Written by: Deb Luttrell
Deb ‘n Dana have experienced over 75 cruises since 2010 with Stitchin' Heaven and have learned that there are certain pitfalls to be avoided to be sure you have an incredible experience.
All too often, we hear from cruisers who make one of these rookie mistakes that costs them time, money, or both. So, prevent yourself from becoming "that person" and heed their advice!
1. Booking a flight, the same day your cruise departs
Perhaps the most common mistake made by anyone is booking a flight that arrives to the city their cruise departs from on the same day the cruise is set to begin.
It may seem like the logical thing to do, especially if you are trying to balance your work commitments or save money on a hotel room. But flying in the same day means a flight delay/cancellation or lost luggage could ruin your entire vacation before it starts.
Instead, book a flight that gets you in at least a day before the cruise is scheduled to depart. You can book a hotel near the port or airport and take advantage of not only an earlier start to your vacation, but an opportunity to explore the surrounding area. Unsure where to stay? Contact Stitchin’ Heaven and we most likely can give you the hotel information where the staff is staying.
2. Waiting to book shore excursions until onboard the ship
The ports of call your cruise ship will visit offer plenty to see and do, but if you try to "wing it" and book something in the port or onboard your ship, you are denying yourself the opportunity to learn as much as possible about what is available to you.
Trying to figure out what to do on the ship or in port means less time to see all options, as well as price shop. You also risk the activity you really wanted to do selling out.
Take advantage of the
weeks and months leading up to your cruise by learning about everything you can do online and plan your excursions before you get on your cruise.
3. Intentionally breaking the rules
Perhaps the dumbest mistake to make is thinking the cruise ship rules do not apply to you and purposefully circumventing them.
Whether smoking on your balcony, skipping muster drill, sneaking in alcohol, or any other clearly stated rule that you choose to ignore out of spite or "for fun" is just plain wrong and puts others at risk, as well as has the potential to get you in trouble.
The rules are in place for a reason, and more importantly, you must abide by them while on Royal Caribbean's vessels. It is their way, or the highway (back home).
4. Not keeping track of your time while in port
While it may seem easy to think you have plenty of time to get back to your ship, you do not want to forget the all-aboard time.
Royal Caribbean provides set hours for each port stop it makes, and you absolutely need to be keeping track of the ship time (which may or may not agree with local time), as well as how long it may take to get back to the port to ensure you are back onboard before they pull up the gangway.
Keep in mind that the ship may be scheduled to leave at a certain time, but the all-aboard time is usually 30 minutes or more earlier. So if you are scheduled to be in port until 8pm, that means guests may have to be back by 7:30pm.
5. Not putting your phone into airplane mode
Want to avoid coming home to a cell phone bill in the thousands of dollars? Make sure once you get on your ship on embarkation day, you put your phone into airplane mode.
Your phone connecting to the ship or island cell tower can mean huge roaming charges, since the local carriers will charge your carrier exorbitant prices for the privilege of using their network.
After getting onboard the ship on day one, be sure to switch your phone over to airplane mode to avoid connecting to any cellular network. If you choose to purchase a Wi-Fi package from the ship, you still use the ship's Wi-Fi while in airplane mode.
6. Only Looking at price when picking a cruise
The cost of a quilting cruise is a major factor to consider, but it should not be the only consideration. Be sure and review all the details on the Stitchin’ Heaven website prior to choosing your cruise. Certainly, the projects are a major consideration as well as the teachers of the projects. In addition, check out the various cabin options from Interior to Balcony. Sometimes the difference between an Oceanview and a Balcony room is worth it to have the convenience of breakfast outside in the mornings.
7. Not considering travel insurance
Travel insurance is an optional add-on to consider, but completely ignoring it is a big mistake.
While not for everyone, travel insurance is something that if you
ever need it, will feel like the best money you ever spent. People who have higher risk factors, such as chronic health issues or sensitivities, would be well suited to consider travel insurance.
While most cruisers have health insurance, that coverage may not extend to situations outside your home country, especially on cruise ships.
In addition to the health issues, travel insurance can protect you in case of any other type of catastrophe, including some cancellations, a missed connection, lost or delayed baggage, or a dental or legal problem.
8. Not leaving clothes out for the last morning
When your quilting cruise is nearly over, you will need to pack everything up and place your luggage outside your door the night before the cruise ends so that it can be delivered to the cruise terminal to pick up the next morning. Be very certain to leave one last outfit out to wear off the ship!
Inevitably, there is always someone who just packs everything up and then realizes the next morning that they have nothing to wear.
Avoid the walking off the ship in your PJs by ensuring you leave something else out to wear on that last morning.
9. Not putting your sewing supplies in your carry-on luggage
Once you get close to sailing, you will receive instruction from Stitchin’ Heaven regarding the handling of the prohibited items you will need while onboard. Prohibited Items will include your small craft iron, scissors, rotary cutter, and rotary cutter blades. The instruction clearly instructs you how to put these items in a zip lock back, with the proper information written on it, and to pack it in your carry-on luggage.
Every single cruise we have a number of people who will put these supplies in their checked luggage and often times it will cause the checked luggage to get confiscated at the pier. If your bag of prohibited items is taken from you at check in, those will be brought to the Conference Center for you. If your entire suitcase is confiscated, you will be spending your first evening of your cruise trying to retrieve your luggage rather than enjoying your cruise!
10. Packing your suitcase at the maximum weight
You get to the airport to start your adventure and you are so glad that your suitcase is 49.5 pounds! Yay! You are under the 50-pound limit!!
Don’t forget that Stitchin’ Heaven will be providing you with up to three beautiful quilt kits (which could weigh around 5 pounds total) and just think of all of the souvenirs and treasurers you will be purchasing at your ports!! Those overweight fees add up quickly, so plan ahead and leave some room for your additional items.