Phyllis’ Cruise Travel Tips

    Ready for your upcoming cruise? Before you go, here are some tips to help build your best experience.

    pins marking travel itinerary points on map and passport

    Before you cruise:

    Create a folder for mandatory documents, i.e., passports, vaccination cards (I still carry mine), and your check-in QR code. Keep these on your phone, but also carry a hard copy in case the Wifi in the terminal is spotty.

    Check all passports when leaving your house, when you arrive and  depart from your hotel, when you arrive at the port, etc. Yes, we’ve had  issues. Once my husband left ours at home and had to catch the next  flight. Scary! Also, bring a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or military ID.

    Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, vaccine card, and credit  cards to keep in a separate location from the originals. Call your credit card company to tell them your travel plans.  

    Prebook excursions, beverage packages, spa services (if allowed),  etc., before embarkation. Pre-sale prices are often less than onboard  prices. If the prices go down before your cruise, you cancel your first  reservation and rebook at the lower price.

    Download the cruise ship app for check-in, the pre-boarding health  survey, and the muster drill for once on board. It’s handy when looking  for activities, menus, your account, etc.

    Make a list of who’s in what cabin when traveling with a group, and give  everyone a copy. (With large groups, I make and laminate small cards.) 

    Arrive at your port city one to two days early if you’re flying. Delays  and cancellations are frequent, and the ship will leave without you if you are not on board before they sail.

    What to pack:

    For embarkation/debarkation, hand-carry essentials such as meds,  makeup, hair products, change of clothes/swimwear/sleepwear, etc. in a  backpack, small duffle, or a carry-on suitcase. It would be a fluke, but  sometimes luggage can be delayed until after dinner. 

    The first night of dining is typically casual. Formal or Dress Your Best  nights are usually on sea days. 

    Try to pack clothes that you can mix and match. I am confident that no one will notice if you wear the same solid pants/skirt/dress several times  with different tops. 

    Pack a nice sweater with your dressier clothes in case you need it.  Ships tend to be cold to help avoid the passage of germs. Ladies, a crossbody bag is perfect for carrying your cabin card, phone/ camera, reading glasses, lipstick/chapstick, sunscreen, etc.  

    Open suitcase with clothing in the bedroom. Summer holiday concept.

    What NOT to pack:

    Extension cords. If needed for medical equipment, they will provide one.


    Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.

    Sharp Objects, including knives and scissors.

    Illegal Drugs & Substances.

    CBD Oil/CBD Products.

    Candles, Incense, Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, Travel Steamers & Hot Plates.

    Drones and hoverboards.

    HAMILTON, BERMUDA – July 13, 2017: Hamilton, in Bermuda has a blend of British and American culture. Its Royal Naval Dockyard combines modern attractions and boating with history.

    Once on board: 

    Complete the mandatory muster drill before eating or walking around the ship.

    Carry your keycard at all times to get into your cabin, make purchases, and embark and debark your ship. 

    The buffet is the most popular place for people to go to when they first  get on the ship. Try going to a smaller venue to avoid the crowd. Or go  to the main dining room to ensure you like your assigned table. Let the  crew know if you have dietary restrictions. 

    *On RCL, there is a great cafe in Central Park. (If you purchased The Key, lunch from Chops Grille is included in your package.)

    Once in your cabin, check your bed layout, lights, the air conditioner,  etc. Adjustments are easier to make when asked before your cabin  steward gets too busy with other guests.

    Spending money and tipping:

    You will make all onboard purchases with your cabin keycard. The only  exception is the casino. 

    Tips are automatically added to your room expense account, but we  also hand tip our favorite crew members. Contact me if you would like  suggestions on extra tipping.  

    Crew members work hard and miss their families. We like to get to  know many of them; some have friended me on FaceBook! One  amazing hostess remembered us from a previous cruise where she got  attached to my Mom. She cried when I told her Mom had passed.  (sniff)  

    There are specials for the gift shops and spa services on the ship app  or in the planner left on your bed at evening turn-down. The spas  usually have their best specials on port days. 

    Some cruise lines include an alcohol package in their price, while others  do not. The packages often go on sale before the cruise. Many include  specialty coffees and fresh-squeezed juice. Check with your cruise line  to see what their alcohol package includes. 

    Each passenger of age can bring a 750ml bottle of wine or champagne  on board on embarkation day. (Disney allow each adult a 750ml bottle  of wine at each port; NCL does not allow passengers bring alcohol.)  Check with your cruise line for their wine/beer policies.


    Special diet? Tell them before the cruise and when you have a new wait  staff. 

    You may order as many servings as you want in the main dining rooms  on most cruise lines. Be sure to check that before you order because  some lines have had some policy changes. 

    You may request something that’s not on the menu. If the kitchen has it,  they will make it for you. Every night we order a plate of steamed  broccoli, and by the third night, they bring it without us asking.  

    Is anyone celebrating a special day? Let them know. Most cruise lines  will do a little something special.  

    24-hour pizza…enough said!  

    Miscellaneous cabin info:

    We use a sound machine in our room when we sleep. Sometimes the  ship noise can be loud, as are occasional announcements. (Only  important announcements are piped into cabins.)  

    Some cruise lines will let you preorder an egg crate mattress pad if you  need one.  

    Cabins have a mini-fridge and a lockable safe for jewelry, wallets,  passports, car keys, port parking tickets, etc. 

    Cruise lines are very strict on ensuring that only toilet paper is flushed.  Several will fine passengers who flush other objects.

    Miscellaneous ship info: 

    Adult-only bar/sunbathing area…enough said! 

    Most cruise lines have a person at restaurant and event entrances to  spray sanitizer on your hands or remind you to use dispensers. 

    Put your cell phone on airplane mode. Even with the internet package,  you have to be on airplane mode so you can your their stystem. Without  the internet package, phones don’t work on most ships. Make sure the  usage information is clear. I made the mistake of thinking I could make  a call on my internet package, and that one call was over $70!!  

    You can set up your ship app to where you can text others on the ship.  If you have questions, see the Internet Cafe representative. 

    I can justify the food by using the stairs. We try to make a game out of  not riding the elevators.  

    Your luggage must be outside your cabin by 10pm the last night. Pack  all your luggage simultaneously to ensure you have what you need for  the rest of the cruise in your carry-on. 

    Must have things: 

    *I’ve added links to for all my purchased items.

    Small pharmacy bag. I use a makeup case for meds, sunscreen, zinc, antibiotics, cold and seasick meds, Tylenol, anti-acids, bandaids, antibiotic cream, cotton balls, Q-tips, safety pins, etc. 

    Sticky-notes. Give each cabin in your party a different color Post-It pad to write messages for each others’ doors to say where we are. Trust me, this is a must when traveling with a group!!

    Magnetic hooks. Use to hang a purse, sunglasses, hat, etc., on the magnetic wall near the cabin entrance. 

    Clothes pins are perfect for hanging your wet swimwear in the bathroom. 

    Clothes pins are perfect for hanging your wet swimwear in the bathroom. 

    Dry bag for last-minute wet clothes on packing night.

    Clear shoe organizers to hang over doors to hold makeup, lotions, hair products, etc.




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    Phyllis Norton
    Phyllis Norton
    I am living my dream job as a travel advisor with GoSmart Travel. My specialties include family ocean cruising, European river cruising and destination travel to Europe and Hawaii. I have extensively traveled the world since my first cruise at five years old. As a military spouse, I lived with my husband and sons in several locations ranging from Germany to Hawaii, with many moves and vacations in between. Cruising is my passion and I have extensive experience to help my clients navigate every planning detail for their dream vacation. Call me at 813-591-5971 ext 810 to discuss your travel needs.


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