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I have been cruising a fairly long time, so I've had a chance up to pile up a long list of mistakes I've made over the years, especially early on. And I continue to see first-time cruisers make many of the same gaffes.
So, to help novice cruisers out, I thought I'd share these 10 tips to help you avoid common mistakes and flubs on your next cruise. (Have your own tips? Please share them at the bottom!)
Don’t place your stateroom key card next to your mobile device or your phone may deactivate it. This can happen at very inopportune times, like the wee small hours of the morning when your steward (or butler) is nowhere to be seen, forcing you to head down to the reception desk and get new cards for all occupants.
Don't place your key card on a chaise while you swim or jog around the deck. The wind can blow it off, or someone could make off with it.
Don't forget to wear water shoes or reef walkers when you plan to go swimming in the ocean at a port stop. I once stepped on a sea urchin, which caused great pain in my feet and pocketbook — the doctor’s visit wasn’t cheap!
Don't hang your bathing suits on the balcony railing to dry and leave them overnight. They can blow overboard.
Don't leave your shoes or articles of clothing on the pool deck. A crew member might pick them up. You might eventually find them in lost and found — but not always.
Remember that using the Internet is costing you by the minute or by the megabyte, unless you have a free package or one with ample minutes or bandwidth. A lot of folks I've met have run up tabs into the hundreds of dollars. So pay attention to your usage, and don't forget to log off when you're done.
Make sure you apply a good, high-SPF sunscreen before going up on deck or to a beach in a port. This could affect your whole vacation if you get a bad burn. It can also cause damage to your skin and even skin cancer.
Don't forget your stateroom number the first day or two. Yes, you can always trudge down to reception with your sad puppy-dog look, but you'll want to avoid the embarrassment. Jot the room number down and keep it in your pocket. The cruise line doesn’t print stateroom numbers on key cards for your security since your key is also your onboard credit card and ID.
Don't forget to empty the safe on the day you disembark. This happens all too often and it’s not easy getting back on board the ship to retrieve your belongings. Also, don't forget the combination of the safe. Jot it down somewhere and hide it. If worse comes to worse, the crew can get it open for you, but it takes time.