My Top 7 Cruise Travel Tips

I didn’t think I would like a cruise vacation. My thoughts were I don’t want to spend time getting there that I could spend being there. Well…that changed 3 cruises ago.

I like a cruise vacation because I can visit cities I might not go to otherwise. Also, it can be a truly relaxing way to see the world. Some people view a cruise vacation as a lazy vacation.

I’m not a lazy traveler. 🙂 I research and plan every port of call, and search for my best options in regards to tours, places of interest, etc. I’ve found that you typically get a better deal, and experience booking your own tours with local companies versus utilizing the shore excursions offered by the cruise line. For example, on our last cruise around the Mediterranean we had two stops in Italy, one in Pisa and one in Rome. We used Limo In Rome in both ports. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, the tour was private and customized for us. The small Mercedes van was roomy, and our tour guide was able to drive us right up to the sights we wanted to see without us having to walk great distances. The ships excursion was $345 per person, which put you on a tour bus with at least 20 other people. Our tour was 500 Euro ($652 with the current exchange rate) for all 4 of us on our private tour. That was a savings of over $600US. It’s a guarantee ours was a better experience.

So, cruise travel tip #1 is research for local tour companies for a better experience.

Cruise Travel Tip #2)  Bring a power strip.  It’s a guarantee that the cabin will not have enough outlets for you to charge your phones, camera, laptop, iPad, and whatever else you decide to bring that needs power or has to be charged.  In fact,  I typically carry this when I go on vacation because hotels are guilty of not have enough plugs.  But, to be fair, we bring a lot more “need to be charged” stuff with us these days. Also, make sure to check the ships voltage system, you may need to add a converter to the power strip.

Cruise Travel Tip #3)  Shoe Bags.  Yes, I consider myself to be a fashionista, but this is not for shoes.  This is for the bathroom.  Bathrooms on cruise ships do not have enough counter space for your blow-dryer, curling iron, shaver, hair products, lotions, potions, and etc. so the shoe bag will add convenient storage space.  It will store flat in your luggage and hangs over the door.  This is a must bring for something that is virtually taking up no space in your luggage.

Cruise Travel Tip #4)  Unpack immediately upon delivery of luggage, regardless of the duration of the cruise.  It doesn’t matter if the cruise is for only 3 days, unpack those bags and set up your surroundings, then shove that luggage under your bed.  You’ll feel more relaxed once you do.

Cruise Travel Tip #5) Pre-order some celebratory Champagne.  Order it online prior to departure (at least a week out).  It will be waiting in your cabin upon arrival or delivered shortly thereafter.  This is a little splurge that I love.  It’s a way to celebrate the first day of your cruise.  My first few hours on the ship I’m typically sipping on this champagne while unpacking my bags, and wallowing in “first day of vacation” bliss.


Cruise Travel Tip #6) Do the formal night.  It’s just fun!  You don’t have to get over the top done.  You can see from our photos below that I’m technically not formally dressed. The formal nights just have a different vibe to them. It seems to make people are more open, relaxed and in a celebratory mood.  I love the formal nights.

Cruise Travel Tip #7)  Bring some zip lock bags.  This is for a variety of reasons.  You can use them to organize what you’ve accumulated in the various ports. For example, on a Caribbean cruise, I collected sand from the beach of all 9 islands I visited. I don’t know what I’m gonna do with that sand, but I have it, just in case. LOL! One of the best uses for these bags is stashing food.  Let’s say you come into port, and you just want to chill out at a beach somewhere.  Go to the buffet and load up your plates.  Then sort it out in the zip lock bags and voila’ you’ve got a picnic lunch.

Happy Cruising!!

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About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 30 countries, and counting.


  1. Shirley Lewis says:

    This is excellent advice for not only first time cruisers, but for others that have cruise before, especially the shoe bags, who would think to bring a shoe bag. Also when people get aboard the cruise ship, they probably tend to start roaming around the ship instead of getting their living quarters situated. Excellent tip BCOT.

    • The shoe bag is the best thing ever for a cruise. I think it’s better to get your living situation set up, because there is plenty of time to explore the ship on that first day.

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  2. Good tips! I’ll make sure to use it for my next cruise

  3. Great advice! I’ve never been on a cruise but I’m considering one for the future. I will definitely remember your tips. 🙂

    • I didn’t think I would like a cruise. We actually went on our first as an inexpensive default and loved it. Sometimes you may just want a getaway in which you have to do minimal planning, go to cities that you may not want to stay in for days, and that’s just plan “easy,” that’s when it’s time to take a cruise. 🙂

  4. Great Tips for my next cruise vacation – especially the power strip is VERY usefull!

  5. I will be a second timer this summer! Great tips! Thanks

  6. I love all your tips and use them myself. Can I add another tip? Pack a collapsible cooler. Onboard the ship, you can keep ice in it and have your own little stash of cold soda or wine (on Holland America, you can bring this) and if you go to a port of call, you can load it up and have ice cold beer or soda at the beach. It’s a must have!

    I also like to bring my own little camp chairs that you carry in a sling (I found a manufacturer that packs two to a bag). Lightweight, easy to carry, and I always have a chair at the beach. Not so important for me but a lifesaver for my elderly parents.

    • I love the collapsible cooler idea. Thanks for sharing that tip! I will definitely be getting for my next cruise.