Cruising can be wonderful. The wide open space of the sea gives you time to relax and reconnect. You can tick of multiple destinations and only unpack once. There’s something on board to keep everyone, of every age entertained.
But there are a few little tricks that cruise experts tell us will make your cruise even cruiser.
Here are the best cruise hacks we’ve uncovered.
1. Pack duct tape
On occasion the cruise may hit rough seas. If drawers begin to open, or cabin items go rolling – grab your duct tape and secure them.
2. Pack balloons
When our office manager told us to bring balloons on a family cruise we thought it was for a party. But in fact, she says most cruise ships only have one or two hooks. Even the door handles don’t have surfaces for you to hang things. If you plan on doing washing in your room, you can blow up the balloons and drape clothes over them to dry.
3. Pack magnets
Another way to get organised is to bring magnets with you. Many cabin walls are made from metal. So head to the hardware story and grab a bunch of magnets. Then you can attach hooks or even stick up important notes and your itinerary on the wall.
4. Put the bag under the bed
Normally when you travel, you stow the suitcases in the cupboard. Experts tell us that on a cruise, you should stow the bag under the bed. Wardrobe space is limited and adding the bag in there will reduce the space for clothes and shoes.
5. Steam your clothes
Most cruise ships don’t have irons. Fire and cruising don’t go together. They don’t want to take any chances. But what about when you need to wear a fancy shirt or dress to dinner and it’s been wrinkled from packing. Use the steam from the shower. It will un-wrinkle your clothes in no time flat. Alternatively, we’ve been told that you can buy “dewrinkle spray” for clothes. We haven’t tested it though, so we can’t guarantee this will work.
6. Bring a multi-charger or power board
Most cruise cabins only have a few power points. Most families travel with multiple devices. The solution – grab a multi-charger and you can plug in multiple devices to the one power port. Or you can bring a power board. Be aware, rules for bringing these devices on board vary between cruise lines. Power boards and extension chords with surge protectors may be allowed when you used with proper precaution (i.e. unplugging when not in use). However, it’s best to check with the cruise line before embarking.
7. Pack a first aid kit
Yes, they have first aid on the ship. Yes, they have shops. But save your money and pack medicines that you may be likely to use such as Panadol, gastro-stop, antihistamines and antiseptic cream in a first aid kit.
8. Bring a HDMI cable
Love a great night in bed with a good film? Want the kids to have some quiet time? Download your family’s favourite films onto your laptop and you can use the HDMI cable to watch them on the TV.
9. Pack an extension cord
As we said, cruise cabins often have limited power boards. Sometimes these are in annoying locations. You don’t want to have the kids all crowded around the powerpoint. So pack an extension cord. Then they can rest on the bed and keep charging.
10. Buy in bulk
This is one that surprise us. Apparently some non-inclusive cruise lines give you a discount for buying drinks in bulk. Five beers for the price of four can save you $8 a round. Just pop the extra in the fridge for later.
11. Book excursions in advance
A huge part of cruising is visiting the onshore destinations. If you plan on cruising on a large boat, make sure you book your on-shore excursions early. That way you can be sure that you will be going. There would be nothing worse than getting off the boat only to find out that the tour you want to do is all sold out. We can hear the howls from the kids already.
12. Budget for excursions
It seems obvious, but many first-time cruisers forget to factor in the added extras. Make sure you know which excursions you want to do and how much they cost. Then factor that into your budget.
13. Pack sticky notes
Need to remember the departure time? What time the bar opens? Or the time you your oldest will do the skydiving? Bring sticky notes and make your own message board on the cabin wall.
14. Stay fit
A lot of cruises have endless and bottomless food options. You will indulge. You will enjoy it. But maybe find some time to stay fit on board, even if it is just taking the stairs instead of the lift or swimming daily early morning laps in the pool.
15. Pack ginger
First time cruiser? Not sure if the kids are going to get seasick? Ginger is your friend. Ginger helps ease seasickness.
16. Choose your cabin wisely
Worried about seasickness? You are better off booking a lower deck room in the middle of the ship? Want a great view and never feel sick? Go for the upper deck edges. Whatever room you choose, think long and hard about what you really want to get out of the cruise. How long will you actually spend in the room?
17. Be hygienic
Sickness can and does spread on ships. To avoid nasties, make sure you and the family have good hygiene habits. Wash your hands properly and perhaps pack some hand sanitiser. Here are 10 tips for cruise hygiene from Cruise Critic.
18. Notify the ship of any medical conditions
Even if it is minor. In the event of an emergency the staff will be the ones to help you.
19. Wear rubber-soled shoes
It can get slippery on board, so make sure everyone has rubber-soled shoes with them
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.