If you’ve only ever experienced land based holidays, your first cruise can present all kinds of conundrums. What is included? Where will we go? How long will we get on shore? Will I really be able to eat myself into oblivion 24 hours a day?
Our expert cruise consultants here at Bolsover Cruise Club have collectively spent a whopping 10,000 nights at sea and while we don’t like the term ‘know it all’, we sort of do. We thought we would put our knowledge to good use with our top ten tips for trepid travellers.
Be prompt to port
Just like an airplane won’t wait for latecomers, neither will a cruise ship. We always suggest arriving to port early, even overnight wherever possible. Enjoying a relaxing meal, a couple of pre-holiday drinks and an early night in a plush hotel sure beats the bedlam of delayed trains, packed motorways and panicked last-minute preparations!
Make paperwork a priority
If you’re travelling anywhere that requires a visa, make sure you’ve sorted one well in advance – our administration department are trained visa specialists and they’ll tell you all you need to know. Make sure your passport has plenty of time before expiration (six months is often required as a minimum) and print a copy of your holiday documentation and a photocopy of your passport before you leave home. Slip everything in a wallet and you’ll save time on your knees, heart in mouth, emptying the contents of your case all over the terminal because you can’t find your passport.
Enjoy embarkation day
First-time cruisers often get caught up in embarkation day excitement and your first few hours aboard can definitely be some of the best. Get your cruise off to a cracking start with an relaxing meal in one of the ship’s restaurants; many passengers will head to the buffet or Lido Deck grills, so you’ll enjoy a delicious meal in peace. In need of a pampering after a fraught trip to the port? Many cruise lines offer sizeable discounts on embarkation day.
Packing tip: Make sure you pack your swimwear, sun cream and a good read in your hand luggage. Your cases can take a while to appear at your stateroom so pack everything you need to head to the pool as soon as you get on board. It will be all but empty as others are waiting for swimwear packed in cases!
Plan your ports
Most cruise lines will allow you somewhere between 8-10 hours in port and you will benefit endlessly if you plan your days. Even those who prefer to wander alone rather than join organised excursions should research what they want to see and how long it will take to see it. It is impossible to see a destination in a few hours but planning ahead is the best way to avoid the disappointment of missing out on the one place you wanted to visit.
Don’t jump ship
Don’t be fooled into thinking you must jump ship in every port. If you’ve seen a destination before or simply feel the need to enjoy some much-deserved rest and relaxation, stick around on board and watch the crowds head ashore. Empty hot-tub? Deserted dining rooms? Peaceful pools? They are all there for your enjoyment. Throw in a heavily discounted spa treatment and you will be on cloud 9 by the time the masses return for dinner.
Don’t be alarmed by the Muster Drill!
Cruise lines and their crew take safety seriously and you will be expected to attend a Muster Drill within a few hours of boarding. Expect to hear all about emergency procedures, life boats and evacuation procedures but don’t be alarmed; cruising is one of the safest ways to see the world.
Peruse the cruise news
Each cruise line issues its own version of cruise news, appearing in your cabin each day and giving details of your destination, weather, dress codes and activities on board throughout the day. Take the time to read the cruise news to avoid missing any important information but also so that you don’t miss out on the activities that really take your fancy. Yoga beneath the sun? Trapeze classes? Cookery classes with celebrity chefs? These are all things you can expect to enjoy aboard a cruise holiday and with so much on offer it is important that you make a mental note of anything that especially appeals each day.
Go big at dinner
As a first time cruiser, joining a large table for dinner can be one of the best ways to pick up tips from those who are old hats when it comes to cruise etiquette. Find out which speciality restaurants are unmissable; get to know when the pool will be most peaceful; and find out which venue gets the party started as the night wears on.
With 6-8 table companions, you are almost guaranteed to meet new people and make new friends. Many friendships created on board cruises last long beyond disembarkation!
Take the stairs
I know, I know, exercising on holiday is a massive bore. That said, buffet breakfasts + cocktails and burgers by the pool + four course dinner and drinks x 7 nights = about a billion calories.
Shun the gym in favour of taking the stairs; with the biggest ships sitting at around 15 decks, you will soon burn off lunch between floors!
Get on board with formal night
There aren’t many opportunities for going all out glamour in our everyday lives, so make the most of formal night. Even if you’re a jeans person through and through, there is something exciting about donning a tuxedo or a slinky dress, sipping a welcome champagne and tucking into an amazing gala dinner. With everyone else dressed to impressed, you will soon find yourself getting into the party spirit.
Still not convinced? Pack your party clothes anyway. We guarantee you will change your mind once on board and it will cost you precious pounds for suit hire if you do.