This August we celebrated our 10 year annivesary and unlike our typical travel adventures we decided to things a bit different. For the first time ever we decided to take our adventure to the seas. That's right we signed up for a cruise. It was an inadvertant, impluse decision at a fundraiser that involved way too much alcohol. Though to be honest, after we shook off our hangover, we were like "WTF did we just do? We aren't cruise people!" Also, I totally get seasick. Insert facepalm here
Well, let me tell you. We were wrong. After this experience we're definitely cruise people, albeit in a slightly bougie way...we blame Windstar. Our cruise was 10 days in Greece, hopping from Greek Island to Greek Island and a day trip to Turkey, with all food and logistics taken care of (granted we had to cover most of our shore excursions). But, a trip where all I have to do is show up? You had me at five start dining.
Don't worry, we'll be sharing our recommendations of Athens and the Greek Islands in future posts, but this post is a bit more focused on cruise life and what we learned along with some tips for those newbies (like us!) who have no idea what is going on. You'll be a pro in no time.
Pro Tip: If you haven't done a cruise before, may I recommend a small cruise like Windstart, to dip your toes in. If you have only done larger ships with thousands of people on them, may I recommend a new adventure? A trip where you're treated like royalty and the staff know your name and remember your drink orders.
Pro Tip: Save money and purchase your drinks al a carte, unless you plan on being drunk 24/7.
Pro Tip: Bring your own bottled wine and champagne. You may have to pay a corkage fee. Or you can order room service and have party in your cabin for free.
Pro Tip: Make copies of your passport and keep with you when you get off the boat. When you first arrive for check-in you hand over your passport for an ID card that is used to get on and off the ship. Their Security team checks your facial id to ensure the right person is getting on and off the ship. This is normal as they need to pass on your passport to each port of call.
Pro Tip: Don't book all your shore excursions before the trip. On these smaller cruises, you don't need to have a reservation months in advance. Rather, you can book the day before.
Pro Tip: Unless you are a very punctual person and are 200% confident of getting back to the ship before call time, book your shore excursions through the cruise line. If for any reason your excursion is running late, they won't leave you since the responsibility is with the cruise line. That said, you can also book your shore excursions through other tour guides. Just make sure you're back on the boat before call time or you'll get left behind...along with your passport and belongings.
Pro Tip: With all travel we suggest to packing light. There's certain things about being on a cruise ship that make it even easier to do so. Like full laundry services provided, for a minimal fee.
Pro Tip: Bring your own water bottle and refill it with the filterd water that Windstar provides daily.
Pro Tip: This is a tip on tipping. If your cruise doesn't clearly specificy that tips are included, have at least $500+ cash for tipping (depending on the length of your voyage). Your crew is your life. They bust their butt to take care of you like royalty. Plan to tip them at least 5%-10% at the end of the trip. Focus on your cabin steward (they make sure your cabin is always fresh, provide new towels, clean your bathroom, make your bed, refill your ice bucket, and provide your daily itinerary), the bartender, and the few waitstaff who acknowlege and serve you by name. The latter will become apparent over the first few days as they call out what you order and your preferences. And yes, they are tracking all of this on their end to ensure you're 100% taken care of.