What You MUST Know If You’re Taking a Cruise (and boy are the rates going down now!)
Author: Susan Dunn, Personal and Professional Development Coach
Being a coach, I speak on cruises. I took my first cruise about 8 years ago. I asked a friend who’d cruised a lot what I needed to know and she said, "Nothing. Just have fun." I disagree. Having cruised many times since then, I’d like to pass on some tips to help you enjoy your cruise more.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL INSURANCE
Medicare doesn’t cover expenses incurred outside the US. Many insurance plans provide little or no coverage for international or out-of-network travel medical expenses. Find out about yours before you go. Then fill in the gaps with travel insurance.
The most expensive thing can be what's called "medi-vac" - say like taking you by helicopter from Belize to the US, or flying you (and you must have a nurse attendant) first-class on a plane back to the US.
1.Insurance to cover cancellations and interruptions, and cost of delayed or lost baggage
2.Financial Default Coverage for financial failure of airline, cruise line or tour operator
3.Terrorism Coverage for reimbursement if you cancel trip due to terrorist incident in departure city or itinerary city
4.Medical Evacuation Coverage, Medical Reunion and Return of Mortal Remains, all of which can be very costly.
Pack the "little" things because the lack of them gets "big" on a trip. Ear plugs, aspirin, hang-nail clippers, bandages or Neosporin will cost you 5 times as much and also waste hours of pleasure time while you search for them.
Take along a small basic first-aid kit and comfort kit. This should include something like DEET unless you fancy Dengue fever or such. Yes, the ship has an infirmary, but it’s a long trip down there, and an expensive one. Yes, these articles will be available in most ports, but the prices are really jacked up and -- again -- it's about time.
Think of things you use over a week’s time: antihistimine, eyedrops, lotion, aloe Vera, anti-diarrhea medication, hair dryer, needle and thread.
If it’s important to you, bring it. The last cruise I was on supplied numerous toiletries, but no hair dryer.
Formal night! It’s the reason some cruise. It’s the reason some won’t.
Let me set your mind at ease. If you don’t want to go to formal night, you can avoid it. Most cruises have a casual buffet option with delicious food every night, 24 hour hot dogs and pizza, and 24 hour room service.
If you want to participate in formal night, tux rental is available – http://www.cruiselineformal.com . Most ships keep some inventory onboard, but it’s best to order early. There are usually tailors on board.
What will others be wearing? The last cruise I went on, I saw very few tuxes. What do you see? Everything. Western formal, including the cowboy hat and boots, dark suits, nice slacks and coats. Cocktail dresses for women, pantsuits, prom dresses. Total white zoo suits for men.
The Captain’s Cocktail Party or Reception is another chance to dress, mix and mingle if you like. It is also completely optional. Dress is generally dark suits for men, and cocktail dresses for ladies.
It’s slippery on deck, so bring some good gripping shoes. Don’t try and break in a new pair of shoes on your vacation. Some excursions require a lot of walking, and so does getting around on the ship. You will have forgotten how one good blister on your heel can ruin your vacation.
Day wear is resort casual. No need to spend a fortune on clothes unless you want to. Some cruise lines provide bathrobes, or bring your own for poolside and dining in buffet. Rarely does one see blue jeans for some reason, but anything else goes. Some people who cruise a lot, take along things they are about to get rid of. They wear them one day, then give them away to people at the ports. Then they have an empty suitcase for all the things they buy to bring back.
If you get a sunburn, or if you want protection, bring along a light shirt with long sleeves.
Hot tubs often contain enough bromide to bleach out your bathing suit and also relax the elastic. Bring an old suit, or an inexpensive one if you plan to sit in the hot tub a lot.
Between airline, dock and ship, it’s unrealistic to assume nothing will happen to your luggage. Common sense would dictate buying the most sturdy and least expensive baggage you can find, i.e., don’t give a crystal goblet to a toddler and then be "surprised" it gets broken. You'll also have to juggle this conundrum - strict limits to baggage on airlines, just about no limit to baggage on a cruise ship.
PHOTOGRAPHS: AN UNDERUSED OPPORTUNITY
They want to sell photos! Photographers are operating nightly, with various backgrounds (including traditional), black and white as well as color. They are pleased to photograph you as many times, in as many ways, as you like. If you’re in need of a new professional head shot, bring along your suit. (For your own photos, if you should happen not to have your camera you can buy one on the ship or shore - again at a pretty price.
You don’t have to gain 20 lbs. unless you want to. Cruises offer tracks, workout rooms, exercise programs, dancing, lite menus, low-calorie menu options, low-fat desserts, salad bars, and plenty of active excursions ashore, including just plain vigorous walking.
You can also do the thing you do at home to effortlessly increase your activity level. Take the stairs instead of using the elevators. Get up and get your own drinks. Offer to get people seconds at the buffet. Volunteer to go back to the room for forgotten items. If you consider the size of a cruise ship -- up and down as well as lengthwise, it should occur to you how long a walk it might be from your room to the pool. Then to the room to change. Then to the dining room.
Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . Coaching, distance learning courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional development. Mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for free ezine. Susan is the author of "How to Get to Present on a Cruise," Become a certified EQ coach. Start tomorrow, no residence requirement.
Susan coaches by phone, email, and in her D. C. office which is conveniently located to all suburbs and the Metro.