Honestly, I’ve never had a desire to go on a cruise until my daughter convinced me to go on a Disney cruise this summer, and I have to say it was amazing! Disney just knows how to do things right. From the food to the service, it was all top notch.
I did some research ahead of time and got some additional tips from my friend/Disney travel agent and have compiled those with some of my own tips after going on this cruise. Hopefully, these tips and tricks will make your cruise vacation even better!
1 – On port days, don’t be the first one off the boat. If there are things you want to do on the boat but the lines were too long, this is the perfect time! Everyone rushes to get off, but hang back for an hour or two and enjoy the boat while 80% of the passengers aren’t on it.
3 – Take a towel. I know you have to pack lightly for a cruise and we were told not to take any beach towels since the cruise line provided them but in hindsight, we wish we’d taken at least one. In fact, I ended up buying one and paying a steep price. When you’re chilling on the beach, snorkeling, etc., for an entire day, that one measly little towel they give you gets pretty wet and sandy. Tucking an extra towel in your luggage is the way to go.
4 – Pack some power. I can’t take credit for this recommendation but it was brilliant! Most staterooms have no plugs in the bathrooms and if they do, they’re in random spots. Some staterooms only have one plug in the entire room so having a power strip was extra helpful to charge phones, etc.
5 – Beware the on board “everything card.” Many cruise lines give you a card when you board that is tied to a credit card for all of your purchases or they’ll allow you to settle up with cash or traveler’s checks before you disembark. This seems like a no-brainer but when you’re on vacation and not using cash, it’s easy to overspend on drinks, souvenirs, etc. Just pay attention to what you’re buying so you don’t have a panic attack when you see the bill on your last day.
6 – Don’t leave your luggage for the porter. The night before you disembark you’ll be asked to leave your luggage outside your door by 10:30 PM (time and process varies by cruise line and ship). If you have all day to get to the airport or your next destination this isn’t a big deal, but if you’re on a tight schedule, don’t leave your bags out and carry them with you on your last day. This way you can avoid the “luggage search” at the terminal the next day. If you DO choose to leave your luggage outside your door the night before, please don’t forget to pack a day bag with your toothbrush, undies, clothes for departure day, etc. Going through customs in your PJ’s might be a bit embarrassing.
7 – Pack lightly, but carefully. Make sure you have a good assortment of swimsuits, cover-ups, and regular clothes but don’t go overboard (no pun intended!) The restaurants, casinos, and shows can be pretty chilly so make sure you have a jacket or something to wrap around your shoulders as well.
8 – Water shoes are a personal preference. Everyone told us to take water shoes, which we did, but we never used them. I think this is a personal preference depending on your shore excursions. If you don’t plan to do activities where these would be helpful, then don’t waste your time or suit case space.
9 – Take a small bag or purse. For the ladies out there, I wish I’d had a small bag or purse (maybe the cross shoulder type) to keep my room key/onboard key, phone, camera, and daily activities sheet in. I also found it nice to have a pen handy to mark the onboard activities we wanted to go to. For most women, I’m sure this purse thing is a no-brainer.
10 – Don’t overpack products. I know many of us have our shampoos and conditioners that we can’t live without, but I suggest trying to do so on a cruise. I can’t speak for all cruise lines but I’ve heard most provide shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion similar to standard hotels. I would highly recommend sucking it up and using their provided toiletries. Lugging bottles around and trying to cram all of that stuff in those tiny bathrooms is something I would suggest avoiding, especially because you'll have plenty of other products you'll need to take (toothpaste, contact solution, etc.)