Travel tips

While there are lots of rules… you can usually get away with breaking them

There is a difference between rules and laws. Break a law and you’ll get busted. But break a rule, and you could just get a slap on the hand. For instance, if you don’t want to wear formal clothes on formal night, then don’t. Cruise lines want everyone to have a good time. If you break a rule, they will usually just ask you to stop doing it. It’s rare they will kick you off the ship unless you are endangering other passengers or causing a disturbance.

Always use your cabin safe. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing

Unfortunately, we live in a world where you have to be cautious with your valuables. Theft does happen, even on a cruise. Every cabin will come with an in-room safe, which you should use whenever you leave the room. It’s perfect for storing extra cash, electronics, passports and more. It’s by no means perfect, but the safe helps protect you from any crimes of “convenience” where someone snags an item just because it’s left out in the open.

Cruise ships are a great place for spreading a virus (Wash your hands)

You know why you always hear about norovirus on cruise ships? That’s because if you were going to create a conducive place to spread a virus, you would build a cruise ship. Having thousands of people in an enclosed area and the same dining facilities is ripe for spreading illness. Cruise lines go to great lengths to sanitize and keep everyone healthy. Even so, definitely use hand sanitizer, which is available all over the ship. Proper hand washing is also important.

Don’t sail without the vaccine

On some cruises if you want to get on the ship, then you’ll need to show proof of vaccination. But rules will continue to evolve and some places — such as Florida — don’t allow cruise ships to require proof of the shot. No matter if it’s required or not, you should get the vaccine to sail. Not only does it protect you from getting sick, it also protects other passengers and the ports that are visited. If that’s not enough, cruise lines currently charge sharp testing fees for unvaccinated passengers that can add hundreds to the cost of your cruise.

Authorities check the passenger list for warrants… and arrest them on the way back

If you have an arrest warrant, think twice before getting on a cruise. Once you board, local authorities will often run the names of the passengers through a database to check for any outstanding warrants. The result? Assuming the warrants are for minor items, they will then let the passengers enjoy the cruise before escorting them off the ship once it arrives back at port.

Many hotels near the port will offer free (or discounted) cruise parking and/or shuttles to the ship

Are you planning to drive in for your cruise and need a place to stay? Look for hotels that offer cruise parking. Hotels in port cities will do whatever they can to attract cruise passengers. That means they will let you park at their hotel during your cruise for free (or at a sharp discount). Many will also offer a shuttle ride to the cruise port as well. There is no better way to save money on your cruise parking and getting to the port than with this tip. See our list of hotels in every port with cruise shuttles, including Miami hotels with shuttles to the cruise port.

You can pack way more than you can on a plane

Are you the sort of person that packs for a month when you’re only going for a week? Good news is the cruise lines don’t have near as stringent a baggage policy as the airlines. There are no baggage fees, or real restrictions on how much you can bring (within reason). You also don’t have to worry about the 3-ounce liquid rule. It makes it much easier to pack and much less stressful. That said, we’d suggest still packing light. Remember, the more you pack, the more you have to carry with you, and the more space it takes up in your cabin.

Leave the hair dryer at home

Hair dryers are standard equipment in all cabins, just like in a hotel room. That means you can leave yours at home and save some space in your bags. The only time you’ll need to bring your own is if you have a special type of hair dryer that you just have to use. The in-cabin hair dryer is one of those small hotel-style ones that isn’t terribly powerful.

Pack a nightlight for the cabin

Staying in an interior room? That means you have no windows… and no natural light. Once you shut the door and turn out the lights, it’s pitch black. Bring along a nightlight to plug in to provide some light for the room. Your shins will appreciate the extra light when you have to stumble into an unfamiliar bathroom in the middle of the night.

Dry bags are always a good idea if you plan to hit the beach

While you can use Ziploc bags, we like the idea of having a watertight pouch or bag when you head to the beach. They are the perfect size for a phone, cash, and keycards. Best of all, they can snap onto your waistband so that you can carry your things with you in the water while taking a dip — and not leave them vulnerable on the beach. Read our review of our favorite dry bag here.

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