Ed. Note: We’re pleased to welcome back to the InsureMyTrip blog a great friend of ours, travel writer and icon Johnny Jet! This week, Johnny is sharing his thoughts on cruising, a very popular travel choice among InsureMyTrip’s clients. Next week, stay tuned for Johnny’s post about navigating the sometimes stressful experience of holiday travel.
In 2008 I went on my first cruise (Celebrity Solstice) in almost 10 years. The previous two I barely remember since they were both weekend bachelor party trips. I wasn’t sure how I would like cruising because I don’t like being confined to one place, which is likely why I travel every week. My cruise fears were probably similar to yours (if you have them). The idea of being trapped on a rocking ship in close quarters for days on end with people you don’t know, sitting at the same table and eating a never-ending stream of sub-par buffet food is just not appealing.
On top of that, there’s the fear of being seasick beyond control and not being able to feed our internet addictions without paying an unseemly amount of money. Well, that used to be enough to keep my feet on the ground or in the air. But after my last ten cruises I’ve become hooked. Seriously.
What do I love about cruising? First of all, it’s the best value out there. Not only is your lodging included but so is all the food (including room service), non-alcoholic drinks and entertainment. There’s so much to do (and not to do, if you prefer) and you get to see a number of destinations without schlepping your bags all over the place. You pack and unpack just once.
It’s no secret that my favorite cruise line is Seabourn. They have six small ships with just 104 or 225 suites, depending on the ship, and they are consistently ranked among the world’s top by travel publications such as Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler.
Why Seabourn is So Great
Seabourn’s big appeal is that they only have capacity for 220 passengers or 450, depending on what ship you are on. The three newer ships, part of their Odyssey Class, are the ones with 225 suites. Seabourn is known for their five-star service, their unique itineraries visiting must-see cities and hidden gems where most larger ships cannot go, spacious cabins – many with verandas -, gourmet dining experiences as fine as the best restaurants anywhere in the world, open bars throughout the ship and fine wines poured with lunch and dinner.
Past Seabourn Cruises
I’ve now been on five of Seabourn ships. Most of the cruises were all on their brand spanking new, and as-plush-as-you-can-get ships. My past itineraries were: 7-day Istanbul, Turkey to Athens, Greece; 12-day Baltic and St. Petersburg, Russia; and a 3-night Rome, Italy to Monaco (a preview cruise with my dad). I also spent a night on their ship, Sojourn in the middle of the Thames River after its christening party. Just this past summer my fiancée Natalie and I took one of Seabourn’s older ships, Spirit. Spirit wasn’t as nice as their new ships but we still enjoyed it immensely as there were just 220 people and we spent 10 days cruising the Adriatic.
If you do cruise follow these five tips and you will have a great time.
- My number one cruise tip is if you’re traveling from out of town, it’s always a good idea to fly in to your departure city at least a day before your ship sails, just in case there are flight delays, cancellations or anything else that might hold you up.
- Remember to put the bag tags that the cruise line sends in advance onto the bags you are checking, and always carry onboard all your valuables/medicines…. I always thought you had to check your bags, but if you are a light packer (like me) there’s no need to. Just carry them on and off the ship so you don’t have to worry or wait.
- I’ve now been on over a dozen cruises and I’ve only been seasick twice and they weren’t that bad since I just felt queasy and had to skip dinner. And I’m not some seafarer person either. I’m usually prone to seasickness, but I actually was able to trick my mind into finding the rough water soothing instead of a nuisance while I was in bed (that’s when its always been the worst). While cruising on Crown Princess I met with one of the ship’s doctors and he said the only medicine that really works is Promethazine Teoclate. It’s by prescription and they carry a ton of it on board (I’m sure the other cruise lines do too). Unfortunately, he said all those other gadgets like patches and wristbands are really just gimmicks. A doctor on Seabourn recommended Stugeron pills (15 tablets for $8.10), it’s available for purchase on the ship and no prescription is necessary. Note: Each restaurant on Seabourn has dried ginger at the entranceway, as this is supposed to be a great remedy.
- Try and pace yourself at the buffet. Don’t over eat otherwise you will feel sick. When I cruise on large ships I won’t take the elevator except on arrival and departure with my suitcase. Instead I take the stairs—even when it’s 15 flights up. It’s a good way to counter all the food. I also try and hit the ship’s gym every other day.
- Book shore excursions as early as possible since the popular ones fill up quick. If you are too late then see if there are any independent tour operators offering a similar excursion (many times cheaper) and sign up with them. Just note that if your guide’s car breaks down or you get stuck in traffic and you didn’t book it through the cruise line the ship won’t wait for you and you will be responsible to find your way to the next port.
Hopefully, my past cruises will help you decide to try one out if you are new to cruising. If you aren’t then hopefully some of the tips will help make your next cruise go a lot smoother.
John E. DiScala (a.k.a. Johnny Jet) travels around 150,000 miles and visits over 20 countries each year. He and his website JohnnyJet.com have been featured over 2,000 times in major publications, including USA Today, Time, Fortune and The New York Times, and he has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, FOX News Channel and PBS. JohnnyJet.com has been named “one of the top best money-saving web sites for travel” by Budget Travel Magazine, while the L.A. Times calls it “one of the top 10 essential travel resources on the internet.” Outside Magazine touted Johnny for having one of the world’s best “dream jobs”. He writes for Frommers.com, The Huffington Post, LAX Magazine and has written for USAToday and ABC News. Sign up today for Johnny Jet’s free weekly travel newsletter at JohnnyJet.com.