Cruise like a pro: Insider tips for a relaxing ocean cruise

Uncover the secrets to a smooth and enjoyable ocean cruise experience with these expert tips and insider advice.

Are you planning an upcoming ocean cruise? If so, you’re in luck! We’ve got some insider cruising tips from the folks over at Saga Cruises, to help you make the most of your experience on the high seas.

Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned sailor, these tips will provide you with valuable insights and advice to enhance your cruise getaway. So, get ready to set sail with our expert tips and tricks for an unforgettable cruise adventure.

The Spirit of Discovery sailing at sunset -Credit: Saga

1. Do your research

Be prepared

Just like a Scout, it’s important to be ready for a cruise. One of the best ways to prepare is to familiarize yourself with the layout of the ship. While you don’t need to memorize the deck plans, having a general sense of where everything is located can save you a lot of time during your first days onboard. Knowing where the buffet restaurant or that appealing lounge is located will make things much easier.

Taking the time to research the ship also ensures that you don’t miss out on any features. Even before boarding a Saga Cruise, you can explore the deck plans for both the Spirit of Discovery and the Spirit of Adventure from the comfort of your own home.

The same goes for any shore excursions you might like to do. Once you’ve done your research, Neil Cron, destination experience manager for Saga Cruises says pre-booking is definitely recommended.

“Book as soon as available to ensure you get the tours of your choice,” he advises. “In particular, our small group experiences optional tours are very popular and by definition space is limited – so book as soon as you can to secure your space.”

2. Keep your luggage light

Don’t overpack

While there are no luggage weight restrictions on a Saga cruise, you probably don’t need to take as much as you think. Cabins come well prepared with a range of items including a hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers, toiletries and tea and coffee-making facilities.

Even if you’re at sea for a long period of time, you don’t have to pack an enormous wardrobe as there are self-service launderettes onboard, along with free washing powder and fabric conditioner. If you want someone else to do the job, there are also laundry, pressing and dry-cleaning services available, which means you can pack lighter. What’s more, if you’re part of Saga’s loyalty scheme, Britannia Club, laundry service is free once you hit the Gold tier.

Oh, and don’t bring a library of books as the ships have their very one well-stocked library (above), ensuring you’ll have lots to read while aboard.

The joy of cruising is that once you arrive at the ship, the porter takes over and delivers your luggage to your cabin. If you’re using the Saga chauffeur service, do let them know if you’ll have more than one large suitcase per person as they may need to arrange a bigger car.

3. Pack something smart

Don’t forget your fancy clothes!

Getting glammed up for formal nights is one of the nicest things about going on a cruise. Dependent on the length of your cruise, you could have one, two or three formal nights on your holiday and you’ll need to ensure you have the appropriate clothing.

For ladies, this could be an evening gown, cocktail dress, dress suit or elegant separates. For men, think a smart suit with a tie or a dinner jacket including a bow tie.

If formal dining isn’t your thing, don’t worry. On Saga Cruises, you’re not obliged to join in with the formal fun. Instead on special dining nights, you can dine in The Grill or take advantage of the complimentary room service. No tuxedo required for either of those either!

4. Utilise the free WiFi

Turn your phone to airplane mode

Don’t be caught out by extortionate mobile roaming charges while on board. Once you’ve left land, your phone goes into roaming mode and if it connects to a maritime network, you can expect hefty charges.

The best way to prevent this is to switch your phone to airplane mode or switch off your mobile data. If your roaming is left on, even if you’re not using your device, you could be charged extra, as apps can still be running in the background without you realising.

Luckily Saga Cruises come with free wi-fi in your cabin and around the ship, so as soon as you board, connect to that to ensure you don’t come home to some very surprising costs.

Horst Pint, hotel operations director for Saga Cruises says that texting on board is generally nice and cheap as it’s part of the wi-fi deal.

“The best communication to people at home is via WhatsApp, either using our wi-fi or when you’re in port, using a local mobile signal.”

Do beware though that wi-fi can sometimes be a bit patchy because of the nature of ocean cruising, so on some days you’ll get better connectivity than others.

Download before you go.

If you’re bringing a tablet and want to use it to watch films or programmes on or read from, make sure you download everything before you board. That way if you hit patchy Wi-Fi areas, you’ll still be able to enjoy that film or book.

5. Leave your cash behind

Enjoy the benefits of all inclusive

While you may want to pack some cash or foreign currency for your shore excursions, while you’re on a Saga ocean cruise, everything is pretty much included.

Indulge in unlimited selected drinks throughout your voyage, available at all the bars, lounges, and restaurants. And that’s not all – you’ll have the opportunity to dine in some of the finest restaurants on board, including the exclusive Khukuri House on the Spirit of Adventure. This one-of-a-kind Nepalese restaurant takes inspiration from the rich Ghurka heritage in Saga’s hometown of Folkestone, offering a delicious blend of flavours and cooking styles from Nepal.

To make the most of your culinary adventure, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead and reserve a table at your preferred restaurant. As soon as you board, get the lay of the land and make those appointments pronto so you don’t miss out.

And here’s the best part – both boats operate a convenient cashless system. Simply use your cabin key card to make purchases during your cruise, and you can settle the bill at the end of your holiday with a credit or debit card. It’s hassle-free and ensures a seamless experience.

Keep an eye out for special sales happening in the onboard shop during certain voyages. You might just snag some fantastic discounts on select items of stock.

6. Pace yourself

Take your time – and enjoy yourself

Pacing yourself on a cruise is important, especially if it’s your first time. There’s so much to do on cruise ships and in the ports that it can be overwhelming if you dive right in. Take your time to explore the ship and try out different restaurants and activities.

If your cruise is long enough, it’s also a good idea to choose a day to stay on the ship when a port call doesn’t interest you as much.

Some activities might be closed, but the ship will generally be quieter, giving you the chance to explore at your own pace, enjoy a peaceful lunch, and maybe even take advantage of discounted spa treatments or other cheaper and less crowded activities.

Exploring the ports are such an integral part of a cruise but if you find you’re feet are getting weary, Saga Cruises offer e-bikes to help you zip around the local towns. Pre-booking is essential though – this can be done on the ship – just make sure you give enough notice.

Don’t rush!

If you haven’t booked any shore excursions for a specific day, just wait for an hour or so until the initial rush to leave the ship calms down. You’ll still have ample time to leisurely explore the port and enjoy a more relaxed experience.

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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