Having just returned from my Baltic cruise, here are a few tips to help things go more smoothly.
Whilst cruising it is supposed to be relaxing but it can be quite stressful, so make sure you do your research before you leave home.
Check the location of any cabins before booking using deck plans and enquire about any problems such as obstructed views, ship equipment noise or overhangs.
If the cruise line offers a number of bonuses, make sure that you know what they are before booking. These could include drinks packages, payment of gratuities, free parking at the terminal.
Beware of some shore excursions and also shuttle buses. These can be very expensive, and it may be better to investigate public transport before you go, and also alternative cruise excursions from the port. On my recent cruise every port was served by public transport.
If you want to give certain members of the crew at the end you may want to opt out of gratuity payments. This can be arranged on some cruise lines however you will need to go to the purser’s office once on board and usually you will have to sign a waiver form.
Investigate the different places to eat. Sometimes you will be charged for speciality dining so again make a few enquires before you go to find out which are the best. The Cruise Critic website can be helpful.
Check before you go as to where the ship will berth. These can sometimes be some walking distance from the centre of the city, in some cases over an hour.
Denmark seems to be almost cashless so make sure that you take your credit and debit card. Countries that are also on the way to being cash free include Finland and Sweden.
Make sure that you listen to the public announcements once on board ship. These can be very important.
If you can get up early to see the sights, sometimes the ship will pass through spectacular scenery early in the morning so you may have to set your alarm.
Look out for a cruise that have plenty of overnight stops in port. This will give you more time to see places and experience a feel of the country.
Take note of any exceptional members of the crew and fill in any surveys or forms rating to their service.
Always explore the ship as there are often quiet corners and places where you can find some peace if needed.
Look at the internet packages and see what they provide. Signals can be intermittent, and you cannot always rely on constant service. Most cafes and public areas in Europe now seem to have Wi-Fi connections.
Always check the days you will be arriving in port and the times of arrival and departure as there could be a public bank holiday or a Sunday when most places are closed.
Choose wisely when going on a cruise, what do you want to get from the experience, some ships are small, some require lots of dressing up and others are geared to families. Don’t always be influenced by price.
Make sure you pack a range of standard medical supplies as they can be expensive if purchased from any on-board pharmacy or overseas.
Cruising can be fun, but you do need to plan in advance. Remember to inform the cruise line if you have any dietary requirements.
Look out for any cocktail parties or social events where you will get a chance to meet the officers and crew.
Be aware that ships often take on a certain feel according to the nationality and type of passenger.
Images courtesy of Godfrey Hall