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  What TO DO First When Your Board Any Cruise Ship  
 

What should I do within the first few hours of boarding any cruise ship?

1.  Ask your stateroom attendant for a terry cloth robe.  They used to be in every stateroom (unless it is a suite), but if you ask for one, they will bring you one, or two....they do run out of these comfy items quickly, so don’t wait to request one.

2.  Book your specialty restaurants early if you want a certain time or date.  Later in the cruise, you will still be able to get a 5 p.m. or a 10 p.m. reservation at the last minute, but if you want to dine at 7 p.m. on, say your birthday, be sure to let your travel agent know your request to avoid disappointment.

3.  If you decide to change your pre-arranged dining, speak to the maitre d’ as soon as he/she is available the first day.  Meeting with them in the afternoon will be faster and more efficient than trying to work with them during a dinner-time rush. Passenger Services will be able to tell you when and where they are available.

4.  Excursions:  If you have not pre-booked your ’must see’ excursions, do so as soon as you board the ship to avoid disappointment.  The price of each excursion is set in advance and will not waiver so there is no reason to wait.

5. Go to the onboard library as the selection of books will evaporate about eight hours into the cruise.

6.  If you are boarding in a US port and have a US cell phone, complete your last-minute calls and texts.  ONLY while docked in or close to a US port will your cell calls be free.  Offshore, the ship’s satellite system kicks in and calls/texts can cost as much as $9 per minute.  IF your cell phone is ’smart’ and roams, before leaving home have your cell provider turn off the key components to avoid a massive bill.

7.  If you are traveling with your own computer, surf the Net for info about the destination on your itinerary, check e-mail and check the weather forecast while you are STILL IN PORT.  For the best connection, sit outside on a lounge chair on a lower deck on the side of the ship closest to the pier’s terminal buildings.

Once at sea, you will most likely have to pay for Internet access, which can be very pricey.  One  ship I was on recently, it cost 66 cents per minute and, with a slow connection, which can happen when you are out at sea especially, it took 15 minutes to load the first page.

Usually the first day, there will be incentives to purchase an Internet package which will reduce your ’per minute’ cost...this is the time to buy one.  Go to the computer room, if there is one, for assistance OR look in your cabin for information as to how to sign up for the desired number of minutes you think you will use during the cruise.

In 90% of the ports, it is easy to find free WiFi, so I tend not to use the Internet aboard the ship...libraries or Internet Cafe’s are usually close by.