It's your first Holland America cruise, and you're uncertain what to pack. Check out Cruise Critic's general cruise packing list and then add the following specific-to-HAL items to create the ultimate Holland America packing list. You'll be ready to go, with no last-minute "oops!" or supply run needed in port.
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Holland America's keycards serve as your room key, onboard credit card and shipboard ID, so you'll never want to be without it. Wisely, Holland America prints all keycards with a long-and-skinny hole at the top, just the right size to attach to the clip of a lanyard, so you can wear the key around your neck. Ships sell lanyards in their onboard stores for outrageous prices, so throw an old one from a work conference into your bag or buy a fun lanyard online before your trip.
Good Shoes for Walking and Dancing
Holland America may attract an older crowd, but that doesn't mean a cruise has to be a sedentary experience. All Holland America ships feature a wraparound promenade, perfect for walking laps, as well as the once-per-cruise On Deck for a Cause onboard walk to raise money for cancer research. Make sure you pack sneakers or sturdy walking shoes for these activities, as well as any walking you plan to do onshore.
Also, ships with the B.B. King's Blues Club are known for toe-tapping music, and passengers do get down on the dance floor. Make sure whichever pair of shoes you pack to go with your evening attire is comfortable enough for dancing. You'll regret wearing the stiletto heels that give you blisters.
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Holland America has reasonable policies about bringing your own beverages onboard. You can bring one bottle of wine or Champagne onboard with no corkage fee (if consumed in your stateroom); you can bring more than that, but each subsequent bottle will incur an $18 corkage fee, regardless of where you drink it. If you take a ship-sponsored culinary shore excursion (such as a trip to a winery) and purchase a bottle of wine, the corkage fee will also be waived for one bottle of wine per person, per tour.
In addition, passengers are allowed to bring a "reasonable" amount of soda or bottled water onboard, free of charge, at embarkation or in ports of call, as long as you carry them on. If you must have your daily La Croix or Diet Pepsi (Holland America ships serve Coke products), grab some in town before heading to the cruise port.
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Not all Holland America cabins come with mini-fridges, and while you can rent them for a couple bucks per day, Cruise Critic members report they're not the best at keeping things cool. Better to pack your own soft-sided cooler and ask your cabin steward to keep it full with ice.
Holland America has quietly removed self-serve launderettes from its ships, meaning that passengers either have to pay to have their laundry done onboard or hand wash small items in in-cabin bathrooms. If you prefer to pack enough clothes and perhaps wash out bathing suits and intimates in your room, pack some travel-size pouches of detergent.
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Thank you for your interest in Royal Seas Cruises on Ticketmaster. You will soon be receiving a call to book your free Bahamas cruise. Can't wait? This seemingly simple sales pitch began a yearlong journey of phone calls, complete with lightning-fast decisions, scheduling and hand-wringing, as I attempted to determine whether the free cruise offer was a scam, legit or something in between.
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
We've all been there: almost getting your Romanian spouse forcibly debarked -- and expatriated; sprinting through the St. Thomas jungle to catch your departing ship; eating three of Guy Fieri's 1,000-calorie burgers in one sitting. Perhaps not, but as Bram Stoker wrote in Dracula, "We learn from failure, not from success!" What has failure taught Cruise Critic's editors and contributors when it comes to cruising? Do your homework on visa requirements, and triple check that you know how to get where you're embarking. Be careful what you eat and what you book. Read our seven mini-stories of supreme stupidity, have a laugh at our expense, and vow never to make the same mistakes.