Travelers, I’m hoping you can help! We’re less than a week away from our first cruise, on board Holland America’s Oosterdam…and as it’s our first time, I have all the questions.
I’ve read the info the cruise line sent our way, and still, I need your help.
Please share your personal experiences and help us know what to expect on our first cruise!
Here are the top 10 questions I have about cruising.
Will I get motion sick on the cruise? How much does a cruise ship typically rock?
The closest I’ve been to a “cruise” is being on board the Treasure Junk in Halong Bay, Vietnam and the overnight ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm on Viking Cruise Line. The boat was rocking throughout the trip, and I especially noticed it in the middle of the night. My stomach didn’t love it, but I got by. How have you fared on cruises? If you felt a little sick on board, did it get better the longer you were on the boat?
I have bought all the cruising motion things, just in case – the acupressure wrist thing, the pill things, and the behind the ear thing. If there is a thing that can stop the urp, I think I’ve got it. But let me know, am I missing anything?
Will I feel like I’m being herded along with the other cruise passengers?
I HATE feeling herded. I don’t love crowds, but more than that I despise the pack mentality. The way at the breakfast buffets that people in hotels clamor for the food and walk away with mountains of food they can’t or shouldn’t eat. The pushing. The cutting in line. The disregard for other people. The overall “me first” mentality.
I’m really, really afraid that we’ll run into this. It’s a big reason why I haven’t cruised to date.
More, how do we bypass the herd hustle once we are in port? I know touts and taxi drivers can be pushy at times. Have you learned ways to avoid this?
Please tell me: do I need to brace myself for herd mentality and actually being herded? How do I work around it?
How much cash should I bring?
I have heard on YouTube videos and read online that I should bring cash for those days in port, and possibly for tipping.
How much should each person have on hand? I’m assuming it should be in smaller bills?
Should we tip our steward? And if so, how much?
I’ve read in some places that a person should tip their steward, and maybe some other key staff. How much? When? Others have suggested bringing a gift bag, since staff essentially live at sea. Has anyone done this? What did you include?
How much should we budget for drinks?
Okay, I know this is relative. We are no longer the high-flying partiers we used to be. That said, I could see us having a few drinks a day on board the ship. Having some days in port, I am finding it hard to figure out what our bar bill might be. But maybe I won’t care after a few margaritas.
How much have you spent on drinks on a cruise?
With my food intolerance/allergies will it be clear what food is safe for me to eat at restaurants and the buffet?
Anyone with food allergies or intolerance knows, it’s a minefield out there.
For me, dairy is a real problem, and it’s gotten worse over time–to the point where even those “enzyme” pills don’t help, and cross-contamination can leave me sick for two days. And dairy is in everything these days–from bread and tortillas to vinaigrette dressings to injections put into meat, to taco seasoning packets and so much more. And often restaurants fry non-dairy foods with dairy foods in the same grease, which can also make me sick.
I’m absolutely DREADING the food. And I know this should be one of the most fun things about cruising, so that makes me really sad.
I’ve alerted staff to my intolerance and they said a menu will be delivered daily. But what if I want to eat at the buffet? Or poolside? Or what if I want to partake in the tea they offer? Will there be options for me? Most importantly, will the food signs tell me whether there is dairy in an item?
I have visions of myself pressing my nose against the desert case sneeze screen, crying.
Does anyone have experience with food allergies and Holland America’s catering?
How much clothing should I pack?
Yeah, I’m a Rollerbag Goddess, but I tend to pack super light, especially when traveling to economically depressed countries. I’m a budget traveler, not a luxury traveler. We’re talking bare bones, people–just enough to fit into a 40L backpack or small rollerbag. That has always been sufficient for my needs.
Packing for a cruise is an entirely different beast. I need jewelry, heels, hair implements…and the clothes! Dresses for evening, pool wear, casual clothing for in port…upscale casual for evenings outside of the fancy restaurants. This seems crazy to me. I’m even considering bringing my fascinator!
How much do you pack for a cruise?
When are these “Gala Nights” they keep telling me about?
It seems every cruise has formal nights. At Holland America they’re called Gala Nights. But I don’t see any indication of when those are scheduled during our cruise. How many are there? We’ve already made reservations at some of the fancier restaurants on board, at a cost. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the fun of a Gala Night just because we’ve made reservations.
Where can I get this information? I don’t see it in any of the materials.
Will it be an old crowd on the boat?
Holland America is known for drawing an older crowd. And I’m cool with that. We’re all about sedate snoozes by the pool, versus splashing and squealing.
But how old is the crowd on Holland America cruises? Will there be anyone in our age group? (Which is the best age group of all, BTW.) Will there be anyone as cool as us?
Will I feel like I am selling out as a traveler?
This is a legit fear of mine. I want to be a real traveler. Cruising seems like something entirely different, like it’s too easy and too posh for the likes of me. What? I get to shower every day? I get clean towels? And laundry service?
Will I feel like I’m selling out?
And after I have a great time (hopefully), will I care?
To all of you in the Rollerbag Community, thanks for any help you can provide for my first cruise aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam. All aboard!
Charish Badzinski is an explorer and award-winning features, food and travel writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, Rollerbag Goddess Global Communications, providing powerful storytelling to her clients.
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Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.