We wish to provide you with some fundamental travel tips that will enhance your traveling experience. This page of our web site will be a continued work-in-progress as we add to our travel tips and create a reference library directed towards Fun For Less travelers.
Should you have any personal experiences about "the best" and "the worst" that may be of some use to other Fun For Less Tours members, please feel free to email us your suggestions and comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org
PACKING: The number one rule is to pack only what you need. Clothes that 'travel well' never look wrinkled and are easy to care for.
Check the weather in your destination cities or ports, it might make that suitcase much lighter or perhaps even fuller.
Prepare a miniature toiletries case to bring. It will be much lighter and smaller. Be sure to keep them in resealable plastic bags or you can purchase a toiletry kit at any luggage store.
You might want to invest in some of the 'travel size' hair dryers, irons, steamers and cordless curling irons.
For international travel, remember to verify the electrical currents of the country you will be going to. You may need adapter plugs, a converter or a transformer. Remember, a converter works with appliances; hair dryers, irons etc. The transformer will work for electronics; camera, camcorders etc.
Pack 'tightly' - leaving spaces or not filling your case up will increase wrinkle in clothes and the possibility of your case being damaged by airlines. If you have 'soft' luggage pack it completely full.
DO remember to lock luggage, identify your luggage both outside as well as inside.
Remember DO NOT pack, but carry-on all travel documents, medication, jewelry, money and any other valuables you have.
Formal night on cruises. Does "formal" mean tuxedos and evening gowns? Relax, "formal" does not mean "black tie". A suit for men and a dress or evening pantsuit for women is usually dressy enough. You'll be fine with the same kind of outfit you'd wear to a nice restaurant. No one is going to throw you out of the dining room if you show up in something less than a tuxedo. A navy blazer with gray pants or a dark suit is fine. Women's options include a cocktail dress, evening pantsuit, dinner suit, long skirt or evening pants with fancy blouse or jacket.
WARDROBE: The key is to pack versatile, mix-and-match garments, with the emphasis on clothes that are casual, comfortable and wrinkle-resistant.
Shorts can be worn for breakfast and lunch, but not for dinner.
Swimwear should be worn under a cover-up for the trip from your cabin to the deck and adjacent areas. You can wear a swimsuit and cover-up, or shorts and tank top at poolside snack bars.
Shoes? Casual slip-ons (sandals, boat shoes for the ship, dress shoes for evening events, and comfortable walking shoes for shore excursions).
Even though you are taking a cruise in the Caribbean in the summer, a light jacket, sweater or wrap can come in handy for a breezy evening stroll on deck, or warding off the chill of indoor air conditioning.
A hat, sunglasses, sunblock, light tote bag (for beach supplies, souvenirs) and costume jewelry.
If you take valuable jewelry, keep it in the ship's safe unless you are wearing it.
Both laundry and dry-cleaning services are available on most ships.
Is It Safe To Cruise?
Fear of hurricanes even keeps some of the most experienced cruisers from even venturing near the region. Hurricanes never arrive by surprise. "Ships receive advisories by radio, satellite, fax and e-mail from the U.S. Weather Service, the Hurricane Center in Miami and the U.S. Coast Guard," he says. "On the bridge, the position, speed and direction of the storm is then tracked on a computerized nautical chart. Making allowances for possible changes in the direction, speed and storm force, the future positions of the storm are compared to the itinerary of the ship. If a hurricane does threaten a port on the ship's itinerary, the Captain will consult with his senior officers and decide to alter the ship's course in the interests of safety, also advising the cruise company so that new port arrangements can be made.
TIPPING TIPS For Savvier Seafaring:
It's amazing how often normally savvy seafarers become confused when it comes time to shelling out tips at the end of a cruise. Some travelers waste their entire last day at sea trying to figure it out.
Let's face it, proffering gratuities is standard operating procedure on most ships. Still chaos sets in even though the purser provides stacks of little envelopes at the reception desk along with tipping instructions. They even include the proviso, "Of course tipping is a personal matter and is up to the discretion of the passenger how best to handle this delicate matter. But may we suggest...insert an amount...a person a day."
While an admirable gesture, some folks still feel intimidated. Especially first-time cruisers and anyone who may have been disappointed with the onboard service. "I only saw my cabin steward, once," lamented an unhappy passenger while reading the purser's advisory. "Why should I give him anything? I hardly ever saw him. He was dreadful. And anyway, I thought it was included in the fare."
While she has a point, this doesn't mean that bad service justifies stiffing the crew. Tips are expected - the crew rely on them. However you can always express displeasure by giving a little less than advised. On the other hand, you might want to show your gratitude for topnotch treatment with a few extra dollars.
Cabin crews who fill your ice bucket, fold your clothes, make sure your cabin stays spotless and go above and beyond the call of duty should be generously rewarded, while unreliable cabin stewards and bad waiters should receive less than suggested.
Here are some hints we hope will help take the angst out of the dreaded tipping ritual:
When and how to give gratuities
Tips are normally calculated on the last night of the cruise. What you'll need are three to four envelopes (which are available at the reception desk) and lots of small bills.
HOW MUCH TO TIP: Like the cruise lines say, tipping is really up to your discretion. While the average suggested industry per person per diem tip totals about $9, some ships ask for $20. The norm is usually $3.50 per person a day for your room steward, $3.50 for your waiter and $2 for the busboy.
If you have made any special requests from the headwaiter -- a favorite dish, or something flaming at your table like cherries jubilee, cross his palms with about $5 at the end of the trip.
AVOIDING SEA SICKNESS: Is hardly fatal but with symptoms such as nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting, it can put a damper on your cruise fun. However mal de mer is not caused by choppy waters alone. Scientific studies have shown that some folks become seasick by suggestion. They simply convince themselves that being on a ship will make them ill. On the other hand for those who can forget about it, it's often smooth sailing.
Some people have a genuine proclivity for motion sickness and will undoubtedly suffer more during rough seas. According to medical professionals such as Karen Avery, travel resource nurse, at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, seasickness is more prevalent in young people between the ages and 3 to 12 and women. On the other hand, according to Dr. Ken Dardick, a Storrs, Connecticut-based expert in travel-oriented maladies, "Elderly people, 70 and over, are less susceptible."
MEDICATIONS TO TAKE: If you have a propensity to motion sickness or are concerned that you might develop symptoms, Avery suggests arming yourself with preventative measures before hand.
One of the most widely recommended remedies is Transderm Scopolamine, a patch applied behind the ear, at least eight hours before exposure, that can last up to 72 hours. Available only by prescription, the Scop is preventative, not a treatment and can cause possible side effects such as dry mouth, blurry vision, drowsiness and dizziness.
Over-the-counter drugs used to deter and/or treat mal de mer include Dramamine, Meclizine or diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl). On some ships these are dispensed freely. They are also sold in the sundries shop. Stronger, more effective prescription drugs can only be obtained from a physician (the ship's doctor can fix you up, but if often costs you the price of an office visit plus the pills, so you're better off going through your personal physician). These include Promethazine and ephedrine, which when taken together produce quick results as well as potential side-effects such as sleepiness. Another option is suppositories, administered by the ship's physician, which work magic for some people.
If you don't like to take drugs, strap on a Sea-Band wristband the minute you embark. The easy to wear, acupressure inspired product has a plastic bead that presses against the Nei-Kuan pressure point located on the palm side of the wrist. Efficacious in curbing nausea and vomiting without any side-effects, it comes in both adult and children sizes and can even be used by pregnant women. Sea-Bands are available without a prescription at major drug stores. For information call: 800-958-9993 or at www.amgshop.com.
You might also want to consider the homeopathic remedy, 'Easy Going.' Manufactured by A. Nelson and Company Ltd., and distributed in the US by Solgar, it helps alleviate symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
To acclimate yourself to shipboard life nurse Avery advises standing on the deck soon after you embark and looking directly into the horizon to gain your equilibrium. She also advises booking a mid-ship cabin where movement is less tangible.