As some of you will know I was recently on cruise around the Caribbean with the cruise line Royal Caribbean so this post will be based on my experience with them.
I don’t need to tell you that we had a fantastic time and couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more.
This post is all about my top tips when cruising, I know I’ve only been twice but they are things I would like to know if I was going first time
So here goes…
- Look for a cruise deal with a drinks package even if its only selected drinks as its always cheaper when you get there to upgrade to the premium package than to buy it separate. Our deal had the Select Drinks package which included soft drinks, bottled beer and wine by the glass. When we got there we upgraded to the Premium package which included bottled water, fresh orange, cocktails, spirits etc. We paid approx $10 + 18.5% service charge. This was a bargain as the premium drink package alone is around $385 for the week.
- Buy a drinks package. If you only have 1/2 glasses wine per day or every other day it will still benefit you. A glass of wine is approx $12, it wouldn’t take long to build up a big bill without realising. The drinks package also gives you the opportunity to try new drinks.
- Pre-pay your gratuides – I think we paid £47 each for tips where as on board its around $13.50 each per day time which works out more expensive. They then give you an opportunity at the end of the cruise to tip staff member that you think have gone above and beyond their job. If you don’t feel like tipping extra don’t tip.
- Book the 8.30pm dining slot unless you think this is too late. The earlier time is 6.30pm. If you choose the earlier slot you will have to leave at a specific time so staff can get ready for the next diners. It also doesn’t leave you a lot of time to get ready if you aren’t back on the boat to around 4pm. 8.30pm allows you to enjoy some of the afternoon and early evening activities and in my case soak up some of the last rays of sun.
- Don’t overeat in the buffet restaurant. Yes its a buffet, yes you’ve paid for it but it doesn’t mean you have to overindulge at every meal. The food is good in the buffet and it is tempting to go back up numerous times. I only put a small amount of food on my plate at any given time and allowed myself to go up twice, if you let yourself you could be up 4/5 times.
- Take the stairs and walk the long way. On holiday you never walk as much as you think you do unless you intentionally go for a walk. On the cruise we took the stairs even if it was 11 flights down or 6 flights up. This helps keep the buffet indulgence at bay. I tended to walk the long way to were I was going as well. I would find myself walking from one end of the ship to the other, down the stiars and then back to the other end to my room. You’ll thank yourself when you still fit your clothes on the way home 😉
- Go to the activities e.g. karaoke, comedy shows etc. We had some great evening at some of the activities. So much so we went back to some on other nights. I didn’t think I would overly like the karaoke shows but after a few songs I started to sing along.
- Indulge in some of the tax free shopping on the boat. They have different specials each night on watches and jewellery. I got a beautiful watch that was originally $595 and with the special night they were doing I got it for $155 and I have had so many compliments with it.
- Read your cruise compass – they will leave in your cabin at night. It will tell you the weather for the next day, activities on the boat throughout the whole day, cocktail specials, Main Dining room clothing requirements for that night, shopping specials on the boat and off shore etc etc…
- Pack for 2 formal nights – we had a formal night and a casino royal night. It was lovely to see everyone dressed up. You don’t have to go to formal night but its such a lovely experience its a shame not to go to 1. Men are expected to wear a suit, shirt and tie. If you want to go all out Tux’s can be worn as well. If you don’t want to go to formal night the buffet restaurant is your option for the night.
- Book your excursions through the ship. I have a few reasons for this tip.
- Its easier than haggling when you get there
- Someone is waiting for you when you get off the boat
- The boat will wait if the tour is late back
- The excursions have been tried and tested
Only down point that I found booking it through the cruise line is that it is slightly more expensive but the pros out way the cons.
- Don’t over pack – you can go as casual or formal as you like on the cruise but there is only so much storage space in your cabin. We just had enough room and I had packed quite streamline from I am used to. I kept some things I didn’t need day to day in my suitcase under my bed and just took them out when I needed them. There is storage where you wouldn’t expect so suss out your room by exploring 🙂
- If your flying internationally to your embarkment port – DON’T plan to fly in the same day. Often flights get delayed and you don’t want a delay the day you disembark. If your flying closer to home I would make sure your flight arrival time is around 8 hours before the ship leaves to allow for delays. We flew in the day before and stayed in a hotel, if I cruise again I will do the same. I didn’t plan everything for the cruise to miss it.
- Charge your gadgets well in advance if you need them. I found the power not to be as strong so it took a while for phones etc to charge. So make sure everything is fully charged the night before if you need it the following day. Nothing worse that going on an excursion and your battery dying before you get to the good bits.
- On disembarkment day taxis will be queued up to take you away from the ship but are going to charge you extra because you’ve no other choice. If you can use Uber instead then definitly do it – we couldn’t do this because we had no wifi or mobile data. A trip with Uber which would have cost approx. $8 cost us $21 with a regular taxi.
- If you cruising with Royal Caribbean make sure if they check out a towel for you with a scanner that you get it scanned back in – if you don’t do this you are at risk of getting charged for the towel. I just happened to mention it to one of the crew that I hadn’t got mine scanned back in and he fixed it for me and I had 2 towels so it would have been $50.
I hope some of these tips will be of use to some of you and maybe some of you that have cruised before but not with Royal Caribbean. We had a fantastic trip and will definitly be making a point to go on another one.
A lot of people say once you go on a cruise you won’t go on another holiday – I myself didn’t think it was that great but it certainly worth a great alternative holiday.
If I think of any more things I will update and repost
Thanks for reading 🙂