Baby Boomers,

Today is our final stop on our "Crazy Cruise Tips" voyage. I hope you have found a few of my irreverent tips useful if not slightly funny. You know, before I started this series of cruise tips I used to have a real fear of traveling by boat but that ship has sailed.

Back in the old days before the birth of luxury cruise ships things were much less complicated. Vacations were cheaper because the trips were always on sail.

Now that I have a variety of different cruises under my belt I feel like a real salty sea captain. I suspect, I will probably wind up spending the vast majority of my retirement years on the water. You know what they say, "old sailors never die, they just get a little dinghy."

I could go all day with the cruise puns, yachta, yachta, yachta. But it's time to seas the day. This has become quite the oar deal. It's time to put on your life preserver because I am about to rock the boat.

All along our journey I have been telling you that there were 10 "Crazy" cruise tips but I have been fibbing to you since our first day at sea. There's not just 10 tips that I am bringing to you but 17.

Why would I do something so dastardly? Only because everyone loves Top 10 lists not Top 17 lists. Please forgive me. But there are some truly important things about cruising you should know. They may not even be "crazy" tips but you would be "crazy" not to follow them. Most of these tips are so simple that you would probably not even think of them. I know I didn't on my first couple of cruises but I learned fast and wanted to share them here with you. They made my cruises much easier and much more enjoyable.

So what else do you need to know about before heading out on your cruise vacation?

Here's my final quick wrap-up of tips:


10.1 Eat Local

This tip really needs no explanation.

If you took a cruise to visit exotic places then you might as well dine on another region's specialties allowing your sense of taste to join the party your other four senses have been enjoying since you left home.

Most times, it's the best part of the travel experience.

Besides, local food is simply fresher. When you are in the Virgin Islands do you think they import their food from a big warehouse in the US?

Probably not.

The seafood is caught in their waters. The meat is raised locally as well as the fruits and vegetables.

Variety is the spice of life.

On my last cruise we stopped at St. Thomas in the USVI's. We didn't have a lot of shore time so we did some hiking to visit the historic landmarks in Charlotte Amalie and then decided to grab a bite to eat before we headed back to our ship.

Instead of heading to the crowded main restaurants/bars in the downtown area where there were hundreds of tourists from 3 other cruise ships that were docked we turned up an empty street and headed away from the area.

A few blocks later we stumble across a restaurant called Trenchtown Rock.

It was obviously a locals favorite hangout.....not much as far as decoration but the music was cool and the conch fritters and the jerk chicken we ordered were fantastic. Although we appeared to be the only tourists in the place, the staff and locals eating there were happy to see us and glad to answer our questions about the area.

I make sure to find the most interesting places to eat wherever we travel. Living Local Rules !! If you don't get off the beaten path and try something different you will never know what's out there.

10.2 Eat on your own terms

Most cruise lines encourage group dining in the main dining halls at prescribed times.

If you don't mind getting dressed up and making small talk with the same strangers every night at a table that's really rocking from the waves at the back of the boat then it's a wonderful thing.

I prefer to eat when I'm hungry and where I want.

Cruises offer tons of options to be explored.

Our ship had a Guy Fieri Hamburger stand, a deli with great Reuben and Corned Beef sandwiches, a fish and chips shop, a Mexican taco/burrito stand, unlimited ice cream and yogurt and a pretty fair pizza shop open 24 hours a day besides a couple of big, buffet restaurants with different and varied menu items every day.

I do encourage a certain amount of civility in my life so my SO and I did dress "to the nines" to attend the formal "Captains Dinner" one night but the majority of the time dinner was on our own terms. Shouldn't yours?

10.3 Don't use the ship internet

It's freaking expensive.

If you absolutely have to make contact with the outside world while on a cruise vacation (It's amazing how many people post their cruise pictures on a daily basis to I do) wait until you dock at one of your destination stops.

Head far away enough from the boat because you can accidentally pick up their wi-fi and it's freaking expensive. Did I say it was "freaking expensive" already?

We found a local bar or restaurant or hotel or Starbucks at every port that offered free wi-fi.

For example, before boarding our ship in Nassau in the Bahamas we found a local pub near the docks called the "Green Parrot Pub." We had a couple of local "Sands" beers, downloaded our mail and sent our trip pictures out for the general public to enjoy. Drink a beer, stay in touch with home, chat with the locals.....What could be more fun?

Best didn't cost us a cent.

10.4 Bring plenty of Plastic Bags

I have found you can never have enough zip lock plastic bags.

They keep things dry and they keep things separated.

Use them to store your passports and ID's, snacks, souvenirs, seashells, wet clothes, shoes and even your dirty underwear (EEEYYEWW !!!).

We found 1001 different uses for them.

10.5 Pack an extra bag

Consider packing an extra travel or duffel that can fold up into your suitcase on the way to the cruise and later be filled and checked for the trip home.

Yes, your luggage will put on extra weight from the trip just like you.

You will pick up souvenirs, t shirts, seashells, magazines, and who knows what else along the way and will find that an extra small carry on bag is the easy way to keep your big pieces of luggage under the 50 lb. flight limits.

10.6 Pack a collapsible lunch bag

That's right, just like the one you used to take to school in the morning with the George Jetson or Yogi the Bear cartoon figures (OK, for studs muffins maybe your favorite NFL team) on it.

These come in real handy if you want to save money on meals when exploring off the ship.

Before you head out on your shore excursion, just head to the buffet line or deli counter and load up on a couple of full meals or a handful of fruits and snacks.........whatever you are in the mood for.

You can wrap everything in the little plastic bags you brought or just utilize paper napkins.

Sometimes, you just don't have time when on shore to stop for a meal so eating "on the cheap" can be a handy way to go.

10.7 Bring your favorite toiletries and necessities

The cruise ship should provide soap and shampoo at the very least (and often samples of toothpaste, body lotion, conditioner, razors and even Dramamine), but if you're picky, pack your own.

Same for hair dryers.

If you can't deal with the low wattage of in-cabin dryers, bring your high powered hair weapons with you.

Additional personal items to consider include any medications you will need, adult "fun time" tools and lots and lots of sunscreen if sailing in sunny climates.

10.8 Don't forget the basics

Other "must bring" items you need to pack because they're not provided or super-expensive to buy onboard include:

extra hangers
over-the-counter medications
camera memory cards
power strips to charge all your electronics
cheap reading glasses...............and............wait for it.....................
Don't forget to bring a good book !!!

I hope these 17 cruise tips will make your next adventure the experience of a lifetime.

Is there something that you brought on a past cruise that saved the day?

Is there anything I forgot mention?

I would love to hear from you in the "comments" section below.

See you on the high seas !!