When people mention the word, “cruise ship”, what goes into your mind? A luxury travel? Is it only for rich people? The movie ‘Titanic’ and iceberg? Hoping to score a passenger that as hot as Leonardo DiCaprio? And for those who have sailed on a cruise, what is your opinion? Like it? Hate it? If you’ve been given a second chance for another cruise ship travel, would you do it again?
Hang in there, missy! You’re asking us too many questions!
We had the opportunity to experience the cruise travel last year because we’re so curious about it. We’ve heard so many stories from our friends about how they really enjoyed their cruise experiences and won’t mind to do it again and again. Some already had 7-10 cruise ship experiences and if there’s a chance to go for another vacation, they will definitely pick cruise lines over flying. We were like, wow! You guys loved cruises that much, hey! Did you know that there are a lot of varieties of cruises in the market? These are the popular ones:
- Adventure Cruise
- Luxury Cruise
- Ultra-luxury Cruise
- Contemporary Cruise
- Christmas Cruise
- Family Cruise
When we heard a lot of positive stories about cruise travel, we got intrigued even more. At the end of our voyage, we had mixed feelings. We didn’t hate it, but we didn’t dig it either. However, having said that, there were some external and internal factors that influenced our decision in this:
- We lost our luggage right before the sailing, which put us in a very difficult situation to follow the rules and requirement made by the cruise line.
- We were promised by the cruise line crew that they will take care of the matters, and they will trace our luggage and deliver it to us in a few days. At the end of the sailing, we still didn’t get our luggage and all of the excuses given by the crew was complete bollocks. We discovered that they were lying to us from the final PIR report that we received from the airline representative.
- When we filled up the customer satisfaction form, for the negative reviews that we rated such as the lack of friendliness service at the front desk, we got a reply from the cruise ship company stated that “We’re sorry for the inconveniences that you’ve faced. We hope you will change your mind about us in the future.” (what the damn hell?)
- The cruise that we picked to sail with was filled with upper-class people. We struggled a bit to understand the conversation topic that these upper-class passengers were talking about.
We hope that you can read this article with an open mind and it does not reflect your perception towards traveling on a cruise ship one day. Based on our experiences, 7 important things that you need to know about sailing with a cruise ship:
1. CRUISE LINE DRESS CODE
Most cruise lines have a dress code that you need to follow. Passengers do get turned away from the dining room especially and being told off to change for a much proper attire. But sometimes, people do get away with it for several nights, depending on how lenient the crew can be. In our ship, most of the time, we were required to dress casually smart. This means that passengers are not permitted to wear slippers, shorts, tank top when walking inside the ship. In addition, there will be several nights that they called it as Formal Nights, where male passengers are required to wear a tux and as for the ladies, an evening dress.
For us, during that time, this rule was quite burdensome. SAS Airways lost our luggage several hours before the sailing time and we entered the ship with hand carry belongings. This is another reason why you shouldn’t put your electronic devices in your check-in luggage. Other than it can be opened and checked randomly by the immigration officers, it also can attract potential theft. According to the CNN report, The Miami-Dade Police Department set up a hidden camera as part of an ongoing police investigation into luggage thefts. The result might shock you, the hidden camera recorded airport workers broke into the luggage and stole its belongings. You can read all about it here.
Even though the crew claimed to understand our unfortunate event, still, we were required to find a formal wear for the Formal Nights. What’s more unfortunate for us was, the next stop that we can start shopping was Santorini. It’s freaking Santorini, man. How on earth can we find a cheap formal wear here? With a heavy heart, we had to dig our emergency travel savings to shop for another evening dress, even though we had packed it in the luggage. As for the tux, don’t worry about it. You can simply rent a tux from a boutique inside the ship. It’s quite pricey, but if you don’t have any requirement to wear the tux for future events, might as well rent it.
Each cruise lines will have their own dress code requirement. We would highly recommend you to check with your cruise agent for further details and to avoid any future inconveniences.
2. FREE VS. PAID SERVICE
We often see the adverts about how exciting cruise ship experience can be. Either enjoy your leisure time at the pool while sipping some Pina Colada, or watch the spectacular dance performance choreographed by one of the best dance instructors in the world. Regardless whether you see the adverts on TV or social media, you may see the different approaches used by the cruise ship companies to advertise and attract different groups of people. However, one thing that all of them have in common is the all-inclusive rate.
“All-inclusive rate”, sounds very tempting and yet, you’re still scratching your head, why the heck that you still need to pay for a cup of Vanilla Latte from the cafe? This is because, any drinks or a piece of cake that you order from any cafes/bars other than the buffet restaurant, is a paid service. So, what’s included then?
- Dine in the buffet restaurant
- Self-service laundromat
- Evening performances
- Classes and activities that you can join
Other than this, you might need to pay for it. For the first timers, it’s very easy to fall for this illusion. Ask the staff if you’re unsure whether you have to pay for it because some of them will make you in tears once you see the final bill at the end of your voyage. Here are some of the paid services that you need to know before you board the ship:
- Wi-Fi. Regardless whether the cruise ship offers rate per minutes, hours or data, it’s still infamously expensive.
- Food and beverage offered in cafes, clubs, bars or any place other than the buffet restaurant.
- Express laundry service
- Spa & massage treatment
- Skilled classes such as fitness, cooking, sewing, Iphone, Ipad
- Medical prescription from the in-house clinic
3. TREAT YOUR CRUISE CARD LIKE YOUR PASSPORT
The front desk staff will give you a cruise card with your name on it, once you’ve finished your check-in process. The card is crucial, treat it like your passport. Secure it with your life (that sounds so dramatic!). There are several reasons of why this card is so damn important for the rest of your voyage:
- It acts as our room key
- It serves as a credit card function where you shop and dine anywhere and anytime in the ship. Swipe now, pay later. May we remind you that the pain that you’ll get when you see the final bill during check-out later would be the same pain when seeing your credit card monthly statement. If you’re not that filthy rich like us, avoid spending anything on the ship. Including the one simple question asked by the ship photographers, “do you want us to take photos of you with the ship?”
- It will be used as your passport that can let you in and out from the ship. Don’t take the card for granted and it will avoid you from major hassles from entering the ship later.
4. CRUISE STOPS
Depending on its sailing schedule, the time that a cruise ship will take after docking or tendering varies. It can be from 6 hours to 3 days. Usually, it will dock or tender for 8 hours, 9 am – 6 pm. By using this information, you can either plan in advance on what kind of activities that you can during those 8 hours. Alternatively, you can join the cruise excursion guide, where you can simply approach the front desk and let them know that you’re interested. It’s quite pricey, for us especially and we preferred to travel independently and with fewer crowds.
The crucial thing that you need to know is, is the ship docking o tendering? Docking is when a vessel ties up at a pier and cruisers exit the ship with the help of a ramp or gangplank. Tendering, no pier facilities are available or when the water is too shallow for ships to get closer to shore. Vessels drop anchor a short distance away and use small boats to transfer the passengers from the ship to the port.
By docking, you have nothing to worry about. You can walk in and out from the ship as many times you want. Different scenario when it comes to tendering. Since you have to ride a shuttle boat, you need to consider an ample time for the boat transfer and imagine thousands of passengers wait in line just to get into the same boat as you do. Optimumly, spare 30 minutes before the sailing time.
5. SCANNING AND SECURITY CHECK
Just like the scanning and security check procedure that you see in the airport, you will go through the same process before entering the ship. Same goes to our belongings. Hence, all of the illegal items and substances such as drugs, sharp objects, drone, alcohol, and others, are not allowed to be brought into the ship. Check with your local cruise ship agent to know more about the extensive list of the illegal items.
We will go through 2 procedures of scanning and security check. The first one would be at the port immigration hall. Then, you need to pass the cruise ship’s scanning area. Some cruisers were brave enough to underestimate the cruise ship’s tight security and attempted to bring drugs into the ship. Recently, a French tourist faced life in the Australian jail after the Australian authority busted her for smuggling cocaine at the end of her cruise voyage in Sydney. More news about it here.
6. COLLECTING PASSPORT STAMPS
If collecting passport stamps is your favorite thing to do during travel, cruise travel is one of the best options to go for. In one week of a voyage, you can get as much three stampings! For example, the destination for today is Barcelona, Spain and tomorrow, you’ll be visiting Lisbon, Portugal. In only 2 days, you’ve already collected two stamps from two different countries. If you’re sailing in the Carribean Island, you’ll have so much fun in getting so many stamps from the exotic countries such as:
- St. Kitts
7. THINGS TO DO ON A CRUISE SHIP
There are a lot of activities, skilled classes, and performances that have been properly planned and prepared by the cruise staff to entertain their passengers, from day till night. Unfortunately, the activities that were offered by the cruise ship wasn’t that interesting. The performances were terrible and the dancers were not synchronized at all. They were everywhere on the stage and made the dance performance looked like a mess. Depending on the cruise line that you chose to sail with, they have different types of entertainment for their passengers. For example, Royal Carribean International cruise provides a rock climbing facility and Carnival cruise offers a water theme park called the Carnival WaterWorks. As for ours? We spared our personal reviews about them.
HONESTLY, WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT CRUISE SHIP EXPERIENCE?
Understandably, with the right cruise line, the experience can be fun and exciting. Unfortunately for us, our first-time experience sailing with a cruise ship had a rocky start. Due to the unsatisfactory service that was served by the cruise ship staff, we now have doubts and hesitation to sail with another cruise line again. We might try it again one day, but it won’t be anytime soon. We might have chosen the wrong cruise line to begin with, but it’s enough to make us not to consider sailing with a cruise ship again. In addition, we’re not really buying into the idea of letting other parties decide on how long can we spend our time in a destination.