These comments are naturally based on the experience of the Dawn Princess only, so no guarantees that they transfer to other ships or cruise lines, or shorter cruises but no doubt you’ll be able to isolate those.
In no particular order of importance other than numbers 1 & 2 are indeed numbers 1 & 2:
1) Hook into “Cruise Critic”, find your cruise line, your ship and then the “Roll Call” for your cruise. From this message board, you’ll get to hear of others doing the cruise.
2) Take every opportunity to meet as many from the roll call as you can, before the cruise. You may not click with all of them, but the chances are that you will click with some of them.
3) If you manage to meet several others you think you’d like to dine with, by all means approach the cruise line and request you be seated together for the evening meal. Some prefer to take pot luck of course, but there are many who find their new dining companions are not to their liking. Better safe than sorry.
4) Treat your dining room waiters (and all staff for that matter) as potential friends.
5) If you would like additional lobster tails or prawns, just ask the waiter! It’s not like a normal restaurant where you pay extra for extras...
6) The Horizon Court/buffet coffee onboard is dreadful. It is made from a coffee concentrate, so you wouldn’t be the only one carrying your jar of Gold Blend or a coffee bag at breakfast.
7) The coffee cards are for 15 coffees at a cost of $35AUD that includes a nice and very effective coffee mug. You need the voucher from the book you are given when you embark, but additional books are available from your room steward.
8) Don’t assume that the buffet food is overall, inferior to the dining room food. Even breakfast in the buffet can be adjusted to suit with cooked to order omelettes and poached eggs are by request.
9) At lunch time, it is all too easy to overlook the speciality or theme of the day as it is beyond/between the two food lines.
10) The feather pillows tend to have the sharp ends of the feathers poking through, so it may pay to swap them for the flock type.
11) The cabin walls are steel hence several people take magnets. (See the link to Ros’s blog)
12) The more activities you get involved in, the more friends you will make.
13) Enjoy the wonderful diversity of the staff. I think they represented about 53 different countries. The rather churlish people who (formally) complained that some quiz presenters had accents, seem to have missed the point of a “World Cruise”.
14) Princess Tours may be over priced, but are generally well organised, however, even private tours can sometimes be less than satisfactory if your requirements are not clearly agreed beforehand.
15) In several countries, particularly where pay is poor, hiring a taxi between four of you can be surprisingly cheap. The downside is that they will invariably stop at various shops or emporiums to try and get you to spend money, as they generally get a kick-back, whether you spend or not.
16) Some tour guides believe that if you are on a six hour tour, they have to talk non-stop for six hours...
17) The various Hop-On Hop-Off buses are generally fairly priced and the multi language commentary is optional via headphones. Keep your receipts as they normally offer a discount if you have used them in a previous port. There are several companies so it may pay to research in advance.
18) Local buses always require local currency – in just about every port, US dollars are accepted elsewhere but the exchange rate is always very much in their favour, but many places will bargain anyway. Generally, if prices are acceptable, why bother bargaining?
19) Trivia quizzes are great fun as long as you accept that you’ll probably learn more than you already know! Note the word “trivia...”
20) We managed without using the laundry at all by taking only clothes that required the minimum of care, with a sink wash more than adequate and then drying them on the balcony or drip drying in the shower.
21) If your air-conditioning isn’t working too well, just let the room steward know. Unfortunately, you can’t switch it off!
22) On board massage or acupuncture is a staggering $167 an hour... Massage is good, but at that price, it needs to be.
23) Pace yourselves! On the world cruise, if there are five ports in five days, you’ll need a lot of stamina if you think you can manage six or seven hour tours every day.
24) Of all the music options on board, there are bound to be some that are not to your taste but overall, plenty you will like, ditto the entertainers and the production shows.
25) Take your own wireless enabled laptop/notebook (or modern I-device, as the internet cafe can be very busy at times. Although internet is not super fast, it isn’t always as slow as we expected. We shrunk all pics and managed to make 500 minutes last from Sydney to Dover (54 days), blog uploading almost daily, checking internet messages but not downloading them. We just left them on the server but moved them to specially set up directory until we returned home. We didn’t Skype. Our 1,000 mins (Platinum status) from FL back to Auckland was more than enough
26) One Kindle weighs less than 1,000 books... However, load them up before you go.
27) Take a clock with a lit display as with constant time changes, when you wake in the night, it is nice to know what time it is.
28) On board photographs are expensive and always in a flattering ‘soft focus’.
29) With modern digital cameras, there is no excuse for not taking enough pics, but do download them to your laptop or other storage device daily. Learn how to use the camera before setting off. That includes switching off the flash or switching on the flash.
30) Smile a lot and laugh a lot...