There are a lot of tips out there about cruising, but we’ll bet that what we’re about to share will be some of the most unusual you’ve heard about making your cruise better.
They include where to avoid being without clothes, the truth about getting off the ship earlier, and even what to know about the casino before you play… and plenty more.
But after taking dozens of cruises, they are all things we think many people will want to know, even if they are a little strange, little-known or just offbeat.
Be Careful Being Frisky on the Balcony
The idea of a private balcony on a cruise is exciting. You pay a little more and get a million-dollar view that you can’t get anywhere else. And we don’t think you’d be an adult if you didn’t think about well… adult things you could enjoy in your own little private space.
Thinking of sunbathing “al fresco” on your balcony? Want to get a little frisky with your partner in the fresh air? One tip is to keep in mind that your balcony actually isn’t all that private. The dividers between balconies are low to allow wind to pass through. They also are several inches above the floor to allow water to flow during a rainstorm. And often there is space on the edges where you can see the reflection of the balcony next to you in the glass wall.
That means anyone in the balcony next to you could easily see what’s going on without much effort.
Put Away the Fun Stuff From the Cabin Steward
During your cruise you will have a cabin steward that tends to the cabin each day. They do things like clean the room, restock anything needed, and make the bed. But one tip is to ensure that if you leave the cabin you don’t leave anything laying out that you don’t want them to see.
So if you did something like sneak on alcohol or bring a special outfit to spice things up on vacation, be sure to put them away. Otherwise, there might be some awkwardness the next time you see the cabin steward.
What to Know About Sneaking Alcohol
Let’s be real about something that many people are doing on a cruise — sneaking on alcohol. On Cruzely, we conducted a survey a few years back. And at that time, 13% of respondents admitted to having snuck alcohol onto a cruise ship. So yes, it does happen.
So what happens if you’re caught? Well, if found, it will be confiscated. And while the language in the ticket contract you agree to has some harsh penalties for breaking the rules — up to being disembarked — in reality, that’s not likely to happen. It’s likely just going to be taken and you go on your way.
Meet-ups for Special Interest Groups
Are you a member of the LGBTQ+ community? Or maybe you are someone who has battled issues with alcohol, (where on a cruise there is definitely a lot of temptation)? Or maybe you’re a single cruiser looking for someone to spend some time with on the trip.
One thing that you might not realize is that there are a number of meet-ups for different groups during many cruises. They are usually self-led, but the daily planner will list a time and place for the meeting. One thing to know is that if you’re looking for the meeting for those with alcohol addiction, it’s normally listed as “Friends of Bill W.” after the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Menus? They Are More Like Suggestions
One tip that no one else really tells you is that when you eat in a restaurant on the ship, you can often think of the menu as merely a suggestion. The normal rules don’t really apply.
The menu in the main dining room changes every day. If you want to try something that’s not there today, chances are you can still get it made for you if you just ask. Cruise line staff are no strangers to going out of their way to make guests happy.
The same goes for ordering what you want. Just because you’re asked for an appetizer, main dish, and dessert doesn’t mean you can only have one. If you want to try multiple dishes, then order it. Just want to eat appetizers? That’s allowed. Just order what you want.
A Shoe Organizer Is the Ultimate Cabin Accessory
This one is a little strange because most people would never think to pack a shoe organizer. After all, if you’re packing enough shoes to need a shoe organizer on a cruise, you’re doing it wrong.
But what this is great for is hanging over the bathroom door and giving you tons of spots to put small items. We like to use it for things like bottles of sunscreen, sunglasses, towel clips, among other things. It puts them all in one place instead of cluttering up the room.
What to Know About Cruise Casinos
Casinos are a major focus of a cruise — especially in the evening where they can be absolutely packed. And for the most part the casinos are similar to what you’d find on land. There are slot machines, blackjack, craps, and video poker.
But there are also some unusual games as well. Things like the coin pusher machine, the skill crane, and the key pusher game often make appearances in cruise casinos. Before you play, you should know that while some of these games look like complete skill, but do involve luck. Those skill cranes for instance… they are programmed to only have enough grip to actually pick up the cash occasionally.
It is a casino after all. For more on what to know about the casino, read our casino article here.
Crime & Sickness on Cruise Ships
You should know that in general cruising is pretty safe when it comes to being a victim of crime or your health. Even so, you have a right to be informed as people do get sick on cruise ships and crime does happen.
That’s why the U.S. government has some public reporting on health and crime on ships that you can check before you cruise. For instance, the CDC runs a Vessel Sanitation Program that’s similar to a health inspection for a restaurant on land. You can look up the recent reports and see what issues were found on your ship. There’s also CDC reporting on gastro illness on cruise ships.
When it comes to crime, the U.S. Department of Transportation publishes quarterly statistics by cruise line for major crimes like suspicious death and sexual assault.
When You Can Really Debark
Shhh… don’t tell anyone, but you can actually debark the cruise ship when you want when your trip ends.
The cruise lines may call passengers deck by deck, but the process can take hours. If you already have all your bags and want to leave, you can just head down whenever you like. The staff doesn’t check what deck your cabin is on, and they simply want passengers off the ship so that they can get ready for the next group.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that lines can be extremely long right at the beginning of debarkation. Sometimes it’s worth it just to relax for an hour and let the rush die down. But if you have an early flight, don’t feel like you’re breaking the rules by going before you’re called.
Hooking Up With Crew? Not Happening
When it comes to having a fling on the ship, your eyes might be tempted by the crew. They’re generally young, fit, international, and seem to be having a lot of fun.
But if you want a hook-up on a cruise, then keep looking elsewhere. Relations between passengers and crew is expressly prohibited. Look around and you’ll likely find a notice somewhere like the information guide on the stateroom TV or as a little blurb in the daily planner that says these relationships are off limits.
Reports are that it can cost a crew member their job if it happens.
Cameras Are Everywhere… Be Aware
One weird thing you may or may not notice while you cruise… cameras. We’ve gotten used to seeing security cameras everywhere in life, but ships take it to another level. There are security cameras watching every public area of the major cruise ships.
So don’t think you’ll be able to sneak off and do something you shouldn’t be doing even if no one else is around.. In fact, these cameras are required by law as a way to improve safety onboard. And yes, they do work. we’ve personally been to the bridge of a ship and you could see feeds coming in all over the ship.
One place where there won’t be cameras is your cabin, although some balconies may have one that shows some of the area.
The Truth About Marijuana
Let’s talk about something that seems to be growing in popularity — marijuana. In many states it is now legal for recreational use. And even more allow it to be used for medical purposes and then there are CBD products.
One tip is to leave it at home. Even if your cruise sails from somewhere that it’s legal or you have a prescription, cruise lines follow federal law, meaning it’s a no-go. And it’s not just due to U.S. law. Many places where the ship sails will also have laws against it.
So, bottom line, it’s a good idea to leave the stuff at home although we will say that we’ve definitely smelled it here and there.