Cruise Tips


 
It’s time to fess up – select the right cruise with the right cruise company and you can have a great holiday without the stress and strain so often associated with travelling so far away!
 
Forget running with heavy bags for train connections in crowded stations or endless lines of security in airports or the constant worry about the safety of your vehicle parked near your hotel; cruising is like a great day out and back to your comfortable cabin with a warm welcome from the crew and time to shower, unpack your shopping and get ready for dinner as the ship slides out of port.
 
Post dinner – yes there are great shows and daily entertainment offerings, but a walk around the top of the ship with the full sea air experience and the distant flickering lights from the shore is unforgettable.
 
I just love the experience and happy to say that my first Mediterranean cruise was with MSC cruise lines and the Western Mediterranean 7 day option is a terrific first time experience and like me you will want to revisit many more times – a glorious mix of Italy/ France/ Spain and other extras.
 

 

Here are my top tips for cruising:

    • Consider the early Summer or Autumn in the Mediterranean – it’s still warm and there are often great tempting deals in what they call “the shoulder season”.

 

    • Don’t over pack – take wardrobe that can easily be washed in the basin in your cabin and hang up to dry in the shower. In the past many people thought you needed to take a very full wardrobe (formal attire) through to mixed colours and mixed shoes but keep the wardrobe simple with sensible shoes are good for your port excursions and you will be walking around the ship! Men bringing a jacket is a smart move for the Captain’s dinner.

 

    • Pay a little more and get a balcony cabin – if the budget is tight and you have an internal room – that’s fine as you won’t be in your cabin much as there is so much to do on board and one of my favourite quieter spots on the ship is at the stern (back) of the ship.

 

    • Be experimental with your eating – on a cruise ship it’s a great time to try things you have never had before and the great servers don’t mind if you decide on a second option – also on MSC Cruises the pasta, soups and fresh fruit are amazing so even the fussiest eater will be happy. They also include dishes from some of the visiting ports – for example, the day before we landed in Spain on one cruise they held a paella cooking class on deck and everyone had the chance to eat this wondrous Spanish rice dish.

 

    • Forget the midnight buffet – ok you might want to see it once but seriously there is so much food on board and dining options you won’t need it and get some sleep to make the most of the day excursions.

 

    • Cruise companies will not like me saying this – but in many of the ports doing your “own thing” is faster and more enjoyable than being in a “group tour”. The excursions are great when they offer an experience you as a solo traveller would never experience – e.g. the day trip from the ship in Casablanca to Marrakesh is a good example and certainly not possible without the ship organised trips. However, in Barcelona, for example, getting off the ship early and using the hop-on-hop-off bus (one hour tour) is easy to find and great value and experience.  Providing you a great overview and the time to go back to the areas of key interest.

 

    • Leave all your valuables on the safe on the ship and after breakfast on board and with a full dinner that night – most people enjoy moving around and seeing the sights and shopping rather than spending money in bars and eateries. Just take a few Euro in your money belt and leave the stress and strain of possible encounter with a pick pocket.

 

    • An English-speaking concierge on board will help with information on the ports and each night a sheet of useful information will be passed under your door.

 

    • Extra service on board (24-hour concierge) is terrific but if not in that section check before you order drinks like tea and coffee to your cabin in case there are additional charges – same with drink (wine and spirits) options – the “drinks package” is well worth considering as a useful budget tool while on board.

 

    • Bring a water battle with you and fill that bottle up with the water provided on the ship and always check when you leave the ship what the departure time is as it is a strict departure – allow at least 30 mins before this time to get back to the ship.

 

  • Cruise ships are getting bigger and a great idea is to consider going with a few friends /family – so you can have the early dinner and “meet up and talk about your day “– you don’t have to be together all day, but getting together at night makes for a fun cruise.

Other resources:

Find out about the loyalty programmes as you will want to go back again and again – your travel agent can also keep you informed and help you with any questions and information and msccruises.co.nz or call 0508 4278 473.