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Ask the cruise director: What are your top tips for cruising?

Jan. 06, 2021
5 min read
Ask the cruise director: What are your top tips for cruising?
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One of the most popular cruise directors of the past decade, Matt Mitcham, is offering his insights to cruise fans in a series of pieces for The Points Guy. Presented in a question-and-answer-type format, the pieces originally appeared in The Points Guy’s cruise newsletter (sign up here). Mitcham retired from Carnival Cruise Line in August.

Today’s question for Matt: What are your top tips for cruisers?

I have two big tips for cruisers: Don't pack too much, and keep your cabin organized.

Don’t overpack

Over the years, I’ve seen some crazy sights when it comes to the amount of luggage people bring on a cruise. The record was one person with nine suitcases, six of which were just for shoes…and that’s the last time I let my father sail with me.

You will find that lots of cruisers drive to their homeport, which means they don’t have to worry about a luggage weight allowance as you would if you were flying. That’s right, cruise ships don’t have any luggage restrictions. If there was ever a time to splurge on luggage, this would be it.

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

For men, that means four pairs of underwear, two pairs of pants, three T-shirts and a toothbrush, for a 14-day cruise. But for the ladies, that means a clothing suitcase, a toiletry suitcase, a shoe suitcase and, let’s not forget, your “just in case it snows in Mexico” suitcase.

(Photo courtesy of Matt Mitcham)

You can literally bring as much luggage as you want. The only problem is, will it all fit in your cabin? My biggest tip -- don’t overpack. Plan your outfits before you travel, and don’t be afraid to wear the same outfit twice. Most cruise lines have laundrettes that you can use yourself for a small charge, or you can take advantage of the ship’s laundry service, and have it all done for you.

I can just hear my fiancés voice now -- wear the same outfit twice!! Let’s hope she doesn’t read this article.

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Keep your cabin organized

Keeping your cabin organized and clean is the key to a more enjoyable and spacious cabin. Rather than living out of your suitcase for the whole cruise, unpack and utilize the wardrobe and shelving space.

I’ve seen lots of people using over-the-door shoe organizers. These handy accessories can be used to store anything and everything and will help you free up some space. This will not only make it easier for you to find what you need and reduce the clutter, but it will also earn you major points with your cabin steward. Trust me, they’ve had to deal with some messy cabins in their time.

The cabin steward will service your room several times a day -- they are like Ninjas. You will get up in the night to use the restroom, and when you come back, your bed is made. They sleep underneath your bed…I’m joking, they live in the wardrobe.

Your room steward will keep your cabin looking shipshape. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

The space under your bed is a great place to store all the alcohol that you’ve smuggled onto the ship….like we didn’t know. Or, if you’re part of the 2% that didn’t do that, I guess you could always store your luggage under there.

Throughout your cruise, your cabin steward will leave you an array of surprises, from chocolate treats on your pillow to handcrafted towel animals hanging from the ceiling. The towel animals are a real hit, especially with the ladies.

Your steward will become more and more creative with his animals as the cruise progresses. A guest once left their underwear on the floor, and when he came back to the room, his steward had turned them into a towel creation positioned on the bed.

Of course, the kind of animal you will get depends on how big your drawers are. You may get an elephant…but, some of you may get a mouse.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Mitcham has served as cruise director on several Carnival ships including Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze. Known for his six-pack abs, shirtless selfies and effervescent personality, he was recently profiled in People magazine as the “hunky cruise director.” He was named the cruise world’s best cruise director in 2019 by the cruise industry’s leading magazine, Porthole. You can find him on Instagram at @mattcruisedirector.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

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  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees