Tips for Making the Most of Your Cruise

Cruise ship top deck poolside

My TV crew and I just spent two weeks on a Mediterranean cruise, filming a one-hour special that will air on public television in January 2019. The show will present an honest look at the pros and cons of cruising and will equip travelers with the skills they need to be smart cruisers.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your next cruise. (And if you have cruising tips to share, please chime in as well.)

Right off the bat, I recommend getting out of your cabin (ship lingo for “room”) and exploring the ship: Study the ship’s cutaway models on the signage, walk each deck (ship lingo for “floor”), and find those many delightful little corners so you can take full advantage of your ship.

Cruise ship directory

I also recommend the “behind-the-scenes” ship tour (pricey at about $100, but an amazing two-hour look at how the ship and its crew manage to run the entire show in a parallel world that is invisible to the typical cruiser). Ship geeks will marvel at how these newer massive ships no longer use an old-style shaft and propeller. They are nimbly maneuvered by Azipods (pods with propellers that can rotate 360 degrees and, with the help of bow thrusters, can jockey a 300-yard-long ship into whatever pier is required).

A monitor showing a ship's azipod

At port, most cruisers simply book the cruise line’s bus tours (and are generally happy they did). However, setting up your own shore excursions is usually less expensive and gives you more flexibility. Stepping off the ship in Naples, we got to film the intense scene of hustlers, guides, and taxi drivers scrambling for business from cruisers venturing ashore with no firm plan.

Tourists outside of the port terminal in Naples

Everywhere you go on a cruise ship, they’re pushing squirts of Purell. I’m of the school of thought that sanitizing everything with antibacterial products just makes you less resistant and is counterproductive — so, I shun the squirts.

Purell dispenser in the cruise ship