Top Tips for Smooth Sailing on Your Cruise

By Azure Nelson, Published Sep 10, 2009

1. Don’t hide it. The staff on your ship is likely to have a few treats they can slide your way. And everyone likes honeymooners. As long as you ask instead of demand, the crew will do whatever they can to help you out with a request. 2. Keep your card keys away from your cell phones. Most cruise lines use electronic key cards to get you in and out of your room, and they’ll probably tie a ship’s account to your keys as well. It’s convenient because you won’t need to carry cash around while you’re on board, but carelessly dropping your keys into a bag with a cell phone can cause them to demagnetize. 3. Prepare for rough seas. Unless you grew up sailing, getting seasick is always a potential hazard. Some people are fine with Dramamine, but others prefer transdermal ear patches (ask your doctor for a prescription). Beware: If you wear a transdermal seasickness patch for more than three days in a row, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you remove it that are much worse than the seasickness would have been! If you’re looking for natural remedies, bring along acupressure wristbands. 4. Get a shore excursion brochure before you go. Your cruise line will almost certainly have adventures or tours arranged at most if not all of your stops. Check out the available tours so you can budget for the ones you really want and get your tickets in advance. It’s also a good starting point for talking about how much the two of you want to stay active and how much time you’d like to spend motionless on a beach with a book. 5. Xerox your passport twice. Pack your copies away from your passport. Once you get to your cabin, put one copy in your safe and keep the other one in a bag or a drawer, but, again, away from the real thing. If, heaven forbid, you lose your passport, the copies will make your life much easier. Extra bonus points for leaving a third copy at home with a trusted friend or relative. 6. If you drink, budget for alcohol. While your meals may be included in your ticket fare, alcoholic beverages won’t be. It’s easy to lose track of costs when you’re just handing a card key to the bartender, so don’t be shy about asking the front desk for an accounting of your charges after a couple of days. 7. Bring an empty duffel bag. Tuck it into a suitcase and bingo! No worrying about where to stuff those souvenirs. 8. Think about your tipping budget. Tipping is voluntary, but will be very much appreciated. Having worked on ships, I can tell you that your crew works hard and really does want you to have a great time. And you may be helping your waitress out more than you know: Some cruise lines put all tips into a general pool. If the bar and waitstaff don’t make their drink quotas, the difference is docked from the tipping pool before the tips are paid out. 9. Don’t skimp on the sun block. Seriously. Bring one more tube than you think you need, and in a stronger SPF than you think you need. Reapply after swimming or sweating, even if it’s supposed to be waterproof. You’ll be glad once you see that bright pink couple on Deck Four. Bon voyage!

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