Column: 10 tips to ensure smooth sailing on your next cruise

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Commentary by Beverly Randolph

Is a cruise vacation in your summer or fall plans? “Bon voyage” with these helpful hints.

  • Safety is paramount. During the safety drill, pay attention. If there is a time to be serious on your cruise vacation, this is it.
  • Respect different cultures; you are a world traveler. You will no doubt be rubbing elbows with people from other countries. Remember that each country may have a different way of greeting, eating and engaging, and it is important to show tolerance and respect for each other’s differences.
  • Dress appropriately. Before packing, check your cruise line’s dress guidelines. If formal nights are not your thing, check out the Lido buffet. You may spark jealousy with the sharp dressed man in the tux when you are in a Hawaiian shirt. Dress for public view; keep shorts and swimwear only on the pool deck. Use a cover up while getting to and from.
  • Be timely. Excursions, dinner and shows! Designate a timekeeper to ensure you get where you need to be on time. If you have an assigned table at a set time and are late, your tablemates are hungry and waiting. Being late to your own reservation can disrupt the crew. You want to enjoy the full show.
  • Shhh…  Be considerate of the noise level when parading around the ship and planning late-night outings. That also applies to leaving your room quietly in the morning.
  • Be spatially aware. Be aware of those around you; allow ample space. Take the stairs when there is a line at the elevators. Let the person behind you pass in the narrow cabin hallways. At the buffet, if you are alone at a table for six, consider sharing.
  • Share. Ah, sunshine and entertainment! Spend your time in the sun, and then clear the space for someone else. Many cruise lines have started limiting the amount of time people can save seats – same for the theater seats and saving for your entire group. Have them come with you.
  • Children. Be prepared for your relaxation to be interrupted with children enjoying themselves, too. However, parents, keep your children in-check and make arrangements with the various services offered, especially when attending adults-only events or areas, including quiet pool, gym, hot tubs or the spa.
  • Have fun, but not too much. Drink in moderation. Don’t be embarrassed for dinner the next night.
  • Budget, be generous and tip. Inquire with the particular cruise company to verify their tipping policy. It is customary to give a gratuity to dining room waiters, head waiters, assistants, cabin stewards and butlers on the last night of the cruise. Use an envelope that is supplied by the cruise line.
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