With the cruise industry booming, announcements of record-breaking ocean liners have become increasingly common; hardly a year goes by without one of the larger cruise lines announcing an ocean liner that’s larger and more feature-laden than everything that’s gone before it. We spoke to Don Bucolo, Editor of EatSleepCruise.com and got his best tips for sailing aboard these gigantic vessels.
With the launching of the world’s largest cruise ship last spring, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, several cruise lines are now following suit. From Celebrity Cruises to Carnival Cruise Line, and even MSC Cruises, several brands have plans to launch their largest ships to date in the coming years.
Drawn to these larger than life cruise ships, we have become accustomed to cruising on “mega-ships” over the past several years. Don’t let the gross tonnage scare you, as sailing on these massive vessels is a lot of fun and a one of a kind experience. You just need to be prepared for life onboard. If you are considering booking one of these new and innovative cruise ships, here are the five essential tips you need to know before you board (and the one thing we always do when onboard).
Five Essential Tips for Sailing on a Mega-Ship
Review the Deck Plans before Sailing
You may already be the type of person who does some preparation before a cruise, but if you are more of the go with the flow type, you should still do a little research before sailing on a mega-ship. Your first stop should be to review the ship’s deck plans on the cruise line’s website. You don’t need to memorize where everything is located, but having a general sense of where your cabin and popular venues are located will help you get your bearings straight once onboard.
One reason we love mega-ships is the variety of entertainment options. From Broadway style shows, to comedy clubs, interactive games, and dinner review shows, these ships pack plenty of activities into your week-long cruise. So, don’t be left out by trying to make all your reservations once you board, as these popular shows and attractions will fill-up quickly. Going standby and hoping to get in is no way to spend your vacation.
Consider Buying a Package
Along with a variety of entertainment, mega-ships also offer diverse dining options. Many lines now have several specialty restaurants that are not included in your cruise fare, not to mention numerous bars and lounges featuring signature cocktails. Depending on your food and beverage preferences, it might make sense to purchase a dining package and/or a beverage package. For one flat fee, you can enjoy all the ship has to offer without the worry of racking up additional costs. You can actually save money on the trip by utilising these packages.
Download the App
Yes, there is an app for that too. Now that cruise lines are rolling out technology that provides real time information about what is happening onboard, bringing your smartphone on vacation is a must. Many cruise line apps allow you to see the day’s activities, make reservations, and book tours. Plus, they often include maps, just in case you somehow find yourself roaming the decks aimlessly. Some apps even allow cruisers to communicate with one another while onboard (additional fees may apply).
Get There Early
This applies to everything. On embarkation day, we always like to be among the first cruisers onboard, so we can explore and take photos of the popular venues before they get busy. Even if you have reservations, you will want to arrive at a show about 30 minutes prior to showtime. Plan on waking up early if you want to catch some Z’s in prime deck chairs by the pool. Getting there early, wherever “there” may be, is a good rule of thumb for almost any planned activity on a mega-ship.
And the One Thing We Always Do When on a Mega Ship
Take the stairs. Besides helping to burn those extra calories from the multi-course dinners and extra rounds at the bar, taking the stairs is a great way to avoid crowds. Instead of waiting in long lines or getting packed like sardines in the elevator, head straight past the lifts and saunter up (or down) the rather empty staircase for a smoother and less stressful way of maneuvering around the ship.
Do you have your own tips for sailing on a mega-ship? Share your insider secrets with other cruisers in the comments section below.