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Tips and Advice

For general cruising advice, there is a wealth of resources already online. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel, here. is highly recommended.

The tips below have been contributed by Sea Monkey(Δ)s. Please take all advice with a “grain of salt”.


  • GET ENOUGH SLEEP! We did this by napping every day. If you have time for a nap, TAKE IT!


  • Follow this group while travelling (there will be a thread that is dedicated to travel updates) and also the #jococruise or #jococruisecrazy hashtags on twitter to be alerted to other seaMonkey(Δ)s that might be at your airport gate
  • If you have one, wear a PREVIOUS cruise badge while you travel to the port city. Find other Sea Monkey(Δ)s on your plane, in the airport, at the hotel, etc. You can also wear pins


  • During embarkation, there are photographers setup with backdrops. This can be bypassed.
  • Bring your own Sharpie marker and you can skip the wait to write your name on your badge.
  • Sunscreen rubs on Sharpie writing on badges. To prevent fading, cover the writing with invisible tape.
  • Use and TripAdvisor to get opinions about shore excursions
  • An offshoot of the Jeep Tour thread: Don't board with a stack of $20s from the ATM. Take time to hit a bank and have 10s 5s and 1s. Handy to not have to make vendors break them in Mexico and for tipping at all the little stops on tours.
  • Have something to cover legs and arms (guys and gals) if touring churches and the like, remove hats and sunglasses when entering.


  • Emergency Communications:
    We recommend that you use this for the most critical emergencies only: Connecting to a Holland America Line vessel at sea is simple by using Ship Dial Service. A credit card is required for all inbound phone calls to a ship. The rate is US$16.00 per minute and billing begins at the time specified.
    Please have the ship’s name, your party’s name and stateroom number before you call.
    • Dial 1-800-993-5483 (US). From outside the U.S. access 1-321- 837-6106.
    • Listen to the announcement
    • Listen to the menu and select the number that corresponds to the ship you are calling.
    • If you receive a busy signal or message, please hang up quickly and try your call again.
  • There's different art in each hallway and each stairwell
  • There's no need to queue for the Main Theater events. All of the seats have good views. There are [multiple] levels to the theater, as well.
  • The elevators have carpets with the current day on them. Take a photo at the beginning of each day, and you'll be able to identify what day the following photos are from, easily.
  • Explore the ship early on. Take the time to explore all the nooks and crannies of each deck. Try to do it early on in the sailing, so that you can find your way easier. Use the maps posted throughout the ship. I've heard so many newbies say “I never knew that was there! I wish I had known.” Plus, you never know what you may find.


  • Bring a humidifier - cabins can be really dry
  • Have stewards clean out mini bar to make more room for soda - Cans are a best use of the space
  • They put fresh ice in the ice bucket in your room everyday!
  • Ask your room Steward to bring you ice everyday at a particular time. So when you get back from expeditions, you will have ice and water to drink. I usually ask to have something waiting to eat as well.
  • Room Service:
    • Room service breakfast is included in the price!
    • For room service breakfast, one can utilize the pre-ordering hangtags. If you don't like the options, write in what you want, and they will often deliver (YMMV).
    • If you have a balcony, enjoy a quiet breakfast with room service. That said, some of the room service food is rather meh. I recall the scrambled eggs being horrid, but the pastries and oatmeal were both good. If you order something that you don't like, order something else and don't eat the first thing.
    • Often, one can order from the Main Dining Room (MDR) menu via room service.
    • Use room service, even though you might feel bad about making someone bring you grilled cheese at 11:30 at night. Get up and have coffee delivered, have tea on your veranda, ask for a pre-dinner snack to be there everyday. Have ice cream. You're there to be pampered. Revel in it
    • Room service selections are weak
  • Tipping your cabin steward and your bartender very generously on the first day can lead to exceptional service
  • Once unpacked in your cabin, store your luggage UNDER the bed. Cabins can be small, so this will free up space.
  • The footboard under your bed probably pulls out to reveal a drawer that runs about half the length of the bed. Beyond it, toward the headboard, is empty space you can use to stow your empty suitcases.
  • The laundry service on the boat is only 20 dollars a bag (fairly large bag too ) and it will come back folded. Don't forget to remove the plastic tags, they itch.
  • Decorating Cabin Doors.
    • From HAL (ms Oosterdam, February 20, 2019): “You are more than welcome to decorate your door as long as you leave no residue from tape.” Dimensions are 26 inches wide and 78.5 inches high.
    • From HAL (ms Nieuw Amsterdam, 2019):
      • Wheelchair-accessible cabins (all classes)
        • doors: 32.5 inches wide
        • bathroom doors: 32.5 inches wide
      • Pinnacle, Neptune, or Signature Suite (Non-Accessible)
        • doors: 32.5 inches wide
        • bathroom doors: 19.5 inches wide
      • Vista Suite, Verandah, Outside-view or Interior cabins (Non-Accessible)
        • doors: 23.5 inches wide
        • bathroom doors: 20.5 inches wide
  • Magnets: Can be used on cabin doors. But, I also use them on my cabin WALLS to hang newsletters and such. Big clip magnets are good for that too. (NEODYMIUM magnets work best.)
  • Post-Its: Use them to leave notes for cabin mates. But, also use them to leave requests for cabin stewards. Sometimes you may get notes back
  • Bring binder clips. Sometimes, cabin window curtains don't exactly close all the way, allowing very bright light to shine in. If you want to sleep in, bring binder clips to help close the curtains.
  • Towards the end of the sailing, your cabin will receive paperwork to fill out to schedule your debarkation. Be sure to complete and return to the ship promptly. This information is used for your departure luggage tags, debarkation times, etc. It is very important. Don't wait until the last minute!
    • Disembarkation Info: PDF (2019)
  • On the final night, most folks will place their packed luggage outside their cabins for pickup. BE SURE to keep a change of clothes for the next day!



New for 2018:

  • We’re having (limited) seating for breakfast and lunch daily in the Main Dining Room. There’ll still be plenty of room for gaming (and crafting).
  • Expanded vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options in the Main Dining Room and the Lido Market.
  • Four words: All. Day. Taco. Bar. (Well, extended hours, any way.)

  • Drink more water than usual
  • Go to the buffet later if it's open
  • There's often one or two dishes, often Indian, prepared for the crew that can be ordered at dinner
  • You can take food with you out of the dining room and you can order as much food as you want in the dining room
  • You’ll have better luck finding food you like in the buffet than the sit down restaurant. Except the steak house you have to pay extra for, that’s always excellent.
  • Pace yourself with food. There is so much food. All the time. Even if you think you’re taking it easy, that’s a lot of food. Take it easy so you aren’t missing events you want to be at because you need another nap.
  • There is an ice cream counter in the Lido. The bowls provided are small. If you want more than one scoop of ice cream, grab a bigger bowl from elsewhere on the buffet and ask the server for more.
  • Grab a tall glass/cup and bring it to the ice cream counter. Get a scoop of ice cream, then add soda for a float.
  • Get fresh hot fries from the Dive In counter, then add cheese sauce from the taco bar for cheese fries.
  • After dinner service, the MDR menus for the next day are often posted outside the MDR entrance. Use these to decide where to dine.
  • The Lido buffet menus will be posted by the Lido buffet entrances. Read these instead of trying to see everything on the counters.
  • The MDR also sometimes serves breakfast and lunch (OR BRUNCH). See the daily newsletter for hours.
  • On debarkation morning, you may have time for breakfast, either with room service or in the MDR for a more relaxed pace.
  • If you see open seats at a dinner table, it is VERY OK to ask to join. Every single person on the boat knows about something you don't. Find out what it is.
  • Like everything on a ship, the seating on the main dining room is arranged for efficiency and safety of service. Please keep this in mind when selecting seats for you and your party, particularly during dinner service. Grabbing a chair and adding “just one more” seat to a table may result in significant operational challenges. If you have a large party or want a particular table, arrive as early as possible to your dinner seating, or ask to reserve a big table well in advance. There are also options for fixed seating if you want to sit with the same people every night.
  • During the 2019 cruise, there were expanded vegan menu options that should be considered even by omnivores.
  • Dinner is different on our cruise than a regular one because we have a fairly tight schedule for the big switch. We have a couple of tips to get through some of the hassles.
    • Drinks with dinner? Grab them from one of the eighty-five bars on the way, might still be “happy hour”.We completely overload the bar staff at dinner so grabbing a drink from another bar nearby spreads out the pressure of having that many people ordering drinks.
    • Let the Dining Steward know that it is okay to bring things out of order, when they're ready, it's convenient for them, whatever you are going to find acceptable. We tell them, “bring anything at any time” because we don't want to hold anyone else up. I promise they will like you more and your food will be fresher.
    • You can order main dining room food from room service during that meal's serving hours. Don't even think about ordering breakfast room service unless you do it the night before by hanging it on your door knob.
    • You can find the next day's menu posted next to the MDR after dinner or first thing in the morning..
    • The dining stewards can't say the food is bad they can make subtle suggestions. I usually have good results asking “do you think I would like salad 1 or salad 2?” or “Do other people think this is tasty?”
  • “Liquid Comfort Noodle Soup” delivered to your room can help tremendously when you feel cruise crud coming on, or after an evening of indulging in Wang Wang.
  • Tips and Advice for people with food allergies (2019):
    • When registering for the cruise on the JoCo website, don't be annoyed that there isn't a way to declare your food allergy. When you “check in” on the HAL website, there are vague instructions about calling a customer service number to have your food allergy added to your reservation. This is recommended if you have an extreme allergy that may result in immediate death if you're exposed to even the smallest cross-contamination with peanuts or shellfish, etc., as special accommodations for sourcing or storing ingredients may need to be arranged by the cruise line.
    • Once you've boarded the ship, make your way to the main dining room and speak to one of the managers as soon as possible. Let them know about your food allergy, and that you'd like to pre-order meals for the following day. They'll give you a copy of the menu and a pen, and will ask you to write down your name, cabin number, and circle the items you'd like to order. Be sure to also write what your food allergy is! The manager is able to advise you on what menu options will not conflict with your allergy.
    • At mealtimes, after you've been seated in the main dining room, let your server know that you have a food allergy, and that you've pre-ordered your meal. He will ask you for your name and room number, and will go to the kitchen to make sure that your order has been put in.
    • For the remainder of the cruise, make sure you put in your pre-order for meals at the main dining room. Your server will likely bring you a menu at the end of your dinner to complete your pre-order for the next day. This will make you very popular at the dinner table, as your dining companions will likely be eager to see a preview of the next day's meals.
    • During the cruise, if you opt out of dinner in the MDR on any night and miss the opportunity to pre-order for the next day, be sure to stop by the main dining room as early as possible in the morning to get your order in for dinner. Super-pro tip: keep in mind that certain menu items, such as the surf and turf on formal night, can be pre-ordered as a double portion of steak.
    • Food allergies are best accommodated in the main dining room. Room service is also able to accommodate food allergies, but it may add to the wait time to have your food delivered to your room unless you pre-order (like for breakfast). Because of the nature of the food service on the lido deck, use common sense. If you have a seafood allergy and you see that the pasta bar has a special on linguine with clam sauce, you might want to have something other than pasta for lunch.
    • I would also add that that in addition to calling and talking with the dining room on day 1, that completing the special needs online form is super helpful. The special needs form can be completed up to 6 months in advance of sailing. It puts all your allergies on the room list. And I highly recommend doing fixed seating if you have food allergies. You get the same waiter and they follow your allergies to make sure that you get safe things.
    • In addition, those who have food allergies should strongly consider asking for Fixed Seating in the main dining room rather than Open Seating. Open is the default, but fixed will allow you to sit at the same table each night with the same servers, who are trained to remember your preferences. You can do Open seating and the staff will certainly try their best but it's best to not risk this if you have a serious condition like celiac disease.


  • Stay at the hotel a day early and meet some sea Monkey(Δ)s on land. Veteran SeaMonkey(Δ)s are VERY welcoming
  • If you clip your room key onto the same lanyard as your name badge, be sure to attach the keycard in such a manner as to NOT block your name.
  • Write your name on both sides of your name badge, because it's going to turn around a lot. Which makes 'don't block your name with your room key' a little difficult, to be honest.
  • A hole punch of the proper shape and size to match the one on the name badge is generally found at the cruise line info/concierge desk.
  • Pace yourself. You can NEVER do it all. Take a deep breath, pick 2 things a day you MUST do, and wing it. You can watch events from your cabin, too.
  • SeaMonkey(Δ)s are pretty cool and can form ongoing friendships via social media
  • Performers and famous people really are just people
  • Pay attention to yourself. The event is a whole week long. It's okay to spend time alone.
  • NOTHING is required
  • In the gaming area (and other places) flipchart sized pads are used to post notices and invitations on the walls.
  • Leave your expectations at the door. And seriously… Make the time to get good sleep every single night.
  • Pamper yourself. This goes with don't try to do all the things. I've been tired after dinner and went to my room and watched the concert from my bed. Don't forget you're on vacation!
  • If you see open seats at a dinner table, it is VERY OK to ask to join. Every single person on the boat knows about something you don't. Find out what it is.
  • Have a drinking buddy. take advantage of the 2 for 1 specials


  • Double check the weather the night before you debark and make sure you have appropriate clothing options. Otherwise you end up, say, standing around the baggage claim in Florida on a freakishly chilly 45 degree day digging around for leggings and a sweat shirt because sandals and a sundress ain't getting it done.
advice/start.txt · Last modified: 2022/02/22 18:11 by nessa

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