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First Cruise

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My husband & I will be taking our first cruise (and out-of-country-vacation)in June (to Athens & Greek Isles) through Orient Lines. We're excited but nervous too. Am looking for any practical advice on how to make this trip memorable and low stress. Any info on packing, currency exchange, etc? Thanks!

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    Congratulations! Cruising is the best way to travel. Suggestions...I probably could come up with about a thousand but I will try to limit myself. :)
    1-Research your ports...don't depend on the cruiseline to have ALL the information on board or that the crew will know it all. You can get all you need on the internet and do not have to put out any money for books.
    2-Find some maps and get oriented...taking a simple one along will help in port.
    3-Don't know if you are USC or not, however in my experience there are "ugly" travelers in all nations. Remember that you are going to a foreign country and therefore their language, money, culture, and probably everything else will be foreign also. Take it is stride, smile, and don't start talking louder if you are not understood.
    3-Pack-In June it should be quite warm and if you take an umbrella it definetely will not rain. Comfortable walking shoes are the ticket.
    4-Security-Do not let any of your belongings out of you sight EVER. If you are taking a purse or waist pack, get one of those new fangled ones with the steel cables in the straps. Take more than one credit card and leave one on the ship. Keep your money to yourself and your jewelry to a minimum. These are not meant to scare, just be cautious and you will not be bothered. Thieves are looking for easy marks. Magellen's and Travel Smith catalogues have great security items in addition to a million other "gotta haves"
    5-In Greece it is a good idea to get someone to write down the name of the pier that you are docked at in their language. Taxi drivers usually know that you are cruise passengers, however they usually do not speak much English.
    6-Currency-It is always good to have a bit of the local currency on hand at all times. If ordering ahead while at home, you can ask for smaller denominations in the bills. Most places in tourist areas are happy to take credit cards. You often get a better rate on the currency exchange if you pay with your credit card, however sometimes it is cheaper to pay in cash. Travellers cheques are a pain. Often the best bet on these is to change them on board the ship where you do not need to have a passport for identification and if there is a fee it is figured into the posted exchange rate whereas on land you will need I.D. and there is an extra fee to process on top of the rates on the signs. If you need a cash advance, using a debit card, not a credit card, will probably give the best rate because you get it wholesale and have the fee from your bank for using an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank. My bank does not charge anything and my previous one charge a dollar for each transaction. ATM's are pretty prevalent in the larger cities. Lots of places take US dollars quite happily.
    7-Pack a change of clothers, especially the underwear, all medications and any toiletries you may need for a couple of days...Just in case the airlines do not think your luggage is as important on your cruise as you think it is.
    8-Orient Lines is a good line and they should take care of you beautifully. You will be hooked for life.

    Have fun.

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    Evelyn-
    A couple of additions to the very insightful response from Marie:
    1. If you have never been on a ship/boat in the open seas (as opposed to a fresh-water lake, etc.), consider reviewing the remedies/preventive cures for sea sickness. If you are susceptible, it could devastate your cruise;
    2. Assess your "off-boat" activities and try to estimate the amount of local money you may need. Credit cards would be the preferred method for major purchases, dining and boat activities when possible, but realize that small cafes, taxis and possibly street vendors (if you dare) will probably not take AMEX or VISA;
    3. Plan on distinguishing your luggage somehow with either large colored tags, multi-striped straps, etc. Your luggage will need to be claimed a couple of times and it may be sitting in a relative "sea" of bags;
    4. It may be too late for a June cruise, but if you don't already have it, GET TRIP INSURANCE! If you don't think it is necessary, look at the other Forum comments under cruises;
    5. If you haven't travelled internationally before, anticipate the time change (you would lose 8 hours flying into Athens, e.g.) by starting a week or so ahead of your trip and gradually start going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. This wil reduce the impact of jet lag your first day or so and let you enjoy your cruise more;
    6. Pack lightly but smartly. Use the Internet, TA or other source to anticipate the climate's impact (realize you will have an "on ship" climate and a "sightseeing" climate) on your clothing. Comfortable shoes for sightseeing/shopping, a versatlie pair for "dress-up" if you have it on board, and a pair of sandals or other poolside types will keep your shoe weight down; Also plan to travel in something comfortable, loose, but flexible as to warmth as you never know what the ambient temp will be in the plane, airports, shuttles, etc.

    We are also going to the Greek Isles this year so it will be interesting to see what your experiences are. Good Luck!

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    Hi there - you have been given some wonderful advice. I've never cruised to Greece - but have been to Athens & taken cruises from there. Try to see Santorini - amazing Island. If you have the opportunity, go on as many tours as possible - this land is filled with wonderful history. Rhodes is also a great Island to visit - great jewelry bargains there! I am still wearing my gold chain I got there 10 years ago! Have a super time - you will love Greece.

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    I would suggest pre and post stays as that way you won't miss visiting the ports.Also your travel agent can get you pre bookings for your tours on ship. /so much better looking them over and booking before hand.,also allows you to know how much you"ll be spending. I will be going on the Orient line in July. From all I heard it will be a good cruise.

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