Cruise Packing List and Tips by Cruise Experts
By Jan115 in Jan's Sea & Shore EscapesI was cleaning out some old clothes the other day and came across a box of T-shirts, purchased from various past cruises and land trips at a time in my life when I liked wearing T-shirts. Most in the pile were too small and never (or hardly) worn, and should have gone out to the donation collection a long time ago. This re-discovery got me to thinking about small regrets about my vacations past.
By regrets, I don’t mean missed flights, excursions gone wrong or hotels from hell, but those memorable little things that I deem now to have been a waste of time, money or just poor judgment. In the case of the T-shirts, for instance, while I have one or two that did become favorites, the rest turned out to be too small, too big, ill fitting, or just really not my style. Crew neck shirts choke me, for one, these days, which made having all those shirts now pointless. Still, I kept buying them “just in case”. In the end, I really hate T-shirts. Here are a few other past vacation regrets:
Running out of iPhone memory. I don’t take video often, but last spring while going through the Panama Canal, I thought it would be really cool to record the Coral Princess going through the locks. It wasn’t long before the dreaded “memory full” words came up, forcing me to use up precious time to go in and delete stuff. Instead of one grand video to show the folks back home, I wound up multiple footage of about 10 seconds each, and spent the rest of my day deleting old stuff to make room for new. I have since upgraded to a phone with more storage, so I have some time before I reach capacity (I hope)!
Overpacking. I’ve gotten pretty good at judging the weight of a bag and avoiding fees, but the real issue came about while on a drive-trip with the family around Portugal several years back. The trunks (or boots, depending where you live) of the rental cars had limited room, as you can imagine, necessitating me to consolidate, toss out a few things, and leave one of my empty bags in the hotel we were staying in. To validate my “charitable donation”, I chose the worse, oldest bag in the bunch. What’s the the moral of this sad story? Always figure in what, how and where you’ll be traveling when packing and choosing luggage.
Not adhering to the family meet-up rules. Probably because I was so mesmerized by my surroundings or, more likely, because I have a severely limited attention span, I would inevitably miss the words “we’ll meet [here] at [such and such time.” I once spent an hour searching for my family in Disney World. Some mother, huh? They were all where they were supposed to be. I was not. This was in the day before cell phones, so cut me some slack.
Not learning to read a map. Finally, the last and probably most important thing that would have saved me and my family a lot of grief was to learn how to read a map. My husband will tell you that I am the worst navigator. Now keep in mind that this was the day and age before GPS, when going to the local AAA office for maps, guidebooks and TripTiks was a requisite for any trip. My husband learned early on to put our 10-year-old in the navigator seat of the family car, because she could be trusted, and I could not. As one who has hated asking for directions, I probably spent many hours of my early life driving in circles. GPS, these days, still has me going in circles, but those circles are now smaller and less frequent.
What are your little vacation regrets or annoyances? Maybe you have some greater than mine. Feel free to comment.
By Jan115 in Jan's Sea & Shore EscapesHow I love this quote:
"Travel is like a giant blank canvas, and the painting on the canvas is only limited by one’s imagination." – Ross Morley
When I was in the planning stages of my first cruise back in 2001, I combed through every book, magazine, website, review, video and photo I could find in order to choose the perfect cruise. Through others' eyes, I learned of the best ships, the best cabins, the best food, and the best destinations. I listened while others touted their advice on what to avoid and their 10-best lists. I ended up with many pre-conceived notions and over-inflated expectations of what cruise life is like. Granted, I felt prepared for that first ship adventure on the Grand Princess to the Western Caribbean, but I also dispensed with much of the useless advice I was given (despite the 1001 uses for duck tape, and how no one should leave home without it, I have never carried a roll in my 17 years of cruising).
I'm not saying that we should make the trip up as we go along - some preplanning is required. But I no longer plan down to the last pad of post-it notes. How many times do we visit the must-see sights in a destination only because someone said we'll be sorry if we didn't. For instance, when planning our time when the ship docked in Florence, it was suggested by some to combine our precious limited time in both Florence and Pisa. After all, how could we travel to this part of the world and NOT experience that leaning tower. Actually, we could. We've seen many a touristy photo - you know the one - the tacky photo of the guy pretending to hold up the tower so it won't fall. We didn't feel the need to waste time when there was so much beauty in Florence to see.
In other words, when you travel, create your trip from your own blank canvas. Start with the basics. Add your dream experiences - those bucket list items (the Sistine Chapel comes to mind!), but leave room for the unexpected - the seaside stroll, the impromptu music performance in the square, a chat with the locals over a pint in Dublin. See what that final painting reveals. It's those candid, unforeseen surprise moments that really make a trip!
By Jan115 in Tuesday Travel Tips[Updated 2018]
Now that summer has officially arrived, so has hurricane season in the Caribbean, lasting from June through November, affecting tourists and residents from the Southern Caribbean, and on north to the coast of Maine. Should that stop you from booking a Caribbean or New England cruise in late summer or fall? No, and here’s why.
Caribbean cruise rates are never better than they are in fall, especially from late August through mid-December. Crowds diminish, the kids are back in school, and cruising is generally quieter. It’s an ideal time to cruise.
Chances are good that a hurricane will not affect your cruise plans. Cruise ships use the latest weather-tracking systems to steer around the path of storms. While you may encounter some rough seas, the crew will do a marvelous job of keeping you safe and the ship as steady as possible.
If you are planning a Caribbean cruise in fall, you can take a few extra precautions to lessen the chance of weather-related mishaps.
First and most importantly, buy a good travel insurance policy. You might even consider one with a cancel-for-any-reason feature. Arrive at your port a day or two ahead of your sail date, especially if you need to fly. While the cruise itself may not be an issue in a storm, getting to your ship on time could be. Weather delays and flight cancellations may leave you stranded at home. Getting a jump start to the cruise port will increase the likelihood of getting on board. When choosing a late summer or fall tropical cruise, consider a destination less likely to be in the path of a hurricane, such as Panama or Costa Rica. Use a travel agent. They have the resources to keep you alert to delays and cancellations and can get you where you need to be with minimal stress. If a storm does come your way, keep in touch with your travel agent for the latest cruise line updates and advice. If you are cruising during hurricane season, keep an open mind and board your ship with the right attitude. If a hurricane messes with your vacation, the ship’s itinerary may change, and you may find yourself in ports you weren’t expecting. Go with the flow, and enjoy your cruise, wherever it may take you.