I swear that so many things have changed since I last went on a cruise. Food, storage, ships, everything! If you’re a first-time cruiser, you might be wondering what the heck should do I even pack, what do I do prior to the cruise?! Well, I’m here to help! I learned a lot on my most recent cruise with Princess and I’m passing along that knowledge today! Below are several tips for cruising that I think everyone will find useful.
Of course, keep in mind, all cruise ships are different and all cruise lines might run things a little differently. I specifically went on the Regal Princess with Princess Cruises but I imagine a lot of the cruise ships/lines are about the same.
1. Don’t Wait to Book Your Excursions and Spa Appointments
The second you book your room and get all your confirmation number information, go to the online section where you can book excursions and spa appointments! This was kind of an issue for us because we were given our confirmation numbers late so the window had already closed for us on spa appointments and a lot of the excursions we wanted to do were already booked up. Don’t wait – if you want to do something, book it immediately (it doesn’t charge you, just puts it on your room and you pay for it later)! You can always go back in and cancel it but you can’t make a spot or two magically appear for you :)
2. Make It a Mission to Book the “Must-Have” Dining and Relaxation Opps
On our Regal Princess cruise, and with I believe all Princess Cruises, they had this adult-only relaxation area called The Sanctuary. It was cushy lounge chairs, your own reserved cabana (for an additional fee), dedicated service, and silence! It was blissful. We only got half a day in there but next time, I’m going to book an entire week there. They had to drag me out of The Sanctuary (not really, but almost). Also, on Regal Princess, there was this private chef tasting dinner called Chef’s Table Lumiere that you can book. It goes fast so once you get on board the ship, I’d head that way to make your reservation! It’s so swank and the food is unbelievable. For a cruise ship. I told you the food has come a long way!
3. Get a Drink Plan!
Not because you don’t want to remember the trip, but because it can really add up. Off the top of my head, I think an alcoholic beverage plan was like $14-$17/day per person that you can add to your room. You get a sticker for it on your card so all you gotta do is flash the bartender your card and you take your drink and go! It’s pretty sweet if you plan on drinking a lot. They also have soda plans if you need that throughout your day. Otherwise, everything is a la carte.
4. Bring a surge protector/power strip
This might sound weird but it was like the best tip I got from a friend and it definitely was the most used item in our stateroom. Outlets are hard to come by in the small staterooms so we literally plugged in our power strip to the outlet on the vanity/desk area and we plugged all our phone chargers, hair straighteners, laptop chargers, and whatever else in. It was great having this because we didn’t have to ‘share’ the one outlet. My friend and I were able to just use power whenever we wanted without unplugging each other!
5. Unpack Your Suitcase
I know it’s tempting to live out of your suitcase but you’re in tight quarters. The closet space on the Regal Princess was actually pretty nice. My friend and I were both able to unpack everything from our suitcases and hang and put everything away in drawers. We then slid the suitcases under our beds. This was another tip I got from one of my friends. The beds are high enough that your entire suitcase can fit under it! Ahh space saving in tight quarters is the best!
6. Bring Hanger Clips
I loved these! I clipped my wet bathing suits onto these clips and hung them on the drying line in the shower.
7. Buy a Waterproof Phone Case for your Cell Phone
This might not be at the top of your list, but I’m so glad I got this case. It literally sealed out all the water from my phone and I was able to carry this lanyard around with my room key in it. I was able to use it on all excursions and on the beach and pool. I didn’t have to worry about my phone getting wet. I love that you’re still able to use the touchscreen feature of your phone with this case and the photos I took with it was as if it were outside of the case. They were crystal clear! Definitely get yourself a waterproof case so you can have your phone with you with no worries!
8. What to Pack
Some cruise lines don’t have formal nights anymore and some do. Just make sure you pack some fancier clothes for those nights but in reality, for all the other days and nights, you only need like a handful of maxi/sundresses, a pair of shorts, a couple t-shirts, and bathing suits. I definitely overpacked (50 pound suitcase, anyone?) and barely wore any of the outfits, haha – I knew this was going to happen but I still wanted to overpack because I like having options. Oh, and shoes! Shoes take up the most space so try to just pick a couple sandals, a pair of flip flops, and one pair of heels. If you pack mostly neutral and can layer a bunch of things, you’ll save a ton of space! Just be aware of the dress code in dining areas and also formal nights. You don’t want to be that person getting turned away in front of everyone because your attire wasn’t up to par!
Something that took me by surprise was the night before disembarkation: you have to put your suitcases outside your rooms by 11p.m. so I was like uhhh what do I do with EVERYTHING? Just make sure you bring a small tote bag or something that you can keep your essentials in for the next morning. I showered the night before and packed everything away. I didn’t put on make-up or anything on the day of and I just shoved my PJ’s into my purse. If this is sprung on you, then you might freak out a little like I did cause I didn’t know about this, but now that you do, you can prepare :)
Do you have any cruising tips that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear them as I know this isn’t my last cruise!
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