I am in no way an expert in planning for a cruise ship holiday, but after two trips, I can say that my experience was pretty consistent. So hopefully, sharing these travel hacks will help out future cruise ship travelers.
What to Expect
Traveling to different countries via cruise ship is definitely an experience in itself. It is a unique perspective because you get to see a country’s coastline, which you will never see up close if you travel by plane all the time. But, do not expect to be immersed in the culture of the country as typically, a cruise ship is docked in one country for just a day. In fact, most of the activities we attended were for half-day site-seeing. I liken traveling via cruise ship to a sample platter, giving you the highlights of the country you visit.
While your cabin is like a hotel room, it is in no way a five-star hotel. Most cabins are quite basic, and compact. You will have your soap, shampoo and lotion, but you probably won’t have other things like cotton buds, toothbrush and toothpaste. Best to bring your own so that you don’t spend too much in their indoor shopping area.
Yes, I have always done laundry while onboard, and it’s not because I love to do laundry. It’s actually because I normally consume more clothes than I pack. When we have to dine in one of the more formal restaurants inside the ship, I have to change from my walking clothes to smart casual, and there are some nights where we even have to wear formal clothing. So, just in case you are like me, and you always make a wrong estimation of how many clothes to bring, just pack detergent soap because it is also an additional expense to buy it onboard.
Cruise ships are perfect for people with kids. It is packed with kid-friendly places, where you can safely leave your kids in while you attend the other adult activities. Around night time, the cruise ship director will give you a list of the activities happening onboard, so just list down the activities you want to attend, or better yet, save it on your phones.
These cruise ships normally have a ton of exercise activities for all ages. Just don’t forget to bring your swim gear, gym clothes and proper shoes so that you can engage in these. Believe me, after all the eating you’re going to do onboard, you will need all the exercise that you can tolerate.
I definitely don’t recommend shopping in the cruise ship, unless you really, really want something that you can’t find elsewhere. If this is the case, don’t buy on the first few days either. Mid-trip, the cruise ship will have a big sale, so just wait for that.
Bring a lanyard so that you can safely hang your cruise card there. Every time you embark, you will need to whip out that card so best to have it on you at all times. Again, there are some for sale on the ship, but I can assure you that it will cost a bit more.
Every time we go down a country, I buy bottled water. There is potable water onboard, but if you’re like me, and are a bit sensitive about the taste, best to have bottled water on hand. You can purchase onboard, but it costs around 3x more.
You will get a lot of photos taken onboard and when you disembark. Be friendly with the photographers. They might give you free pix if you’re lucky!
Finally, psyche yourself not to eat too much! Believe me, you’re not gonna walk that food off😅