Ah, the fun of a cruise. I'd dreamed for years of cruising the Greek isles. It sounded so glamorous. We finally got to do it, and, indeed, it was. We stopped in beautiful ports of call, ate like pigs, made new friends and great memories. And I learned a few things along the way. Next time (hopefully there will be a next time) I'll be even better prepared. Here are some tips I want to share with you if you have a cruise in your future. (Or any big trip for that matter.)
BRING INSECT REPELLENT
Who knew mosquitoes could fine you by the pool on a cruise ship? They can! Every country has bugs and obviously the little pests didn't get the memo about being nice to tourists.
BRING A THERMOS OR PORTABLE WATER BOTTLE
Filling your own container for an excursion is cheaper than buying bottled water on the boat before disembarking. (And every penny you save on bottled water you can spend on souvenirs.)
BRING SMALL GIFTIES FOR NEW FRIENDS
I brought along a few books to share and they were well received. If you make jewelry you might want to bring two or three small bracelets or a couple of pairs of earrings. If you're an artist and you have your work on coasters that will get rave reviews. And who doesn't like hand-made greeting cards? If you happen to have a small business as a crafter bringing along samples is a good ice breaker and good advertising.
PACK LESS THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED
Plan to mix and match and wash panties and socks (get the kind that dry quickly). Packing lightly saves you a ton of hassle at the airport. We took two carry-ons and a backpack and had room to bring home all our souvenirs. When buying those trinkets, for the most part, we thought small. Fridge magnets and tea towels make great gifts and don't take up a lot of space in your luggage.
There were no Dove chocolates on the boat. Can you imagine? A little chocolate bite is a handy thing to have on hand when waiting at the airport.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL FREE OFFERS
Going on a cruise for a birthday or anniversary? If the company is offering complimentary anything, take it. We're not big drinkers, but we took that bottle of free champagne that was offered. It was fun to be able to share it one evening with some of our new friends.
SAVE AHEAD AND THEN GET IT
Start stuffing away a small amount of money as soon as you book your cruise so you'll have plenty on hand for excursions and trinkets. Pre-pay the tips when possible. It's nice to avoid having them show up on your bill at the end of the cruise. And speaking of money and spending, if you see something you really like, get it. There's no guarantee you'll find it in the next port of call. (Learn from our mistakes!)
We had a bon voyage. Whatever your travel plans this summer, I hope you will, too.