How to prepare for a cruise holiday
If you are considering a cruise or perhaps you have already booked, then this article will help to give you some pointers and things to consider before you leave. I have included things which I had not realised until I was already onboard the ship!
What you'll need:
A ticket for your chosen cruise
A passport (always handy for an overseas visit)
Currency, both for the ship and for ports of call
Suitcase (up to 20kg)
Travel insurance/other documents
Read all the information which your cruise company sends you - it may take a while, but it will help you to avoid any "hidden surprises"
Budget for tips - some cruise companies include tips in the cost of the holiday. Others allow you to pay as you go, as and when you feel the service has been worthy of a tip. The other alternative is to pay a lump sum at the end of the holiday - a percentage of your total purchases is added to your total bill.
Consider the fact that the ship may only accept a particular currency, e.g. US Dollars and then you will also need the required currency for each of your ports of call. There is a "Purser" on the ship who can exchange currency for you, but the exchange rate can be a bit painful, so I would advise taking the appropriate currency with you.
Accept that the weather might not always be fine, even when sailing in the Pacific. Pack a couple of warm jumpers/cardigans and long trousers, as it can get very cold up on deck in the evenings. If sailing from the UK, remember that you will have to endure the British sea air until you reach your first destination.
Pack a good supply of sun cream with a high SPF (as the skin seems to burn more quickly at sea), some travel sickness tablets (just until you find your "sea legs") and your own teabags if you are partial to a good cuppa.
Most cruise itineraries will include at least a couple of formal evenings. These are a good chance to get dressed up, socialise and enjoy a fancy dinner, but if this is not your bag, you need not take part. The all-day buffet will still be open so you can quite happily eat there in your "civvies".
Prepare yourself for the fact that the first few hours onboard the ship will be taken up with safety drills and imparting of information/rules for your cruise experience. These are necessary and once you have accustomed yourself to life onboard, you should no longer feel bombarded with information.
Make arrangements for travel from port to the destination city - the city is not always right by the port, so you may have to take a bus, train or taxi. You may also have to take a tender boat to shore. These can be hot and cramped but the journey is not usually more than 15 mins or so.
By all means, book some sightseeing tours, but I would not recommend going a tour every day. Tours often leave early in the morning and do not come back until late in the afternoon. This could prove rather tiring by the end of your holiday and does not leave much scope for a lie-in. You can often see a great deal more on foot, with a map of the city and an inquisitive mind.
Prepare yourself for the holiday of a lifetime - hope you enjoy your cruise as much as I enjoyed mine!
Make friends with your fellow passengers as you could agree to share transport costs from the port to the city
Make friends with your porter - they can have a wealth of knowledge which could prove valuable when stuck for an item you have forgotten to pack!
Avoid purchases of your own food or drink as these will be confiscated on boarding the ship again, until you return home