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5 Worst Mistakes to Make When Packing for a Cruise

clock 18th March 2019 | comment0 Comments

Packing for a cruise can cause anxiety in some guests – whether they’ve cruised before or not. Questions like ‘what am I expected to wear on a formal night’, and ‘are towels provided for the pool’ might be swimming around your head. While answers to these questions will differ among cruise lines, there are some cruise essentials that you would do well to remember, just as there are a number of faux pas that can be avoided when packing for a cruise. Read on for the five worst mistakes you can make when packing for your cruise holiday.

 

 

1. Not researching airline rules

One mistake which can really put a damper on the start of your holiday is to forget to check the luggage weight limit for your airline. Some cruisers can become preoccupied with abiding by cruise line rules and then don’t check those of the airline. This can be a huge mistake considering most cruise lines are very generous – with luxury lines such as Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas offering no limit at all. Common weight limits for larger airlines are around 20-23kg, however, many of the smaller ones are just 15kg. Be sure to double check this to avoid a nasty bill when you check in (the information will be available on airline websites).

 

2. Assuming every day will be hot

Although understandable, another error is to think that every day on your Caribbean cruise will bring sunshine and temperatures upwards of 25°C. While this part of the world is known for its warmer climes, the truth is there could be grey days, windy weather, and even rain during your time there. Same goes for destinations in the Mediterranean and Asia. Be prepared for all eventualities by packing a light cardigan and a foldaway raincoat/poncho even if the forecast tells only of sunny skies. Neither of these items takes up much room in your suitcase, and you’ll be grateful for them if the weather does turn.

 

 

3. Forgetting a plug adaptor

Many of us are guilty of this one - especially when cruising from Southampton or another UK port. Most cruise lines take pride in catering for an international clientele – including British passengers – so it’s easy to forget that many are actually European or US-based companies, meaning they have European or US style plug sockets onboard. In fact, it’s only Cunard and P&O Cruises that have the standard 3-pin British plugs. Be sure to find out what plug sockets will be in your stateroom, and pack at least one adaptor so that you can charge your phone/tablet, straighten your hair, or use any other electrical item you need to bring with you. 

 

4. Wasting suitcase space

It’s easy to overpack when cruising, especially if it’s a no-fly venture with next to no luggage limit. Instead of wasting your suitcase space on things you don’t need, consider saving the room for bringing back more souvenirs.

 

 

There are a number of things that you might not realise you don’t really need, for example;

  • Multiple books – there is usually a library with a good selection onboard
  • Large toiletries – often supplied in cabin bathrooms, or can be purchased onboard
  • Hair dryer – usually supplied in the cabin’s vanity unit
  • Towels – most lines supply enough towels for use in the cabin and pools
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    5. Not bringing spare clothes in your carry-on bag

    On embarkation day, you will be asked to leave your luggage with attendants who will see that it is delivered to your cabin. Considering how many people will be boarding, this process could take anything from an hour to most of the day. In anticipation of this, it’s a good idea to pack some clothes to change into when you get onboard. Whether you’ve made a long car journey to reach the port, or you’ve had to fly in, a fresh outfit will put you in the holiday mood ready to explore your new home away from home.

     

     

    For more advice about what you should be packing for your cruise holiday, see our blog about packing for different climate zones.



    What Not to do on the First Day of Your Cruise

    clock 29th May 2018 | comment0 Comments

    If you’re fortunate enough to have a cruise booked and coming up shortly, you’re probably getting more excited every day, and might even be thinking about packing and preparing to get going. If this is the case, take a look at our hints to help improve your holiday from day one. Even seasoned cruisers make faux pas on embarkation day, so we thought it would be helpful to put together a handy guide to explain what not to do on the first day of your cruise.

    1. Don’t ignore the crew

    The staff onboard the ship are there to help make your cruise holiday the best it can be, so take time to introduce yourself, and remember a friendly smile can go a long way. Embarkation day can be hard work for the crew, so try to be patient and remember you are not the only guest they are looking after.

     

     

    2. Don’t rush to the buffet

    Many cruisers consider the buffet to be their quickest and easiest option for the first day, and because of this, buffet restaurants tend to get very busy very fast. Keep this in mind, and consider trying a different restaurant in which you can enjoy a more peaceful atmosphere and great service.

    3. Don’t miss the Muster Drill

    Those who have been on a number of cruisers might feel that the muster drill – a safety talk – is not necessary for them. Remember however, that layouts and safety procedures are likely to be different on every ship, and attendance at the muster drill is mandatory.

    4. Try not to use the lifts

    If you can help it, try to use the stairs instead of the lifts on embarkation day. They can get very busy with cruisers getting to know the ship and of course transporting luggage to cabins, so avoid the wait and use the stairs - and in so doing you’ll free up the lift for those less able.

     

     

    5. Don’t stay in the sun all day

    When cruising in a sunny destination it can be all too tempting to bask in the sun all day soaking up the rays. This is a mistake however as too much time in the sun is likely to cause sunburn, headaches, and even sun stroke – putting a damper on the first few days of your holiday.

    6. Don’t drink too much alcohol

    If you’re on an all-inclusive cruise, or have opted for a drinks package, it can be easy to get a bit carried away on your first day onboard. Avoid a hangover so early on and try to limit yourself; a good tip is to drink one soft drink (preferably water) between every alcoholic one.

    7. Don’t stay in the outfit you travelled in

    Get in the holiday spirit straight away by changing your outfit as soon as possible. Getting out of your travel clothes will help you feel fresh and ready to get started with your cruise, whether this is by relaxing, swimming, or simply exploring the ship.

     

     

    8. Don’t forget to mention dietary requirements

    Even if you informed your cruise agent of allergies and dietary requirements at the time of booking, it’s a good idea to ensure this information has been logged by mentioning to the maître d of any restaurants you’ll be dining in.

    9. Don’t automatically dine in the main restaurant

    As with the buffet, many cruisers will look no further than the main restaurant for dinner on their first day. This means speciality restaurants usually have plenty of availability – so make the most of this and see what you’d like to sample onboard.

    10. Don’t forget to book activities

    Whether this be the children’s club for your little ones, a lesson on the surf simulator, or a space in the Pilates class, if there’s an onboard activity that you’re desperate to do, make sure you get it booked as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

    See our advice for first time cruisers for more useful information.



    5 Things to do on a Sea Day

    clock 11th May 2018 | comment0 Comments

    People might choose a cruise holiday for all sorts of different reasons, from the destinations you’ll visit and experiences you could have, to the food and features on the cruise ship. Whether you love them or hate them, if you’ve chosen an itinerary with widespread ports – or even a transatlantic crossing – sea days are inevitable. Instead of wishing these days away, make the most of what’s onboard with our 5 things to do on a sea day.

     

     

    1. Try a New Hobby

    There is an abundance of new and exciting activity options onboard cruise ships today. Classes can cover everything from learning Spanish and astrological presentations in a planetarium, to the Japanese art of Origami and culinary knife skills. As well as classes there are all the onboard features to consider. You can go ice-skating, simulated-surfing, play laser tag, and have a go on a zip-line, to name just a few of your choices. Be sure to explore the ship early on to see what you can try.

    2. Eat Something Different

    Cruise ships offer some of the finest cuisine in the world. With each of them competing, it’s good news for us cruisers who get to enjoy better and better food. There are unusual dishes and innovative restaurants to choose from, so you should never be bored when it comes to dining. Here are some of our favourite cruise line restaurants;

    - Qsine, Celebrity Cruises – this fantastic, creative venue allows guests to choose from an array of unusual dishes from an iPad, all of which are served with the utmost style and attention.

     

     

    - Aqualina, Azamara Club Cruises – here guests can enjoy contemporary twists on Italy’s favourite dishes. The desserts here are particularly inventive so be sure to save some room!

    - Butcher’s Cut, MSC Cruises – spoil yourself by selecting your own steak from a glass, meat-aging fridge, and then watch on as it’s prepared before you in the open kitchen.

    3. Enjoy Some ‘Me Time’

    Many cruisers consider their sea days to be a blessing, in that it’s as if they’ve been given the gift of time to simply relax. With this in mind, there are all sorts of things you can do onboard to help you chill out and rejuvenate. Your first thought could be to simply lounge by the pool taking in the sun, having a dip every so often to cool off. While this is a great way to relax, you should also consider the other facilities on offer to you – specifically the spa. Whether or not you opt for a treatment like a deep-tissue massage or facial, the spas onboard cruise ships usually offer a variety of calming spaces. As well as saunas and steam rooms look for other options like the Snow Grotto on Viking Cruises ships, and the Thalassotherapy Baths with Costa Cruises.

     

     

    4. Meet New People

    Whether you consider yourself a social butterfly or not, there are bound to be a fair few people of like mind on your cruise, who could indeed become lifelong friends. One of the best ways to get to know others is striking up a conversation at a class you’re both taking part in, or in the queue for the rock-climbing wall you’re both about to face. If you’re friendly, approachable, and open to some good conversation, the rewards will surely be rich.

     

     

    5. Take Care of Yourself

    In addition to trying new things and having some fun, and taking some time out to relax, another valuable way to spend time on your sea day is working out. There are some brilliant exercising facilities on cruise ships, with most offering state-of-the-art equipment in onboard gyms, pools large enough to swim lengths, jogging tracks on deck, and even sports centres. The sports deck with Norwegian Cruise Line for example, has facilities for guests to play bowling, football, basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, and mini golf.

    For more inspiration about what to do on your cruise ship, take a look at our 10 best complimentary things to do onboard.



    River vs Ocean Cruising

    clock 9th May 2018 | comment0 Comments

    If you’re new to cruise, or indeed have always stuck to either river or ocean cruising, you might be curious to know more about the differences between the two. The fact is, both kinds of cruising offer some incredible opportunities, but of course there are many aspects which contrast. Find out more with our overview of river vs ocean cruising.

     

     

    The Destinations Visited

    There aren’t many crossovers when it comes to the destinations travelled to on river and ocean cruising. While an ocean liner can sail across the seven seas transporting you to countries and islands all over the globe, river ships traverse the world’s rivers, from The Rhine in Europe to the exotic Mekong in Southeast Asia. Usually, a river cruise will allow guests the opportunity to be in a new destination every day, with the ship sailing through the night, whereas on an ocean cruise you might find one or more sea days. So depending on whether or not you’re looking to spend time relaxing on the ship, or prefer a port-heavy itinerary, this could sway your decision.

    Activities on the Ship

    With the above in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that ocean liners will generally offer a lot more in the way of things to do onboard than river ships. You’ll usually find a plunge pool, gym, and possibly spa facilities on a river ship, however on an ocean cruise ship there will this plus a lot more. From F1 simulators with MSC Cruises and ice rinks with Royal Caribbean, to cookery schools and Strictly Come Dancing events with P&O Cruises, there’s no denying that ocean ships offer a lot more onboard activities. This is one aspect specifically worth considering if you’ll be cruising with children.

     

     

    Atmosphere Onboard

    There is a certain family-friendly, excitable atmosphere on larger, mainstream ocean cruise ships that you won’t find on a river cruise ship. With more guests, – Symphony of the Seas can hold almost 7,000 – more attractions, and larger social areas, these vessels are great for kids and those looking for fun and thrills. Alternatively, if you want to relax and soak up the surroundings and local culture, a river cruise could be the better option. With a much lower passenger-count, and often just one bar and one restaurant, the ambience on a river cruise ship is calmer and arguably more refined. Having said this there are a number of luxury ocean cruise lines which provide a similar experience.

    Onboard Food and Drink

    Those travelling with little ones, or foodies who enjoy plenty of choice and variation, would probably prefer an ocean cruise where dining is concerned. Some of the bigger lines offer a fantastic array of restaurants, for instance Carnival Cruises boast everything from Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que to the brilliant Dr Seuss themed Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast for kids. On a river cruise on the other hand, you’ll often get just one or maybe two restaurants, serving a small a la carte menu. While the food onboard is delectable, there is limited choice. Those with dietary requirements should mention these at the time of booking, and then again when onboard.

    Entertainment on the Ship

    Generally speaking, entertainment on a river cruise ship involves some unique experiences which allow the guests to become immersed in local culture. You can expect things like local musicians and dancers, or talks about upcoming destinations. These sorts of opportunities are also seen on ocean liners, however you’ll also often get some extravagant productions. Find the likes of Hairspray and Jersey Boys among other Broadway/West End style performances, and a fantastic aquatic acrobatic show with Royal Caribbean.

     

     

    Conclusions

    The differences between river cruising and ocean cruising can be seen as pros and cons depending on your likes and dislikes, and what you’re looking to get out of your cruise holiday. Each certainly have their merits, and while cruisers might tend to stick to one or the other, it can be refreshing and usually rewarding to try something new, so be sure to be open minded and consider all options.

    On the other hand, some cruise lines offer both ocean and river cruising itineraries, ensuring you never have to choose between your favourites. With the highlights of ocean cruising on a smaller scale, more intimate-sized ship, passengers will love the best of both worlds. One of the most popular cruise lines to cater to both markets is Thomson-Marella who also operate TUI River Cruises. If you’re still unsure of what option to go with, get in touch with our expert team for more advice!



    Get to Know Princess Cruises with Phillip Schofield

    clock 27th September 2017 | comment0 Comments

    Updated March 2019

     

    In April 2017 Phillip Schofield became the very first UK brand ambassador for Princess Cruises, and since then has been exploring just about everything that the cruise line has to offer.

    With behind-the-scenes access and time spent with the Princess Cruises crew, Phillip has a unique insight into the industry and has become thoroughly acquainted with the wonderful world of cruising. Interestingly enough, before this Phillip had never been on a cruise before, and so Princess quickly remedied this by sending him and his wife to the Mediterranean onboard Royal Princess.

    First Impressions as a New-to-Cruise Guest

    With no experience of cruising whatsoever, it's interesting to find out what Phillip made of both Princess Cruises, and cruising in general. First-time cruisers are often unsure of what to expect, and perhaps have some misconceptions about things like food, the embarkation and disembarkation process, and atmosphere onboard. After cruising with Princess, Phillip commented on just how easy it was to board the ship, how opulant Royal Princess itself is, and about how easy and convenient it was to see so many different destinations whilst being accomodated in just one place. Find out more about his trip in this interesting Q&A video:

     

     

    The cruise included an excursion in Barcelona, during which a local guide showed them all around some of the lesser-known areas. This meant that Phillip and his wife could see and explore places they were not aware of, in a city they thought they were familiar with.

     

     

    The cruise made another stop in Marseille, where they had a tour of a vineyard, and of course, took part in some wine-tasting. As a real wine and food enthusiast, Phillip was hugely impressed with some of the treats that were available onboard. He was given a tour of the galley, and took part in food-tasting with the Executive Chef, and enjoyed a personal wine session during which he could blend wine according to his own preference.

    Since this fantastic first cruise, Phillip and his family have been treated to another fabulous adventure onboard Regal Princess, this time to the beautiful Baltics. Watch as they explore the sights of Oslo, and make use of the fabulous range of facilities onboard the ship during their sea day.


    Finding out all about what a cruise with Princess Cruises can entail has been a real educational journey for Phillip, who has become a firm fan of cruising. With a travel-bucket list that includes the likes of the Fjords, Canada, Alaska, and South America, it is likely that he will enjoy everything that Princess Cruises has to offer again and again while journeying to these fantastic destinations.

    Have a look at our Princess Cruises holidays, and find out more about the adventures you can have with them.



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