Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Primer on Cruising: Cruising 101 (Part 2 -Tips)

After discussing about the very basics of cruising here, let me share with you some basic must know before going on a cruise and let me include some tips as well. I'm no expert in cruising but I've taken several already to make me know what to tell others what to do, what to bring, what not to bring etc.

Note: Most cruise references mentioned here are from cruising with Royal Caribbean. It might be a slightly different experience when cruising with Princess, Costa or other cruise lines.

I might as well begin with what not to bring because if you can imagine, it's like traveling from one place to another but on a ship. Like riding an airplane, there are a lot of restrictions as well but not as strict like prohibiting you to bring your own shampoo over 100ml or nail clippers. Those are allowed. What's prohibited that is very obvious are dangerous weapons, illegal drugs, and those that we know of are illegal or may hurt someone like a knife or a baseball bat. Believe me, their scanners are really good so might as well not bring those.

For the not so obvious, you are not allowed to bring in extension cords. This is to prevent overloading of electrical outlets that may cause serious damage or unwanted accidents. You are also not allowed to bring hard liquors on your own. Each passenger can bring two wine bottles with max of 750ml each though. You cannot bring hair dryers, irons, or anything that may cause fire.

Once you bring something not allowed, your luggage will not reach your stateroom and you will be required to show up in their security center to manually inspect your luggage. Believe me, it's not worth the hassle attempting to bring something that you are not allowed to bring.

In your room, there are enough USB ports for charging USB devices. There are several outlets that you can also use to charge your camera or laptop. Bring your own adapter. Those living in the Philippines will not have a hard time because there is one outlet that uses the two straight prong sockets that we use here. Another one is the two round plug. See photo below:

Tip: Bring the USB type of extension where you can plug several USB in one strip. (See photo above)

Since water may or may not be potable, bring your own "wide mouth" water container. Refilling used water bottles is frowned upon for hygiene purposes so make sure your water bottle is wide enough so you can fill a glass with water and pour it to your water bottle. Remember, a cruise ship is like a huge hotel that is contained so they have all the measures in place to prevent any outbreaks or diseases spreading. One of which is the forced use of hand sanitizers before entering any dining hall. In the buffet restaurant, before entering, they have routed it to a hand washing area before you can enter the main dining hall. Also, there are automated hand sanitizers in almost every place you can imagine plus, they are disinfecting hallways twice or thrice a day.

Tip: Bring your own "wide mouth" water bottle so you have water in your cabin.

Each cabin has toiletries provided for -- soap, shampoo, conditioner, but no toothbrush or tooth paste. Bring your own. Shavers are not provided for as well. You'll have no problems with towels though as each person in the room gets a bath towel, face towel, and a hand towel which can be changed daily if you like. Remember to NOT hang it on the towel rack if you want it changed.

Tip: For long cruises, bring laundry soap. Some ships have self service laundry but Royal Caribbean doesn't have one. They have laundry service but it can be expensive with a minimum of $20 (If I remember it correctly)

Tip: Ask for lotion. These are usually for the suite guests but your cabin attendant has lotion in stock on his/her trolley!

When cruising on colder climates, of course, remember to bring your own jacket. Although the room temperature can be controlled, it can get cold quite at times specially when you have a balcony cabin. Speaking of balcony cabin, do not hang anything outside because it can be blown away anytime. For those worrying that water may penetrate your balcony door, fear not as these balcony doors are water tight and sealed shut. Do not attempt to open your balcony door and your cabin door at the same time as strong winds  (I forgot what they call this effect) may rush inside and cause unwanted effects. Another thing, your cabin air conditioning system automatically shuts off when you open your balcony door. This is an energy saving feature.

Also, enjoy room service! It usually is free during breakfast but I always feel obliged to give a tip to the one who brings me food. You can order the night before. On older ships, you fill up this door tag like form and hang it on your cabin before 11pm if you want your breakfast the next day. On newer ships, you do your ordering on your cabin's smart TV.

Tip: In a balcony room or something nicer? Make sure to try room service at least once!

Tip: Not feeling well or feeling lazy to go out and eat? Have someone go to the restaurant and bring food to you! This is allowed. You can also have someone get pizza or snacks for you at the Cafe Promenade and you can enjoy it leisurely in your room.

Almost all these ships have swimming pools onboard. Some have one but usually it has more than one. A jacuzzi, an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a pool for adults only etc etc. When going on a cruise, there are two types of days -- sea days and port days. Sea days refer to days that you are only sailing and not stopping anywhere. Port days are those days that stop at a place. For example, the ship may arrive in Hong Kong at 8am and leave Hong Kong at 8pm. This is a port day. Usually, if you have no plans of going down a certain port, this is the best day to enjoy the ship as most people will probably go down. This is the time where you can have the pool to yourself or maybe like what happened in our recent trip, we rode the bumper cars for ten minutes or so until we got tired of it.

Tip: Bring swimwear and enjoy the ship amenities on port days when you have no plans of going down

If you love to join discussions and read more about cruising, head on over to and register. There, you can find a message boards dedicated to almost ALL you need to know about cruising, cruise lines, and the different ships. If your cruise is longer than 7 days, join the meet and mingle gathering. There, you get to meet your fellow cruise critics forumers and other than the great "offline" bonding experience, the gathering usually has raffle prizes and is a great venue to score some complimentary alcoholic beverages (usually wine). Raffle prizes range from Royal Caribbean premium items to entire wine bottles!

Tip: You'll receive your invite in your cabin room. There, the date and time of the event will be indicated.

So far, that's all I can think of. After this, I will be writing about the possible daily activities when you will go cruising. This is so you can have more or less an idea on what the activities and programs are so you know what to expect. If you have questions, feel free to message me in Twitter (@Cheftonio) or Instagram (@AQC).

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