Check out the Gratuities
Gratuities are normally automatically added to your bill when you go on a cruise. It will be a set amount for each day that you are on the ship. These are then shared out equally among everyone that has served you while you are on your holiday even the people that you don’t see. You can choose to take this off your bill and tip your servers individually. It’s up to you. Don’t feel pressured into leaving it on your bill especially if you feel you haven’t received the service you would expect at some point during your holiday. Have a read of my post on tipping here.
Read up on the Ports
Before you go try to read up on the ports as much as you can. This will save you a lot of time once you get there. Especially if you only have a few hours and there is a lot you want to see. Plan your day before you even get there so you know where you are going and you manage to fit everything in. If you don’t have time to do this, there will normally be some literature on the ship or even in your cabin on each port, so you can read up before you leave for your day ashore. Also, check the library on board for city guides for the main cities in each port.
Check the Plugs
The nationality of the ship will determine the plugs used on board. So even if you are boarding the ship in a European port you may be using British plugs. If you forget you can normally get them from the general store on the ship. But it’s always worth popping to reception and asking if they have adaptors as they sometimes keep a box of them which have been left by previous passengers.
Check what you can take on Board with You
If you are getting on at a port that you don’t have to fly to, say Southampton for example. You aren’t restricted by a luggage allowance. So it’s always worth checking what each cruise line will let you take on board for your cabin. We always take bottles of water and soft drink and some snacks. These aren’t normally included in your cruise price so you would have to pay for them and this can save you a lot of money. Also sometimes you can take alcohol on board, to have in your cabin again saving you money, but always check this first as your bags will be X-rayed before they are taken onto the ship. Also have a read here about the best way to choose your cabin.
Check your Embarkation Time
When you book your cruise your tickets will be issued with an embarkation time. This is the time that you can arrive and board the ship. If you are going on a fly cruise obviously your embarkation will be determined by the time your plane lands. If though you are getting at a port that you can drive to then you will be given a specific time that you can board from. When we travelled from Southampton with P&O we were given the arrival time of 2.30, we drove down and managed to get there right on time. Because we arrived on time we were given a fast track card and were on the ship within half an hour. You can arrive before you embarkation time but there is no guarantee that they will be able to let you on the ship early so you may end up waiting around for a few hours. So always try and get there for the time stated on your tickets.
Don’t head straight to the Buffet
When you first board the ship most people will want to go and get something to eat. After all, it’s free so why not make the most of it! So the first thing to do is head for the buffet so obviously, it’s always really busy but, there will normally be somewhere else that you can go and eat. Have a look for the main restaurants at least one should be open and they are usually much quieter and more civilised also, sometimes if the weather is nice there maybe a bbq out on one of the top decks which can be quieter as there are a lot more places to sit and spread out.
When you first get on the ship go for a wander. Find your bearings and even go and find your restaurant for the evening. Normally your time, table and restaurant will be left for you on a card in your cabin. You can go and locate your restaurant so you know where you are going in the evening. The maitre d will normally be there and if you are not happy with your seating time or your table then you may be able to change it if you speak to them.
And most importantly enjoy your holiday, relax, eat and if you get a bit lost don’t worry too much you can always just find somewhere to sit and look out to sea!
What the most important thing for when you go on a cruise? What’s the first thing you do when you get on the ship? Let me know in the comments below.