Cruise Tips: How to Cruise Like a Pro

cruise tips how to cruise like a pro
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Thinking of heading someplace tropical on a cruise? Well you are in the right spot! I just got back from a week-long Royal Caribbean cruise in the Caribbean and I’ve compiled some cruise tips for you! Learn from my mistakes and experiences so you can travel like a pro on your cruise!

First, a little background. This is the second week-long cruise with RC that I have been on. Last year we went to Jamaica, Haiti, and Cozumel, leaving out of Fort Lauderdale. This year we went to Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, and Sint Maarten, leaving out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’ve also been on a Carnival cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada.

If you’ve never been to the Caribbean and are wondering if it’s for you, check out these photos to see if it inspires you to go!

Now, let’s get down to business and have you cruising like a pro! Tell me in the comments which of these cruise tips is your favorite, or maybe one you didn’t know!


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You used to call me on my shell 🐚 phone 🎢 Just landed in Puerto Rico πŸ‡΅πŸ‡· Tell me what to do! πŸ‘‡πŸΌ Also, this dress is my obsession and linked in the app! Just screenshot to find it! πŸ“² β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’ #plussizestore #pmmlovemybody #fatshionista #puertorico #celebratemycurves #curvyconfidence #womentravel #solofemaletravel #girlsabroad #girlpowertravel #dametravel #journeysofgirls #fatgirlstraveltoo #shewhowanders #plussizetravel #globalwanderer #travelnowlifelater #addictedtotravel #letsflyawayto #thetraveltag #wanderlife #igpassport #travelisfun #explorenewplaces #travelaholic #travelexplore #besttravelpics #passportvalid #weworktotravel #explorewithme

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  • Seasickness Cruise Tips

    • One of the questions I have been asked most often is about managing and preventing seasickness during cruises. I am not a doctor, so this is not me providing medical advice. I can, however share the tools and products that have helped me (all are OTC in California).
    • I’m prone to motion sickness and know that once it starts, its harder to reverse than to simply take precautions to avoid getting sick in the first place. I have found that a combination of Sea-Bands (drug-free) and “less-drowsy” Dramamine are the magic ticket.
    • I really cannot stress enough how much of a game changer Sea-Bands have been for me. I’m able to take less medication, and a ‘less drowsy’ formula ever since I discovered them. I leave them on THE WHOLE TIME I am on the cruise which is key.
    • You can also visit your doctor if you have acute motion sickness and they may be able to prescribe a patch or another type of medication based on their evaluation.
  • Wear your swimsuit under your clothes during boarding

    • When you get on board the ship, your luggage will be ‘checked’ and later delivered to your stateroom. If you’re like me and want to make the most out of the cost of your trip, board as early as is allowed to get to the pool, get a drink, and get to relaxing! This is why it’s important to either pack your swimsuit in your purse/carry on or wear it under your clothes. You will not have access to your luggage for several hours, and by wearing your suit, you can still head to the pool for a dip.k
  • Bring anything you’ll need for the first 8 hours in a tote

    • Along the same lines as wearing your swimsuit under your clothes, you’ll want to have anything else you’ll need in a carry on or tote (here is a link to one of my FAVES ). This is because you won’t have access to your ‘checked’ luggage for a few hours . Don’t forget your medications! I would also make sure to pack some dry underwear, an easy dress or a sarong, and sunscreen! This way if you go to the pool and want to dry off and change before you have access to your luggage, you can.
  • Vitamins / immune boosters

  • SUNSCREEN, sunscreen and then more SuNsCrEeN

    • I honestly cannot stress this enough. There is a lot going on when you cruise. Pools, ports, excursions, possibly alcohol. Almost every single person I knew on this cruise got a sunburn. Reapply more often than you think you need and use a higher SPF than you think you need. I promise you will not regret it. I am very sensitive to strong SPF on my face and my favorite facial sunscreen is Chanel CC Cream with SPF 50. It does have some tint to it (a nice bonus, especially when you’re on vacation and it doubles as a light, natural, foundation alternative) and it’s one of the only sunscreens with an SPF 50 that doesn’t make my skin breakout.
  • Drink Package Cruise Tips

    • Royal Caribbean, and MOST other cruise lines, do not include alcohol (or even soda) in the cost of the cruise. If you want to buy them, you can do so ‘a la carte’ throughout the cruise, or purchase an unlimited drink package. We had options for bottled waters, waters and sodas, or everything (including alcohol). We got the unlimited package (alcohol, bottle waters, cokes, juices, specialty coffees etc). It is NOT CHEAP. For a week-long cruise it was about $900 for two people. Use the cost to decide if it’s the right choice for you. HOWEVER: here is the important thing to note: everybody in your cabin must buy the same drink package. This prevents sharing of drinks with those who didn’t pay, but it’s important to budget accordingly and decide what you all want to do.
  • Bring Cash

  • Shore Excursion Cruise Tips

    • When you book your cruise, you will have the opportunity to plan and pay for shore excursions directly through the cruise line. While these may not be run by the cruise line themselves, they are contracted with them, and they are ‘known’ companies and tours. This is important from two perspectives: legitimacy and timeliness. When your boat leaves, they will not wait for you UNLESS you are on an excursion that was purchased through the cruise line and there is a known issue. While unlikely, its a good safety net. It also lets you know that the tour will be as described and (in theory) safe.
    • There is, however, an alternative: excursions sold at the port (not endorsed by the cruise line). We chose to do one such tour when in Bonaire. We were in a group, it was not going to arrive too close to departure, and it was probably 75% less expensive than a similar tour would have been if booked through the cruise line. Use this information with your best judgement, as always. We had a fantastic tour and I would consider more ‘off-ship’ excursions during future cruises.
  • Dining Room Cruise Tips

    • With more and more cruise ships moving towards ‘freestyle dining’, gone are the days of having a set dinner time and seat. We were able to dine when we wanted to, between 6:30 and 10pm in the ‘formal’ dining rooms (as opposed to the casual buffet).
    • If you want to have quick service and quick seating, arrive early. We got there as early as 6-6:15 some nights and as soon as the doors open we were seated. Even eating in massive groups of 12-20 we had quick and efficient service. Nights when we waited until even 7:30 had us missing shows because dinner service took over 2 hours. If you’re in no rush, it’s fine! But when there is SO MUCH to see and do in terms of shows and nightlife, we were a little anxious to get moving.
    • SECRET TIP: even though the menu is presented as ‘entree, main, desserts’ you can order as many of anything as you would like. Want an appetizer salad made into a full size dinner Caesar? Just ask! They are very accommodating. Most nights we all had more than one appetizer or dessert, because they change daily and we didn’t want to miss them!
  • Know the rules: restricted purchases

    • If you buy certain items while at port, you will be required to ‘check’ them with the ship upon returning. You will then either have them delivered to your room the night before you disembark, or you will pick them up when you collect your luggage.
    • Make sure to have documentation of whatever you purchase and clear instructions about when and where you will collect it. A friend of ours bought liquor in Curacao, and was told it would be available for pickup when we returned to Puerto Rico. Long story short, it was supposed to be delivered to their room, they never got it, and eventually customs kicked us out of the cruise port because they were closing.
  • Luggage Cruise Tips

    • When you arrive at your final port and it’s time to get off you will have had two options regarding your luggage. You can either leave it out the night before, tagged and ready to go, and collect it at the cruise terminal, or you can carry it off yourself.
    • If you are wanting to leave early, carry off your own luggage as you can leave before everybody else, and will not have to wait to collect your bags.
    • Make sure to know what time you can leave the ship. This will help you decide which time is right for you. You can wait until the night before to decide.

I hope that these cruise tips help you on your next vacation! Let us know your best cruise tips or stories in the comments!


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Callie Richards

I'm Callie, a Southern California based body-positive fashion and travel blogger who helps women discover style and travel that FITS their bodies and their lifestyles so they can live their best, most authentic lives! I test and then share the products and experiences that respect diversity and inclusiveness so that you can shop and travel with confidence without all the research!