Cruise Tips and Tricks IV
I started this series a few months ago, and it has been a while since we have done an installment. Here are a few more Tips and Tricks for you!
We learned this a few cruises ago, in ports if you can get on wifi, you can iMessage other iPhone users at home! This is a great and free way to communicate with your loved ones. We always turn cellular off, and typically keep our phones on airplane mode, but when we are in port, and have wifi available we switch it on and do iMessage. I found this great post with a LOT of information, if you want even more. I often have pictures of my travel mates with our noses in our phones when we are in a port with wifi available!
I have a couple of tips revolving around food on the ship. Shocker, I like food! A lot of ships tell you on embarkation day to go eat lunch in the buffet, many people don’t know that you can also go to the dining room! This is a great tip, as the buffet when 2000 people think that is the only place to eat, can be extremely crowded.
Another food related tip is to go check the dining room menus mid-day (typically after lunch is served). The menus are usually displayed at the dining room entrance on the wall. We like to do this, because we get to see what will be served in the main dining room, and if it has choices we like! If there is nothing tickling our fancy, we can make alternative plans. This also will allow you to be sure not to miss your favorites like lobster or escargot! (yes we love escargot!)
Crystal can tell you, a couple cruises ago, Russell and I had flight issues. We for some odd reason had booked a flight the DAY OF embarkation. We arrived at our airport and were told our flight was cancelled. I immediately panicked. The flight desk attendant said there were no options. I panicked more, and literally cried. I was like what am I supposed to do? In the DC area there are 3 major airports, we checked all of them, and none would get us to Florida in time for our 4:00 cruise departure. Thankfully another desk attendant overheard my angst and told my less stellar (HA) attendant about an option that would indeed get me to Florida! Apparently a flight had been delayed, and was still in Baltimore, the computers weren’t updated, as the flight should have already taken off. Moral of this story, WE WILL NEVER FLY IN THE DAY OFF cruise departure, EVER AGAIN. Learn from our mistakes. This story had a happy ending – but it might not have!
You will get a suggested boarding time, but we go as early as we can. The lines are crazy and if you don’t have priority boarding (you will get that depending on the type of cabin you book or your cruising status with the brand you are with – see brand loyalty below).
A similar tip is be early to re-board the ship in every port. Plan ahead. Plan for delays in traffic. If they say be back by 4:00 – I almost always leave at least 1 hour cushion if not 2! If you are late to the ship, it will not wait for you. One caveat, if you have booked an excursion through the ship, and for some reason you are late coming back from the excursion, I am told they will wait. I can’t confirm this, as it has never happened to me!
Always be on the look out for specials once on board. You can research this ahead of time as well, so you know what might be offered and when it might be offered. They will have internet, drink, and spa specials. When we were on Freedom of the Seas they had an arcade special. It is always a great idea to stay aware of these types of things. You can save some money and do some fun things!
This is somewhat similar to this category, the night before disembarkation, most ships will open printing so you can print your boarding passes! I do believe you must have an internet package to do this, but I am not positive. But they will allow you to print those boarding passes, which in turn saves you time at the airport!
This brings me to a final tip: brand loyalty pays. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity. The more nights you cruise with a cruise line, you progress in various levels. There are different perks for each level. We are Platinum with Princess and get preferred boarding and internet minutes for free and possibly other things. It pays to stay loyal to a brand of ship. Princess happens to be our favorite for many reasons. They typically offer itineraries that fit our needs and I love that they have self-service laundry on the decks.