You’ve made it to the ship, through the check in process, and are on board. It’s somewhat like a hotel, but it moves. What can you expect in this new, yet vaguely familiar, environment? What’s expected of you?
1. Lifeboat Drill (or muster) is a mandatory participation event. On occasion I’ve seen nice couples looking over the rail at those of us dutifully wrapped in our orange jackets. Chuckling to themselves, they’re oblivious to the fact that they are breaking the strict policy of proper adherence to the Mandatory Coast Guard Lifeboat Drill. Many lines actually check
cabins and most even check off names and cabin numbers at muster stations during the drill. Absentees are eventually scooped up by crewmembers who are roaming the ship in search of drill skippers. In the meantime, everyone else stands patiently, waiting in discomfort for the stragglers!
2. Tablemates can make or break a cruise for you. I happen to like meeting new people and have been very fortunate to have some wonderful tablemates through the years. But the worst can happen, and you could be paired up with some folks that just aren't going to make it for you. In such a case there is salvation. If it’s really necessary, see the Maître'd and quietly request a different table assignment. 3. In many ways, a cruise ship operates like a hotel and, therefore, has a very distinct pecking order. Bars have a Bar Manager. Cabin services answer to a Head Steward. Dining rooms have a headwaiter and Maître'd. Find these people to correct a problem if you encounter one in their respective domains. When all else fails, there is one officer who bears ultimate responsibility and has the authority to insure passenger comfort and happiness. Every ship has a Hotel Manager. His or her authority is almost comparable to the Captain’s. When all else fails, seek the Hotel Manager for satisfaction.
4. Like me, many people suffer seasickness easily if they don’t take precautions. My personal remedy of preference is Bonine, an over-the-counter Dramamine type drug. The point that I can’t stress strongly enough is that it’s not what you use to counteract seasickness, but that it must be used before you encounter symptoms. Bonine or an equivalent is also usually available free of charge at the Pursers Desk or the ship’s Medical Center.
5. If you plan to tip with cash, it’s often wise to make up gratuity packets at home. Most cruise lines suggest tipping guidelines in your documentation and getting it together at home relieves you of the task on the last day of your cruise when everyone else just thought of it. It also assures that you have tip money available after a week in the Casino and souvenir shopping, etc. You can always add or delete a few bucks if one or the other staff member has greatly pleased you or ticked you off.
Remember—on your next cruise, you’ll be a veteran cruise diva or divo. Bon Voyage!