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Don’t make these mistakes on a cruise, according to the crew

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  • During my six years work on cruise shipsI witnessed guests repeatedly making the same mistakes.
  • Many did not know the ship and missed the daily activities on board.
  • Some cruisers let a missed port or last-minute itinerary change ruin their entire cruise experience.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.


Sharon Waugh via Business Insider

For six years I worked as a crew member on cruise ships.

After working for two different cruise lines in six years I have seen guests make the same mistakes over and over again.

Here is a list of the top 10 things you have should avoid doing to get the most out of your cruise.

Do not try to solve problems immediately upon embarkation

Keep in mind that your embarkation day is usually also the previous travelers disembarkation day, so the staff has to turn the entire ship around and prepare it for new guests in just a few hours.

If your luggage has not been delivered to your room or if you wish to split your double bed into two single beds, it is possible that the crew is aware of the problem, but has not yet had a chance to solve it.

The guest service line can get long on the first day, so I recommend waiting to resolve non-emergency issues until dinner time, when lines are shorter. Chances are, your situation will be resolved without you having to do anything.

Also, instead of queuing at the internet cafe to connect to Wi-Fi, do your best to find out for yourself.

Pace your alcohol consumption on the first day

Some cruises have parties or scheduled gatherings.

Image credit: Sharon Waugh via Business Insider

Some cruise fares include unlimited alcoholic beverages and others offer beverage packages for an additional fee.

Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of people get embarrassingly drunk — urinating in public and riding prop engines — before the embarkation port is even out of sight.

The next day they are so hungover that they cannot enjoy. So, pace yourself and try not to get your money’s worth on alcohol on the first day.

Familiarize yourself with the ship so you don’t miss anything on board

You don’t want to wait until the last day of your cruise to find the karaoke bar, nor do you want to find out about an epic party the morning after it happens. So explore the ship early in your cruise and familiarize yourself with all the available attractions. You may even find hot tubs in unexpected places.

Second, be sure to read the ship’s activity schedule.

Activity guides and newsletters — such as Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Compass, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Freestyle Daily, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Fun Times — are helpful.

Experienced cruisers pack highlighters to mark their desired attractions and events, and many know how to use the cruise-specific app.

Inform your bank that you are leaving the country before you leave

On many cruises, you use your room key card for onboard purchases. At the end of the cruise, your account will be billed to your credit card.

like you use your credit card at the port in a country where your bank doesn’t expect you to be there, chances are they’ll assume it’s a fraudulent transaction and block your card.

If the credit card associated with your onboard account has been blocked, you will probably receive a call from guest services. You can avoid this blunder by making sure your bank knows where you are going in advance.

Read your excursion tickets to avoid going to the wrong place at the wrong time

Shore excursion tickets tell you where to meet for your tour. People often assume that the meeting point they went to on the first port day is the same place where they will meet on subsequent port days, but that is not always the case.

If you don’t want to miss your tour, read the instructions on your excursion ticket carefully.

Dress appropriately in the ship’s dining areas

Most cruise restaurants and dining rooms have a dress code.

Image credit: Sharon Waugh via Business Insider

like you go to the buffet in your bathing suit or try to enter the formal dining room night in thongs, you’ll probably be asked to leave or change.

Even the dining options on the most laid-back cruise lines have a dress codewhich can be found in the daily schedule along with the locations and opening hours of restaurants.

Have realistic expectations about the ports

Sometimes people have strange ideas about what they will see in port cities.

A cruiser asked me where to find a starbucks in Havana, Cuba. Another person thought the cruise line owned an independent island nation that we were visiting.

It’s worth researching your destinations (including the local currency) prior to your cruise and going in with an open mind.

Return from your excursions in time to board

Cruises often wait for travelers if their bus arrives late from an excursion.

Image credit: Sharon Waugh via Business Insider

The general rule is that if you are going on a cruise ship excursion and the bus is late taking you back to port, the ship will have to wait for you.

However, it can leave without you if you left alone and forgot what time the ship departs. And book flights and hotels to get back on the ship in the next port can be pricey and stressful.

If you travel to locations in different time zones, make sure your watch is set to the correct time. Even if the “ship time” remains in the time zone in the port of embarkation, your phone may automatically change the time zone without your knowledge.

Don’t let a missed port or itinerary change ruin your entire cruise

Explore all parts of the ship to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Image credit: Sharon Waugh via Business Insider

Bad weather is the most common reason a ship misses a port.

During hurricane season, some cruise itineraries are completely rerouted to avoid a storm. When this happens, the cruise line usually replaces the planned ports of call with other stops further from the storm’s expected path.

Smaller weather systems that prevent a ship from calling at a specific port are much more common, especially in tender ports, where the ship anchors offshore and guests sail to port on smaller boats. Rough seas can make the tender unsafe.

No one can deny that it’s disappointing when a port day turns into a sea day, but yelling at the staff won’t get you where you want to go or get your money back for your trip.

When you book your cruise, mentally prepare for the possibility that the itinerary could change with little notice. Also pay attention to which ports are tender ports as you are more likely to miss them.

Understand the disembarkation procedure before making plans

Regardless of whether you carry your own luggage off the ship or you want it delivered to the port terminal for you, there is a specific schedule to avoid too much congestion on the ship.

On every cruise I’ve worked on, some guests have ignored the information we gave them about disembarkation and then argued when our policies conflicted with their agreements.

If you have plans for the day of disembarkation, please check the ship’s disembarkation procedure first.

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