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’s the best tips we have uncovered.

Mother and young child on balcony of cruise ship
A little bit of planning can make your family cruise easier. Picture: Shutterstock

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.

Aerial view of cruise ship through turquoise waters
Make sure you pack post-it notes and balloons for your cruise. Picture: Shutterstock

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.

Couple on deck of cruise ship at sunset
Cruising can be even more cruisy if you follow our cruise hacks. Picture: Shutterstock

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.

Huge cruise liner at sea
Pick your cabin wisely to avoid sea sickness. Picture: Shutterstock

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.

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 shoes

It can get slippery on board.

You might also like to read this story about the best budget cruise for families.