29 Cruise Hacks You Need

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

New Dive Cruise Techniques

If you’re considering a cruise, especially a dive cruise, you’ll like these techniques I’ve developed for making the trip easier and a total success. These procedures can help ensure you have a smooth trip, make all your connections, and enjoy your dive vacation. You don’t have to be a diver to appreciate these adaptations to cruising. 

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

1. Charge Electronics on 220!

You can charge some electronics on 220 – if they are designed to be charged on 220. If they came with a 220 plug; they probably are safe on 220.

It is absolutely convenient to have two additional plugs – especially when each has a two-usb port! 

You score FOUR MORE charging options by doing this. The idea came to me when I saw the room stewards use 220 vacuum cleaners.

For this cruise, we had two GoPro Hero 3’s, two Kraken NR-1200 dive lights, two cell phones, two laptops, one DJI Osmo Pocket, one Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro photo light, and one Zhiyun Smooth gimbal stabilizer to charge daily. 

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

2. Use All Your USB Ports or Get a 10-Hub

We also used both usb ports on each laptop to charge and download photos. That move allowed six items to charge off those two 110 volt plugs. 

In the evening, I used one of the 110 volt plugs for blow dryer or flat iron while downloading and charging over on the 220 side continued.

Remember that surge protector-type electrical items are not allowed on cruise ships. You can ask your cabin steward to provide you with one of which they approve.

Be ready to have unusual-looking devices confiscated; don’t sink too much money into them.

You can bring something inexpensive like a fairly compact 10-Port Family USB Charging Station, or, a Universal Travel Adapter.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

3. Bring Paperwork

Print out all your dive releases ahead of time. If you’re not diving, the same applies to all shore excursion waivers for zip lining, tubing, and so on. Just insert the name of your activity wherever I say “dive.” 

Some paperwork is available on dive operators’ websites. For others, I ask that they send them to me in email. If I was a totally wonderful dive organizer, I would go ahead and fill them out for everyone. 

This time, however, I wanted the younger divers in our group to have the experience of reading their papers and learning what is normal on dive paperwork and experiencing the legalities involved. For all four of our dives, the information operators requested varied greatly. 

Some companies wanted date of last dive, others didn’t. Some wanted dive insurance information, others didn’t ask. It’s interesting to read the documents and determine what’s most important to each operator. 

Each evening, we like to get together to fill out the paperwork and go over transportation plans for the morning.  

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

4. C Cards – Dive Certification Cards

For your entire group, take photos of all fronts and backs of your group’s dive cards. Some dive operators want you to bring a photocopy of the cards. 

Using Word, place all six fronts on one page, and all six backs on another, and print twice as many copies as you think you need. 

That way, you have enough copies for each dive operator, plus some for consulting while filling out paperwork. In addition, just in case anyone lost their card early in the trip, you will have copies and be their hero. 

C Cards are available online through your certifying agency. However, if your cell phone does not have service…. you might not be able to access it online. What you can do is access it online before you leave the country, and take screen shots. It looks exactly the same and has the QR code if anyone needs that. 

Additionally, is it one more copy of your certification. 

You cannot assume that the dive operators will have access to your credentials online; sometimes Internet in foreign countries is spotty at best. 

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

5. Rolling Bags

Although rolling bags are bulky, it works out just fine. On a smaller dive boat, you can leave empty bags in the shop. On the larger boats, you can take them with you. 

Mesh shoulder bags are great as well, unless you have a decent distance to travel to each dive operator. Since these bags come into contact with muddy puddles and your dive gear, you need to sanitized them just like your gear. You don’t want to harbor any questionable substances that could comprise the delicate sea life balance in your next dive site. 

Above Bill is rolling the Akona Rolling Backpack, with a Diver’s Alert Network dry bag, and a Mystery Ranch day pack.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

6. Use Your Status

If you hold an elevated status with a cruise line – use it! Tell your loyalty ambassador that you need to be on the first tender off the ship for your dive plans.

While priority is given to anyone who books their excursion through the cruise line on which you are cruising, there are more seats on the tender.

Also given priority for disembarking are cruisers in top-category cabins like suites.

It doesn’t hurt to ask for tender passes. Establishing a rapport with your loyalty ambassador or, in my case, the diamond lounge officer, paid off for my group.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

7. Bring a Towel

What?? Cruise lines hand out towels like candy, right? Yes. They are big, they are heavy, and when they get wet; they are even heavier. Invest in a microfiber towel. They are compact, lightweight, dry quickly, and cost less than replacing a lost cruise ship towel at $25 each, and take up a lot less space in your dive gear.

Plus, on the way home, put it in your dive bag to help wick moisture out of your dive gear.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

8. Microfiber Towels

This one made by Shark was provided on our dive with Blue XtSea in Cozumel. We didn’t have to wait in line to check it out, or wait in line to turn it in, or carry it around wet, either.

We chose the PackTowl in tidal blue for Bill and astral current for me. We love them, and, they come in a handy sack.

They dry fast, don’t feel wet, and feel great on your skin.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

9. Research Everything Including Taxis

Research every last detail if you want to ensure a seamless, no-panic, no-surprises cruise.

Make sure you know the going rate for taxis wherever you are in order to avoid paying too much.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

10. Check Receipts

Always check to see if gratuities were already included on anything you purchase.

Our cruising partners discovered they had put a $2 tip for a beer when a $1.80 gratuity had already been automatically added. It wasn’t a huge loss, but when you are cruising on a budget, you might not want to accidentally tip double what you had budgeted for gratuities.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

11. Load Apps in Advance

Some programs allow you to add maps, or search for free wifi once you are in port. Be sure to load these applications in advance and experiment with them a bit before you travel.

We use Dive Log for logging our dives, and we can mark locations of our dive sites while still in airplane mode. This is very convenient, and we fill in the details later.

Navionics can give you speed and direction of travel, and Marine Traffic allows you to see other ships in your vicinity. Tides shows you exactly that – tides.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

12. Take a Water Bottle

More and more cruisers are carrying their own water bottles. Instead of paying $3 for a bottle of water to take ashore, and creating a demand for more single-use plastics; carry your own.

Mine is the Hydrapak Stash that collapses to the size of a hockey puck!

When you refill it at a drink station, you might have to use one of the ship’s cups to fill it – but that’s not a big deal. Don’t put the mouth of your refillable bottle on the machine. Some ships will not allow you to refill reusable bottles directly from the machines due to health concerns.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

13. Matching T-Shirts Help

This sounds really dorky, but you might like the benefits of wearing similar shirts.

One of our group insisted we bring our dive club t-shirts for this trip so we could get photos in them, and publicize our club.

I’m glad we did – the unexpected advantage was that it was easy to spot and count our group while transitioning from ship to taxi and on return. Plus, our dive operators who were looking out for our group could find us easily.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

14. Make Use of What’s Offered

Heat rooms, saunas, thermal rooms, relaxation rooms – if they are available, why not enjoy and appreciate them. There’s nothing better than topping off a great day of diving with some time to loosen up in the sauna and steam room.

Then, head out to the adults-only pool and hot tub. Ahhhhhhh!

Many ships have a gym. While it seems counterintuitive to hit the all-you-can-eat buffet then work out; what better time? Ship’s gyms offer several benefits. First, they have a great view! Usually they either face the bow or face aft, overlooking the ocean.

Next, their machines and equipment is usually fairly new. One trip, I discovered that I much prefer their mats to our own. Theirs are far sturdier, while ours are more lightweight and need replacing every few years. Any equipment that can withstand hundreds of users a day for years is pretty durable.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

15. Royce’s Law: Half the Luggage, Twice the Cash

Follow Royce’s Law strictly. Spread out all the clothes you plan to take. Pick out half of them. Avoid duplicates, and choose items that can be worn several ways.

Remember that you can wear some items more than once. Plan your color scheme in such a way that you can use the same shoes for all your outfits. On the left you can just see the Tripped Compression Packing Cubes Bill gave me recently. They zip all the way around to compress clothing. I’ve used them three times so far, and I’m already a huge fan!

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

16. Luggage Size

Do consider clearances when choosing your rolling luggage. On one dive trip, my dive partner Bill brought a fabulous Blackhawk Dive Bag. It was wide enough to create a problem in the cruise ship hallways, especially when the carts and other luggage are in the passageways.

Now we use Akona Roller Backpack taller, narrower bags for our main bag. I use a smaller Akona Less than 10lbs bag for my dive gear.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

17. Dry Bag and Day Bag

Also, don’t forget to bring a small backpack or bag for carrying a few items to the pool with you. A dry bag gives you even more flexibility and security.

My Stream2Sea dry bag was the perfect size for all my sunscreen, bathing suit or foundation garments, sunglasses case, a book, and a few other items for excursions to the pool or gym. My discount code “KimW” gets you 10% off everything.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

18. Drop Off, Then Park

Drive by the port, and drop off all your people and bags. Then have only one person drive the car to the parking and return by shuttle. Some shuttles even offer a discount for “driver only” transportation. 

Why have all six people on the shuttle? Even for the two of us, it was easier to drop off our big dive and clothing bags, then take a small backpack, park, and ride the shuttle straight to the ship. 

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

19. Take a “Throwaway” Book

Sneaky tip – take a great book, one that you know is a page-turner and that you will finish. When you complete it, leave it in the ship’s library for a future cruiser. Randy Wayne White’s “Cuba Straits” was a page turner!

The second part of this tip is to bring a second, thinner book to bridge the gap between finishing the one and departing. My “throwaway” was a hardbound book. I was glad of the extra space and weight saved, as I had picked up three t-shirts to contribute to dive club raffles.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

20. Bring Rash Guards

While rash guards are becoming more and more mainstream as utility wear, make sure yours is made of either recycled fabric or ethically-sourced materials. This one from Stream2Sea is constructed of Econyl, which is a material manufactured from ghost fishing nets and other recycled plastics. Don’t add to the plastics problem by buying more first-use plastic wear. You can apply code “KimW” for 10% off your entire order.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

21. Legal Sunscreen and Body Products

Many vacation destinations are banning toxic sunscreens containing ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinozate. Check yours for unhealthy ingredients.

I always use not only reef-safe sunscreen, but also shampoo, body wash, and leave-in conditioner. Stream2Sea offers all these in tested fish-friendly products, but also packages them in completely biodegradable containers. Their lip balm and sting relief as well as mask defog also are reef-safe and ecoconscious choices. Don’t get in trouble while traveling abroad! Use code “KimW” for 10% off your total order.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

22. Packaged Snacks – Why You Need More Food on a Cruise

Sometimes you will want a snack on shore, and you can’t take fruit or cookies off the boat. One option is individual servings of cereal if your ship has those. For anyone wanting more than cereal; bring your protein bars!

Bring enough Cliff Bars for everyone for after a dive – that’s my dive partner’s favorite. My personal favorite, healthiest choice available bars are from Health Warrior. The mint chocolate are amazing, and even healthier than his choice. Then again, I spent a LOT of time researching mine!

If any protein bars are left over; jettison them at the last dive – give to the dive leaders to save weight in your bags. It’s no fun being peckish after a couple dives, then a long wait for dinner.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

23. Establish a Meetup Place

On the first day, when you first get on the ship and get your lunch, find a table outside of the main buffet venue. Make that your meetup place – at any time, if you can’t find someone, swing by there.

You can even leave notes there – maybe sticky notes under the table? A plate with a fork pointing the direction you are going? Like Indian trail symbols?

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

24. Get a Group Photo

If you are the type who is so busy waving the photographers away, but you don’t want to miss out on a fun group shot; take your own!

I have a fantastic compact selfie stick on a tripod that takes up less space than a hairbrush. It’s from Elegiant, and works with phones, GoPros, just about anything. It even has a remote!

So, don’t forget to take a photo with everyone in it at some point. Line up on the stairs, pile in the hot tub, or pose on picnic tables right after a shore excursion.

By the way – Diamond Members on RCCL get a free photo; might as well take advantage and use it for a professional group shot!

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

25. Research Port WiFi Locations in Advance

In advance, do some research. Find all the WiFi places near the cruise ship terminal for every port – you might want to get away from reality, but others might have children or pet that they wish to connect with during the trip.

Provide a list to everyone in advance so they can let their family know when they might be re-connecting with them wirelessly.

Cozumel WiFi at cruise ship port in shade at the south pier – look for group
Cozumel WiFi at cruise ship port entire terminal at the north pier
Help me out here, readers – let’s compile a list of every port in the Caribbean! I’ll keep adding to this list, so bookmark this article.

Here’s a great article about apps that help you find wifi in cruise ship ports: 7 Apps For Finding Wi-Fi Hotspots in Port.

Tru Bahamian Food Tours has a list; here is Downtown Nassau’s Top Free WiFi Hotspots.

From iCruise.com, there’s iCruise Tips: Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in the Bahamas.

CruiseRadio.net has a few more at 5 Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in Nassau.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

26. Go Old Fashioned – Use Notes

You can leave notes on the doors of cabins, or slip notes under the door if you need to communicate changes of plans. I always keep all the cabin number information in my phone in notes so I have everyone’s cabin number with me, and I give it to everyone in our group. There are phones all over the ship. Note: Everyone’s cabin phone must function for this to work.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

27. Check With Phone Carrier on Cruise Ship Plan

Need to look in advance and see – in the past I’ve researched this, increasing my plan for the few days I’ll be gone, then moving it back down upon return. I need more information about this from our carrier.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

28. Luggage Tags

These make things so much easier to identify your luggage. This 8 Pack Cruise Ship Luggage Tags means you have enough to share with your travel mates.

Different ships have different-shaped luggage tags; these are the longer skinny version for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.

I opted to not have the style with metal loops; I thought they might get snagged and fail.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

29. Cruise Lanyards

Cruise Ship Lanyards are available on board, and they do make a fun souvenir. However, you can find a set of five to 12 of them for the price of one on board.

For the partiers in your group, these LED Light Up Lanyard Badge Key Holders sure look fun!

Whichever you choose, you can always use them for your work id later to remind you of all the fun you had on your cruise.

dive cruise, 29 Cruise Hacks You Need

What to Read Next

21 Items That Landed on My Cruise Ship Dive Trip “To Do Next Time” List

This was the first list, and I sure did look back at it and make some changes before we traveled this time. Now our system is even more refined! We followed all of those recommendations, and added the new ones in this list.

We do now carry our own First Aid Kits with us every time we go ashore. Also, with most dive boats not having any requirement to carry First Aid Kits, we believe it is worth it to go to the trouble of bringing our own. One of the benefits of bringing our own is familiarity with the contents.

The Boat Medic First Aid Kit shown above is housed in a waterproof, crush-proof container; very desirable on a dive boat. For 10% off at MyMedic, use the link here to save yourself just a bit as a reward for thinking safety first.


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