Whether you’re planning your maiden voyage or have already sailed the seven seas, you can always get more out of your cruise with some smart advance planning. Here are some cruise tips and tricks for everybody from first-time cruisers to experts.
1: Make Creative Stateroom Choices
If you’re traveling as a multigenerational group, be creative with the configuration of your accommodation. For example, parents and grandparents would appreciate a private veranda, while kids could have an inside stateroom across the corridor. Consider interconnecting rooms—there are plenty on Celebrity’s ships—or the unfettered luxury of The Retreat, where your family of four could enjoy the comfort and space of a two-bedroom suite.
Take a look at The Retreat if you’re a couple, too, as the extra amenities in this blissful sanctuary make a romantic vacation that much better, from premium beverages to an exclusive restaurant, Luminae, and a serene, private lounge and deck.
2: Pack Smart
Experienced cruisers have all sorts of cruise tips and tricks for packing, some more unexpected than others. For example, magnets will attach loose pieces of paper, like excursion tickets and party invitations, to your cabin wall. Colorful towel clips will stop your beach towel from flying off your lounger on a breezy day. Compression cubes are perfect for squeezing more into your luggage, while hanging washbags mean you can store toiletries vertically, rather than cluttering the bathroom.
Invest in a travel pill organizer for any meds to avoid packing endless bottles, and a jewelry roll to keep everything together. A USB octopus means you can charge multiple devices from one USB socket, although power extension strips are not allowed. A thermal water flask will keep your drinking water cool all day and is more environmentally sound, as you won’t be discarding half-full plastic bottles once they warm up.
A tote bag is perfect for the beach (if you’ve chosen The Retreat, you’ll find a very chic complimentary one waiting in your suite). If you’re planning kayaking trips or are headed to the Galapagos, where you’ll be zooming around on Zodiacs, a roll-top wet bag keeps valuables dry.
Finally, pack everything you need for the first afternoon of embarkation day in your carry-on, not least swimwear, a cover-up, and sunblock, so you don’t have to wait for your suitcases to be delivered to your stateroom.
3: Arrive a Day Early
If you’re traveling long distance, why not add on a night in a hotel before joining the ship? You’ll be able to enjoy a little local culture on your first night—for example, a stroll through Venice, or fresh seafood in Athens with a view of the floodlit Acropolis—and sleep off some jetlag. You’ll arrive at the port fresh and ready for an adventure at sea.
4: Get to Know the Ship
Part of the fun of the first day is exploring your new home, and a wise cruise tip from experienced sailors is to take a self-guided ship tour. This way, you’ll figure out where you want to sunbathe, eat, and relax, find classes you like the look of, and see the array of activities on offer in Camp at Sea.
You’ll be given a map of the ship, or can use your Celebrity app to explore. Start on the highest possible deck and work your way methodically down. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn—which restaurants beckon, the enticing treatments on offer in the aromatic haven of the spa, the best spot from which to enjoy the thrill of sailaway on your first evening.
If you’re traveling as a family with young children, knowing the shortest routes around the ship is always a good idea, as you’ll inevitably be dashing back to your stateroom every now and then for forgotten items.
5: Budget for Beverages
Depending on your habits, investing in a beverage package can be one of the best cruise tips to follow. It’s easy on the carefree, sunny days of vacation to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with lunch, a sundowner as you set sail, more wine with your evening meal, and then some cocktails in the nightclub.
It’s not all about booze; other beverage packages offer non-alcoholic drinks, some cater to kids, and others include just soda or mineral water.
6: Match Your Tech To Your Itinerary
There’s no need to bring an entire mobile office, but think about what you might need at the destinations you’re visiting on your cruise itinerary. In Alaska, binoculars are essential for wildlife spotting, as is a camera with a zoom lens. An essential cruise tip here is to bring a spare battery, as nobody wants a dead camera just as that pod of orcas appears.
You can’t fly a drone from a ship—but some of the tiniest models, for which you don’t need a license, are appropriate for catching those ‘wow’ aerial shots of, say, the Stockholm archipelago, or the dazzling gold and turquoise sweep of a Caribbean beach. Always check, though, whether your mini-drone is legal.
If you’re sailing somewhere tropical and are likely to be snorkeling or diving, consider a GoPro or a waterproof case for your smartphone for underwater shots. For long city tours involving a lot of walking, a heavy camera can be a burden, but a smartphone is perfect for street shots and video.
7: Use the Celebrity Cruises App
If you haven’t tried the Celebrity Cruises app on previous cruises, now’s the time. On a practical basis, the app makes boarding swifter and allows you to snap up dining and excursion reservations. But it’s fun, too. The in-app calendar is a fantastic tool for scheduling your day, rather than scribbling on the printed daily program.
The chat function is the perfect way to keep track of friends and family on board. You can manage your expenses, too. You can even use your smartphone to open your cabin door or control the lights and shades from your bed.
8: Try a Capsule Wardrobe
If you prefer to travel light, a good cruise tip is to plan a wardrobe that works hard. Each item needs to match other items, so keep the color palette minimalist. One pair of pants, for example, can be paired with any number of floaty tops, or with sneakers by day and strappy sandals by night.
One relatively simple summer dress can be accessorized with statement jewelry, scarves, and different shoes, and worn by day after it’s made an appearance for dinner. Lightweight travelers suggest just three pairs of shoes: one pair for walking, flip flops for the ship, and something more dressy for evening.
The dress code on Celebrity Cruises’ ships is smart casual throughout, with a couple of Evening Chic evenings per cruise. You don’t need a ball gown or tuxedo for these—although some cruisers nonetheless love stepping out in full sparkle. The reality, though, is that everybody is having too much of a good time to judge what you’re wearing every day.
9: Skip the Travel-sized Toiletries
Small bottles are generally environmentally unsound, so buy a set of reusable travel-sized bottles and decant your favorite products before leaving home if you like to travel with a particular brand. Shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, and soap bars are provided, in any case.
If you are bringing big bottles, like sunblock, double wrap them in plastic. Nobody wants to open their suitcase to a gooey mess. Aromatherapy oils, too, have a habit of leaking, and while tea tree is great for insect bites, and lavender for sleep and soothing sunburn, wrap them tightly unless you want to wander around the ship smelling like an intense herbal aroma.
10: Make Breakfast an Occasion
While the choices in the Oceanview Cafe are undeniably mouth-watering, mix it up a little, especially if you have kids in tow and you’re eating at peak time, when everybody is getting ready to go on tour. Change out the bustle of the cafe for a more serene experience in the main restaurant, where you’ll enjoy table service, made-to-order omelettes, and delicious specials like eggs Benedict or pancakes with maple syrup.
11: Plan Specialty Dining
You’ll probably be booking several of the specialty restaurants on board, so plan your time wisely. If you’re ashore all day on a long excursion, you’ll most likely be tired, so this might be the night for a quiet dinner in the main dining room.
If there’s a sunset sailaway from somewhere exceptionally beautiful, like Santorini, for example, make that the day you dine at the Lawn Club Grill or the Rooftop Garden Grill on Edge or Apex. If you only choose one specialty experience and you’re cruising with kids, go for Le Petit Chef, a spectacular animation experience that thrills and entertains all ages.
Booking spa treatments early evening, when there’s usually more availability, is tempting, but don’t leave it too late on big evenings like the cocktail hour. On the other hand, on a sailing day, especially if there’s an Evening Chic dress code, soak up some sun, dress up to the nines, and make this your night in Murano, where an elegant outfit matches the beautiful setting.
12: Take Time Out
If you’re a seasoned cruiser and are perhaps revisiting old haunts in Europe, why not take a day off? This is particularly rewarding—and feels slightly decadent—in the heat of the Mediterranean summer, but with so much sightseeing on offer, exhaustion is a real issue. So book a spa treatment for a port day when there are usually special offers, or occupy prime position by the pool, enjoying the sensation of having the ship to yourself, like a luxurious private yacht.
If you do venture ashore, do as the locals do. Sit for hours in a beautiful square with morning coffee and head back on board for a siesta. If your ship has a late sail, take a stroll in port at sunset and stop for aperitivos, followed by a late dinner on board.
13: Document Your Voyage
Most of us take photographs and videos, but thinking of other ways you could document your vacation is one of the best cruise tips to help you remember your vacation. You could pack a sketch pad and pencils and give drawing a try—nobody will judge if you can only manage a stick figure. Try creative writing; sit in some gorgeous waterfront café, or on deck at sunset, and describe what you see. Or try a video app and get creative with micro-movies.
You could even try a sound diary, recording snippets of sound on your phone as a memory—the chatter of dolphins, the cry of a bird, the clackety-clack of a train, the bustle of a restaurant. Ask the whole family for their best shots at the end of the trip and create a photo book. Or collect ticket stubs and other scraps—more of a challenge in the digital age—for a good, old-fashioned vacation scrapbook.
14: Keep the Family Happy
One of the joys of cruising in a multigenerational group is that there’s enough variety on board for everybody. A ship is the perfect environment in which families can scatter, do their own thing, and meet up at an agreed time and place to enjoy quality time together.
For example, your teens might want to visit the Teen Club, while grandparents may head out on a tour while you work out in the gym or relax in the privacy of your veranda. Maybe agree to meet for lunch, or take a couple of fantastic family-friendly excursions. There’s no pressure to do everything as a group, though, and the joy of a cruise ship is that it’s safe for all ages.
Read: Best Cruises for Teens
15: Make Exercise Fun
If you exercise regularly at home, there’s every possibility on a Celebrity Cruises ship to keep up your routine with some exciting classes. On Edge-series ships, join a high-energy, live-streamed class on the Peloton bikes. Get the whole family signed up for a salsa class, or simply inhale the sea air on an early morning power walk. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Wear an activity tracker and see if you can hit 10,000 steps a day—it’s really not difficult on a ship.
16: Manage Your Time Ashore
There are some ports that invite wandering. Mykonos Town and Barcelona, for example, are easy to navigate. Venice is a place to lose yourself among the tranquil canals and alleyways, while Juneau in Alaska is a joy to wander at your own pace or try the friendly public bus service to reach the Mendenhall Glacier.
On the other hand, from Naples, you’ll want to visit the excavations at Pompeii, which is infinitely better with a guide. A tour is a reassuring and more effective way to navigate the teeming chaos of Bangkok. South American ports are trickier if you don’t speak Spanish, and cities like Buenos Aires and Santiago are, in any case, sprawling.
However you spend your day, though, be back on time! Unless you’re on an official excursion, the ship won’t wait.
17: Reinvent Yourself
Cruising is undeniably exciting and romantic, so let go of your everyday stresses and rediscover the real you. Nobody here knows you, so you can be whoever you like. This is the time for sartorial expression, so let your fashion imagination run wild. At home, you may not sit at a glamorous cocktail bar, sipping a martini and wearing a sparkly dress, or a suave summer tuxedo, but in the elegant setting of a Celebrity Cruises ship, why not?
Push your boundaries, however gently. Boost your adrenaline with a new activity, like zip-lining or a high-speed RIB tour. Stay up insanely late, dancing. Try karaoke. Or get up early, head up on deck, and watch the sunrise. You can always snooze during the day.
Join a class on board and learn a new skill. Meet new people and let them see the you that isn’t encumbered by school runs and office commutes. You may surprise yourself.
Inspired to set sail? The whole world awaits, so start exploring our thrilling destinations and browse itineraries on our website.