If you’re new to cruising or even a seasoned vet, you’ll want to check out this list of potential pitfalls. Here are the top five rookie mistakes cruisers make and how to avoid them for a smooth sailing experience.
1. Overpacking or Underpacking
Packing for a cruise isn’t just difficult for rookies; Repeat cruisers also make mistakes. Bringing your entire wardrobe aboard the ship is an unnecessary hassle, but at the same time you want to make sure you have everything you need. Cruise ship cabins are small and storage space is limited, so you’ll only want to bring the essentials. The golden rule: pack light and keep any official documents easily at hand. It’s wise to check out the cruise dress code ahead of time and plan accordingly. Only pack exactly what you need. Even if you forget something, it’s likely to be available in the ship’s store or at a port stop. You can also take advantage of on-board laundry services. Plus, if you stuff your suitcase to the point of barely being able to zip it, you can forget about bringing home any souvenirs.
Travel Tip: If you’re going to leave your bags at the dock and let the crew deliver them to your cabin, you’ll want to make sure to pack a day bag. Your checked luggage may not arrive at your room until hours after the ship has left the port, so anything you need for the afternoon should be in your carry-on. For example, if you plan to spend the day at the pool, you’ll want to make sure to pack a bathing suit, change of clothes, and essential toiletries.
2. Arriving on Embarkation Day
Arriving on embarkation day is another common mistake cruisers make. This poor planning faux pas can cost you your entire vacation. Yeah, we get it. You’re trying to minimize time away from work by booking a same-day flight, but arriving just hours before your ship sets sail is not worth the risk. Flight delays are a common occurrence and traffic can be unpredictable. There’s a good chance you’ll miss the entire cruise if you encounter any travel mishaps. We can’t stress it enough, you need to give yourself plenty of time to get to the terminal. All too often cruisers are forced to return home after missing the boat or attempt to play catch the cruise ship at the next port on their own dime. A simple Snooze & Cruise package can ensure you don’t make this rookie mistake. Go Port Canaveral has a variety of options sure to cover all your accommodation and transportation needs, but most importantly make sure you get to the cruise terminal on time. After all, panicking about flight delays or traffic is no way to start off your vacation. Save yourself the stress and spend the night before your cruise near the port. Plus, you can use the extra time to do some sightseeing or just relax.
Travel Tip: You’ll also want to beware when booking your flight home. Even though your ship schedule says you’ll be back in port by 7 a.m., you should never book an early flight. Cruisers can often face long lines or get caught up in customs. This can be a nightmare if you’re trying to to get to the airport on time. We recommend booking all flights after 12 p.m. to ensure a stress-free journey back home. If you end up having to stick around Port Canaveral for a while, we also offer hotel packages that include return use. You can check your bags with the front desk and enjoy all the hotel amenities until it’s time for your flight home. Some packages also offer half-day rates for those looking to relax in the comfort of a room for the remainder of their stay.
3. Not Checking In Online
Most cruise lines allow you to check-in on their website in advance. It may seem like an annoying extra step when you’re trying to get ready for your cruise, but it will definitely save you some time when you get to the terminal. Make sure to fill out those forms ahead of time so you can start your vacation as soon as possible!
4. Waiting to Plan Port Days
Even though half the fun of taking a cruise is exploring new destinations, travelers often forget to pre-plan their days in port. New cruisers may sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast and then look for information about the port they’re docked in — only to find out that all the excursions departed hours ago, and they’re stuck fending for themselves. To avoid this rookie mistake, you’ll want to plan ahead so you can make the most of limited time in each destination. You’ll want to research any port stops in advance, so you can decide whether it’s worth it to book through the cruise line or schedule your own day. Being informed on your options gives you a major advantage as you’ll be able to choose between booking a cruise-sponsored excursion, exploring on your own, or even reserving a hybrid tour through local providers. Each option has it’s own benefits. Check out this post on Planning Your Port Canaveral Cruise for additional tips on arranging excursions.
5. Skipping the Main Dining Room
Most cruise ships have one or more main dining rooms. What some cruisers don’t know is that these are also included in their free food options. Main dining rooms typically serve breakfast, dinner, and even lunch on certain sea days. When eating in the main dining room, you’ll order with a waiter and choose from a menu that changes daily with a few staples that are always available. Unless specified, you can order as many dishes as you want in any menu category. If you’re one to be adventurous in your eating, you can try each and every plate your heart desires. The waiters won’t even bat an eyelash when you order two appetizers, an entree, and three desserts. You can also usually request a larger portion of an appetizer as your main dish or an appetizer portion of an entree for a starter. The options are endless. Although you may have been excited about the all-you-can-eat buffet options on your cruise, you’ll definitely be missing out if you don’t indulge in the main dining room. A majority of the food is much better quality, and you don’t have to fight the dreaded buffet crowd. Lobster tail, crab meat, and filet mignon are but a few entrees you can expect to encounter in the dining room. Our advice: Avoid the buffet and only eat there when you’re looking for a snack. Otherwise, treat yourself to the main dining room.
Ensure Smooth Sailing
Whether you’re new to cruising or frequent the open seas, it’s easy to fall victim to any one of these rookie cruising mistakes. Be sure to pack lightly and bring all essential documents, book a Snooze & Cruise hotel package to facilitate effortless travel, utilize the online check-in feature, plan ahead for port days, and indulge in the ship’s main dining room. If you follow these five steps, you’ll be set for an enjoyable, stress-free vacation.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared on Go Port Canaveral Official Travel Provider and has been republished here with permission by Go Port Canaveral.