Skip to content

cruise tips wanted!

Source: on Pinterest


Hi there everybody!

Our family is leaving on a Christmas Caribbean cruise next week and I need your help!

We’ve never been on a cruise so I’d love any and all tips, tricks, suggestions, input. Everything from packing (I haven’t started!) to excursions…I’d love to hear your experiences/words of wisdom. What worked well, what was a waste of time, etc.

Thanks for helping me out.

I’m all ears!!!

31 Comments Post a comment
  1. Andrea @ Big Creek Cottage #

    Stay away from the food….it is good and there is too much of it!

    December 14, 2011
  2. First…go to for a wealth of information on all things cruise related including suggestions for excursions, what to do in ports etc. Which line are you sailing? What ports are you going to? We are doing the Eastern Caribbean in February on Norwegian( our line of choice) and have done Western Caribbean, Alaska, Mediterranean and Bermuda 3 times. We just love the relaxation of being away from it all and sitting on our balcony reading between many meals and snacks! Wherever you are going just have fun, fun, fun!

    December 14, 2011
    • Great tip, Janet! We are sailing Celebrity and the ports are: St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominica and St. Maarten. Have you found that the excursions are worth it? They are pricey and I’m envisioning cramped hot busses and crowds. I think I’d rather chill on a beach!

      December 14, 2011
  3. Heidi Hebdon #

    Put something such as a bright ribbon on the handle of your suitcase, when you return to port. They have all the suitcases removed from the ship and there are rows and rows of similar (usually black) suitcases. It will make it so much easier to find yours if you can spot your bright red or bright blue spotted ribbon on the handle.

    December 14, 2011
  4. Look into locally run excursions similar to the ones your cruise ship offers, great cost savings. Try to get this all figured our before you depart. Spa services on board are easier to come by if you do it while everyone else is off the ship on their excursions. Kids love cruises, especially the all you can eat part!!!! Participate in as much as possible. We did a family cruise in Alaska and loved it! Hope you have a wonderful time!

    Cathy @ Room Rx

    December 14, 2011
  5. I always take too many clothes, get plenty of rest before you go…we have so much fun, we feel like we need a vacation afterwards! We get the newsletter each night and roughly plan the next day. We really enjoy the shows, comedians. Hope the weather is great, have fun!

    December 14, 2011
  6. We’ve done Royal Caribbean for both Bermuda and the Western Caribbean. If you have any days at sea you’ll want to get up early to get your chairs on the deck. They go fast and you don’t want to be split up or be stuck in a really windy spot. Also, if you don’t have a kindle get one – so much easier than trying to haul all your books and magazines around the ship and the airport. Mostly just try to enjoy and relax. I’ve found that cruising is probably one of most relaxing vacations because they take care of everything for you.

    December 14, 2011
  7. I saw in a previous comment you’re wondering about the excursions. They are pricey, you’re right! Here’s what we did- we chose ONE of the port days and picked out an excursion that sounded really fun. It was a blast! The rest of the days at port we did our own thing, which was really fun too, and relaxing. Best of both worlds! 🙂 Have so much fun, I’m jealous!

    December 14, 2011
  8. Mary Lou #

    Take half the amount of clothes you think you need. Really. One pair of long pants, one pair of capris or shorts, one skirt or dressy pants for evenings. Mix up the tops. Take one of acetate/spandex jacket things you can wad up to take out of your bag if you need it. You won’t need a purse. If you have a pocket, you can put a chapstick or lipstick in there. A roomy tote is helpful in the ports. Have fun!

    December 14, 2011
  9. bernice #

    Take advantage of room service..when people get in from their day the dining rooms can get crowded..we loved breakfast in our room! We were on Norwegian, did not like the “eat when you want” thing. As I said those leaving for the day crowded the dining room and buffet, and when they came back same thing. Hit the shipboard games! There is usually a place for kids..lots of activities, Depending on their ages. A fanny pack is invaluable. I pin money,ship card,tickets, etc to my bra , if pickpockets try , i know where their hands are! Yes, you will have fun. Oh, our cruises had sanitizer dispensers all over! Use them!

    December 14, 2011
  10. We just went on our first cruise last summer along Alaska’s Inland Passage – it was fantastic! But I was given a few tips that worked out really well. First, enjoy the food – you’ll do fine if you fill up on all the fresh fruit and salads, then you’ll be too full for dessert! Another tip was to take the stairs as much as possible – it counteracts the extra food, and you avoid all those lines for the elevator. We also did a few laps around the walking deck every day, and the gym is a great place to meet people.

    If you can, take your own luggage when you disembark – the only time I lost a suitcase in decades of traveling was when I checked my bag to be offloaded by the ship’s crew – it went to the airport, which was fine, except I was going to the train station 😦

    Depending on your line, internet use can be pricey, so I mostly used texting and wifi off the ship. But I did buy a block of time and really had fun sending a quick e-mail update every night to friends and family with a picture of what we’d been up to that day – so worth it! Have a great trip!

    December 14, 2011
  11. I don’t have any suggestions, but I hope you have tons of fun!

    December 14, 2011
  12. Patty #

    There are some great websites with tips if you will google them. I looked some up last year when we took an Alaskan cruise for our 25th anniversary. Look up reviews on the excursions and locations. These were invaluable to me. I found out things about places which made us change our mind about taking that particular excursion. Someone else’s advice can save you a lot of heartache. You definitely don’t need a lot of clothes. I took too much and it was heavy clothing. Lucky you in t-shirts ! I read a review from one couple that only went on the cruise with a carry-on bag. But they were veterans and didn’t go to the formal nights ! This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us so we wanted to do the formal thing. If you plan to bring home souvenirs, make sure you have lots of room in your bags, or pack an extra carry-on for the knick knacks or dirty clothes (so you have room in your regular suitcase). If I remember correctly, they speak French on St Maarten, so it is very helpful to know a few words to speak to the locals and shopkeepers. Dominica is very thankful to the Americans for help in a war. They are wonderful folks and the island was beautiful. We took a bus to a lovely waterfall and a Murano glass factory. Although last year’s trip was to Alaska, we have taken four cruises to the islands, but it was many years ago. We always went on the excursions, but they were cheaper back then. I don’t remember any bus or boat being so crowded that we were miserable. The locals are in it to make everyone happy because if they didn’t they would lose the business from the cruise line. If you ARE unhappy with something, go to the purser as soon as you return to the ship. Many times they will reimburse you a portion of your cost. Keep things simple on the excursions. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home. A cousin told me about a trip they took where conditions turned dangerous but the guides would not turn back. Her husband almost died, and they did lose another member of their group when a woman drowned in an underwater cave. St Thomas is a lot of shopping, but we did go to St Johns Bay while there. It was gorgeous and a great place for some snorkeling ! We also did the submarine cruise out of St Thomas, which was really cool, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who might be a little claustrophobic. There was plenty of room but you’re underwater and can’t get out until you surface. Please feel free to email me directly if you’d like any more information. I’m very happy to help. I was emailing someone before our Alaska cruise and it was so nice to talk to someone who had been there/done that. ** Patty **

    December 14, 2011
    • Patty, thank you so much for taking the time and posting all those wonderful tips!

      December 14, 2011
  13. Kim Brown #

    Hi Susan! Exciting!! We’ve been on 3 cruises, 2 of which were Christmas cruises. We did as someone recommended above, picked only 1 or two great excursions that we really wanted to see and knew that the ship excursions were the safest, although it looks like your ports of call are all safe to wonder off on your own, still be careful, there are so many people ashore trying to sell you something or take you in a car somewhere – you need to use your street smarts!! The cruise ship will put a newsletter under your cabin door each night that will explain the next days events, and there will usually be a map of the next port of call, if you choose to go off on your own. Visit the ship excursion desk and they are more then helpful in explaining any of the excurions and will get to know your likes and dislikes and recommend specific ones for you. Cruisecritics is great, and another great site is Tripadvisor, you can sometimes find out information by typing in the cruise ships name, or type in the destination, some people will write up on local attractions. You definately have to get up early in the morning if you are on an at sea day to save chairs, they never have enough chairs! Most ships have self serve laundry on board, check if yours will, not that you want to do laundry, but it will save you from bringing too many “casual clothes”, they also have irons in this laundry room, most ships have changed their safety policy to not have irons in the cabins, you may want to check into this as well. A knapsack is the best thing to carry when going ashore, way easier. Christmas cruises are the best, so beautifully decorated, and the Christmas dinner is amazing! Both ships we were on also had Santa Clause, and he gave out a gift to everyone! Have an amazing vacation! PS…don’t forget Gravol, although I think now that you’re back in the US you guys have it under a different name. There is a medical clinic on board with a nurse and Dr., and they can give this to you if you forget it, but best to take your own OTC meds. Kim.

    December 14, 2011
    • Hi Kim, oh…I’ve missed hearing from you! Hope you are doing well. Thanks so much for the great tips!

      December 14, 2011
  14. Can I come? Seriously, I’ve never been on a cruise, but the next time I travel to Italy, I’m definitely going to see it from a boat so don’t have to deal with the suitcases and trains!

    December 14, 2011
  15. Nana #

    Two words. Take me!!

    December 14, 2011
  16. Paula #

    Wish I were going, too!! We have been on 6 cruises. What we discovered on the first one: be sure to take way more underwear than you think you’ll use because more than likely there WON’T be a washer on the boat and you will be hot from excursions/ laying out. (The first cruise we were on we had to find a Kmart in St. Thomas and buy some extras.) Oh, yes, they will do laundry for you on the boat (pricey), but NOT UNDERWEAR!.

    The excursions really are expensive and not all that great. Pick one for the whole cruise and the rest of the time, just walk around the ports.

    Unless you REALLY want to dress up and have your photo taken with the whole family dressed up, skip the formal night…… all that extra stuff to dress up in just takes up more luggage space.

    Go to the shows, free demonstrations or classes on board — they are worth it!

    For teenagers, it probably is worth it to buy a Coke card on board — pay one price (it ain’t cheap!), but they can use the card for the entire cruise.

    Oh, I don’t know what kind of ship accomodations you purchased, but be prepared for how shockingly tiny the cabins are on board — especially the bathrooms. Oh, we also found out that we had more room in our cabin (husband/wife) if we had the beds separated instead of 1 queen size bed. Even if your bed is already made up as a queen, you can call down to housekeeping aand ask to have it separated into 2 twin beds.

    December 14, 2011
  17. lenka #

    Hi, I just got back from my first ever cruise! On our first day at sea we were hit with strong gales and 20-23 foot waves. Yes I said it :20-23 foot swells ! The best advice given on the ship was : eat green apples, salted soda crackers and ginger ale. Also if you are prone to motion sickness then get a prescription for a patch that fits behind your ear call Transderm V. It slowly releases an anti nauseant medicine ,has really no side effects and you don’t even know that you are wearing it. Biggest thing to remember: HAVE FUN and take lots of photos.

    December 15, 2011
  18. Patricia #

    I’ve been on 3 cruises and have another booked for next July. You will love every minute. Do buy the “pop card’ if you think your kids will use it – it will be worth it rather than buying ”pop’ by the glass. I don’t for myself, because I drink the water, ICED TEA ! and coffee, which are all ‘included’……We did do some of the cruise excursions, because we felt ‘safer’ , and also, they ship will not leave without you if you return late on one of their own excursions. They will leave without you if you are doing an ‘independent’ excursion, and you are not back in time……I never found it necessary to pay extra for the ‘fancy’ restaurants on the ship, they are all fancy enough and the food is amazing that is included. Do take advantage of ‘room service’, as it is included, and many people forget about it, because there are so many food choices. Sometimes it is nice to stay on board when you are in a port, because the ship is fairly empty and easier to get around…

    December 15, 2011
  19. Patricia #

    Oh , one more thing ! I have never had a problem with ‘sea sickeness’, and we also had one cruise where the weather became bad and you could feel some movement (rare) Rather than the Transderm patches, which can cause some problems when you remove them at home, try a very natural and proven (double blind medical study) remedy – GINGER CAPSULES. You can buy them at any health food, or grocery store (whole foods has them). all they are is pure GINGER, proven by a study involving the U.S. Navy, to reduce sea sickeness to NOTHING. I used them on our last cruise, which did become somewhat ‘rocky’, due to bad weather, and had NO PROBLEM WHATSO EVER !! Completely natural, and they work !!

    December 15, 2011
    • Patricia…thank you so much for all of the great tips! Especially the ginger. I get super sea sick so I’ve been worried about that! Thanks again.

      December 15, 2011

I love comments. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s