Cruise Tips for First Timers

princess_logoA few months ago, I received an invitation for Princess Cruises‘ Twitter press trip, which takes place next week. This is not my first press trip by any means, but it is my first cruise and the added option of bringing along my husband, while checking out the ship, has played a big part in the decision to participate. It has been at least four years since we’ve gone on any trip without the kids. It seems fitting that this romantic cruise take place on Princess Cruises, cruise line for The Love Boat!

Crown PrincessI’ve always been adverse to cruising, as visions of The Titanic and Jaws come to mind, but my coworkers and relatives that have been on cruises always come back raving. I’m curious about the positive and negative affects cruise lines have on the environment and local port economies. I’ll also be keeping track of all of our expenses, icluding the items the cruise line is covering and those they aren’t. I want to be sure that the overall costs associated with this trip are in line with what would be expected by the average consumer. As a family, we’ve priced various cruises, but have yet to take the plunge. We’ve been too busy discovering our own country, the USA.

Route for Princess Cruises Twitter Press Trip #FollowMeAtSea
Route for Princess Cruises Twitter Press Trip #FollowMeAtSea

I’ve had a few questions, as would any traveler embarking on their first cruise. So, I decided to consult some cruise experts (frequent cruise consumers), who were more than willing to help out this cruise virgin and provide some of the best tips for cruise travel.

“For those who have never really dressed up, this is an opportunity for a special occasion,” said author and speaker Bonnie Coffey. She’s been on more than six cruises, which makes her an expert in my book. Her tips include packing interchangeable dressy black pants, skirts, and tops for those formal dinners onboard. Since airlines now charge a baggage fee, she also commented that it makes sense to rent a tuxedo for the male passengers through a cruise ship rental service, leaving room in the luggage for other needed items. For those searching out this service, CruiseLineFormal.com works with a variety of cruise lines.

Consultant Derrick Hayes sent along this advice: “Find out if the cruise has a daily theme so you can pack appropriately. In 2008 we went on The Tom Joyner’s Fantastic Voyage and each day required a different themed outfit. The first day was Represent Day where cruisers wore clothing representing their city, or favorite team.”

Speaking of fashion, Barbara DesChamps wrote the book on packing. She suggests packing a carryon with everything you’ll need for your first day onboard, as it can take hours for your luggage to arrive at your cabin. She advises to skip the jeans for this trip. “This is a cruise, not a camping trip,” mentioned Barbara. She also offered this sage advice, “The average person gains eight pounds on a one-week cruise. Do not bring clothing that you can just barely wear at the beginning.” Now that’s a good tip, especially for someone who enjoys meals like I do. For more lightweight packing tips, you can find her books on packing at Chateau Publishing.

Allison Jones, a Disney Cruise Specialist, suggests that cruisers should check with their cell phone carriers before departing on their cruise. Most plans do not include international calling, and you wouldn’t want to return to a $900 phone bill!

Instructor Craig R. Brownell, a frequent cruise passenger, sent along some valuable tips regarding cruise ship charges, “Be EXTREMELY careful with your ‘ship card’. These are not only your room keys, they are credit cards. BLOCK youngsters from charging on their room key unless they are extremely responsible. Some teens think of it as free stuff and you could end up with a huge surprise at the end of your cruise. Establish iron-clad rules and check your account frequently. Some ships have all-you-can-drink soft drink cards for a fixed fee.”

Craig also touched on the need for communication on the ship and recommended cruisers bring along a two-way radio. This tip was also mentioned by one of my husband’s coworkers and is a fantastic alternative to running up that enormous cell phone bill Allison Jones mentioned.

These are some great tips chock full of valuable information to assist any first time cruiser. You can rest assured that while Princess Cruises is hosting my stay, I always provide an honest personal opinion when researching travel experiences. My responsibility is to my readers.

Even though hubby and I will be away, our house will be full of people, thanks to relatives taking care of the kids and our puppy-dog while we’re sailing. We’re both looking forward to our first cruise adventure, learning about the cruise industry and all the ports we’ll discover along the way with Princess. I’ll also ask attendees’ thoughts on the Clean Cruise Ship Act currently in Congress and the effects on both sides of the discussion. Is there something in particular you’d like us to do or see while we’re on this trip? Questions to ask?  Let me know and I’ll do my best to get you an answer.

Want to see what others are saying about cruising with Princess? They also offer some fantastic travel information. Here are some of the blogs attending:

Simone di Santi’s A Road Retraveled

Kim Mance and The Galavanting Gals

Nancy D. Brown’s What a Trip

Gary Arndt’s Everything Everywhere

Expert Cruiser Anita Dunham-Potter

Cheri Lucas

Johnny Jet

Bret Rounsaville AmTrekker

Cruise Critic

BrilliantTips from Brilliant Trips

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  1. Shannon!

    You might check if wi-fi is available and affordable. If it is, it MIGHT be worth taking along a laptop or netbook and using Skype to stay in touch.

    I’ll be cruising to Madeira and the Canary Islands in December & HOPEFULLY tweeting along the way; certainly blogging about it afterwards.

    Have a good one!

    .-= Keith´s last blog ..Ullswater Cruise =-.

  2. Shannon, I just completed my 10th cruise, 52-days from Vancouver to Singapore. A successful experience depends on your expectations. Every cruise line is different. The key is to find one that fits what you like to do. You are wise to keep up with your expenses while onboard. They can add up quickly. Someday, if your budget allows, I hope that you try an all-inclusive ship where all tips and beverages are included.

    I’m looking forward to following your Princess Cruise experience. Bon Voyage.
    .-= Donna Hull´s last blog ..Saturday’s scene: Siberian Smoke =-.

  3. Keith – Wifi is available and I will have my laptop/netbook so that I can blog from the water. I also have international calling on my cell phone, which I will use for sending tweets from the deck. My carrier (AT&T) will charge extra for calls, but not for data transmission.

    Donna – I can hardly believe your cruise is already over. I know it had to be a wonderful experience. How is it being back on land after being at sea for 52 days?

  4. Something I didn’t cover in the email I sent you … if you need foreign money, I heard some ships charge an extortionate exchange rate. Might be worth checking what rates they use, if it’s cheaper to buy your (pesos?) before you go … or if your ports of call will accept US dollars.
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..Ullswater Cruise =-.

  5. Even though Princess has had some rough PR lately with the norovirus and now the Caribbean Princess breaking down, they remain a great cruise line. Princess is probably the best way to cruise Alaska.

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