Holland America Cruise Ship in the Port of Vancouver

Secrets From a Crew Member: How to Make Your Cruise Even More Awesome!

We sat with a former cruise ship crew member and asked them their secrets on how you could make your cruises even better. Whether this is your first cruise, of your tenth, while you’re on board, you might find yourself missing some of the “comforts” of home.

Ever wonder if there are any secrets to make your cruise even more awesome?

If so, let’s get right too it!

Cruise Ship Crew Members Know How to Find The Best WiFi!

These days, unless you are traveling on specific ships, WIFi is pretty slow.  Beyond checking email, it’s almost unusable.  And like many, when you arrive in port, you use the opportunity to connect to WiFi as it’s nice to be able to communicate with the world at a decent speed.  But sometimes finding the right place with a good WiFi connection is not that easy.  And sometimes, when you do find free WiFi, there may be fifty other people connecting to it, making it nearly impossible to use.  Crew members will know where the internet works best. Just ask! Pretty simple, right!

Visiting a port on a cruise ship

Bring a First Aid Kit

Bring the everyday items you would use at home for headaches, upset stomach, motion sickness, etc.  Also, bring bandaids for cuts and blisters. Visiting the doctor on board is expensive, and finding those necessities, in some exotic destination, might not be simple. Not only that, you might have to deal with the language barrier, etc.

Consider Alternate Modes of Transportation

Some attractions in port have free shuttle buses or public transit at a fraction of the cost you find on-board. Free shuttles and public transit is a secret cruise line won’t tell you – only a crew member will! You see, cruise lines want you to book the excursions directly. To be sure, sometimes it’s not such a bad thing!  So do your research, or even ask a crew member how to get around.

We heard those crew members who work at the casino, gift shops, etc. often have time off in port, and they can explore – these guys will have the best tips!  One example is in Juneau, AK.  An excursion might cost $60.00 to take to the Mendenhall Glacier.  But, now I know there’s a public bus that goes there every half hour for about $4.00 return.

A secret glacier seen from a cruise ship

Always Bring a Change of Clothes in Your Carry-On

If you travel with checked luggage, it’s essential to consider that sometimes “Life Happens” and your luggage doesn’t arrive in the cabin till after dinner, or perhaps even the next day.  Lost luggage has occurred many people over the years, and will continue to be a challenge.  By having a change of clothes, at least you’ll be more comfortable and ready for your first evening.

Ready for my holiday
Ready to go on my cruise

Make Your Itinerary Known

A cruise ship officer passed this secret to me, and I think it is genius. He told me that crew members must print their itinerary and leave it inside their checked baggage, along with their full name and phone number. In case their bag gets lost at the airport, airlines, and security (always) open it. Should they find your complete itinerary in it, they will be able to re-route your bag more efficiently to your next destination.

Ask a Cruise Crew Member for the Secret, Free Beach

We learned this simple tip on our last Mediterranean cruise. We were looking at beaches in Mykonos, Greece. The cruise line excursion to a beach resort was about $120.00 per person. Taxis to go to a beach were running approximately €60.00 each way. We were slightly disappointed about that until we asked one of the headwaiters in the main dining room. He told us about this great beach about 10 minutes walking from the pier. He said to us that nobody goes there because it is not very well known. Sure enough, we went, and we had a blast.

The beach was beautiful with lovely crystal clear water and a fantastic restaurant right there. On top of that, the beach was not so packed with tourists. Rather, there were some locals, some who appeared to be traveling solo, and just a few from our cruise ship.  Indeed, it was beautiful and calm. Lastly, from there, we had a fantastic view of our ship.

Mykonos Stefanos Beach - The Secret Free Beach brought to you by the cruise ship crew member
Stefano Beach in Mykonos

Bring Some Local Currency With you for Every Country You Visit

Bring some local currency with you, or at least some US dollars. On a recent trip to Asia, I visited seven countries and bought $50 worth of Thai Baht, Vietnamese Dong, Malaysian Ringgit, Singapore Dollars, and Hong Kong Dollars.  Having local currency made getting into town super simple as we had the cash ready to go. Also, consider that using the ATM on-board and in exotic destinations can also be problematic and expensive.  So for small amounts of money (i.e., coffee, or taxi fare), consider taking some local currency. To be sure, even if the currency is not widely used (like the Eastern Caribbean Dollar), you will find it helpful. And lastly, keep some USD as a backup. To be sure, keeping some currency on hand can help go a long way if the vendor doesn’t accept credit cards. And because not every place in the world takes credit cards!

Secret tip: When on the cruise ship, the crew member suggests to bring local currency

Cruise Crew Know the Secrets to Find The Souvenirs

When you arrive in port, souvenir stores will surround you. Beware: those stores right by the dock are the most expensive ones. If you don’t want to spend a fortune for fridge magnets or t-shirts, ask a crew member before arriving in the port where is the best place to go. A cruise ship crew member will know the secret (hint: best) places in port to shop. Most importantly, they know how to get to the stores in the most efficient way possible. When in port, crew members have a limited amount of time to do some shopping before they have to be back on board. For this reason, they know how to reach the local supermarket fast and cheap. Ask them, and you won’t be disappointed!

Souvenir store
Souvenir store

The bottom line is to be nice with crew members. For example, ask them questions and get to know them. To be sure, we made many wonderful friends over the years, and we’ve even kept in touch. Moreover, it’s a joy to spot crew that we met in the past and stayed in touch! It’s like coming back to a second home!

I hope you’ll find these tips useful. Please leave a comment below if you have more suggestions.

-Happy Cruising

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