In the interest of full disclosure, I am working with Princess Cruises on a series of posts based on my experience on their Ruby Princess Alaskan cruise. I have been compensated, but all of the opinions and photos are 100% my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links which earn me a small percentage should you purchase anything from the link – at no cost to you.
So if you follow me on social media (you do follow me, right?), you know I took an AMAZING Alaskan cruise a couple weeks ago with Princess Cruises. I truly have no words to adequately describe how incredible the cruise was, but let me try: truly awesome, magnificent, fantastic, magical, life-changing, brilliant, fun… to name a few adjectives 🙂
While Alaska cruises are done for the season now, there are plenty of other cruises getting ready to set sail around different parts of the world, and I figured I’d compile this list of 15 Tips For Your Princess Cruise before you set sail so you’re prepared, comfortable, and ready to spend time enjoying the cruise rather than fretting over small things.
Whether you’re sailing with Princess on the Ruby Princess like I did, or you’re sailing another Princess ship or cruise liner entirely (although, I do love me a Princess cruise the most!), here are some tips & tricks I learned so my cruise was a smashing success.
Before You Leave
Here are some unexpected things you may not think to pack that were total life-savers for me!
- Over the door shoe organizer: It isn’t just for shoes, though if you’re a fashionista, it’s an obvious choice. Over the door organizers are a great way to save space and keep everything organized and tidy during your week-long (or more!) cruise. We hooked ours over a closet door where it housed some shoes, yes, but other things like makeup, medications, hot tools for our hair, and even organized our socks, under garments, and stockings. Since counter space (and closet space) is so limited in your cabin, this was a total game-changer.
2. Clothespins: I know what you’re thinking: laundry items on a vacation? But I promise it’s not like that! I traveled with my mom, but if you’re traveling with a family, this trick will be so helpful. Before you depart for your cruise, simply write on each family member’s initial on a handful of pins, then pin them to the individual shoe pockets on the organizer. Since my organizer was opaque, our initialed clothespins helped identify at a quick glance whose stuff was whose.
Bonus: initialed clothespins can be used to keep rogue dirty socks together for the correct person!
3. Power strip: Even though my mom and I were the only travelers in our party, between my computer, phone, her Nook book, my camera batteries, her C-Pap machine, and more, there were a lot of things that needed to be charged at random times. Since our cabin only had one (1)! accessible outlet, I was so grateful I packed this power strip. We could charge all of our necessary devices in this simple way.
4. Seasick medication (just in case!): A lot of people are unprepared for rough waters should it occur, and seasickness medication is usually more expensive on board. I really liked the medication I took (the one I linked above). Not only was I able to function throughout the day (other medications in the past forced me to nap during important events on the ship!), I was never drowsy, it was a chewable tablet that I could take anywhere, and it was great to use when we unexpectedly hit some turbulence one night.
Bonus tip: In order for medication to work properly, take the pill 24 hours before you embark, then 12 hours before you embark, and finally 1 hour before you embark. This gives it a chance to enter your system and start working properly by the time you set sail.
5. Champagne or wine: Princess Cruises allows each party to bring along one bottle of alcohol on board, so take advantage of this and BYOB! Each room on board of the Ruby Princess has a refrigerator and ice bucket, and room service can provide you with stemware!
6. Binoculars: These were SO awesome to have, and I’m so glad I packed them before our cruise! Some of our excursions (which I’ll detail in an upcoming post!) did not offer binoculars, but they were great to have on hand to spot animals in the wild, during our whale-watching excursion, and to spot the glaciers calving (AKA breaking apart) while we toured through Glacier Bay National Park.
Fun fact: did you know glaciers move toward the sea up to six feet a DAY?
7. Magnetic chip clips: Nope, not for Doritos! Did you know that your cabin’s walls are magnetic?! Yep, the walls are made of metal and thus magnets stick to them. These chip clips are a great way to hang up important documents or things like your cruise card or itinerary so you never lose them under the bed, between the sheets, or at the bottom of your black hole of a purse. I used them to hang up our itinerary and WiFi codes so everything was easily accessible to my mom and I.
Once On The Ship
Once you’re on board, remember these tips so your first experience is a positive one!
7. If you’re starving when you first get onboard, try to avoid the buffet – that’s where everyone goes to! Ruby Princess had so many dining options for lunch besides the buffet, including a hamburger grill, a pizza place, and a cafe. These are significantly less-crowded on embarkation day, so check them out! PS – these places should also be included in your dining package.
PS – Our ship had an ice cream bar on the pool deck where they offered homemade ice cream daily and milkshakes like this!
8. On embarkation day, room service can be a little slow due to the fact that everyone is trying to get your bags checked to your room (a wonderful service, BTW!). However, if all you want to do is eat and hang in your room for a breather, most restaurants and buffets on board will let you take a plate to go! (I did this with dessert a lot!) 🙂
9. The main dining rooms and buffet restaurants tend to be crazy on the first night, so I recommend dining in a specialty restaurant on-board instead. Ruby Princess had SHARE by Curtis Stone, a six-course dinner menu with each course tasting even better than the last. I loved SHARE because the premise is to take time to spend with your loved ones and share memories, stories, and experiences. How cute is that?
Plus, this butter-poached lobster was LIFE-CHANGING. I repeat: a total life-changing lobster.
10. Take advantage of the maitre d’! Okay, not literally. The maitre d’ is your friend here and wants your experience to be memorable and exciting. He or she is basically a sommelier, party host, and food expert in the dining room. Ask them for their recommendations for certain dishes, wine pairings, or can’t-miss food offerings each time you dine. And since you often may dine with strangers at large tables in the main dining rooms, you can ask your maitre d’ to move you if needed.
11. Check out the spa and fitness center ASAP! Obviously, my mom and I were basically running to the Lotus Spa on embarkation day, and I’m so glad we did! Ruby Princess’ spa director took us through a comprehensive tour when we visited and showed us around the spa and fitness center. On embarkation day, the spa will usually offer discounts or free services when you buy a service, such as a free 20 minute scalp massage tacked onto your massage service, or a free manicure with the purchase of a blow-out. They also offer amazing classes in the fitness center, and they even have an acupuncturist on board! I just loved that we received complimentary treatments on top of the treatments we were already planning on booking!
12. You will never be bored on the ship – that’s a promise! But so you know what all the ship has to offer, take a brief tour around the ship to see the amenities provided. For instance, Ruby Princess had a mini golf course on the top deck, a private adults-only area, a tennis/basketball court, a casino, a teen and children’s center, and a club. If you don’t have a set schedule, it’s a great idea to figure out what you’d like to do on each day, or even each hour!
13. Pay attention to your ship’s daily newsletter! On it, you’ll find pertinent information about the day’s events, games, shows, excursions, weather, dining options, and more. On the Ruby Princess, ours was called “Princess Patter” and it was rich with helpful info. On days and evenings when we had nothing planned, it was nice to know there was a movie playing “under the stars” on the outdoor decks, or a Broadway show going on in the magnificent Princess Theater.
14. For excellent on-board and excursion recommendations, get to know your cabin steward. Ours was a jovial guy named Ricky who always made sure our stateroom had a full bottle of water, fresh linens and towels, and offered us some great recommendations for dining on-board. Your cabin steward travels with the ship for many weeks or months at a time, so he or she knows where to find the best food for your craving, how and when to avoid the crowds, and what excursions are a must-see!
15. If you’re traveling with Princess soon, you’ll get to experience the new Ocean Medallion! The Ocean Medallion is a free, wearable device that makes your cruise experience personalized, simpler and extraordinary! The device holds your unique digital identity which is encrypted and it communicates with thousands of sensors on board and in port. It uses personalized information so the crew can serve you better – for instance, if you stop by the International Cafe on Day 1 and order your large vanilla soy latte extra hot with whipped cream, your Ocean Medallion device will register this. The next day you stop to get it, the crew will be able to view your order and prepare it for you! In addition, you can use the Ocean Medallion to unlock your stateroom door, make payments, speed up things on embarkation day, and more. This launches in November!
Overall, my experience cruising with Princess Cruises was a fantastic one and I would recommend it to anyone! Princess was perfect for a mom-and-me trip like I took, but it is also fantastic for whatever you’re celebrating, from birthdays to anniversaries to family reunions.
Have a super sweet weekend, and enjoy your cruise!