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10 novice cruiser mistakes to avoid

I have been cruising a fairly long time, so I've had a chance  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.

Tips & tricks on cruise basics

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!)

Key cards + smartphones don't mix


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.

Careful with where you stash your key card


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. 

The Xcel Reef Walker Bootie, a good choice for walking in the surf.
The Xcel Reef Walker Bootie, a good choice for walking in the surf.

Bring proper footwear


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!

Beware gusts of wind


Don't hang your bathing suits on the balcony railing to dry and leave them overnight. They can blow overboard.

Keep your shoes & clothing close by


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.

Your stateroom has a safe to store your valuables, so use it!
Your stateroom has a safe to store your valuables, so use it!

Better safe than sorry

    Don't neglect to use your stateroom's safe to store money, jewelry, camera equipment or other valuable possessions. While theft is rare on a cruise ship, it does happen, so don’t take a chance. 

Pay attention to your Internet usage 


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. 

Dab on that sunscreen


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. 

The bedroom of the Q5 Suite on Queen Elizabeth.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableSuite 4193 on Queen Elizabeth. Or was it 4195?

Jot down your room #


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.

Get your stuff from the safe


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.

In our New to Cruising series

Patti Pietschmann
I'm the LA Travel Diva and spend time cruising with first mate Richard, traveling the world, reviewing fine restaurants, going to plays, movies and events. It's the good life.