I recently returned home from my 4th cruise experience with MSC cruises. I’ve been on the Sinfonia, Musica (twice) and now on the Orchestra.
So, I would like to think I am a cruiseaholic.
I’m going to share a few tips/lessons I’ve learned based on my previous experiences.
1. ALWAYS buy your drink/excursion vouchers before your cruise. It is a little cheaper because you will still pay in Rands. Once you onboard, everything is in Dollars. The vouchers are a good option to buy for cocktails or if you want a variety of non-alcoholic drinks.
Beers end up working out cheaper onboard but remember all drinks purchased onboard will have a service charge.
Did you know you can keep your vouchers for like 3 years if you don’t use them all? (But you most probably will.)
2. Using the internet is extremely expensive on the cruise, so you have to think about how important this is to you. If you want, purchase it before you embark on the cruise, on the MSC website. It works out much cheaper. You will pay around R480 for a gig.
3. Arrive at the Port early if you want to have the ship a little to yourself before everyone else arrives. Also, give yourself enough time to drive to the Port and park as traffic is crazy since guests are coming and going at the same time.
Carry a small bag with essentials since you will most probably only get your checked-in luggage later on that evening.
4. Tape your luggage tag page or insert it in a plastic folder before you staple it around your bag handle to make sure it is 100% secure to avoid them misplacing your luggage if the paper tears.
Carry a lanyard for your cruise card.
5. If you are a germ freak like me, make sure you use the jacuzzi first thing in the morning. Make use of the hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the ship and carry your own air freshener for the bathroom.
Check out Poo Pourri, something worth investing in when traveling.
6. Best time to cruise? From my experience, I found January has more of a younger crowd on the cruise + we experienced lovely weather at Pomene.
7. Carry cash for the Island if you want to buy something. They accept Rands.
8. I had 3 hours (max) fun on the Island, after that it became too hot and busy. The best time to go is early in the morning and be out by the first boat back to the ship (if you don’t have an excursion planned) so you can shower, take a nap and get ready for an exciting night ahead.
If you don’t want to take your phone to the Island, invest in an Instax camera that you can use to capture some moments and make a holiday scrapbook afterward!
9. Dress up for theme nights – carry a few formal outfits if you doing the sit-down dinner (it isn’t compulsory) and something tropical for the sail away party which normally happens the night you leave the island you visited.
Try to pack a capsule wardrobe – the rooms are small for big suitcases and trust me, you won’t end up wearing all 4 pairs of shoes.
10. Don’t book right at the bottom of the ship – sometimes there’s a smell that is unbearable lingering around. It does happen… So many people on a ship, food wastage, etc. I still think the balcony cabin is a good investment especially if you are doing 4 nights otherwise book an inside cabin (14 is easy to access the deck and buffet).
11. Carry your own coffee sachets or five roses tea if you love a good cup! You might not always find your desired brand onboard however there is always tea, coffee, and water available free of charge for you.
Food is available like 20 hours a day so you never going to starve! There are some dishes that are limited so if you want a variety to choose from especially the Indian/Halaal cuisine, make sure you on time for lunch and supper.
12. Carry a water bottle to fill up at the water station to carry around.
13. Carry toothpicks or floss mint, pain meds and something for the flu – just in case.
14. Breakfast in bed? Yes, can be done and for free. You can get a cup of coffee, yoghurt or a croissant delivered to your room if you leave the hanger out on the door.
15. Get involved in the games and events, it’s loads of fun.
Make sure you read your daily planner, you can carry a highlighter or take out a photo to remember which ones you want to check out.
Make friends, that is if you want to make new friends. I made a ton of new friends and many were in the buffet line while waiting for food.
16. If you want to buy something on the cruise, wait for the last day as they have some good deals.
17. Try to settle your bill a day before you leave (during the day) to avoid the long crazy lines.
18. Sign up to the MSC voyagers club and save 5% on your next cruise.
19. Sign up to the MSC Cruises newsletter for ridiculously cheap last-minute cruises.
20. Try to sleep a lot before you embark on the cruise because you want to make the most of your time on the cruise! I had max 4 hours of good sleep a day. I have no regrets and will definitely do it again!
Did I leave something out? Please do share in the comments section below.
Why not fly to Durban a little earlier and enjoy the city before your cruise? You can get R825 ZAR off your first trip with Airbnb! Click here to redeem it.
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