Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Quick Cruise Primer

Well, it's been a busy time since we got home. I've been doing more cleaning and Mr. T has finally painted the foyer and stairway walls so I am happy. I got about half my to-do list done while the kids were away but they are on their way home as we read and time is up. School starts Thursday and the routine picks up again. So before I lost all cruise momentum, here's a little info for those of you who have never been on a cruise or if it's been a really long time. It's in no particular order:

1 - Have ID. Now you need ID to travel anyway, most likely a passport, but carry your driver's license too because some parts require a picture ID in order to get back on the Big Boat - as my Son calls it - and you may not want to carry your passport around with you.

2 - Cash. This is a huge one. Credit cards are fine on the ship and you may want to use one for your ship account. You can use more than one even and have 2 or more separate accounts running on the ship but if you want to use cash for that too, you can. Just tell them the limit so they can let you know and you won't end up oweing more than you have on you or can access quickly. On the islands, credit cards aren't going to be accepted for a lot of things like the taxis or the local vendors. Some yes, but not many. Plus, there is a lot of tipping going on so be aware. The baggage handlers at the airport; the various taxi drivers getting to and from the ship and on the islands taking you around; the people handling your bags before you get on the boat as well as the ones handling them afterward. And yes, you can carry your own stuff but letting a porter do it when we came home got us in a taxi in about 5 minutes while others were waiting. You also tip the people who served you on the boat - the head waiter, the waiter, the assistant waiter and your stateroom attendant. And you tip per person in the room. For us that come to $68.25 for each of us - Husband and I - following the tipping guidelines they gave. Trust me. These people treat you like royalty. They deserve it but you don't want to be shocked by that at the end of your trip.

3 - Know what you want to do. One friend who had never cruised before went the week I got back and she inspired this little addition. I know from experience that Carnival has a camp for kids, as does Royal Caribbean but those camps may really only appeal to the young. Some ships may not have enough activities to engage the older kids, although RC Adventure of the Seas does have the rock wall, ice skating, arcade, mini-golf, basketball court and inline skating, as well as teen hangout with TV and bar (noon-alcoholic, of course) and Johnny Rockets. You need to think to yourself - and be honest - do I need or want to take the kids but don't need or want to hang with them? Then get a cruise that will cater to the age of your child because they don't all do it. I don't want you to be miserable or the kid bored to tears. Cruisin' is fun!

4 - Travel light and shop at home. Or go as light as you can. Presently, you can take 2 suitcases per person for free and 1 carry on plus one personal bag like a purse or your computer case. After 2 bags, you pay $50 per bag. If the bag is overweight, you pay $25. So don't stuff it because you are going to buy stuff when you get to your destination(s) and it will add weight coming home. You may also want to think about what kind of stuff you'd want to buy as well so you can start looking at prices close to home. Frankly, the "deals" you find on the islands, in our case, may be about the same as what you can get at home. I don't care what the cruise shopping expert or island vendors tell you. Plus, often we found that things in he docking areas or at the airport were the same price or even cheaper than on the island itself. Mr. T. bought rum and it was dollars cheaper at the airport. You never know but you can scope it out early if you have an idea of what you want already.

OK, that's what stands out for me. When I get home, I'll have to post more pictures and that shall be the end of that. It's a new day, a new school year is in the air and and the fundraiser my business has created for a local high school is under way so that is where my attention now lies. No more vacations for me but another friend is going to Vegas next week. That may be oour next destination for next year.

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