Cruise holidays have become quite the trend with the latest figures showing more than one million Australians took a cruise in 2014. The number of Australian’s embarking on cruises has hit record levels and shows no sign of cooling off anytime soon.
What many Australians don’t realise is that you are not necessarily covered by Medicare on a cruise – even if it’s in Australian waters. There may be expensive on board health care costs; once your cruise ship has left port, you most likely WON’T receive cover by Medicare or your current private health care provider.
When you are browsing quotes on www.travelinsurance.com.au, please check the box to say “I will be cruising”; only the quotes with included cruising cover will be displayed. Or use the cruising section to view the appropriate quotes to cover you for medical expenses while on your cruise, where it's domestic cruising or international cruising.
Once you have your travel insurance sorted for your cruise holiday – here are some useful tips and information to get the most out of your trip.
Bring an alarm clock
A lot of cruise ship rooms will not have a clock with an alarm. To avoid oversleeping and packing up in a rush, ensure that you wake up with plenty of time before check out; housekeepers advise that when people pack up in a hurry, they tend to leave things behind.
Avoid roaming charges on your mobile phone
If you are going to use your phone as an alarm, put it in Flight Mode, so it doesn’t incur roaming charges. If you’re travelling with a group, some people find it economical and convenient to use walkie-talkies instead to communicate while on the ship.
Wi-Fi onboard cruise ships does not come cheap. To save racking up an expensive internet bill, wait until the ship has made port and if time permits, walk an extra block or two from the docks to find internet facilities; tourist traps situated right around the docks will charge much more for internet access.
Check the decking plans before you book
If you’re sensitive to noise, the last thing you want is to have your room situated underneath the dining area or other high traffic areas.
Ask for your bill the day before check out
This way you can review for any discrepancies early and save the stress of dealing with it on your last day on board.
Make use of the ship safe
It is best to leave your Rolex or Prada handbag at home – no need to “dress to impress” while on your cruising holiday. For valuables that you do need to take, as well as passports and return tickets, they can be kept in the ship safe. You may have a lightweight safe in your room which is suitable for tipping money etc…
Take caution when gambling
If you win big, congratulations! Just try and keep your winnings discreet. If you win big, ask to be escorted by staff to the safe. Unfortunately, unsavoury characters go on cruises as well, and it is always best to be on the safe side.
Research your destination to evaluate your dress code
Also be aware that many cruises have “formal nights”.
Patience is a virtue
There may be lineups (buffets, bars, etc.) and instead of complaining about waiting with other travellers - take the time to strike up a conversation with someone new and wait patiently.
Check the cruise line policies
Some cruise lines have strict guidelines prohibiting bringing bottles of alcohol or soft drinks on board. Also, if you’re a smoker – ensure you are aware of smoking guidelines to ensure you don’t inflict any penalty charges upon yourself.
Buy additional services in advance
Things like meals or spa services can be pre-purchased with significant discounts before you board.
Make a point of letting staff know if you’re cruising for a special occasion
Whether it’s for a wedding anniversary or a 60th Birthday – if you advise the team, you may be surprised to find they upgrade your room, leave chocolates on your bed or other small gestures to assist with your celebration.
There are options to prevent or relieve sea sickness
Pressure bands that you wear around the wrist, natural remedies such as ginger or pharmacy drugs are available to help. While they may be sold on board, it will be more cost effective to buy them before you board ship - and more useful if you take them before you start feeling sick.
Pack your gym shoes if you want to work off some of that food
With many cruise ships the food is included in the price of your holiday – so having seconds and thirds at mealtime may be very tempting. Keep in mind that many cruise ships have gyms or fitness classes – so pack some gym shoes if you’re worried about returning home with a few extra inches around the waist.
Don’t be a deck chair hog
Some people place their towels/personal items on a deck chair to save the chair for themselves to return to later. Some people may consider this rude, and on some cruise ships, the staff will remove the items if they have been left there for 30 minutes or longer.
Avoid getting sunburnt
A stinging red face and burning red shoulders will be hardly the healthy glow you were aiming during your holiday. Make sure you wear sunscreen and a hat and wear sunglasses for protection from harmful UV rays.
Keep an eye on the time
Wear a watch at all times! The cruise ship may stop at different ports, and it is your responsibility to return to the ship at the scheduled departure time. Don’t expect to be greeted by fellow cruisers with a smile if you are responsible for holding up the entire boat.