11 Insider Cruise Tips You Need to Know
Cruisers heading to regions like Alaska, New England, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean are eager to learn about these destinations. And while the expert commentary they receive from Inspiration explains our best travel tips, insider hotspots and must-dos for their future travels, we still get occasional questions about how to best navigate a large cruise ship. Because we know cruiseliners (especially Holland America Line) like the back of our hand, it’s our pleasure to pass along these insider tips to make your stellar travel experience all the more luxurious.
1. Visit the spa on your first day, or on port days. During days at sea, the spa will typically fill up with cruisers taking advantage of their time aboard the ship. But when everyone else is in port—or getting to know the ship’s layout on embarkation day—these scheduled slots become much more flexible. In fact, a number of cruise lines even offer discounts for first-day treatments. Check your newsletter or visit the spa right after boarding to find out.
2. Take a ship-specific art tour. The stunning art collections on Holland America ships are always worth visiting. Before your cruise, download a self-guided walking tour specifically for your ship. These 30- to 40-minute tours are professionally narrated and include everything from walking directions to interviews with the artists themselves. All you need is a smartphone or MP3 player!
3. Use a power strip. While newer cruise ships are beginning to offer more electrical outlets (and some even include USB charging stations for smartphones) power can often be in short supply in smaller staterooms. Remedy this by bringing your own power strip or outlet multiplier. For example, this option adds outlets and even includes USB ports for charging a phone. If you forget, Holland America’s purser’s desk can lend you a power strip (if available, and with a minimum security deposit.)
4. Don’t limit yourself at dinner. The dinner menu features a handful of options for appetizers and the main course. Most passengers will choose one item from each category. But you’re not limited to just one choice. Order two entrees and sample both. Try appetizers like fisherman’s chowder or escargot for the first time—if you don’t like it, simply order something else. Or better yet, sample from among several desserts!
5. Room service is available. Would you rather sleep late than get up for an early breakfast? Get hungry in the late afternoon? Prefer to dine on your private balcony? Unlimited room service is available 24 hours a day on many of our cruises—and often, it’s built into the price of your stateroom. Though some cruise lines offer a scaled-down room service menu, our most frequent cruise partner, Holland America, goes above and beyond by offering a full, hot room service breakfast on debarkation morning.
6. Ask for menus ahead of time. If you want to make a reservation at one of your ship’s specialty restaurants, it makes sense to pick the night when the dining room menu doesn’t quite reflect your tastes. But how do you know in advance? Simply ask at the purser’s desk. In most cases, they’ll gladly share with you the week’s menus so you can plan your dining schedule.
7. Use magnets on your cabin walls. Most staterooms are constructed as self-contained “coves” with walls made of metal—which means they are magnetic. Bring along a few magnets and attach your daily newsletters or invitations to the wall rather than taking up desk or vanity space.
8. Get free seasickness remedies. Feeling queasy? No need to seek out a pharmacy in port. On most cruises, you can request room service to bring you saltine crackers. The purser’s desk will supply seasickness medications like meclizine or dramamine for free. (Aspirin, acetaminophen and adhesive bandages are also given at no cost.)
9. Request options for your bedding. You’re not stuck with the standard pillows or sheets in your cabin. If you would like a different pillow firmness, alternative sheets or even an egg crate-style mattress topper, just ask. Your steward will have a variety of options available to make your nights at sea even more comfortable.
10. On port days, be patient. Upon arrival in port, you’ll find passengers lining up in order to get off the ship. This isn’t ideal for the claustrophobic or impatient. Avoiding these crowds is simple: Just wait 30 minutes. Enjoy an extra cup of coffee while taking in the hustle and bustle of the port down below. Then you can leave without having to spend time in line.
11. Head to the Explorer’s Lounge after dinner. On Holland America ships, the Explorer’s Lounge offers free chocolate truffles throughout the evening. All you have to do is ask. Shhh...don’t tell anyone!
Whether you’re a first-timer eager to learn the ins and outs of ship life; or a veteran cruiser who’s looking for that little something extra; these “secrets” will enhance every detail of your Christian travel experience. Please share any tips you’ve discovered on your own!