Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

“How’ya getting on, b’y?” A Cheat Sheet for Cruise Newbies

Ok. If you’re not a Newfoundlander (or haven’t met one in your life), and you don’t know the expression “how’ya getting on, b’y,” let me extend my sincere sympathies. (Call me. I can fix you up!)

How’ya getting on, b’y is universal for “how are you.” Of course, “how’ya getting on, b’y” also has meaning for your first cruise. How in the heck do you get on a floating city, anyways?

If you’re worried that others will know what you don’t, grab the following cheat sheet. It’ll make you feel at home on the seas.

First up, congratulations!  You’ve made the awesome decision to take your first cruise, and you won’t be disappointed. However, you should be forewarned. You might find cruising will become your preferred vacation option. Most people do.

(“FACT – Cruises have a higher percentage of satisfied customers than any other vacation experience.” See http://www.cruising.org/vacation/first-time-cruiser )

Now, here are some things you should know:

1. Arrive Alive

Don’t rush your arrival time to a cruise ship terminal. Arriving out of breath, frantic, and under pressure is not a good way to start a vacation. Make sure you and your travel advisor pad your flight arrivals and transfer times with a good buffer. And when you get to the cruise terminal, have your bags already clearly marked with the cruise ship tags. If you need a porter to help with bags, find one, and tip well. (They’ll get your bags to your cabin.)

2. Don’t Be on the Bleeding Edge

Unless you or someone in your party needs special assistance, and/or you have priority boarding with the cruise line (as a past passenger), don’t arrive just as boarding commences. Arriving first doesn’t necessarily mean prompter admission. If you’ve ever left a parking lot after a Sens hockey game, you’ll know that thousands of people trying to squeeze out the same narrow exit points simultaneously doesn’t make for speedy departure. Same with people leaving a cruise ship terminal to get onboard. Let the first crush of traffic go through without you.

3. Hurry up and Wait

Remember, if your ship holds several thousand people, it’s going to take some time to get everyone onboard. There will be line ups, no matter how strategic you try to be. Be of good cheer. Have your boarding pass, passport and the credit card for onboard expenses close at hand.

4. Smile Pretty

Boarding a ship is a little like going through airport security. You (and your carryons) will be photographed and x-rayed at various spots. After check in, you’ll get your shipboard card, and you can finally make your way onboard. Depending on your cruise line, you might be given a map to find your digs, or you might get a personal escort to help guide you. Whatever your comfort level, be sure to smile pretty. There’ll be photographers at the ready wanting to snap your pic, post it for all to see, and sell it back to you at various points all along your cruise.

5. Claim your Space

Once you board, find your cabin, and settle in. I like to unpack, and claim my space. Nothing like getting your belongings sorted to make it feel like home, even if your cabin seems smaller than your university dorm room. Generally, space is optimized, but it can appear quite small in comparison to most hotel rooms (unless you got a suite, or you’re sailing on a luxury line like Regent or Crystal). Only when everything is in its proper space can I relax, have a drink, and flip through the cruise line newsletter/ itinerary. Once I have an idea of the daily entertainment (dinner shows, movies, courses, etc), and have confirmed my dining times and assignments, I like to head out to the observation deck for a bon voyage send off. 

6. Walk the Plank

Cruise ships are floating cities. Most are big. And some are huge.  It will take you a day or so to find where everything is, which way you turn when you get off an elevator, etc. And if you’re directionally challenged, like me, it might take a little longer (or you have to find your own signposts). Don’t be shy. Get a map. Make your way around the ship. Learn port from starboard. Learn where your assigned main dining is, as well as the buffet and specialty restaurants, in relation to you cabin; locate the areas for entertainment, shops, pools, and spas; and get a handle on how to get to the shore excursions and guest services desk.

7. Pretend you’re Drowning

Well… not really. But lifeboat drills, or mustering, are required exercises on your first day. You’ll hear bells, and see everyone decked out in lovely orange as they make their way to their muster station. Once you get the mandatory safety speech, you can start your cruise in fine style.

So, there you have it – you’re set to sail!

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November 17, 2010 - Posted by | Lush Life Cruising

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