It seems everyone who has ever cruised either has a staple piece of advice to offer others or has received said advice from someone else. There are several recommendations we hear on repeat — bring magnets to hang things, pack a highlighter for your daily schedule and don’t leave home without duct tape — but some of them do make us scratch our heads. Read on for our list of some of the most overrated cruise advice.
1. Don’t Book Independent Shore Excursions
It’s true that your ship isn’t likely to wait for you if you’re late getting back from a shore excursion you’ve booked through a private provider. That risk often scares cruisers into paying inflated prices for cruise line-sponsored tours. These days, many independent excursion operators provide guarantees that promise to get you to the next port of call to rejoin your ship if, for some reason, your tour returns late. You should always do your homework by reading the fine print before reserving anything, but we think it’s safer now than it’s ever been to book with a private company. The goal is to find a provider that offers a fun, safe tour for a fair price — even if it’s not through your cruise line.
2. Bring An Over-the-Door Organizer
This is a tried-and-true bit of wisdom that works for many cruisers — particularly those sharing cabins with more than one person — because they help you to keep all of your things in one place while taking up relatively little space. But with cruise lines instituting more stringent policies on what passengers are and aren’t allowed to hang on doors, and with newer ships offering more storage space than ever, we question whether it makes sense to pack a bulky organizer when you can simply use the drawers and cupboards already provided.
3. Arrive at the Terminal Later to Avoid the Embarkation Rush
As a general rule, most cruisers prefer to board their ships as early as possible, which means, if you share that mentality, you’re likely to be met by long lines. For that reason, experienced cruisers advise arriving after the masses. It’s a trade-off, though: If you show up on the later side of embarkation, you’ll probably zoom through without much of a wait, but you also risk missing out on those extra couple of hours onboard when you could have been exploring the ship, taking part in activities or grabbing a bite to eat.
4. Wear a Seasick Patch
We’ve met many a patch-adorned cruiser who has no idea whether he or she actually gets seasick. “It’s just a precaution,” they claim. Maybe it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially where your vacation is concerned, but to us, that’s like saying “I’m just going to drink this bottle of Dayquil in case I get the sniffles.” Our advice: Take the patches with you, and apply them if you start to feel nauseated. Many times seasickness preventatives can make you drowsy and lethargic, so use them with caution so you are not too tired to enjoy your cruise vacation.
5. Buy a Beverage Package in Advance
Beverage packages are a great value for anyone who drinks enough soda or alcohol to outweigh the hefty cost. If you’re new to the concept of these packages, hold off on purchasing one until you’re onboard so you can see if your consumption habits warrant the per-day expense. Passengers generally have until the second or third day of a sailing (depending on its length) to decide if they want to commit to a package, but once you do commit to one, you’re locked in for the remainder of the voyage.