10 Tips To Maximise Your Cruise Holiday
Cruising – a luxurious floating hotel transporting you to multiple destinations, as far as your sea legs can take you. Becoming increasingly popular for individuals, couples and families, the copious options for dining, entertainment and daytime excursions means there really is something to suit everyone.
Whether you want drinks brought to you throughout a relaxing day by the pool or to go exploring the sights and sounds of each port, one thing is certain – you’ll always want to go back for more. Travelling from port to port means waking to a fresh landscape every day, offering a taste of different countries and piquing your interest for future holidays.
As an avid adventurer of the sea, here are a few of the things I’ve learnt through my years on the ocean to make the most of a cruise experience.
PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!
Check out the tours online before departure to ensure early booking (you don’t want to miss out on those with limited spaces), as well as discovering the sites you may wish to explore independently. You can stop by the shore excursions desk onboard to pick up a port map of the local area where the ship will be based, but I also highly recommend researching this beforehand so that you can pin specific points of interest onto Google maps for use offline.
READ THE ‘CRUISE NEWS’
Every night a newsletter will be left in your cabin highlighting important information for the next day including arrival times, opening hours of restaurants and bars, as well as when particular daytime activities and evening shows are live. In the corner, you may easily overlook the sunrise and sunset times, but this is something you don’t want to miss; have your cameras ready because at sea they are exquisite. Is there anything more relaxing than sitting with a loved one, watching the sky turn burning hues of orange and sipping a morning coffee or evening cocktail?
Thank me later because these are an absolute godsend. Days at sea can be especially windy and the last thing you want whilst you’re trying to relax on deck is your towel whipping you in the face or blowing overboard. You can even get them in fun tropical styles of parrots and dolphins.
PREPARE FOR UK WEATHER
Always pack an umbrella or poncho. It sounds obvious, but there’s nothing worse than being drenched walking round or forced to stay onboard because it’s too wet. Embrace the inclement weather (if safe to do so), as it can be an exciting adventure. If you’re utterly barmy like myself, you might even don a poncho and walk round on deck in the middle of a Guatemalan tropical storm, complete with thunder and lightning.
You never know when something unexpected will happen onboard a ship, so it’s always worth carrying your camera with you. As an example, out in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, a swallow suddenly appeared seeking refuge on the ship during its long journey and it would have flown off in the time taken to race down to the cabin and up on deck again to fetch a camera.
It might be tempting to head straight for the cocktails when you get back onboard after an excursion, or even if you’re lounging by the pool all day. However, you should always try to rehydrate with water throughout the day, helping to prevent feeling unwell and costly visits to the onboard medical facilities.
On a very practical level, this is especially useful for those with sensitive skin. Hand sanitisers onboard are essential for use when embarking and entering dining areas - the last thing you want is an outbreak of Norovirus when you have thousands of passengers confined in a vessel. Yet with frequent use this can easily dry your hands, so moisturising is essential.
GINGER FOR SEASICKNESS
Generally you barely feel the motion of the ship, but of course there will be times when seas are rougher. From sea sickness tablets to acupuncture bands, there are many options to help with this particular devil, but a few years ago I discovered that ginger actually works! Now I always pack a packet of ginger biscuits and ginger tablets in my suitcase, both for the ship and coach journeys.
SWIM TO THE VERY END
On disembarkation day, your flight may not be until the afternoon, giving you free time in the morning. If you or your family want a last dip in the pool or jacuzzi, wet bathing costumes in your hand luggage are not ideal. Depending upon the cruise ship, your suitcase may have been taken the previous evening to be transferred to the airport automatically, so a waterproof bag can be really useful to prevent important documents (such as passports and flight tickets) getting soggy.
ALWAYS HAVE AN OPEN MIND
Never believe everything you read before you go and be confined by prejudices. Belize City is considered to be particularly dangerous, but as a young female walking around, I felt completely safe and have never met friendlier people. Just passing locals on the street who wanted nothing more than to say hello and welcome me to their city, wishing me well on my travels. Be open to new people, cuisine, experiences and cultures - it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Cruising is no longer a holiday solely for the ‘elite’, but an increasingly affordable way to explore the world in a luxurious yet easy-going way. There is so much to discover, go out there and experience it.
Written and photographed by Hannah Bird, who may be found as @thehbird on Instagram.