I Worked on Cruise Ships for 6 Years. Here Are 10 Big Mistakes I Always See Guests Make.
Avoid these mistakes and make the most of your cruise vacation.
- During my six years working on cruise ships, I witnessed guests repeatedly make the same mistakes.
- Many didn't familiarize themselves with the ship and missed out on daily onboard activities.
- Some cruisers let a missed port or last-minute itinerary change ruin their entire cruise experience.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
After working for two different cruise lines in the span of six years, I've seen guests make the same mistakes over and over.
Here's a list of the top 10 things you should avoid doing to make the most of your cruise.
Don't try to resolve problems immediately upon embarkation
Keep in mind that your embarkation day is also usually the previous travelers' debarkation 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 hasn't been delivered to your room or you want your double bed split into two singles, it's possible that the crew is aware of the issue but hasn't had a chance to address it yet.
The guest service line can get long on the first day, so I recommend waiting to resolve non-urgent issues until dinnertime when lines are shorter. Chances are that your situation may be resolved without you having to do anything at all.
Also, instead of standing in line at the internet cafe to connect to the Wi-Fi, do your best to figure it out yourself.
Pace your alcohol consumption on the first day
Some cruise fares include unlimited alcoholic beverages, and others offer drink packages for an additional fee.
Either way, I've seen many people get embarrassingly drunk — urinating in public and riding prop motorcycles — before the embarkation port is even out of sight.
The next day, they're so hungover that they can't enjoy themselves. So, pace yourself and don't try to get your money's worth of alcohol on the first day.
Familiarize yourself with the ship so you don't miss out on any onboard offerings
You don't want to wait until the last day of your cruise to locate the karaoke bar, nor do you want to find out about an epic party the morning after it happened. So, explore the ship early in your cruise and familiarize yourself with all available attractions. You may even find hot tubs in unexpected places.
Secondly, make sure you read the ship's activity schedule.
Activity guides and newsletters — like the Royal Caribbean's Cruise Compass, Norwegian Cruise Line's Freestyle Daily, and Carnival Cruise Line's Fun Times — come in handy.
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're leaving the country prior to your departure
On many cruises, you use your room key card for onboard purchases. At the end of the cruise, your account is billed to your credit card.
If you use your credit card in port in a country that your bank doesn't expect you to be in, there's a good chance they'll assume that it's a fraudulent transaction and block your card.
If the credit card attached to your onboard account is blocked, you're likely to get a call from guest services. You can avoid this blunder by making sure your bank knows where you're going ahead of time.
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 they'll meet on subsequent port days, but that's 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 venues
If you head to the buffet in your bathing suit or try to enter the dining room's formal night in flip-flops, you'll likely be asked to leave or change.
Even the dining venues on the most relaxed cruise lines have a dress code, which can be found on the daily schedule along with restaurants' locations and operating hours.
Have realistic expectations about the ports
Sometimes people have some strange ideas about what they'll see in port cities.
One cruiser asked me where they could find a Starbucks in Havana, Cuba. Another person thought the cruise line owned an independent island nation that we visited.
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 the ship
The general rule is that if you go on a cruise-line-organized shore excursion and the bus is late in returning you to the port, the ship has to wait for you.
It may leave without you, however, if you've gone off on your own and forgotten what time the ship sets sail. And booking flights and hotels to rejoin the ship in the next port can be pricey and stressful.
If you travel to locations in different time zones, make sure that your watch is set to the right time. Even if the "ship time" remains set in the time zone in the embarkation port, your phone may automatically change time zones without your knowledge.
Don't let a missed port or an itinerary change ruin your entire cruise
Inclement weather is the most common reason a ship misses a port.
During hurricane season, some cruise itineraries are completely redirected to avoid a storm. When this happens, the cruise line usually replaces the scheduled ports of call with other stops that are further from the storm's projected path.
Smaller weather systems that prevent a ship from visiting a specific port are far more common, especially in tender ports, where the ship drops anchor off the coast and guests ferry to the port on smaller boats. Rough seas can make tendering unsafe.
No one can deny that it's disappointing when a port day becomes a sea day, but shouting at staff isn't going to get you to the destination or get you a refund on your trip.
When you book your cruise, mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that the itinerary may change with little notice. Also take note of which ports are tender ports, as there's a higher chance of missing them.
Understand the debarkation 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's a specific schedule to avoid too much congestion on the ship.
On every cruise I've worked on, some guests have disregarded the information we've given them about debarkation and then argued when our policies clashed with their arrangements.
If you have plans for the day of debarkation, make sure you check the ship's debarkation procedure first.
Entrepreneur Editors' Picks
How an Encounter With the 'Armpit of Destiny' Helped the Founder of Grubhub Take His Business From His Apartment to a $2 Billion IPO
You Can Train Your Brain to React to Stressful Situations Better. Here's the 3-Step Process.
A Disastrous Valentine's Day Inspired This Founder to Launch Her Own Floral Brand. It Became a Celebrity Magnet With Retail Revenue Up 450% Since 2019.
What Is Your Dream Job? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions to Find Out.
This Is the Crazy Process This Juice Franchise Went Through to Get USDA-Certified Organic. But It Sure Has Paid Off.
No One Would Rent Me a Café in Trendy NYC Neighborhoods, So I Tried Something Risky. Now I Have 3 Coffee Shops.