The first time I came to Alaska, it was for a cruise/land tour for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary in 2004. I LOVED every minute of it! One of my favorite memories was sitting in a hot-tub near Denali National Park at 11 p.m. With the midnight sun, it looked like it was 4 in the afternoon! Another was watching a Brown Bear wander the shore as the ship sailed by (that’s my idea of viewing a bear).
A cruise to Alaska is one of the BEST ways to start your travels here, especially with a family. The ship is a self contained city, there’s plenty of food, and the view changes. Plus you can get a taste of a few ports and decide where you would like to return and spend more time. For me, on Alaskan cruises I love Ketchikan and Skagway. Even though I live in Alaska, I still cruise Alaska!
Sage Cruise Advice…
I’m not sure if 13 cruises qualifies as a cruising veteren, but I am a keen people watcher, plus pretty laid back. I get a sick kick with a side of pity out of watching people make idiots of themselves (if they deserve it), but all the same, I’d rather cruisers all just get along and have the best experience possible.
Since cruise season is fast approaching in Alaska, I put together a list of suggestions for success on the ship. They are just some observations I’ve made over the years that cruise travelers do to try to ruin their own and other’s vacations.
Top 10 Tips…
In true Alaska style, I’m not beating around the bush, so here’s my blunt list of Top 10 Cruising Tips for how to behave on the ship!
- Don’t expect perfection: With today’s ships carrying up to 5000 thousand people at a time, trust me, the experience is not going to be perfect for everyone. Your toilet may clog, the handle may fall off the sliding door, children may be out of control (my own come to mind), your table mates may sometimes be rude, or your chosen excursion may be full. That’s just to name a few. Have a good attitude and your cruise will go a lot more smoothly.
- Get some exercise: Fact, the elevators are going to be crowded around dinner and show times and complaining doesn’t make them go faster. A bunch of crabby people waiting for the elevators will only stir each other up even more, I’ve seen it happen time and again. If you are physically able, why not walk off that crème brûlée and take the stairs — or maybe do a brisk lap before the show on the Promenade Deck.
- Quiet Please: It is not necessary to slam your cabin door each time you enter and exit the cabin, and it is rude to do so at 3 a.m. (some passengers like me actually sleep — at night! — on a cruise). Close the door slowly and preserve some of the peace. Never been on a cruise? There are probably a hundred cabins within earshot of each slammed door.
- Practice moderation: OK, it’s your vacation, have fun and party on. But, know your limits. No one likes a sloppy drunk, and the last thing you want to do is spend a night in the medical facility because you planted your rear end through the glass coffee table. No one will convince me that excessive drinking is not a huge factor in any crimes aboard ships. Plus falling off the ship in the Gulf of Alaska at night could make you the next Deadliest Catch.
- Be discreet: Aboard ship, we are all equals. Be careful who you let see your Rolex watch, or that 10-carat diamond. No need to flash a wad of cash in the casino either. For one thing, you could be asking for trouble, for another (listen carefully): No one really cares! And another thing, while the ship is your home away from home, it isn’t actually your home, so if you feel the need to wander the hallways, please do so wearing street clothes not your drawers or nightie — or less!
- Remember that you are a world traveler: Alaska draws travelers from all over the globe and you may hear others speaking a different language. (No, it is not a foreign language; it may be foreign to you, but it is not foreign to millions of perfectly competent speakers). If an announcement needs to be made, it will likely be made in several languages; after all, people who speak a language other than yours have the same right to safety and information as you do.
- Bring your attitude of gratitude and respect: You are cruising to one of the most amazing places on the planet!! Give thanks for your experience, not everyone will get to have it. Respect the local folks, the staff and your fellow passengers. But don’t stop there, respect the environment and wildlife/plantlife that is there. Don’t throw items off the ship (duh, but it happens a lot), and it may get you thrown off the ship one way or another.
- Stop whining: If something has gone wrong or you are unhappy, there is no need to drag a few thousand other people into your mess. There is a simple solution: Ask management to correct the problem. Do not demand that people accommodate you, it is all about compromise. Whining just brings everyone down and — who knows? — your expectations may be way out of line. And another thing: There’s not much anyone can do about a cloudy, rainy day. There are bound to be a few of those in Alaska!
- Dress for public view: If you wouldn’t walk into Wal-Mart wearing short shorts and a tube top, you probably shouldn’t wear them on vacation, either. Same with a thong in the suspended glass bottom Jacuzzi! (talk about scaring the wildlife). People come in all shapes and sizes, but most of us are not looking to become acquainted with your every bulge and curve. It can be cold up here, even in the summer…It’s Alaska so be prepared to cover up!
- Be generous: Tip the Staff. Average cruise ship staff is paid $50-100 a month. Yes, you read that correctly! The rest of their income comes from gratuities. To the family in the cabins across from me. I heard you all making plans to order room service for 16 on the last night of the cruise so you could avoid having to tip in the dining room. Shame on you!
So there you have it, my own personal advice to cruise to Alaska as a savy veteren! Bon-Voyage!