the door open. There is no harm in popping your head in to see if the grass is greener and whether you would like to stay there next time.

4. Lastly, tipping is optional but is definitely appreciated (the crew work extremely hard to bring you the vacation of a lifetime and many of them spend up to nine months at a time away from their families so please tip when they are deserving).

Important Notice: Please note that these top tips may not be applicable to all cruises and are to be used as a guide only.

Happy sailing!

Please feel free to share this article with a friend or family member so they too can benefit from this nifty knowledge.

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