Luxury cruises are one of the most popular ways of washing down a hectic month or year of boring office drudgery. Fans of all ages book trips, sometimes years in advance, to see the sights in style.
The sight of an endless blue sea against a backdrop of a clear sky and salt-filled oceanic air has a unique way of reinvigorating even the most tired of souls.
Nevertheless, even the most experienced maritime and Riviera holidaymakers will often find themselves struggling with the ‘dos and the don’ts’ of modern cruising.
Just like any other transport industry, sailors in luxury ships are under customary obligation to uphold certain standards and set norms in the course of the voyage. So before packing your luggage and getting super-excited about your upcoming Mediterranean sail, it might be useful to first read the following pointers.
It’s a controversial subject, especially for British travellers, that continues to intrigue many cruise passengers. The big question usually is, when and how much is it customary to tip the crew members? Well, the truth is, unless you own a personal yacht, they is no standard answer to that question.
However, many luxury cruise companies will typically leave the matter to the discretion of the passenger. Some cruise lines will, however, quote a ‘recommended amount’ to paid upfront during booking. The amount is then distributed among the service personnel at the end of the cruise.
While for others, expect to find an envelope or two marked with a name of a crew member in your cabin. These envelopes are distributed by the cruise director to be used to tip the ship’s staff, where one can leave an amount they deem fit at the last day of the cruise.
This usually makes more sense since, in case the services of a particular steward delighted you during the cruise, you may decide to nominate him or her for a generous tip. In other luxury lines, tips are illegal and highly discouraged.
Whichever the policy, make sure you’re aware of it when booking for your cruise.
Consumption of alcohol
In an all inclusive cruise package, it’s forbidden for passengers to bring alcoholic drinks on board, as all the drinks will be catered for up front. This allows the cruise line management to regulate the intake of alcohol and reduce cases of excessive drunkenness on-board.
This said, however, drinking rules vary greatly from one cruise company to another. They are those that stipulate alcoholic drinks to be served to the holidaymakers strictly only during dinner time. At the end of the spectrum, some luxury ships will have an on-board bar lounge open 24 hours a day where revellers can raise a glass or two any time they please.
Some cruises require travellers to purchase a drinks package, which will start at £4-5 per day per person.
Either way, regardless of the drinking norms outlined, remember whether on land or at sea, alcohol is best consumed responsibly.
WiFi and Internet access
With the rapid strides in technology, it’s increasingly common for holidaymakers to bring their mobile devices or tablets. Almost all cruise ships will have either an internet cafe or numerous WiFi hotspots, especially in the cabin areas. So in case you wish to upload a selfie photo on Facebook that you took while out snorkelling, this won’t be much of a problem.
Nonetheless, internet access is not always free and due to the nature of a ship being at sea, can be extremely expensive. Some cruise lines are known to charge their passengers according to the data bundle that they subscribe to. While for others, access is available on pay-as-you-browse terms. In such cases the longer time you spend online the more your cruise card is charged.
Bermuda shorts or tuxedos for dinner? Cruise lines will often recommend a specific kind of attire for a given occasion such as dinner (but most will not be strict in enforcing them). In first class luxury cruises, it’s common for the travellers to don tuxedos or dinner suits or cocktail dresses after 6.pm.
While in other ships it’s not uncommon either to find people enjoying a late night dinner while dressed very casually. Nevertheless, when attending a formal dinnertime occasion aboard a ship it’s advisable for one to dress presentably to avoid being turned away by the butler at the door.
So as you book your cruise ticket, pack a suit or two.
For first-time cruisers, it’s common to suffer the blunt effects of motion sickness. Although, the severity of nausea swings on the hinges of a variety of factors including; the season of the cruise, prevailing weather conditions, and individual sensitivity.
It’s also very possible you won’t also feel queasy at all! But in case you do start to feel unwell or nauseous in the course of the voyage, contact the ship’s doctor to get some kind of relief or prescription.
Severe seasickness is rare, but if you do have a history of it, you may want to consider purchasing some appropriate medication before going aboard.
It’s always important to insure your cruise in case you run into some kind of eventuality during the voyage. Insurance cover may come in handy in offsetting your medical bill if you fall unwell or have an accident when cruising.
But it’s also more important to cross-check whom you’re buying the insurance from. For example, it’s not advisable to insure your trip with the cruise line itself, or the booking agent. Such insurance covers are usually very limited and may not do you any good in case of an accident on-board, missing your port or being confined to your cabin in the event of illness. Have a look at our cruise insurance comparison website for more details about the benefits of cruise insurance.
This said and done, ahoy there sailors! Time to pack up your bags!