After a week long vacation, I’m finally getting adjusted to our daily routine. I have a vacation hangover and basically need a vacation to recover from our vacation. Anyone else feel this way? The post vacation blues is no joke, man.
The cruise we went on was great! We spent 5 days on Princess Cruises departing from Los Angeles and sailing to Cabo San Lucas. We stayed in Cabo for a glorious 24 hours (I love it there and can’t wait to return) and we stayed a few days in LA before heading back home.
I highly recommend this cruise if its your first time because its not too long but long enough to experience what cruising has to offer.
Before you go on a cruise, here are some important things for you to know.
Prior to departure, notify your bank about your vacation and what countries you’ll be visiting.
Our credit card got declined on the ship because our bank thought the charges were fraud so learn from our mistakes and notify your bank prior to departure. $25 of internet charges later, we got it resolved.
Invest in a waterproof necklace/lanyard that holds your keycard, cell, and passport
You’ll be needing your keycard for everything so you have to have this with you everywhere you go. Having a lanyard (as nerdy as this may look) makes it a safe and convenient way to hold your keycard, cell phone and passport when you go on different islands or even just walking around the ship. I can’t tell you how many times Rowell and I were searching for our darn keycards every time we wanted to make a purchase.
Make dinner reservations at specialty restaurants before the cruise
We wanted to try two specialty restaurants on board. Curtis Stone’s restaurant called SHARE and Crown Grill, a steak restaurant. Unfortunately, both were fully booked when we tried to make reservations on the ship. We were so bummed but learned a valuable lesson: Make reservations online prior to the trip to make sure you can get a table.
Internet is ridiculously expensive. Don’t purchase the internet package.
We tried to disconnect and did for the most part but HAD to use the internet one time to resolve a banking issue. See #1.
It is SO not worth it to get internet on the ship! First of all the connection is suuuuper slow. Second, you get charged for the time it takes for the website to load. With connection being poor, you can imagine how frustrating this could be. Plan ahead and get all your affairs in order prior to leaving LA. Using the internet on the ship really is a colossal waste of money. This is a great time to completely disconnect from all social media and it will be good for your soul!
Book excursions off the ship
Want to know another colossal waste of money? Booking excursions through the cruise line. I know they make it convenient for you to do so and make it so appealing to book through them but resist. This is another huge expense and you can get the same type of excursions through locals when you arrive on the island. Once you get off the ship, you will be bombarded with locals trying to sell you excursions but at the fraction of the cost, I’d much rather go with them. Plus you’re supporting a local and they are super appreciative of your business and tips. When we got to the beach in Cabo we took a glass-bottom boat ride to the Lovers Arch to see it up close and ride around the ocean for 30 minutes all for $10 per person! You know how much a similar excursion would cost through the cruise line? Over $100 per person. They try and sell you with the whole “all you can drink” thing but don’t fall for it. You can get your own $5 margaritas elsewhere.
Drinks are not free – soda/coffee/alcohol drink packages
It may be all-you-can-eat on the ship but drinks are not. You will be charged for soda, specialty coffees and alcohol so depending on how much of this you actually consume, it may be worth it to get the drink packages.
Account for tips
When budgeting for your cruise, make sure to account for tips. On this cruise, we were automatically charged $13.50 a day per person for “hotel gratuity” which I assume they divide amongst everyone who cleaned your room and served your at dinner. Our room attendant and waiters at our formal dinners were so amazing, so humble, so kind and so accommodating that we gave them extra tip on the last day. Whatever you decide is your discretion but for our room attendant we gave him an extra $50 ($10/day) and for our waiters we gave them $100 to split between the two of them. Again, they provided amazing service and were so patient with us (especially with the mess the kids would make on a daily) that we wanted to show them our appreciation.
Book your next cruise to maximize discount
We booked our next cruise with Princess for Summer 2018 and this time we are headed to Europe! We will be sailing from Athens to Barcelona and it has been a dream of mine to go on a Meditterenean cruise for years! Booking your next cruise onboard has its benefits. The biggest benefit being the significant discount that you will receive. All you have to do is a put a $100 per adult deposit to secure your booking. This is a non-refundable deposit so make sure you can actually commit to this. The good thing is that you can change the destination of the cruise if you change your mind and you have up to two years to take the trip.
Plan your activities around kids naps
If you have little kids, then you know how important naps are. For us, if our little girl doesn’t get her naps, she literally wreaks havoc! Its kinda crazy how a little tiny person can cause so much chaos! So to minimize the meltdowns, we scheduled activities around her naps. Sometimes it worked other times it didn’t but trying to get those naps in were a huge priority of ours. There’s a kids club that we would drop Gabriel off, then head to the room and put Emilia down for her nap. We would take this opportunity for some alone time and Rowell would head down and get a couple of cocktails that we would drink on our balcony. It worked out well for us. Emilia was well rested, Gabe was active at the kids club and Rowell and I had a moment for just us.
Bring bug spray to help prevent Zika virus and don’t pay $12 for a bottle on the ship
Talk about a huge markup right? What normally would cost $4 will cost you 3 times that on the ship so again, plan accordingly. For your complete cruise vacation packing guide, click here.
Amanda Kruse says
Just saved this post! We are going on a cruise for Christmas and it’s my first one, so these tips will come in handy!
Amanda || http://www.fortheloveofglitter.com
Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife says
Oh these are all EXCELLENT cruise tips! Especially making sure you make dinner reservations head of time. And internet really is ridiculous expensive while at sea, but I suppose it makes sense 🙂 I agree with you: think of it as an excuse to unplug for a bit!
These are great tips! I have never been on a cruise, but would love to go on one. I am pinning this for later so that I have a reference for when I finally go on a cruise!
Your cruise looked lovely!! Thank you for these tips, they are helpful! I’m going on a cruise later this year and will definitely use these!
Neelofar | The Loveliest Lily
A family friend suggested last year I take a cruise but I have been a bit hesitant. Thanks for these tips, I’m sure they will come in handy if I decide to go.
I have never been on a cruise so all this is great information to know before booking and planning out a cruise.
Lane & Holly @ With Two Spoons says
We just went on a cruise of the Mediterranean on Celebrity and it was the BEST. VACATION. EVER. My only disagreement with your tips was on the internet package. Our cruise deal came with an internet package, drink package and prepaid tips and was a fabulous deal (I didn’t look at what the internet package costed separately, it was probably outrageous). Our internet on Celebrity in the Mediterranean was fast and reliable and allowed me to keep up with our blog/social media as my blog partner was delivering her baby and starting her maternity leave! We also used our wifi to wifi call our kids as we were gone for 2 full weeks.
val hansen says
Gret tips! I have only been on one cruise to Alaska from here in Seattle, and I remember some of these issues coming up!
Sam @ The Haunted Housewife says
This was really helpful! I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise but haven’t been able to get any advice from anyone I know personally. It sounds like you had a good time, though! I’d definitely use it as an opportunity to disconnect, too. Gotta remember to tell my bank!
Cameron - Diary of a Southern Millennial says
All of these are great tips! I’m actually planning on booking a cruise pretty soon, so I’ll keep them in mind!
Allison - Celebrating Sweets says
I love your tip about the waterproof necklace! We have a Disney cruise booked for later this year – I’ll definitely use these tips.
Kimberly @ Berly's Kitchen says
If I ever go on a cruise I’ll have to remember these. #2 is something I’ve never considered. What a great idea!
Thanks for these great tips. We’re planning on a cruise trip soon. Such a useful post!
I love all these tips! Drink packages are so worth it! Might be pricey but you save money in the long run!