Cruise Tips

BOOKING A CRUISE: If you are looking for an agent to book your next cruise, I recommend Susan Bernstein - Round the World Cruises - (877)582-2122 - rtwcruise@aol.com  I have booked the majority of my cruises with Susan and have been completely satisfied with her help, advice, and pricing. Round the World Cruises is a discount cruise and land tour company located in Coconut Creek, Florida. Tell Susan you heard about her and Round the World Cruises from this website.

FLYING: In order to relieve sinus and ear pressure upon takeoff and landing many successful remedies include chewing gum and yawning. Here's another option: a spritz of nasal spray (Afrin) used just before takeoff and landing helps keep your sinuses open relieving pressure buildup. In conjunction with spraying something in your nose, airplanes have low humidity and can quickly dry out your nasal cavity. Use a saline nasal spray (Ocean) to keep your nasal passages moist and if you are on a long flight use once an hour. Don't forget to pack hand sanitizing lotion for your flight as airplanes are quite unsanitary.

LUGGAGE TAG HOLDERS: As cruise lines minimize costs and advance their websites so you can register all your information online, they also have eliminated the sending of cruise documents via mail and now have you print your own online documents - including luggage tags. The cruise line's luggage tag identifies your ship, cabin, departure port, etc. As luggage tags now need printed from you computer, they are bulky, flimsy (even after following the folding instructions), and do not appear as secure as the ones the cruise lines used to send in the mail with your cruise documents. You also have to either staple or tape the luggage tags to ensure durability and ensure they remain attached to your luggage handle. To the rescue: FAVORS BY SERENDIPITY - who have created durable clear plastic holders for you to insert your paper tags and not worry about them tearing off easily. With these tags, you no longer have to carry a stapler or or tape to secure your tags - one less item to pack - and that is a good thing. Click on their company above and order your tags. I own them and they are great.

PHOTOS/CAMERA CARDS:  My camera guy (yes I have one) recommends NEVER using one camera card for your whole trip. Besides a flaw in the camera card rendering it partially useless, losing your camera, having your camera stolen, or damaging your camera make the list of reasons why you use more than one memory card/chip. I need to take this advice myself. You should use smaller memory cards and split your vacation in half or use one card for each port of call or one card for each day. If the unexpected should happen, not all your pictures are lost. GREAT IDEA!!!

BOATSWAIN'S BEACH GRAND CAYMAN: If you plan on visiting Boatswain's Beach during your visit to Grand Cayman it may not be a bad idea to log onto their website before leaving on your vacation(www.boatswainsbeach.ky). The website offers tickets to the adventure park at a lower price than the ship's shore excursions. Also, quite often the website offers a discount (20% at times) on the purchase of the tickets if purchased online making the price even more discounted than the ship's tours.

FORT LAUDERDALE: If you have a late flight out of Fort Lauderdale, you can spend a relaxing few hours at Flamingo Gardens. It is about 15 minutes from the airport and cruise port and is a very lush garden with peacocks roaming around, flamingos, waterfowl and other animals that have been injured and cannot return to their native habitats. You can pre-arrange transportation before you leave home through KSA Tours. KSA Tours makes it easy and convenient. Have time to kill Pre/Post cruise? Enjoy a three hour tour on the Jungle Queen riverboat. Sailing everyday at 9:30am and 1:30pm, enjoy sightseeing on the "Venice of America" and sail upclose to Millionaire's Row and those "mansions" that border the water. If your schedule allows, they offer a four hour dinner cruise coupled with a variety show.

SAN JUAN TROLLEY:  For a cheap do it yourself shore tour grab the free trolley and let it take you to El Morro or several shopping sights or other points of interest along it's route. You can hop on and off at your convenience and the only fee would be for an attraction. Make sure you take the trolley marked El Morro. If you do go to El Morro, the entrance fee is $3 per person. El Morro has a lot of history and beautiful views and wonderful phot ops and with the free trolley, a very inexpensive day.

ROLL AND GO: For some reason, if you roll your clothes instead of fold them, you will fit more in your luggage or carry-on. I wasn't a believer until I tried it. Also, if you roll in tissue paper, your clothes will be less wrinkled. Oh, don't forget to take advantage of airspace and pack little items inside your shoes.

DEBIT CARD OR CHARGE CARD: Which one do you use? Well, for large purchases, credit cards offer protection on purchase disputes. If there is a problem with the goods purchased, your issuer will battle with the merchant for you. You probably use a charge card to pay for your cruise and airfare, but which card do you use for a hotel or rental car? Some food for thought: When you use a debit card for a hotel or rental car, the merchant calculates the max you could spend and puts a hold on your bank account for that amount in order to protect them from being shorted.  Example, if a hotel cost $900, the hotel may freeze $1200 for several days to cover losses for incidentals and damages. The same can happen for a rental car. Once they calculate the maximum you could spend, they will put a hold for that amount and freeze it for several days. You will not be able to access the additional funds they freeze above the actual cost until the transaction is finalized, which can take up to two days. It is possible that you could experience several hundred or several thousands of dollars frozen for several days. This could result in overdraft fees or bouncing on other payments as you do not have access to all of your money.  Something to think about when deciding which card to use.

PAPAYA: Good for upset stomach, motion sickness, and heartburn.

STINGRAY SHUFFLE: Entering shallow water at the beach or stepping into the water, use caution as to avoid stepping on a stingray. Shuffle your feet or slide your feet in the sand to warn stingrays of your presence.

JELLYFISH STING: Pour vinegar over the affected area. You can also use mustard if vinegar is not readily available. Another option - SAFE SEA - a lotion that is not just a sunblock, but also protects against jellyfish stings, sea lice, and fire coral.

DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT: In case you forget your passport or photo id., even after using the packing list, it is a good idea to leave a photocopy of your passport, drivers license, travel insurance, medical card, and credit card with a jealous family member who is remaining behind. This is really good insurance...just in case!

LUGGAGE SCALE: As the airlines find more ways to take money out of our wallets, we can easily ensure we do not pay for overweight luggage. You can purchase a small scale that takes up little room in your carry-on. On the last day of vacation you may discover that you purchased more than you thought. IF you can fit it all in your luggage, you may need to be creative so each piece of luggage does not exceed the weight limitations. As you are not going to pack your bathroom scale, a portable scale (one with a handle and a hook that you use to lift the luggage and the weight is displayed) can save you money.

OVER THE DOOR SHOE RACK: Choose one with pockets. This will come in very handy in tight spaces as you can store small items in the pockets such as toiletries, socks, curling iron, etc. Also,if traveling with children, you can use the pockets to store toys.

GUARANTEE CABIN: If you book a guarantee cabin you are guaranteed a cabin in the category you chose. This cabin may be anywhere on the ship. On some cruise lines, a guarantee cabin is cheaper than a cabin in which you choose a paritcular cabin number. The actual cabin may not be assigned until very close to the departure date and in some cases you will not know your cabin until you arrive to check-in. The hopes of booking a guarantee cabin (besides cost) would be the cruise line will upgrade you to a higher category cabin. As the cruise line is not obligated to upgrade your cabin to a higher category, make sure when booking a guarantee cabin, that you can live with a cabin in that category you booked.

CABIN CHOICE: If you are worried about becoming seasick, choose a cabin that is located low in the ship and toward the center of the ship. If you want a balcony or outside cabin, choose one that is on the lowest level and midship.  If you are worried about noise, choose a cabin that is above and below other cabins. Also, stay away from a cabin that is near an elevator and stairs. When making your cabin choice, look for other noise makers such as bars, lounges, and other service areas that will be above, below or adjacent to your cabin. There are a lot of cabins to choose from and advance planning will allow you to book your cabin of choice.

SPRAY-ON SUNTAN LOTION: What a great invention. You can soak your skin quickly and cover all exposed and unexposed areas. As a courtesy, please consider your surroundings: wind or breeze and the proximity of others around you. The spray carries easily through the air. Most of the people in the vicinity do not want to inhale the spray or care to have it blowing in their eyes.

UPSET STOMACH: If feeling queasy on your trip from all the rich foods, or your catamaran ride on your excursion was a little rough, or maybe the seas were a little rough for your large cruise ship - go to the bar and have the bartender mix bitters and club soda. It is not the worst concoction you will drink, but it will not be one of your favorites; however it does work and it settles the stomach so you can enjoy your vacation. Another remedy: eat a green apple.

LUGGAGE LOCKS: After the tragedy of 9/11, the TSA banned those cheap little locks on luggage. If you had one on your luggage and the TSA wanted to inspect your luggage (and they did quite often) they would cut it off. The lock's best application were to keep the zippers from opening as one key would open most locks. Not long after implementing the ban on locks, new luggage locks were made available that are TSA approved. They are combination locks that come in many sizes and color. These locks are available everywhere. They will note in the packaging if they are TSA approved. Even though they are combination locks, the TSA has a master key that will open the locks if they need to inspect your luggage. In case you have not traveled in awhile, you can still protect your luggage contents with TSA approved locks.

OUTLETS: We have so many gadgets in our lives now (cameras, phones, computers, etc) and some cannot live without any of them, even on vacation. Most of these "toys" require battery life and that battery needs to be charged. Some cruise ship cabins are limited in the number of outlets provided. If you have a lot of gadgets, pack a powerstrip so you can utilize many outlets at one time.

LIFE JACKETS: During the life boat drill, you will meet at your designated muster station and depending on ship, you will be wearing your life jacket when you arrive at your muster station or you will be shown how to wear it and at that time you will put on your life jacket. Most, if not all, life jackets come with a whistle attached. When the life boat drill is over, you will return your life jacket to your cabin and stow it and that is where it will remain until next week's cruise when the new passengers arrive and go through the mandatory life boat drill. Notice, I did not mention anything about cleaning or sanitizing the life jacket each week. So, for all those passengers that decide to blow that whistle............how many before have done the same thing? 

TAMPA: If your cruise begins in Tampa, start your vacation a day early (as recommended in Beginner's Guide to Cruising ) and stay at the airport Marriott. Leaving a day early will allow you to take advantage of cheaper flights by being able to book off-peak flight departures as you are not limited in flight times to ensure you make the ship on time.  The savings you realize flying a day earlier can make up for the hotel cost. The Marriott is located a short walk from the baggage claim area in the Tampa airport and is extremely convenient.

TAMPA II: If you have a late flight leaving Tampa, you can spend some time at the Florida Aquarium. It is located across the street from the cruise terminal. There is much to see and if traveling with children, well, they seem to have a great time. As a matter of fact, everyone seems like a kid when it is time to watch the feeding of the sting rays. There is also a shopping plaza that is a few feet from the ship where  you can eat or relax until it is time to leave for your flight. I recommend the Monte Cristo at Bennigans. It is enough for two people, but after a week of eating cruise food, one person can handle the sandwich.

SNORKELING: Having a mustache does not preclude you from snorkeling. You can still don a mask and explore beneath the surface of the water. To keep your mask from leaking, coat your mustache with vaseline and then put on your mask and test for any leaks and cover the area you missed. 

SNORKELING II: Putting on the fins is not always easy and if standing, can become quite a balancing act.  Roll down the heel of the fin and then place your foot inside and let the heel roll back up.

SAND:  After a day at the beach, there are many times when it is almost impossible to get the sand off of your body, especially legs and feet. At the end of the day when you are done beaching, sprinkle baby powder on your legs and other areas covered with "sticky" sand and the sand will brush off.

CARRY ON LUGGAGE:   The TSA, in an ever changing environment to provide passenger safety, publishes a list of prohibited/allowable items that you can carry onto the airplane in your carry on luggage.  One of the rules is placing your fluids of 3oz or less in one clear bag that is one quart in size.  A tip for your cruise or any vacation: pack extra zip lock bags (gallon size work great) to store your wet clothing or sand embedded shoes or clothes. They are also handy for storing your camera so as not to get sand or water in your camera.  

Before your next flight check the TSA list of allowable items onboard the aircraft at:

www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm