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HOT Tips for Cruisers

The BEST Cruise Travel Tips from

~ Mail overflowing your mailbox is a neon sign to thieves that you aren't home. You can request an "Authorization To Hold Mail" card from your letter carrier, by visiting your nearest post office, or online at the website. Mail that accumulated while you were gone can be delivered on a date you designate on the card or you can retrieve it yourself at the post office. Contributed by Timothy Hickey

~ A "pop-up" mesh clothes hamper packs flat in your suitcase and keeps your closet neat on board. Contributed by Sue Adam

~ Don't bother packing beach towels, they will be provided for your use on board the cruise ship as well as when going ashore.

~ Have a supply of one-dollar bills handy for tipping airport skycaps and porters at the pier.

~ Don't pack photo film in checked luggage as airport screening equipment could ruin it. Put it in your carry-on instead.

~ An endlessly ringing phone is a hint that you aren't home. Before leaving the house, either turn off the telephone ringers or set the answer phone to answer at two rings. Contributed by Kay Meyerett

~ Notify the cruise line of any special dietary restrictions when booking your  cruise and follow up on the arrangements a couple months before embarking.

~ When it's possible, store your valuables in the ship purser's safe rather than the one in your cabin. Some insurance policies will not cover the loss of items left unsecured in your cabin or in your personal guest safe.

~ One of my traveler friends showed me about putting a rubber band around my wallet to inhibit pickpockets. Another friend mentioned that her dad’s wallet was knocked out of his front pocket on a commuter train during a recent trip. He didn’t have his rubber band around it. Contributed by Joe Reynolds

~ With limited/expensive laundry facilities on ships, it's convenient to bring along a pack of 'Bibsters' (disposable bibs for mealtimes, available at grocery stores, Target, etc). They keep baby's clothes cleaner and stain free, avoiding messy garments after meals. The last thing on my mind while cruising is doing laundry! Contributed by Stephanie Harrison, Miami, FL

~ When selecting sunglasses, the most important considerations are the amount of UV light that is blocked by the lenses and a proper fit. The lenses should shield your eyes from most angles. Darker lenses do not necessarily offer better UV protection. Look for sunglasses that block 99% of harmful UV rays.

~ Ladies, don't weight yourself down with a heavy hand bag or backpack and become a target for purse snatchers or pickpockets. Carry only what you need and carry it inconspicuously.

~ Items confiscated by airport security will not be returned to you. If you're uncertain whether something will pass the security test, pack it in your checked luggage.

~ Moms, bring along an umbrella stroller for walks around the ship and in port with your baby. It also comes in handy at the airport. Wheel baby right to the departure gate—the stroller is gate checked and will be waiting for you at the arrival gate. Contributed by Kim Cornelius

~ Pack and WEAR a hat to protect your scalp, ears, and face from sun damage and premature aging. Excessive sun exposure contributes to wrinkles and dark spots.

~ Wrinkles are caused by under-packing (clothes shift) and over-packing (which squishes clothes). Avoid wrinkles by packing light and tight.

~ Toss a few empty plastic bags into your suitcase. You may need them later to pack dirty or damp clothes.

~ If you carry on your laptop computer, you may be asked to "boot it up" at security—both at the airport & at pier check-in. 

~ Airline carry-on restrictions are being updated continuously. Check with your airline before packing and be aware that purses often "count" as a carry-on item!

~ Folding or inflatable travel hangers are useful if you need to dry out hand laundry or a bathing suit in your cabin.

~ Tap water on your ship is perfectly safe to drink; purchasing bottled water is only necessary if you prefer the taste. 

~ Tuck fabric softener sheets between garments as you pack to keep clothing fresh during travels. Contributed by Jen

~ Bring your own travel alarm clock; most staterooms do not have them. 

~ Keep track of your boarding pass, on board charge/key card, as well as a picture ID to take ashore by slipping them into a bi-fold business card style carrying case. Cases with a "suede" finish are less likely to fall out of your pocket.

~ For families with small children, a cabin with a veranda might not be the best choice. Children are incredibly quick and accidents can happen, even on balconies with solid barriers beneath the railing.

~ Pack toiletries, clothing, and other items in clear zipper top bags for faster security examination of your carry-on at the airport and pier. This method makes it easier to repack if your bag is emptied and searched.

~ Pack a pad of Post-It notes to leave messages for your cabin steward, family, and shipboard friends.

~ This idea is for anyone who lives in a colder climate and is traveling in winter to a warm weather cruise. When you put your summer wardrobe away for the winter, set aside the casual outfits, sandals, swimwear, and sleepwear you want to wear on your cruise and store them in the suitcase you plan to use. You'll be at least half packed and won't be hunting down an outfit or a pair of shoes later. You will also free up some drawer and/or closet space at the same time. Hang your evening clothes in a separate area of your closet and pack them when you're ready to leave for your trip. Contributed by Linda Richter, New Hope, PA

~ Check prices before leaving home to insure you don't overpay for electronics and jewelry at "duty-free" shops.

~ For minor emergencies, pack a first aid "kit" with antiseptic cream & bandages in your carry-on.

~ Pre-address stick-on labels for postcards to the folks back home & you won’t have to carry along a bulky address book.

~ Make two copies of your passport, driver's license, and credit cards before leaving home. Leave one set of copies in a safe place on your ship. If the ship's purser holds your passport (which is often the case, to expedite clearing the ship in foreign ports), carry the passport copy ashore with you. Leave the other copies with a friend or family member at home.

~ Binoculars are as useful indoors as they are outside. Typically you might think they are only for bringing far off wildlife and sights within view, but take them into museums, cathedrals, and other buildings to examine the details of artwork, sculptures, and architectural elements.

~ If you pick an outside cabin, check to make sure your view of the sea isn’t obstructed by a lifeboat.

~ Print cards with your name, address, phone number, & email address to share with new friends. Stiff, business card-style paper can be purchased at nearly any office supply store & having your cards handy sure beats hunting for pens & scribbling on scraps of paper to swap addresses.

~ Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, bring along extra camera batteries and change them before you think the old ones are “dead.”

~ Leave any paperback novels you've finished for the crew library. You'll have more room in your suitcase and crewmembers will have fresh reading material.

~ Don't forget to pack and USE your sunscreen. Why take the chance of a nasty sunburn ruining a great cruise vacation? Protect your skin from injury and aging. Excessive sun exposure contributes to wrinkles. 

~ Check the balance of your on board account before the end of your cruise. Straighten out any discrepancies immediately and avoid a long line at the Purser's Desk that last morning after your final bill arrives.

~ Don't you look gorgeous in your formal attire? Have a family portrait taken to preserve the memory. There's no obligation to purchase any photos you don't care for.

~ Set aside gratuity money and keep it in your room safe. Many cruisers compute the "recommended" amounts in advance and get cash in the proper denominations before leaving home. If your ship automatically charges gratuities to your onboard account, you may adjust the amounts according to the level of service you receive.

~ Make spa and salon appointments as soon as you can so you won't be disappointedprime appointment times fill up fast!

~ Set aside a few moments every day to pack up your used clothing and spend the last afternoon of your cruise doing fun things while your fellow passengers are packing to go home.

~ Most ships’ cabins have only one or two electrical outlets located near the desk/vanity table (not counting the shaver-only outlet in the bathroom). A short extension cord allows you to use more than one electrical appliance at once and gives you a bit more flexibility to move around, particularly if you’re using a laptop computer.

~ If you are prone to motion (sea) sickness, the best cabin location for you is on a lower deck in the middle of the ship (midway between the bow and the stern). Pitch, roll, and yaw—the movements made by a ship—will be less noticeable in that area.

~ Don’t be a deck chair hog. It’s inconsiderate to put towels and personal belongings on poolside lounge chairs to “save” them unless you are actually in the pool.

~ Don’t miss the morning sun in your inside cabin. Before you retire for the night, leave the television tuned to the channel with the “view from the bridge” and you’ll awaken with a “window” on the outside world. Remember to turn the sound off.

~Take along an insulated mug with a lid. Fill it at the beverage station in the buffet area—your drinks will stay hot or cold and you won’t have to worry about spills. Most bartenders will fill it with ice and water or a soft drink. With a straw, your ice won’t melt instantly while lounging at the pool. Better still, mugs are great souvenirs—buy one that sports your ship’s name from the gift shop.

~Pack a small flashlight to find your way around in the dark or in an emergency.

~ Personal 2-way radios are a great way to keep track of cruise companions, but set the volume low so you don’t disturb your fellow passengers.

~ A nylon tote bag that folds compactly into its own pocket can be used as a beach bag during your cruise and as an extra carry-on for your return home with fragile souvenirs.

~ Take along a hanging shoe organizer for the closet.  It extends your storage space for small items and keeps your shoes off the floor.

~ Germicidal hand cleaner is a must have for adventure excursions where water might be at a premium.

~ A mesh laundry bag that allows damp clothing to dry out is ideal for gathering soiled garments during a cruise.

~ Pack anything that can leak in zipper top plastic storage bags.

~ A nightlight is handy, especially for passengers in inside cabins.

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