Our Alaskan Cruise [Cruising Tips]

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Our recent Alaskan cruise of the Inside Passage was a trip of many firsts for me! I have never travelled to Alaska nor have I been on a cruise. You could say I was pretty clueless on what to expect. I tried to do my research as much as possible and read about plenty of other bloggers who had travelled it before which was helpful, but it didn't exactly give me an idea of what to expect on the boat itself. I learned a lot, let's put it that way!

Here's a quick run down of our experience including things I learned, my tips on what to pack and what to expect if this is your first time cruising as well! Again, this is just our experience!

First off, I'd like to say to everyone who said it's a big boat and you won't feel the waves or ocean and not to worry-WRONG! The seas were rough, especially before we entered the passage!

We booked a transfer to take us to and from the airport and boat. This process was very confusing and there were a MILLION people. I think next time I will plan to take a taxi. If you do take a transfer, be prepared to leave your luggage that is going on the boat at the airport. They will drop it at your room sometime that evening which means you will need to take anything valuable, any medications, all boarding documents and identification and any clothes, etc. that you would need before then. I'm not sure if it's the same process if you were to be dropped at the dock with your stuff. 

Once we arrived at the dock, we went through additional security and checked in where we received our cruise card. It was basically like a credit card/identification/room key all in one. You use it for everything on the boat and for security reasons, it's used to check you on and off the boat so make sure you don't lose it! Mine quit working a couple times so I couldn't get into my room! 

Be prepared to be charged daily per person for gratuities. If you don't prepay it before you embark, it is charged automatically to your stateroom account daily.  

Definitely bring your own reusable water bottle! The bottled water is expensive on the ship and you can't drink from the faucets. They have water at all the restaurants and they can refill your bottle at the bar if you ask. I forgot mine so we were forced to buy bottled water on several occasions. We reused them as long as we could though. 

When you first get on the boat, take some time to walk around and get acquainted with where everything is. It can be confusing. Also, go over the schedule and port times. I had a general idea of where we would be and when, but I wish I would have studied it more so I wasn't constantly checking. It's important especially if you have excursions booked! Luckily, the boat gives you an itinerary every day as a reference.

Room service on our boat was included, so use it! Each night at turn down service, they left a card you could fill out requesting breakfast and coffee for the next morning. We filled ours out each night with what we wanted delivered (coffee, duh) and what time and it worked out great. It also conveniently served as an extra wakeup call too since they were always on time and we could have it delivered around the time we needed to get up to be ready for port.
I wish I would have packed my Fitbit as we took the stairs everywhere we when instead of the elevators. It was my hope that it would somewhat make up for indulging. Not sure how realistic that is, but nonetheless I was curious as to how many steps we actually took not only on the boat but while onshore.
I am not sure if I technically get sea sick but I didn't want to find out so I took bonine as a precaution. I really have nothing to compare it to as far as it making me drowsy but I did feel somewhat tired (that could have been from the boat itself.) I didn't take it the last day and I wished I did because I had sea legs for literally two days after we got home and felt awful. I actually took more the day we returned hoping it would help.

You will go through a time change. They will leave you a reminder in your room when it's going to change and when to change it back, but a woman that worked on the boat gave me a tip since I heard it can sometimes change back and forth and get messed up. I really didn't want our clocks to be off when we were supposed to be somewhere at a certain time and since our phones were on airplane mode, here is what she told me. Go to settings > general > date & time > turn off set automatically > then adjust the hours manually.

Even with a balcony room, the rooms are tiny! The bathroom and shower are even smaller. I felt claustrophobic on several occasions especially when the lines to get off at port were 3 stories long.

I was surprised at how many things on the boat cost extra money with it being "all-inclusive." However, the best money we spent was renting chairs in the adults only sanctuary when we cruised Glacier Bay. If your ship offers something similar like a scenic cruise package, I recommend checking into it because it was worth it for us! 

I wanted to book a spa day when we first boarded but I'm glad I waited because they ran a bunch of specials and my Mom and I scored a 75 minute treatment for a deal on our last day at sea! 

If you like to drink, watch for the Happy hours they offer. The drinks add up quick. They'll advertise them throughout the day but just make sure to get there early to get a seat. They also have all-inclusive drink packages you can purchase, but I didn't think they were worth it for us and in the end it wasn't so I'm glad we didn't spend the money. 

Also, bring some extra patience! Remember there are a lot of people who are trying to do the same thing as you, but sometimes you just have to wait and take a deep breath.

Bring you bathing suit because even if it's freezing, there's always the hot tub! When we were at sea a whole day, the boat was swaying majorly, it was misty and cold, and hardly anyone was outside. We sat in the hot tub and drank hot cocoa and it was so relaxing! It felt like we had to deck to ourselves. We got a lot of people staring at us like we were crazy and who dipped their hands in the pool to test the waters, but turns out they really missed out!

All in all, I feel more confident if we were to cruise again and have a better idea of what to expect. I'm sure each boat and cruise line are different, but I hope you find this list helpful! Feel free to ask me any other questions you may have. I'd be happy to answer!

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