Taking a cruise can be an intimidating experience. Where will you go? When will you go? What kind of tour is right for me? What’s it like on a ship? Will I get seasick? How do I know what’s a good deal? The questions are endless.
Pursuitist has put together a few helpers to make your decision making process a bit easier, and make your cruise experience more fulfilling.
1. Cabin Selection. Make sure you consider what side of the ship you want your cabin on for your voyage. For some trips the side your stateroom is on does not matter. For others, it’s crucial. For example, let’s say you’re traveling north, up the east coast, on a sight seeing tour of New England. You’ll want to get your cabin on the port (left) side of the ship. You’re going to get the best views of the coastline this way. Generally, you’ll pay for the better view – but it usually worth it.
2. Do your laundry early. Most cruise ships will have laundry machines available to passengers. On a longer cruise they are essential so that you don’t have to over pack. The machines will get swarmed on the last day (or two) of an extended cruise. You’ll find yourself spending an hour (or more) standing in the laundry room waiting for a machine to open up. Get your laundry done a day or two earlier. Or, visit the laundry room in the early morning hours. It will save you time and frustration.
3. Prepare for seasickness. No one likes to spend thousands of dollars on a cruise and get seasick. While nothing is foolproof, you can prepare. The first thing you should do is recognize the days you’ll likely have issues. Obviously, you can check the weather. But also know that the more out to sea a ship gets, the more the motion will become apparent. Traveling in waters protected by both sides (for example, up the Inside Passage in Alaska) will offer a more tranquil voyage.
To help with seasickness here are four remedies.
Dramamine – a simple motion sickness tablet. Works well for many people. It can cause drowsiness, so don’t take too much.
Ginger pills – ginger is a traditional remedy for nausea, so many people claim it works with sea sicknesses. Studies are mixed, but many people swear by it. Not a bad option if you don’t like the side effects of Dramamine.
Patches – motion sickness patches are some of the most popular remedies for the problem. Available over-the-counter and by prescription, they have proven effective. Like Dramamine, people often have side effects, including drowsiness.
Motion sickness bracelets – acupressure bracelets go around the wrist and are becoming increasingly popular due to the fact you don’t need to take any medication (and thus avoid the side effects). The bracelet uses the same theory as acupuncture – applying light pressure at a point that helps control nausea.
Alleviating sea sickness is not simple. Each person reacts differently to each remedy, so often times it’s trial and error. Also, review the different patches and bracelets to ensure it’s from a reputable company.
4. Go local when onshore. When you go ashore, take the time to figure out what stores are actually locally owned and operated. Most port destinations are teeming with gift and jewelry stores. Many of these are actually owned and operated by the cruise ship corporations. These stores feature goods mass produced and usually of lower quality. You’ll usually find the best products in the local businesses.
This is true for the restaurants as well. The best eateries are usually the locally owned establishments.
So look for the ‘locally owned and operated’ signs. Beware of businesses that try and trick you with wording. In Alaska, the cruise line-owned stores will say ‘Alaskan owned’ to try and make shoppers think it’s a local store. But in reality, the cruise lines set up local corporations that ‘own’ the store.
5. Negotiate! If you are going to buy jewelry while on shore at one of the many shops, be prepared to negotiate. A recent trip to one such store had the saleswoman bring the price of a piece of jewelry from $800 to $100 in less than 30 seconds.