cruises: what to know before you go

Cruises what to know before you go: radmomcoolkid.com

Cruises are amazing.  I mean, all you can eat food, lounging, room service, shows and sun; combined with exotic locations.  You really can’t beat it.  Especially for the price.   Lane and I decided to take the Mexican Riviera cruise last week to celebrate his graduation.  It was his first time cruising and it was so fun to be able to have some time to ourselves.   Our cruise was 5 days and 4 nights and docked in Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico.  We rented bikes, rode horses, read on the beach and ate to our hearts content.

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Cruises really are a great way to vacation.  It combines all the best aspects of a trip without the high price tag.  But, before you board… there are a few things every cruiser should know.

1-     You don’t always need a passport to cruise.  If you are a US citizen taking a ‘closed loop’ cruise (meaning your departing and arriving port cities are both US territories) then you don’t need a passport.  You will need a government issued photo ID (if over 16) and birth certificate though.  If your last name is different on your ID than your birth certificate because of marriage, bring your marriage license along as well.  This isn’t to say that it isn’t encouraged to have a passport when cruising, because it is.  If for some strange reason you ended up stranded at one of your ports….say, like Mexico…. And you don’t have your passport.  It will take a while for them to sort out how to get you home.  But, if you’re willing to take the risk (like I did) just bring the other documents and you will be just peachy!

Cruises what to know before you go: radmomcoolkid.com

2-     Pack for all weather.  Just because you are traveling to the Caribbean, doesn’t mean it will be 90 degrees and sunny the whole time.  Make sure you bring some pants and a jacket along for the trip as well.  It gets nippy on the seas.  Be prepared!

Cruises what to know before you go: radmomcoolkid.com

3-     Worried about sea sickness? Book your room towards the middle of the ship.  You won’t feel the rocking as much.  Also, sea sick bands, ginger, meclizine, and scopamine patches (get an RX from your doc) are great back up options, just in case.  Like tip number 2 said, you can’t predict exactly what the weather will be like.  We had a couple of super rocky days.  I was really glad I had brought ginger and meclizine with us.  It soothed the nausea and made those days much more enjoyable.

4-     Bring bottled water.  When we were boarding the ship, I saw like 20 people carrying on cases of water.  I thought they were crazy.  They weren’t crazy.  They were smart.  The ship will charge you $4 for a bottle of water.  They have filtered water available on the very top deck, but that’s the only place.  Bring some bottled water and keep it in your cabin so you don’t have to run up to the top deck every time you need a drink.  You won’t want to drink the water that comes from the sink in your bathroom.  Trust me.

5-     Get to port early.  Most ships begin boarding around noon and stop around 4 before departing.  Get there early and beat the crowd.  Plus, you will get more time on the boat.  We got to port about 12:30 and there was no line at the check in.  We got on the ship easily and were able to unpack, eat lunch and enjoy some sun before the boat even left the dock.  Get your money’s worth! Get there early!  Also, to save time at check in… register online and fill out all the forms beforehand.

6-     Buy excursions beforehand.  Your cruise line will offer different excursions at each port.  My advice?  Book them before hand through someone else.  You will save loads of money.  Some cruise liners offer price matching, but make sure you read the fine print.  If you price match with them, you might end up with a credit you have to use on the ship instead of actual money in your pocket.  9/10 it will be cheaper to not book through your cruise ship.

Cruises what to know before you go: radmomcoolkid.com

7-     Order as much food as you want.   At lunch and dinner you will be handed a menu and a waiter will take your order.  Order as much and as many things as you want.  For reals.  If you see 5 different entrees you want to try, order all 5.  It’s all included in the price of the cruise.  Lane and I tried everything we thought looked good and it was so worth it!  We tried escargot, rabbit, and alligator.  You paid for the cruise; take advantage of the all you can eat food!  Don’t be afraid to order whatever you want!  I won’t judge.  I promise.

8-     Room service is free—kind of! One of our favorite things to do was order room service.  As with the dinner, it is all free.  Order as much as you want.  They will have sandwiches, snacks, desserts, drinks… and it will all be delicious.  But, please tip the servers!  They don’t expect much, just a dollar or two per room delivery.  It doesn’t even have to be cash; you can charge it to your card if you want to.  Like I said… almost free!

Cruises what to know before you go: radmomcoolkid.com

9-     Other tips will be added at the end of the cruise.  You might be tempted to tip your waiter, luggage guy, or entertainers.  Don’t worry! Most cruises automatically add a gratuity to your final bill at the end of the cruise.  Plan on about $10 per day, per person.  For a 5 day cruise, it will be about $45 per person total.  Such a nice thing to not have to worry about!

10-  Land sickness is real, my friends.  I loved my cruise, but I didn’t love feeling like I was still on my cruise 4 days after getting home.  But it happens to some people.  Land sickness can occur for 7-10 days after getting off the ship.  You might feel nauseous, exhaustion, anxiety, dizzy, or like you are rocking back and forth.  It’s normal.  You can continue to take a small dose of meclizine to help or use your sea sickness bands.  I used essential oils and it really helped.  It doesn’t happen to everyone, and if it lasts more than 10 days or doesn’t seem to get better as the day’s progress… talk to your doctor!

Cruises what to know before you go: radmomcoolkid.com

 

Side note– The lady next to me checking in was pregnant and decided to lie to all the cruise staff about being pregnant so she could board.  Guys.  Cruises are fun.  But they aren’t that fun.  Don’t be that lady, k?  Babies>cruises.

I hope all you land lubbers will take a cruise at some point!  It’s a great way to get out and try new things.  All you experienced cruisers, what other tips do you have for the newbies??

travel like a pro

travel like a pro:radmomcoolkid.com

Happy New Year’s, everyone!

How were your holidays?  I’m still kind of in a mourning period.  I’ll deal.  To take my mind off of the end of the season, I am channeling all of my excitement in to planning Lane and I’s vacation this next year. This will be our first baby-free vacation.  And hopefully our first uneventful trip as far as traveling goes too.  You know…. no lost bags, baby puking on you mid-air, husband missing flight types of events.  Anyways!  I’m hoping I’m not the only one dreaming of beaches and warm weather.   Here are some tips straight from the source to help you plan and prepare for your next trip!

First, treat yo’ self!  Go on trips.  For realsies. With careful planning, trips don’t have to cost a fortune.  Most airlines will lower their prices, or have sales on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s.  Also, plan to travel midweek.  Not only will their airport be less crowded, but it will cost less.  Traveling on the weekend will cost you a pretty penny!

Save yo’ money! Pack your own food.  Seriously.  You can bring any of your normally-priced-delicious-not-airport-food with you.  As long as its not liquids.  Bring your own pillow and blanket.  Airplanes get cold, right?? Airlines will have pillows and blankets that you can buy, but they can be pricey.  Especially for something you will only use once. And that isn’t high quality. Also, don’t forget your own headset!

Pack wisely! Packing your carry-on is essential. You will want to have at least one change of clothes and your tooth brush with you.  If your bags get lost, you don’t want to be buying out a Walgreens trying to get fresh and clean.  Make sure all meds are also in your carry on.  Even if they are liquids.  TSA will allow any medication to be carried on.  Once again…. you don’t want your bags to get lost and you to be with out your meds.  And finally, NEVER pack valuables in your checked bags.  Airlines will not replace stolen or lost property. Also, be aware of the weight limits your airline might have. If you overpack like me, check out this post.  It will rock your world.

Be prepared! Most airlines will not provide accommodations if there is a weather delay.  They will also not pay for any damage done to your bags.  Check out your airlines Contract of Carry for more details. Make back up  plans, just in case.

For the kiddies!  Did you know you can check your stroller, car seat, or booster seat at no additional cost?  It’s considered an assistive device and will not count as one of your checked bags.  You can even check your stroller at the gate; that way you can use it to get your kiddo to the terminal and not have to worry about stowing it over head.  Also, breastmilk and formula can be carried on and passed through security.  Just make sure you let the TSA agent know that you have it.  As with yourself, make sure you pack extra clothes and supplies for your young’uns.  Nothing worse than having your luggage get lost with all your diapers with them.  Plus, if baby decides to have a blow out…. you do not want to be stuck with out an extra (or 5 extra) changes of clothes. Flights can be grueling, so remember to try and pack things to keep those kids busy.  Here are some great suggestions.  Road tripping it?  Check this out!

travel like a pro:radmomcoolkid.com

Be nice! Airline personal are there to help you any way they can. They have rules and guidelines that they have to follow.  They are not trying to bully you, but on the flip side don’t bully them to try and get your way.  They don’t like that.  Most airlines are willing to go the extra mile for customers who treat them with kindness.  If you do have an issue, try emailing the airline or calling and speaking directly with a supervisor, that way the conversation is easier to track.

I am so looking forward to traveling this year!

Do you have any fun trips planned?

Where are you going?

What tips do you have for me?

Can I come with  you? jk…… kinda……

Rad Mom Cool Kid

Rad Mom Cool Kid