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First time on a cruise - any tips?

43 replies

Housemum · 26/12/2019 22:39

DH has always wanted to go on a cruise and we have booked a March Mediterranean cruise for his big birthday next year, going with P & O. Any hints and tips from experienced cruisers? Just me and him, kids are home with the grandparents. I’m not a huge fan of boats, any advice re travel sickness prevention? And how posh does the black tie outfit need to be (there are 2 black tie evenings). I’m presuming Mediterranean March weather will mean we won’t be using the pool. Thanks for any advice Smile

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exWifebeginsAgainat46 · 26/12/2019 22:43

wash your hands. then wash them again. use the anti-bac every time you pass one. then wash your hands again.

apart from that, the medical centre will have seasickness jabs, a cocktail dress is acceptable for black tie, and don’t be offended if the Captain doesn’t shake your hand at the cocktail party, he’s not allowed to, because nobody washes their hands and if the Captain gets noro things get complicated.

you’ll have a great time, honestly. it’s all a bit bonkers so leave your sense of reality at the gangway and just go with it.

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madeyemoodysmum · 26/12/2019 22:45

Clothes is varied.
Posh for sit down. Casual for buffet.
Really have a think about drink packages. Will you really get your money worth
We didn't go posh every night
Sometimes you just want to chill.
Enjoy it. I love a cruise.

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Jsjeksmne · 26/12/2019 22:45

Definitely bring anti sickness medication!

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madeyemoodysmum · 26/12/2019 22:47

Posh anything from a tea dress to a cocktail dress is fine
Which boat are you on as that makes a huge difference on dress code

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madeyemoodysmum · 26/12/2019 22:48

Ahh p&o wont be to posh. A nice dress for dinner is fine. Jacket for the men no shorts at dinner.

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Lexplorer · 26/12/2019 23:06

We did our first cruise this summer. Look for a facebook page for your specific cruise, make friends, ask for advice. Or there might be a page just for your ship if there isn't one for the actual cruise. Join Cruise Critic, full of information. There will only be a few formal nights, we went to the first then just used the buffet when the others were on. In fact, by the end we were just eating in the buffet. Book a tour of the ship if one is available, very interesting. Have a ball! I can't wait for our next one!

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Nat6999 · 26/12/2019 23:21

You don't have to be super smart for formal wear nights, I took nice ordinary dresses for most nights & just a fancy clutch bag & jewellery to posh it up. An ordinary suit with shirt & tie is acceptable for your husband, you will be surprised at what some of the guests consider to be 'formal'
The ship's photographers are always around when you put in to port to take pictures on the gang plank & at your table in the restaurant, these are lovely reminders of your trip. I found loads to do at night, if you are shattered & want a quiet time after dinner one night, the cinema is never busy, the night I went I had the cinema to myself. Make sure you take suncream with you, I had to buy some onboard ship & it was double the price at home, same for books & magazines. Most of the ship you can either pay on your cruise card & settle the bill at the end or pay cash, the cruise card is best for round the pool if you want a drink, less hassle than rummaging for cash. Wear comfy shoes & something that you don't mind having your picture on to arrive in because the photographers start taking pictures as you embark on ship. Sailing from Southampton is easy, if you have driven, you drive in to the P & O arrivals hanger, hand all your luggage over to one of the porters, it is all taken direct to your cabin, you will be informed of your deck & cabin number before you sail, just make sure everything has your cabin number on it. You hand your car keys in at the desk & your car is parked to wait for when you come back, you collect your keys when you land after your cruise. The food is amazing, you could spend all day sampling it if you wanted, we had breakfast at 8.30am in the restaurant & then if we were onboard, went to the self service restaurant mid morning for coffee & a snack, they do everything from a full breakfast to fruit up there or you can have morning coffee sat on the deck, we had lunch in the restaurant some days, there were things like a different curry every day or all kinds of different lunches, from 3 courses to just sandwiches if you preferred, at 3.00pm afternoon tea is served with sandwiches & cake, there is also a pizza bar where you can have pizzas, pasta & salad. The evening meals have loads of choice, some of the dishes are traditional to where you are sailing, others are what you would expect in a high class restaurant, nothing is too much trouble, they will adapt anything you may want cooked differently & cater for any special diets. You also get copies of all the menus to take home with you as another reminder. Have a good look to decide if you are going on any of the excursions, depending where you are landing, sometimes it is nice to just wander around the port, look in the shops or find a beach for a few hours, make sure you are back onboard on time, the ships rarely leave port late.

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SUBisYodrethwhenLarping · 26/12/2019 23:46

Look on you tube there are reviews and tips on there

Can't remember the bloke's name stem but he gives loads of tips on you tube, will look him up tomorrow and let you know

SmileSmileSmile

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Housemum · 27/12/2019 09:27

Wow loads of advice overnight! We had already thought the drinks package didn’t seem worth it - we aren’t huge drinkers anyway, happy to drink tea/ordinary coffee which I think is included anyway and just have the odd drink or maybe a bottle of wine over a couple of nights’ dinners. The whole noro thing does worry me, I tend to avoid buffet meals on holidays for that reason.

We are on the Oceania

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Housemum · 27/12/2019 09:32

Southampton would be super easy if we could drive there and park as we don’t live far from there but we will be restricted to airline weight luggage as it’s a cheap fly-back cruise (from reading up I think it’s one of their relocation cruises, ship has finished the winter season and heading to do summer round the med cruises). So we leave Southampton and fly back to Gatwick. Which will restrict the amount of dresses! I do have a nice Phase Eight knee length day dress so thinking that if it doesn’t need to be mega-formal I will wear that for one of the posh dinners.

Are these anti-sickness jabs offered as standard if you want, is there a charge for them, anyone know what the medication is and how often you have the jabs? I was thinking I’d need to buy something from the pharmacy before I go

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ExpletiveFairylighted · 27/12/2019 09:38

Rick Steves books and youtube channel are packed with information. It's definitely a good idea to research your ports in advance, ships excursions are expensive and many people organise their own, or just get off and wander. You do need to be careful to get back on time though, they won't wait, so if you are going further than walking distance away allow plenty of time to get back and re-embark (there may be long queues). Open top tour buses greet the ship's arrival in many ports, these can be great but again watch out for getting back on time, last time we did one we aimed to return to ship from the old town 90 mins before departure and found about 100 other passengers at the same bus stop.

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KatherineJaneway · 27/12/2019 09:41

Cruise Critic is an excellent website for research and has a very active forum for any questions you want to ask. Lots of helpful info on excursions, what to expect on different ships, hints and tips etc.

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AngelsWithSilverWings · 27/12/2019 10:17

Try not to worry too much about sea
sickness. I am a really bad traveller. Can't do boat trips , hate cross channel ferries ,get car sickness , train sickness and can't be in a coach for longer than half an hour.

I was gifted a cruise holiday in case you are wondering why someone like me would even consider going on one.

I was absolutely fine on the three cruises I've been on. The stabilisers do a great job. I had one night when extreme sea conditions caused me to feel a bit unwell but I just went to bed and woke up fine the next day even though the sea was still rough. You do get your sea legs very quickly - to the point where when you do stand on dry land it feels a bit strange.

You can get an injection if you feel really bad but they charge you for them.

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Nat6999 · 27/12/2019 11:15

I only took 1 seasickness tablet the first morning as we were sailing through the bay of Biscay, the sea was fairly choppy, sitting in the restaurant at the back of the ship which had windows on 3 sides the sea was high at one side & then the other, I don't know how the restaurant staff managed to carry the massive trays of food around without dropping them. I never needed any more tablets even though when we left Lanzarote there were high winds & the swimming pool at the rear of the ship had to be closed because it wasn't safe due to the wind.

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Housemum · 27/12/2019 11:35

This is sounding reassuring - I think I'm better on boats now than as a child, we do the Portsmouth - st Malo ferry each year and that has sometimes had very obvious movement that hasn't bothered me (Though know what you mean about the dry land thing - I've stood in a supermarket before and felt like it was swaying!). Think I'll go for the tablets option.

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iklboo · 27/12/2019 11:41

Treat yourself to the vair posh dining - either the Atul Kochar or the other one (may be Marco Pierre White). Very much worth the £25 or so cover charge.

The kids clubs are fab. DS loved them.

Definitely go to the shows. Great entertainment.

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portraitpainter · 27/12/2019 13:23

Gary Bembridges ‘Tips for Travellers’ videos on YouTube have lots of great info

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Family121 · 27/12/2019 13:47

Cruising with Ben and David there the best and have loads of tips x

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AngelsWithSilverWings · 27/12/2019 16:10

Agree that paying a small premium to eat at the Marco Pierre White restaurants or any of the other "special restaurants" is a good idea - especially as it's just two of you.

The main dining room that's included in your package is fine if travelling with a larger group but lacks a bit of atmosphere if you want a nice romantic dinner for two. On the last cruise we went on we paid the supplement every night.

We always avoided the breakfast buffet and went for the formal waiter service breakfast ( no extra cost when we went but that may have changed )

Sometimes it can be a bit of a scramble to get off of the ship when it docks in port so it's good to get organised and find where to queue. If they are using tenders to get you to shore you sometimes have to book the day before if you want to be on an early one.

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Housemum · 27/12/2019 19:14

Thank you - I've found the FB forum for the ship, the restaurant will be a good idea for my birthday

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Peej247 · 28/12/2019 11:36

We went on P & O Britannia in July. Does depend on the ship as to whether people really dress up. Mostly smart casual. I took far too many clothes. Wore black trousers and different tops. Not really a dress person but took two midi dresses for the formal nights. Husband wore polo shirts and then for the formal nights men wore dark suits and tie or a dinner jacket and bow tie. Didn't do the drinks package. You can buy a bottle of wine in the restaurant and they will keep it for you and bring it out for your meals until you have finished it. Everything has to go on your cruise card. You can check your account with reception to keep an eye on your spend. Found one of those round the neck holders really useful to keep your cruise card in. They do sell them on eBay or you can buy them on board. I have always been a poor traveller and have had no problems on any of the cruises I have done until this last one. As a precaution I always take the fabric acupuncture wrist bands which are also useful for any coach trips. Did have an issue with my balance on board this time which was really strange. Apparently this is to do with gravity!! No-one else in my party had this but they did have a relative who had had a similar problem on a cruise. I put my wrist bands on and drank a tonic water which was suggested and it seemed to resolve it. Book the trips you really want to do in advance because they get sold out (check a few months before on your online cruise planner). The ships usually run shuttles to places or you can walk in to some of the towns and do your own thing. Always make sure you are back on time. Take some liquid soap for your bathroom and some extra coat hangers - those you can hang more than one thing on. You can usually store opened up suitcases under the bed. You will need a plug to charge phones and tablets. Expensive to use your phone/data on board. Check with your provider but generally only use when in port and you then come under European rates. We also found some of the buses had free WiFi. A pack of playing cards can be useful. Check your passport has sufficient time left on it. Some places you need 6 months.

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FinallyHere · 28/12/2019 12:16

If you do find your self feeling nauseous, resist the temptation to go to lie down. Instead, get up on deck where you can sea the horizon. Works every time.

You will hardly need this advice on a modern, stabilised cruise liner but good to know what to do if it does happen to you.

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Biancadelrioisback · 28/12/2019 12:31

I used to work on P&O ships :)

If you've got any other questions feel free to ask

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user1497207191 · 28/12/2019 12:35

The "formal" evenings aren't usually all that formal. Even on the black tie evenings, plenty of men were in the restaurants in shirts/trousers rather than suits, jackets and ties. As long as you're smart (i.e. no shorts, t shirts, jeans, etc) you'll be fine. We were really worried and OH took his jacket/tie etc but never bothered wearing them.

The weather will have to be really bad for sea sickness. In normal situations you can barely feel it moving and even in rough seas it's usually just a slight rocking motion. The stabilisers etc usually do a cracking job of keeping it smooth.

Re drinks, water/tea/coffee is often chargeable in the bars and waiter-served restaurants but free in the buffet restaurant.

Re cleanliness, yes, as others have said, wash your hands all the time. Our ship was spotlessly clean, with cleaners constantly going around wiping handrails, door handles, etc., but you just never know. In the buffet restaurants, just be cautious and not take food that looks like it's been handled by other passengers, i.e. anything that looks like it's been moved in the serving tray. If you're paranoid, choose from "full" or nearly full trays that will have only recently been put out. The buffets are usually so busy that some trays are only out a matter of minutes before they're empty and being replaced!

Your ship may have an "app" or an option to view your onboard account on the in-room TV, so good idea to keep checking it to see what you're being charged for, rather than waiting until the end and finding a huge bill.

Like you, we were worried for our first cruise last year, took far too many "posh" clothes, worried about travel sickness, worried about norovirus, but it was all fine and we can't wait for the next.

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lovemenorca · 28/12/2019 16:53

seems a shame that your dh desperate to go on a cruise holiday when he knows his wife doesn’t like boats. Would totally take the shine off a holiday knowing that my other half wasn’t excited about it and i wouldn’t consider doing it, instead surely would want something you can bother delight in?

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