5 Things Not to Do on Your First Cruise


man screaming in frustrationSo my first cruise — a week-long Bermuda cruise sailing on Norwegian Dawn — wasn’t perfect (credit the rain, a couple lacklustre shows and several cancelled activities), but it was pretty great. It took me a couple days to figure out how to make the most of my time on-board. As the days progressed and I learned the lay of the ship, my experience improved exponentially. I might have thought I knew a lot about cruising, but until you actually experience a cruise … well, you experienced cruisers know what I mean. So what did this first-time cruiser learn?

Don’t overdo it your first day on-board. Most mainstream cruise ships are bigger than you think — even if they’re not among the largest afloat. Most modern ships are composed of deck upon deck of cabins and public spaces and can accommodate thousands of people. The last thing you want to do is wear yourself out trying to unearth every nook and cranny of the ship before your vacation is even under-way. It’s easy to want to see and do it all on the first day, but avoid the temptation.

people sitting in cruise specialty restaurant NCLDon’t try to eat at every speciality restaurant.Most major cruise lines have made a habit of building multiple for-fee speciality restaurants into newer ships, and while these restaurants can be fantastic, you could end up shelling out a fistful of cash by the time your cruise commences. Plus, you risk missing some of the special items found in the ship’s main dining room. During my cruise, I was in such a hurry to start trying out the speciality restaurants that I neglected to realize that Night No. 1 was lobster night in the MDR. I was so sad to miss it — and those passengers raving about the quality didn’t help.

Don’t think you’re too cool to participate in corny cruise activities. Sure you can sit in your cabin all day or loaf about on the pool deck, but the real fun comes when you dip your toe in the cheesy cruise waters. No, I won’t sing karaoke, and bingo is not really my thing, but I found that even playing spectator at some of these events resulted in gut-busting good times. And don’t forget, cruising’s much better when you meet new people — and these cruise line organized activities are the best way to do so.

cruise ship cabin with towel animalDon’t stay in your cabin for hours at a time.While a few short naps are nice (especially if you have a balcony to veg on), if you spend too long of a stretch in your cabin, you’re sure to miss some fun on-board activities. It took me a couple days to realize I was missing things like movies on the big screen, trivia sessions and game shows like “Battle of the Sexes.” When cruising, there’s something going on every hour of the day, and the only way you’re going to have the best time possible is to venture out of your cabin and get involved.

Don’t forget to be nice to the crew. These guys and gals work hard for your enjoyment. Remember to smile at them and thank them for their hard work. You’ll be rewarded with personalized service and great conversation. It was awesome to have crew members addressing me by name and stopping in the halls to chat me up at every turn. Be sure to set the right tone from the beginning, and your effort will surely be reflected in your experience.

Crystal Cruises limits dining at specialty restaurants

By Tom Stieghorst

Crystal Cruises said it will limit the number of times guests can dine in its speciality restaurants, Prego and Silk Road, starting with voyages this week.

On sailings of under 14 days, one reservation per guest will be honoured at each restaurant for the voyage. For longer voyages, two reservations per guest will be allowed at each restaurant.

Each restaurant seats about 100 people and there is no dining charge.

Crystal said that additional reservations can be made based on availability and will carry a $30 fee.

Crystal said the changes were made “in order to ensure that each Crystal guest has the opportunity to experience every dining venue on board.”

On Crystal’s world cruise, which begins Jan. 18 in Los Angeles, the fees for speciality dining will be waived, but only one reservation per segment can be made prior to cruising.

Penthouse guests can order room service from the two restaurants as often as they wish, and the sushi bar in Silk Road remains first come, first served, Crystal said.