Seven Best Cruise Ship Life Hacks


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
To celebrate one memorable new year, I got on a magical cruise with my family, and it was pretty awesome. Even though I love traveling solo for the most part, I’ve realized that the holidays are still the best time to take a cruise with family and loved ones. There’s nothing quite like going on fun activities together and taking advantage of adventure on the high seas as a group.

It could also be frustrating to go on a cruise with a big group, to be perfectly honest. This is especially true when you’re traveling with kids, or when things get delayed. A lot of stuff can go wrong when you least expect them to, and you’re basically stuck in the middle of the ocean (or worse, in traffic!) and feeling helpless about it.

But years of going on cruises gave me the kind of knowledge I needed. So as not to start our trip on a frustrating note, I learned to apply some helpful cruise hacks along the way. I’d love to share them with you today so you can also enjoy future cruises with your family and friends. Enjoy!

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Fly Out At Least a Day in Advance

One of the most important cruise life hacks I had to learn was borne from a miserable personal experience – the cruise ship left without me! My mistake was to book the same flight out to the dock on the same day as the ship’s departure. I thought I had plenty of time – boy, was I wrong. A slight delay at the airport and a bit of traffic cost me my entire cruise and vacation plans. Suffice it to say that was a pretty miserable experience I never want to repeat in this lifetime.

So book a flight out to wherever your cruise ship is leaving from at least a day in advance. This is especially important if you’re traveling as a group. Remember that flights can have delays, and traffic (plus other unforeseen events) can wreak havoc on your schedule.

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Be Storage-Smart

I have yet to see a ship’s cabin that can accommodate all the stuff my family and I need on a cruise. I’ve had more than my fair share of creased and crumpled clothes onboard because of this. So I got storage-smart and packed collapsible hanging organizers to store my gadget chargers and extra power strips, as well as clothespins to keep my swimming gear aired and dried. I’ve also learned to roll my clothes instead of folding them in my luggage to keep the creases at bay.

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Pick a Stateroom With a View

One of the best cruise cabin hacks I learned was from my grandma, who loved vacationing aboard ships and yachts because it was exhilarating. She told me that she only picked staterooms where she can view the sunrise and sunset without any obstruction. I used to think this was a purely sentimental decision on her part, but several years of dim interior cabins where I stubbed my toe on the way to the bathroom countless times, and I can see the wisdom of her choices. Rooms with views also lessened the cabin fever effect I usually have when I stay inside cruise staterooms.

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Book Two People Per Room Only

Staterooms are not like regular hotel rooms. They aren’t roomy at all! So don’t even think of cramming as many family members as you can in one room because it’s going to be uncomfortable for all of you, and you will just wake up tired, sore, and grumpy as a result.

I’ve learned to book a maximum of two people per room – including kids. A lot of the beds aboard ships are hardly even twin-sized so they’re just about right for stretching out (and little else). All non-nocturnal naps and sleeping time are relegated to loungers on shaded lobby decks.

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Sync Your Watch to Ship Time

I once made the mistake of syncing my time to that of the destination I was headed for. This made me miss out on a lot of the ship’s exciting activities, which I ended up snoozing through. Don’t make the same mistake I did – sync your watch to ship time instead. It’s a good thing someone told me to do this before I managed to get stranded on an island during one of the shore excursions because I miscalculated the departure times!

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Pack Some Beach Gear

Of course, I have to mention some cruise packing hacks in this post. You will dock for some beach excursions on a summer cruise, so pack for a beach trip. This not only means swimming gear, but also waterproof containers for your precious stuff like your passport, camera, phone, stateroom key card, and wallet. I use a waterproof case for all that stuff that also floats with me when I swim (it has a strap I can wear around my neck or wrist so I don’t lose it).

This is also a good tip regardless of whether you go on shore excursions or not, since most cruise ships involve swimming in a pool onboard, anyway.

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Take Some Fun Costumes With You

Never, ever get caught on a cruise without some fancy-dress clothes with you! If your particular cruise has a theme (I’ve been to a pirate-themed one, as well as a glamorous flapper-inspired cruise), you will likely have events that require costumes and fancy dress. You can opt to rent or buy costumes at the ship’s gift store, but why splurge on something frivolous like that? Pack your own ready-made or handmade costumes instead – it will be more comfy for you and you won’t have to worry about going over-budget.

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The Verdict?

A lot of planning goes into vacationing with a big group – more so if it involves a cruise! These seven cruise ship life hacks have kept frustration to a minimum, and has overall improved our cruise experience as a family.

Cruises aren’t cheap, so I always try to find ways to enjoy them without punching a hole in my savings. As a result, I’ve come up with the best cruise ship life hacks which I can share with others, so they will have a fun, hassle-free experience on theirs, as well. Share yours in the comments section, please.
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