I have now posted blogs for each day of my cruise with Grand Princess, if you missed them you can find them here:
I thought it might be helpful for future cruisers if I added to what I have written with a few useful hints and tips, so here goes…
- Travel Sickness – Well, what can I say! This was a major problem for me and I didn’t even get nauseous until I was almost too ill to stand up! If you haven’t been on a ship before or suffer travel/motion sickness to any degree I highly recommend making sure you take your motion sickness pills or use what ever products you normally use as it can get quite choppy on the North Sea and whilst I didn’t let it ruin my enjoyment it was only after realising and fixing the problem that I was able to fully relax and make the most of my holiday! If you haven’t got sea-legs this could be a major problem – think ahead and deal with it before it deals with you lol 😉
- Smoking – Whilst we were aboard smoking was still allowed in your cabin/balcony and in designated areas around the ship (the 2 main ones being by Neptune’s Court on Deck 14 – open air and Snookers Cigar Lounge on Deck 6 – indoor). Princess have now introduced a NO Smoking rule for cabins/balconies which comes into force for cruises after 15th January 2012. I for one, even as a smoker don’t have a problem with this – smoking is banned in most places in the UK and I don’t smoke inside my own home, but if you don’t like this then maybe Princess isn’t the cruise company for you. However, I expect that if there are other cruise companies that don’t have this rule, it won’t be long before they follow suit – so just get used to smoking outside! See my blog here for more on this subject
- Excursions – We thoroughly enjoyed ‘most’ of our excursions and the prices weren’t bad. However, I would recommend against booking one for every stop (like we did) so you can have a little wander/explore for yourself instead. Find out as much as you can about your planned excursions so you don’t have any nasty surprises (like spending 8 hours sat on a coach, or walks beneath ‘fake’ glaciers!). It’s hard to be sure exactly where the ship will dock, but if you can find out how close to an excursion location the ship will be this will also help – we didn’t book the excursion to the petroleum museum but it was within 2 minutes walk of the ship so we got to go anyway, it may also have been cheaper for us this way!
- On-board activities – there are numerous on-board activities you can try your hand at. Most are included free of charge but there may be a small additional charge for materials with some craft activities, and obviously things like spa/beauty treatments incur a cost.
- Photos – As you have seen from my blogs there are ‘plenty’ of photo opportunities whilst aboard, the perfect excuse for donning your best evening wear! There is NO obligation to buy ANY of the photos taken, so why not take advantage of the chance to try out all the different set locations (up to 8 on Formal nights). You may initially consider the prices for the photos high ($24.95 during our cruise) however, if you were to go for a photo shoot back in the UK you would be paying far higher prices and also often paying for the shoot itself – so, is really is a good deal! Plus with your discount card you get some ‘free’ photos as you purchase more!
- Formal Wear – On a 7 night cruise you will have 2-3 Formal nights. The expectation on these nights is that you will ‘dress-up’ in your best evening wear. For men this means dinner jacket/dark suit and women evening gown, cocktail dress or trouser suit. The majority of people do follow this requirement, and if you are dining in ‘any’ of the restaurants it is enforced. However, (as we discovered) if you are eating in Horizon Court wearing these clothes is not very practical, and luckily not enforced, which was good for us as we changed out of our evening wear once we had our photos done! So, don’t feel you have to rush out and buy something especially for your cruise, you probably have something smart enough to pass! On the other nights ‘smart casual’ shirt and trousers for men, dresses, skirts or trouser suits for ladies – again not vital, but I’m sure you would like to look smart for an ‘evening out’ normally anyway, so just treat this the way you would for a night out back home 🙂
- Drinks – Tea and Coffee are available inclusively anytime from the Horizon Court, you can also get Orange/Apple juice here with breakfast and ‘real’ lemonade throughout the day. All other drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic are an additional cost that will be added to your room account, there are opportunities to purchase ‘drinks packages’ (ideal if you have children who want soft drinks often). A sticker will be placed on your room card if you purchase one of these packages – make sure you don’t lose/damage it as you can’t get a refund! Also, don’t bring more than 1 bottle of alcohol per adult aboard with you or it will be collected from you and returned on the last day!! As will any duty-free purchases made whilst on board.
- Dining – If you opt for the timed/seated dining option you will be allocated a time and table where you will have your evening meal – but if you miss your slot for any reason don’t panic! You can still get a meal in the Horizon Court, or one of the other casual dining options (pizzeria, burger bar etc). With ‘anytime dining’ you can either dine between 5:45-10pm in the Michelangelo or Da Vinci dining rooms if you want the restaurant experience, or again you can opt for Horizon Court or casual dining. Horizon Court is buffet style dining, open from 6am till 11:30 pm. It is here where you will have your breakfast and lunch (unless you fancy room service) but basically due to it’s opening times you can pop in to snack anytime you fancy really.
- Tax Refund – If you make any purchases in Norway that are above a certain amount you can claim back the tax you have paid. However, you need to get your claim form (available from most shops where you would have made your purchases) validated by the tax officials BEFORE you leave the country. There are couple of ways you can do this (which are explained in the claim pack) but the easiest way is to see the Tax rep’s who come aboard whilst the ship is in the final port – so long as you don’t miss them like we did! They are on board for around 2 hours.
- Arriving back in the UK – the day before you arrive home you will recieve colour/number coded tags for your luggage. Luggage will be left outside your room on the night before you disembark. When you leave in the morning the process is so simple and quick compared to airports you will be amazed! You get off the ship go down to the luggage collection area and its so easy to find your luggage as everything is clearly laid out by the colour/number codes you have been given, then it’s straight out of the port – it really is that simple! If you left your car with the valet parking services its a short walk over the road to the long stay car park where you collect your keys from the booth by handing in the card you were given. Collect your car and home you go – couldn’t be any easier!
There you go, those are the main things I could think of that you might want to know about. If you have any other questions or would like to ask me about anything feel free to contact me –
you can drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
send me a tweet: @SharonHoward09
or reach me on Facebook
- Hints and tips for your Grand Princess Norwegian Fjords cruise from Southampton (showard76.wordpress.com)
- My First Cruise – Norweigan Fjords 28th May-04th June 2011 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- My First Cruise – Day 7 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- My First Cruise – Day 3 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Cruise guide for first-timers: how to find a ship with your name on it (telegraph.co.uk)
- My First Cruise – Day 4 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- #30DayBlog Challenge – Day 3: Call to Action (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Where can I smoke on a cruise ship? (showard76.wordpress.com)
- My First Cruise – Day 6 (showard76.wordpress.com)