Monday, April 26, 2010

Six things to watch out for

A few weeks ago, I posted 15 Little Things You'll Love About the Cruise (it easily could have been 50), but let's take a look at the other side. While this is one of the best vacations you can ever hope to take, it still holds some inherent travel dangers that you'll need to keep in mind.
  1. Unattended valuables. As I've mentioned before, there is only one small safe in the cabins. As a key, you use any card with a magnetic strip (e.g., your sign and sail card). You don't have to use the same card every time, but you must unlock the safe with whichever card you used to lock it. This means if your roommate locked the safe with her card, you'll need to borrow that card to get back in.

    The safes are very small. If I had to guess, I'd say 10"x8"x4". Enough room to hold our passports, wallets, cell phones, and a few bits of jewelry, but definitely not enough for a laptop. Just wide enough to fit the Kindle. If there's anything you can't fit in there, such as a designer handbag for example, think twice about bringing it with you.

    Also -- and I cannot stress this enough -- USE THE SAFE. I learned my lesson on this the hard way, while I was at a work conference in San Antonio. We were staying at a fancy resort, and I went to a reception or some such leaving my purse on the desk. Two days later, when I got to the airport and went to pay the cab driver, I discovered every dollar of cash I had brought with me was gone.

  2. Unexpected charges. Most things on the ship are included in your fare, but not everything. Bottled water is not free. Lattes and other drinks at the coffee bar are an extra charge. Just because a waiter is carrying around a tray of drinks and offering you one doesn't mean they're complimentary. I read one story of a first-time cruiser who handed drinks off a tray to a bunch of surrounding passengers and then found out it had cost him $300.

  3. Unscrupulous passengers/crew. While every passenger on the ship is a fellow New Kids fan, that doesn't mean they're automatically trustworthy. When we get together, though, we tend to let down our guards. For example, maybe you'd ask someone to watch your bag while you jump into the pool for a minute. Chances are they'd do just as you asked, but there's always that one who will lift your iPod before you come back.

    Along the same lines, there are lots of Carnival staff on board. A few may be a bit too excited to be surrounded by 2,000 women. Don't forget your safety. Watch your drinks. Keep an eye on your friends. I don't know of anything disreputable happening last year; I'm just saying be aware, the same as you would be in any club.

  4. Sun. The rays out at sea are intense. There are no trees on the boat, obviously, so no shade.You also get the sun reflecting off the water and hitting you at all angles. At the risk of sounding like your mother, wear sunscreen, drink water, and don't stay out too long in the middle of the day, or you could end up sick with sun stroke.

  5. Local merchants. This may not be an issue on Half Moon Cay, since it's a private island, but some girls got taken for a ride last year by local merchants. They know we're tourists and they try to milk every cent out of us they can. If you get in a cab, agree on a price beforehand so you don't get to your destination and find yourself charged $50. If you book an excursion or buy souvenirs, ask for a lower price than what they originally quote you. If they won't go low enough, walk away. We had wanted to rent beach chairs at Paradise Island, but when the guy wouldn't go below $15/hour, we said no thanks and left. Sometimes when you start to leave they go lower.

  6. Illness. Every summer, you hear of a cruise ship getting hit with a norovirus. The same trip where I got robbed at the Ritz? There was a norovirus sweeping through the resort. Least fun thing ever. Take advantage of the hand sanitizer stations set up around the ship.

    My problem last year was alcohol-induced illness, especially Sunday morning when we had to get up early for the photo op. The boat was extremely rocky that morning, and the combination of hangover + boat rocking was not great. Cruise ships really need to start offering Gatorade.
Miscellaneous news:
  • Last I heard, the wait list was up to #2840.
  • @ColetteBett talked to Rose Tours, and they told her they're hoping to have our travel documents out to us this Thursday or Friday.
  • @NKOTB confirmed my guess that the best door decoration would be one that fit the stated theme. 
If you have your own travel tips, please leave them in the comments. I'm also taking suggestions for blog topics. Don't want to miss anything in the next 16 days (eep!).


  1. The best thing we did last year was we laminated our printed out luggage tags, punched a hole in them, and used a hair elastic to tie them to our suitcases. I saw so many girls having their luggage tags getting ripped when they got to the pier.

  2. Oh thanks for the tip on the laminated luggage tags! Altho I had no problem last year with mine, losing my luggage would be a nightmare!

  3. Thank you, Katie. Great ideas. I have a small travel wallet I take with me on trips. It holds just enough and is small enough to carry around without being cumbersome. Less is always more when I travel...except in the clothing category!

  4. Last year I came home and got REALLY sick. I think several girls had similar problems. I was still feeling the boat move more than 2 weeks later, and I just felt awful. It really messed with my body. I don't think you can completely prevent this, but I wanted to mention it just so people aren't surprised when they get home and feel like crap.

    Although part of it could have been Jet lag....I'm not so sure that was the whole reason. Just in case, if you are flying from the west coast, you might want to look up Jet lag for information on how to prevent it. (also look up something like after sea sickness for more information)

  5. Last year we locked all of our valuables (laptop, wallets, cell phones) in one of our carry-ons.