European Cruising 101

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European Cruising 101

Hello everybody. Thank you very much for coming today Thank you. My name is Cameron Hewitt and I work here at the Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door headquarters. I, like a lot of us here at Rick Steves’, I wear a lot of different hats. Mostly what I work on is guidebooks. I’m a writer and an editor for a series of guidebooks and I helped Rick co-write our two cruising guide books which I’ll tell you a little bit about a little bit later. I wanted to say, first of all, thank you all very much for coming, and thank you also for those of you watching at home, either the live video stream or later on, on YouTube We’re really glad to have both audiences here with us today, and I think we’re gonna go ahead and just get started learning about European cruising. This is something that’s quite new for our company. Rick hasn’t really done much on cruising until the last few years and we’re really excited about it because we think there’s a big need for people to get good information about how to have a good cruise, so I’m just going to get right into it. And starting out, let’s talk a little bit about some of the pros and cons of cruising — basically why would you want a cruise, or if you’re going to cruise, what are some things you should know about in terms of the style of cruising versus other types of travel Rick Steves, for all these years, has really focused on independent travel, on the ground. People taking their own trains, renting a car, this sort of thing Cruising is sort of a different animal and I think if you’re used to traveling on the ground, and now maybe considering a cruise, it’s good to know how it’s different. One thing I think that’s a big advantage of cruising is it’s extremely affordable. I just checked a couple days ago for prices on a cruise. Here’s a seven-day Mediterranean cruise from about $600 per person Once you factor in fees, port fees, taxes, and that sort of thing, you’re basically talking about $100 a day for a chance to see five or six great European cities on the Mediterranean and it covers all of your transportation, all of your accommodations, all the food you can eat. It’s an amazing value. I really believe that for — that’s probably the main reason why cruising has taken off the last few years, and I think it’s probably the biggest advantage cruising has in its favor. There’s also other great advantages here for cruising. It’s incredibly efficient. If you are kind of frustrated when you have to pack up your bag and spend time going to the train station or the boat dock or the airport, cruising is incredibly efficient. You fall asleep in one great city and you wake up in the next. I took this picture on a cruise that I did. I had a great day in the port of Livorno in Italy and I went into the see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and I went to the beautiful hill town of Lucca, went back to my ship, had a nice dinner, went to bed, woke up, and I was in Monte Carlo, Monaco on the French Riviera Really, who can argue with that kind of efficiency, right? Another thing people love about cruising, those who do choose to cruise, is it gives you a great chance to, again, not have to pack up your bags every time you want to go somewhere There we are. You don’t have to haul your bag up and down a creaky old hotel staircase every time you go to a new place. You pack your bag, unpack it once, and you’re set up for the entire trip. For that reason it’s a really popular option for retirees, folks who are maybe a bit older, who don’t get around as well as they’d like to. It’s a lower-impact version of traveling. It’s also great for a group of people. Oops, sorry, skipped a couple pictures there, a little technical glitch. It’s also great for groups of people, including families, multi-generational groups. The nice thing about cruising is, it’s great to be able to come together every night and know that you’re going to have dinner together, but during the day everyone can go off and follow their own interests One person can go shopping while someone else goes to a museum while someone else goes to the beach, and at the end of the day, you know you’re going to have that family time together as well. So for that reason cruising can be great for a group or a family. There are some, I would say, disadvantages, or maybe some caveats about cruising, especially compared to typical Rick Steves travel. For one thing, cruising, in some ways, does insulate you from the Europe that you came to see Here’s the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. There in the foreground you’ve got the gaudy swimming pool of your cruise ship. It’s not quite completely immersing yourself in Europe. It’s sort of dipping your toe into the wading pool of Europe for a few hours every day. For a lot of folks who go on cruising, cruising is more about hedonism than it is about travel experience. And if you know anything about Rick Steves, we’re all about having authentic, meaningful, culturally enlightening, culturally broadening, educational travel experiences. You can have those experiences on a cruise ship but not everybody on your ship will have the same priorities. And you have to think, on every cruise ship, there’s going to be folks who are really just there to gamble at the casino, sit out at the swimming pool all day. They might crane their neck to look at the Mona Lisa if it happened to float past, but they’re not going to make a lot of effort to get out there and see the cultural sights. Then again, there are also going to be a lot of folks like, I hope, you are. People who are using a cruise as a means to an end, and that end is seeing Europe and really experiencing the sights in that limited time that you’ve got. If you’re on a cruise, there’s also the sense that no matter where you are, there’s your cruise ship lurking around behind you, and that’s never more apparent than if you go to a small town in the Greek islands or the Norwegian fjords. If there’s a town of 500 people on the Norwegian fjords and three cruise

ships with 2,500 passengers each dock at the same time, it’s going to change the personality of the town that you came to see. That’s just a reality of cruising Boy, isn’t Rome magnificent at night? Well, you’re not going to be in Rome at night You’re going to be there in the middle of the day when all of the other cruise ship passengers are in town. That means you’re going to have to deal with crowds There are some strategies for getting away from the crowds or beating the crowds or skipping the lines that are especially important if you’re cruising, but ultimately you don’t have the option of staying late. You have to be back on your ship at that sail away date, sail away time. You don’t have the option of lingering, enjoying places after dark Ultimately, I’ve been on several cruises as part of my efforts to work on our two cruising guidebooks and I can say confidently, if you want to have a good, meaningful Rick Steves-style experience traveling in Europe on a cruise, it’s possible, it’s absolutely possible, but you do have to do your homework and be an informed consumer, and that’s what this talk is all about. Before we get into some of the specifics, I think it’s just good to have our bearings about the cruise industry in general. Cruising is a tremendous industry, $30 billion a year industry. 12 million Americans every year go on a cruise. Well, one out of every five Americans has cruised — not necessarily in Europe, but they’ve cruised somewhere. This is a huge market and I’m going to say a lot of things during this talk that may sound kind of negative about the cruise industry, and that’s not my goal. I have no problem with the cruise lines, but I also think anytime you buy something, it’s good to be an informed consumer. When you buy a car it’s good to think ahead of time about whether you want that undercoating that they’re gonna offer you when you get there and are signing the final check. And I think cruise lines, let’s just keep in mind, their priority is making money. Obviously, they’re a business They make more money when you’re on the ship than when you’re off the ship. In most cases, in fact, there is absolutely no financial incentive for a cruise line to help you have a good experience off the ship They have a financial disincentive to help you enjoy your time off the ship They want you to be miserable in Rome so you flee back to the ship three hours early and drop 20 bucks at the bar, and I’m not saying this as, again, as a negative thing. I don’t think there’s anything hostile or deceitful about the cruise industry, but you just have to have your eyes open and be aware of how it operates and understand how the cruise line operates, a cruise line, in general, cruise industry operates. Let me tell you a little bit about how we got to where we are now in terms of the way cruises work. Obviously cruising began as a way, simply, as a way to get from point A to point B. Transatlantic crossings. There was no reason to go on a cruise unless you were going somewhere, and of course, as we know from the Titanic, for example, there were some very luxurious accommodations all the way down to very miserable. under the the decks, kind of impoverished classes. But those folks who enjoyed the luxury of a cruise ship decided, “I really like this and, you know, I wouldn’t mind cruising even if I’m not going anywhere in particular. I wouldn’t mind just getting on a ship for a week and going in circles.” And that’s when the cruise industry as we know it started. It’s not about transportation exactly, it’s about hedonism, it’s about enjoying the high seas and maybe occasionally stopping off at a port. And this was through, I’d say, the middle and the beginning of the 20th century — that’s kind of what cruising was, this kind of upper scale, upper-class kind of pastime. This was when the idea that cruisers are newlyweds and “newly-dead’s” began to emerge, right? It was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, unless you were extremely wealthy. You’d it for your honeymoon or you’d do it for your retirement, and that was it. But then in the 1970s things started to change and people started getting some new ideas about cruising “The Love Boat” actually did a lot to popularize cruising to the middle classes. It wasn’t necessarily a rich man’s past time anymore. People could tune in every week and watch this and think, after all these years of thinking of it as kind of a stodgy old person’s hobby, all of a sudden cruising was cool And sure enough cruise lines began to respond to this increased demand for people who wanted to go on cruises, and started building bigger and bigger and bigger ships, and I’m talking huge ships I’ve been on several cruises with ships that have 2,500 passengers. And some of the biggest cruise ships that have just set sail for the first time in the last few years have something like 4,000 passengers on-board. These are floating cities at sea, so by being able to take more people on each ship they were able to lower the per-person price for the cruise ticket. But you know, cruise lines aren’t stupid, and they know that if you do that, there’s a chance you’re going to get budget travelers who are going to get a sale on that ticket and then try to cheap out on the rest of the trip. And that’s when cruise lines started to supplement their income from the cruise ticket with other forms of income. Someone told me once — I’m not sure if it’s true — when you buy a car, there’s very little profit for the company that made the car in the initial purchase. Where the company makes its money is later on when you have to buy parts for that car. Airlines — do you remember the days when you used to go on an airplane and they’d give you a free meal and you could check two bags for free and everything was free and included? And these days you’re paying

for everything. Cruise lines have that same à la carte structure, and that’s how they make their money. I’ve been told that if you buy a ticket on a cruise line at a deeply discounted rate, they might actually lose money on that ticket purchase. It’s a loss leader for them, but they know that they’re going to have you as a captive customer for the next week or two and they make all their money from you once you’re on your ship. The three ways they make money — the three biggest ways include alcohol sales, gambling, & shore excursions. I’m not saying, don’t do any of these things. I’m just saying be aware that this is where your cruise company is making their money. This is where their margin is Enter Rick Steves. Rick has had, for years, I think for 30 years, I’ve been hearing him say this — he has this kind of bad attitude about cruising, right? You might have heard him say this: “Cruising isn’t travel, it’s hedonism. Cruising is all about, see if you can eat five meals a day and still snorkel when you get into port.” That’s a great old chestnut, it still gets laughs. Rick, frankly, was kind of a snob about cruising. He thought, “People who use my books aren’t going to go on cruises. That’s for a different type of traveler.” Then something really interesting happened four or five years ago. Rick started traveling to big, popular cruise ports like Rome or Venice or St. Petersburg or Istanbul, and people started coming up to Rick and saying, “Rick, I’m a huge fan of yours. I love your shows. I have all your guidebooks and I’m taking a cruise.” And suddenly Rick realized, “You know what? Being a good traveler and being a cruiser are not mutually exclusive. You can be a great traveler and go on a cruise and make the most of the cruise.” The secret is not letting the cruise line take advantage of you, but being an informed consumer so that you can take advantage of the economy and the efficiency and the low prices of cruising. That’s why we wrote our guide books on cruising. I went out and went on several cruises. Rick followed suit and kind of put his finishing touches on my work. We ended up with two different books on cruising in Europe focused on the ports. What we did was, we took this great destination content we already had on places like Rome or Florence or Oslo or Copenhagen and we adapted it for the cruiser. We gave people the best plan for spending one day in that town and by arriving by cruises personally, Rick and I were able to write very specific instructions for how you get — hopefully using public transportation or an affordable alternative — from your cruise ship and your cruise port to the places that you came so far to see. I really highly recommend these books. I would say all of Rick Steves’ guidebooks are gonna save you money. If you use them smartly, they’re going to save you money. I think these are in a whole other category. If you’re going on a cruise to one of these places, one of these cruise books, I personally guarantee, will save what you paid for it the first day that you go to Europe, the first day that you’re on your cruise. It’s the difference between knowing that you can take a bus for $2 from the port into town versus a taxi for $20 versus paying for an excursion for $80 These are high stakes and every decision can cost a lot, and this book helps you be equipped and informed and really know what your options are. There are actually two other classes as a part of this series that I’m doing right now. We will have a class on Mediterranean cruise ports and we’ll also do a class on Northern European cruise ports. If you’re watching at home, those are available as separate classes. If you’re here live today, they’ll be following this class immediately. By the way, these are really big books. We didn’t want to skimp on our sightseeing information. These are basically Bibles. They’re quite thick. We wanted to give you our full-length tours for all of these great sites. There’s no point taking 100 pages on Barcelona on your day in port in Rome, so what you really need to do and get comfortable with is cutting up your guidebook. You can see in this picture, when you go on the cruise, we’ve divided them into natural, little, kind of country sections Use an Xacto knife, slice them up, and make sure that you’ve got just the information you need for that day in port. Alright, we’re going to set sail and do some cruising here Before we do that, we have to choose what cruise we want to take. This is a big, complicated topic. I’m just going to give you kind of the basics here. Someone called me — one of our travel consultants was doing a consultation with a client just yesterday and they called me at my desk and they said, “I’ve got someone here and they wanted to know what cruise line we recommend.” And I couldn’t answer him If you ask me what’s the best hotel in Dubrovnik, I can tell you that. If you just want to know what’s the best museum in London, I can tell you that. If you want to know the best trattoria in Florence, I can tell you that. I can’t tell you what the best cruise line is for you, because cruising is a very subjective thing. Every cruise line has a different personality. It has a different clientele. It has a different price-point Here are some factors to consider when you’re booking your cruise and comparing your different options. First of all, cruise lines — not officially but sort of informally within the cruise industry — are thought of as divided into four different price categories, okay? You’ve got your mass-market. These are the kind of the big glitzy ships: Celebrity, Carnival, and — that’s Celebrity, sorry — Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Costa, MCL. If you step up a notch price-wise, you get to the premium cruise lines: Holland America Lines, Princess, Celebrity’s specialty lines like Canard (which has those kind of old elegant British ships), and the Disney Cruise Line would be in this category. By the way the more you pay as you step up these categories, you buy a little bit

more elegance, a little bit more, kind of, genteel surroundings. You also buy down the opportunities to spend more money. In other words, the more you pay, the more is included and the less of this kind of aggressive up-selling you have to put up with. I’ve cruised on all different categories and the biggest difference I notice is on the really cheap cruise lines I’m constantly being pestered to add on something and spend more money. On the more expensive cruise lines it’s a little more dignified. They leave you alone. They give you those options but they don’t push them on you. So we’ve got the mass-market, the premium, stepping up this is where you really get less hassle and more comfort and more luxury — and that’s what it’s called, the luxury class Oceania, Windstar, Azamara Club Cruises, Star Clippers. And then the really elite category, the ultra-luxury: Crystal, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, SeaDream I’m guessing your biggest consideration when choosing a cruise is price, so it’s just good to know that this is how they’re kind of split into categories. There are other considerations: do you want to go on a big boat or do you want to go on a small boat? Now you’re not going to go on a boat this small of course, but you do have a lot of options. Windstar, for example, has much smaller ships — 200-300 people. They have actual sails that are functional They also have engines but they can unfurl those sales as kind of a romantic extra. But a smaller ship like that comes with fewer amenities. It’s got a lot of advantages: it lets you reach ports that you can’t get to on the big ships — that line, for example, gives you a lot of extra time in port. But if you want to go swimming or go to the casino you find fewer opportunities. The bigger ships have more to do on the ship, so when you’re thinking about the size of the cruise line be aware of those pros and cons, because it’s such a subjective thing. I would say go on the different cruise line websites and you can tell from their advertising who they’re targeting. In other words. if it appeals to you. maybe it’ll appeal to people who are of your similar demographic and interests. We’ve got a little rundown in our guidebook of all these different cruise lines with a couple of sentences about each one, but ultimately you have to do that homework yourself, and a great place to do that and compare a lot at one time is Cruise Critic. This is one of many very popular websites where actual users go on and put down reviews. They write up descriptions and explain what happened on their particular cruise with a different line or even a specific itinerary, so if you’re looking at a particular departure, particular itinerary, you can go on Cruise Critic and see 56 people who did that exact itinerary last year and see what they thought of it, what the pros and cons were. It’s like TripAdvisor or Yelp except for cruising. Other considerations when you’re comparing cruise lines and itineraries — not only where do you want to go — obviously, if you’ve dreamed your whole life of going to Santorini you’re going to make sure that your itinerary has a time in Santorini — but also how long will you spend in each port? And this varies dramatically by cruise line Some cruise lines give you 4-5 hours in a port, and another cruise line might give you 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 hours in a port. One of my favorite personal cruising experiences was Windstar because they really have an ethic of long times in port. We were 14 or 16 hours in certain ports. Again, that’s probably going to be more expensive cruise lines, because if they’re expensive they can subsidize that. If they’re cheap they want to get you back on a ship to spend more money. There’s an economy to this but just be aware of how many hours you have in each port when you’re shopping itineraries. It’ll tell you the time you arrive and the time you depart from each place. Line up two opportunities, count the number of total hours in port, and if it’s a big difference and port time is important to you, go with the one that has more time in port. In terms of booking a cruise, it’s actually very rare to book a cruise directly with the cruise line. The cruise lines don’t want you to book the cruise through them, because it’s a lot of hassle for them They’d rather you go through a third party — that can be a hometown travel agent or it can be a big booking site, and then — for example, this is the Cruise Lines Association (kind of the union of cruise lines) where you can go and find a travel agent in your area that does cruises. Keep an eye out for sales. Be aware that you will almost never pay full ticket price for a cruise You can almost always find a discount, unless it’s an extremely popular departure. Let’s talk a little bit about the cruise ship itself, the place where you’re going to be spending, really, the majority of your time. You’re always going to spend more time on your ship than you are in port. Like I said earlier, these are gigantic ships — some of them are 2,500, 3,000, 4,000 passengers They’re floating cities at sea. Really take a chance to get to know your ship You can literally get lost in one of these ships. They have these maps kind of posted throughout the ships, but I always carry one in my pocket, just like when I land in a new city, I get a little map that I can stick in my back pocket and pull out if I get lost. Get to know your ship. Carry a map with you so if you want to find your way to the gym or the restaurant or whatever you can do that using this, and also if you’re smart about it, you can figure out patterns. I was checking into my cruise ship once and I was really confused and one of the crew came up to me and I said, “Well I’m not sure where the restaurants are,” and she pointed out, “On this ship almost all of the restaurants are in the front part of the ship and almost all of the entertainment — theater and night clubs and stuff — are in the back part of the ship.” And that was a little tidbit that I remembered for the rest of my cruise and helped me always find the way that I needed to go. These are, when you think about it just from an economic

standpoint — I have a lot of respect for cruise lines because this is basically a giant luxury hotel on top of a gigantic ship, a naval vessel, some of the biggest ships in the world, on top of having all the problems that come with navigating the open ocean, they’ve got a giant luxury hotel on top of it. So it’s amazing how well-coordinated these places are and most of them have an atrium or a lobby in the middle or you’ll find the front desk if you have any questions, that’s your first stop. There’s no shortage of activities on your cruise line, on your cruise ship Obviously as I mentioned earlier, that’s how they make their money. A lot of these are for an extra charge. Even the ones that are free are designed to entice you to stay on the ship. If there’s a lecture that you really want to go to, you might actually come back early from your port to go to that lecture, and even if they’re not charging for that lecture, you might end up, after the lecture, stopping by and getting a cocktail or something, and some of them are really worthwhile, and I would say every day make sure you take a quick look at the daily program. It’ll be left in your stateroom every night after your stateroom gets made up, and you can see in one day there’s literally dozens of opportunities all arranged by time. Like with anything else, if you do your homework, you can have a better experience. And if you take a minute to look at this every evening it’ll help you decide how to spend your time on a ship. There’s no shortage of different kinds of activities. There’s still, for example, afternoon tea on a lot of ships That goes back to those genteel kind of heydays of cruising from 50 or 60 years ago. There’s entertainment. Very often this is included, sometimes you pay a little extra. One night I was on a cruise ship and they had a Chinese acrobat troupe and it was a little nerve-wracking because the night it was supposed to happen was the roughest day I’ve ever spent at sea and I was sure they were going to cancel it but I still went down just out of morbid curiosity, just in case they did it, I wanted to see these acrobats perform while the ship was going like this. They rescheduled it for a couple of nights later. But you have a lot of choices, and all that’s listed in your daily program Other amenities on ships — most of them have a library where you can go for a quiet place to read and also they have books you can borrow, sometimes DVDs you can borrow, this sort of thing. There’s spas where you can get massages and other treatments. The bigger ships have just everything you can imagine. There’s lots of ways to stay in shape as well This is another one of those statistics that’s hard to prove but I’ve been told by several people who work in the cruise industry that the average cruiser gains about a pound a day when they’re on a cruise, so if you want to counteract that, you can always eat less — that’s one option, but I know that’s not going to happen — so you can stop by the gym or go out on the walking track to burn off some of those extra calories. Go swimming, enjoy sunbathing out by the pool Oh and these days again anything you can imagine — you’ve got climbing walls on some ships. I was on a ship with a bowling alley once. You’ve got wave pools where you can go boogie boarding on the deck of your ship. These ships just have endless opportunities. I’ll say this one more time just to emphasize it: a lot of these cost extra. So before you commit to something or when you’re deciding keep that as part of your equation. I’ll get more into that a little bit later but these extras can really really add up. Let’s talk about your meals on your cruise ship Traditionally, going back even ten years and before that, there was one big dining room and there were assigned tables so when you first arrived for your cruise they would say you’re at table 23 and you show up at table 23 and here’s ten people you never met before that you’re eating with every night on the cruise Some people like that because it has a built-in social group that you get to know. Some people don’t like it, they like having more flexibility, so most cruise lines are starting to do away with that, and depending on the cruise line, that’s optional or it doesn’t exist at all, and a couple of them still sort of require it one way or another. That main dining room is still kind of the main venue for restaurants, for eating. On the other hand, more and more cruise ships have different eating opportunities. If you don’t want to do the main dining room, the most obvious one — and this is nothing new — is a more casual buffet. So if you just want to stop off and grab something quick to eat and not have to dress up and have your choice and get in and out, every cruise ship always has a buffet. By the way, with these included meals — all the things I’m talking about are included in your cruise cost — it also includes a coffee, juice, water, milk usually, but specialty drinks cost extra Of course alcohol but also Diet Coke, lattes, specialty coffee drinks, anything like that is going to be charged a la carte. That’s one of the places where people can very quickly rack up a big on-board bill so be aware when you’re you know having your dinner, when you order something, that there’s very often a cost involved. Something else that’s quite popular in the last five or ten years are specialty restaurants. A lot of folks were getting a little restless with just those two — the big restaurant and the little buffet — and they wanted something different, so increasingly ships have a French restaurant or a sushi restaurant or a Japanese teppanyaki kind of show restaurant or a taco grill or something like that. Sometimes these are also included in your ticket but most often these come with a surcharge, so you might pay an extra five, ten, fifteen, twenty five dollars to take a dinner in a steakhouse as opposed to going to the main restaurant. By the way, this might seem greedy on the cruise lines — I tried to pepper this talk with the sort of inside information that I

learned from my research because I know that not everyone here’s a beginner — one of the cruise lines that I went on, the hotel manager told me: it seems kind of cheap that they’re nickel-and-diming It’s an extra twenty bucks to go to the steakhouse. He said actually the cost they charge you has nothing to do with how much the ingredients cost — they set the price based on how many people it will keep away. They don’t want to be overcrowded, they don’t want people upset and frustrated that they didn’t get to eat at the steakhouse, but they also don’t want to have the place sit empty So the only thing that determines the price they charge is it’s just the right amount so that they have just the right number of people willing to pay that price for that dinner. It’s really interesting when you look behind the psychology of how the cruise lines structure their economy, it’s really those kinds of insights are rife if you start to dig into it a little bit. In terms of the food on cruise ships — you know, I enjoy, I really enjoy food. I’m a foodie. When I go to a new town I look up restaurants online, I would do research on Yelp, I find kind of the hot new Ballard Avenue or Capitol Hill-type places in each town that I go to. For me the food on cruise ships — I would say it’s not amazing, it doesn’t blow me away, but it’s really surprisingly very good considering the number of people they’re feeding. I’ll get to that in a moment but I will say one of my big frustrations, because I love restaurants so much — boy there’s nothing more frustrating than walking through the streets of a little Greek island town and looking at these luscious tomato salads everywhere you go and then at 4:30 you have to get back on your cruise ship and you end up having dinner — prime rib and Heinz ketchup — in the in the restaurant. Be aware that your ship’s on-board restaurant has nothing to do with what you’re experiencing in port that day. They don’t do necessarily Greek salads the night that you’re in Greece Sometimes that works out, a few cruise lines do that better than others, but the menu for your cruise was determined a year ago by some executive chef in Miami or New York City. And again, think about the volume of people that are being served on these cruise ships. On a cruise ship with, say, 2,500 people, they are serving 5,– well 4,000 people, okay? I say 2,500 passengers, then there’s crew members as well, so there’s really about 4,000 people on that ship. 4,000 people, five meals a day, that’s the math that goes into deciding how much food they need. They assume people are going to be having a fifth meal at midnight on these cruise ships because most people do. That’s a big challenge. They replenish their food stores every two weeks. I found out about this — I was doing it behind the scenes tour on a cruise ship and it was my last night on the ship and there was a sushi bar I’d had my eye on, so I did this, I just so happened to have done this tour in the afternoon and someone told me that, he said, “Yeah, we we replenish our stores every two weeks. We’re at the end of the two-week cycle.” I decided to skip the sushi bar that night because I did a little bit of math and figured out this might not be the best place to get sushi In any event it’s a pretty amazing undertaking just logistically but naturally you’re going to have to wonder about the quality of the food when they’re feeding that many people. Some people love cruise food, some people don’t care for it as much. That’s a very subjective thing. One thing I thought was really interesting, because the crew mostly comes from other countries, from non-American, non-European cultures — they don’t know what our food is supposed to look like, right? People who show up to serve as a waiter on a cruise ship have never seen a plate of spaghetti. They don’t know what a plate of spaghetti should look like, so if it’s wrong, they won’t even know. Not to mention the chefs, right? So when you go in the kitchens of these cruise ships they have these big picture walls where you can see what each dish is supposed to look like so that the waiter can do a final check and compare it before he takes it out to the customer. Really interesting stuff. Health is a concern on cruise ships. You’ve probably heard of the norovirus. It’s also called the “cruise ship virus” for good reason. There’s nothing unique about the norovirus for cruise ships. It happens anywhere where you have a lot of people concentrated Like for example, nursing homes or day care centers or schools, but of course cruise ships are one of those those places. There’s an interesting — by the way the norovirus is just a really nasty gastro-intestinal bug. Usually just lasts 24 or 48 hours, but it can really knock you out. One really interesting tidbit about this — again a little inside information — some cruise ships really force hand sanitizer on you. Literally when you walk into the restaurant they’ll hold up a spray bottle and make you sanitize your hands, MAKE you sanitize your hands, there’s not really a choice about it. Other cruise ships have actually banned hand sanitizers and what someone who runs one of these cruise ships told me was, in fact with the ones that have banned hand sanitizers have discovered that they have a lower outbreak of various kinds of disease, especially the norovirus. The reason is hand sanitizers kill certain kinds of germs but they don’t kill everything. The norovirus — to be killed by hand sanitizer — it has to be in contact with the norovirus for something like a minute or 90 seconds, but certainly longer than it takes to evaporate, so you can have norovirus on your hands, use hand sanitizer, and it doesn’t do a thing. And that’s exactly what people do. If you have hand sanitizer, psychologically you think, “Oh great, my hands are clean, I can go and touch all the spoons of the buffet. I don’t have to wash my hands because I’ve sanitized them.” And this interesting experiment the cruise lines that have discontinued use found that there’s actually less outbreak when they have no hand sanitizer. So keep that in mind both when you’re thinking about your own health but thinking about the last person who touched the spoon at the buffet. I’m not too much of a germaphobe but I’ve been known to get my food and

then go quickly wash my hands before I eat it, especially on a cruise ship where I notice people are sneezing and coughing a lot. Let’s talk about the dress code on cruise ships, and I think probably a lot of you have cruised before, but if you haven’t this might be a concern of yours, and before I was cruising, this was something I was wondering about. What are my options? What are my obligations in terms of what I wear? Basically it’s more relaxed than you might think and it’s definitely more relaxed than it was a few years ago There’s sort of three categories of dress that you have to take into consideration while you’re on the ship This doesn’t count your time in port. In most of the ship and when you’re in port you can be as casual as you want. You can wear shorts, t-shirts, you can wear jeans, whatever you’re most comfortable in. If you’re in a swimsuit you should put on a cover-up before you go to the buffet but they’re pretty lax about it. I mentioned earlier there’s that main dining room which is the more traditional dining option — this also applies to a few of the more, kind of, the fancier specialty restaurants and that is they have a “smart casual” dress code, dress requirement. The biggest thing I think that trips people up on this — not only are you not supposed to wear shorts, but you’re really not supposed to wear jeans. I think I’m pretty well-dressed today, especially for me, I’m very well-dressed I’m a pretty casual dresser. But I wouldn’t technically be allowed in a lot of cruise ship restaurants because I’m wearing jeans. Now some cruise ships are starting to say, “If they’re nice jeans, we’ll let it go” but this is the place where some folks start to get a little nervous in their packing. So men will have to wear a collared shirt — a polo shirt is fine. You don’t need a jacket or something. And women have to wear a nice top and slacks but no jeans and no shorts. The thing that people get most concerned about if they’re a pretty casual dresser are the formal nights, the formal nights. About one or two nights a week your cruise ship is going to have a night where everyone dresses up. Now keep in mind on the formal nights the dress up code applies to the main dining room, the official restaurant the special — the really nice specialty restaurants. The rest of the ship doesn’t have a requirement for formal dress. So if you’re like me and you’re thinking about, “What should I take on my cruise?” Well I’ll take a couple — you know, usually I wear jeans or shorts, but I’ll take a pair or two of slacks for that smart casual dress code for the nights that I want to eat in the main dining room. If I don’t want to bother with a jacket or a suit I don’t have to bring it at all and I can just choose to eat at the buffet or a different restaurant on those nights. So don’t feel like you have to dress up just because you’re going on a cruise You have that option always of slipping out to the buffet that night. Now keep in mind though on a formal night even the public areas feel a lot more upscale, a lot more elegant. You might, like Rick in this picture, be sharing an elevator with somebody who’s far far more dressed up than you are so if you’re okay with that, it’s a great way to go. And also, by the way, formal nights — I was really curious about this so I asked around on the ships I was on — I thought, “Well, don’t most cruise people, cruise passengers feel a little bit uncomfortable at this obligation?” Because I think a lot of folks more and more like to dress casually and maybe they feel like a fish out of water on these nights. The cruise insiders that I talked to said cruise lines love the formal nights. Of course a lot of the passengers do too. But the cruise lines are going to hang on to those formal nights as long as they can because people spend more money on the formal nights. They’re going to dress up a little bit more nicely, they’re going to splurge on the steak house that night. So the reason they have the formal nights isn’t necessarily to please their traditionalist passengers — they have another ulterior economic motive, as is often the case on cruise ships Again you can just throw on a pair of shorts and head to the buffet if you want to avoid all of that. In terms of packing I think it’s possible to still pack light if you’re on a cruise. You know, that’s Rick’s packing mantra, “Pack light, pack light, pack light.” I’ve been on cruises and I’ve had to pack only a little bit heavier than I would if I’m not on a cruise. I don’t bother with a suit, I take something like this — a nice jacket and maybe a nice pair of slacks or a really nice pair of jeans and that gets me by fine as long as I don’t plan to show up at formal night and that, that’s a good compromise I think for a lot of people. But keep in mind you’re you’re going to want as many as three different outfits for every day: you’re going to want something to be comfortable in on the ship and that can maybe even be leisure wear or it can be for going to the gym, going for a walk on the deck, going to the swimming pool. You want something that’s comfortable but maybe a little bit dressier for your day in port, and then of course you want to have something to dress up if you need to in the evening, if you want to go to one of the nicer restaurants. And the secret here is to be versatile. You can take a nice — a man can take a nice blazer that works for dressing up in a nice restaurant on the ship but it’s also practical enough that you can use it for warmth if it’s a little bit colder when you go into port that day, so when you’re packing you don’t have to take three kind of independent sets of clothes. You can think about how they overlap and work together. If you’re packing and concerned about seasickness here’s a few things you might want to think about. By the way seasickness affects some people terribly, doesn’t affect other people at all. You just never know until you’re on that ship. I have a good friend Lee, a family friend who went on her honeymoon on a cruise and had no idea until that first night that she was desperately seasick any time she got on a ship. And it was not a fun honeymoon for that couple. And if you know you have seasick or think you might have seasickness, you might think about taking one of these. Of course you’ve got the classic cure, the Dramamine. There’s a non-drowsy formula

as well for Dramamine. This little patch behind the woman’s ear is called Scopolamine and this is prescription-only and it’s quite pricey but if you know that you have seasickness. this goes basically behind your ear and it’s a time-release medication. You put a new one on every three or four days. I bought a few of them, got a prescription on my first cruise just in case, and there were a couple of days that were pretty rough and it was nice having that option. And then the other option that’s a homeopathic — it’s not even medicinal at all — are what they call “sea bands” which is in the upper right there. It’s basically something you put along your wrist and that little peg points into a pressure point on your wrist that’s associated with nausea and some folks swear by these as well. This is very subjective. One thing works for one person, other things work for other people, so you might want to try a few of these out, but beware there are options in case you’re prone to that. Let’s talk a little bit about ways you can save money and keep your price down on cruises. Whether you’re going on a really inexpensive cruise or a really expensive cruise, once you’re on their ship there’s lots of ways that you can spend money, and I want to give you a few ways of thinking about it to help keep that under control. One of them is: remember there are lots of extra expenses that are advertised and almost forced on you the whole time you’re on the cruise ship, for example, going to the casino. By the way, when you go to Vegas, certain casinos like to advertise, “We have the loosest slots in town” or “very friendly dealers” or “we have a policy with our blackjack that’s advantageous to the gambler.” This is not the case on cruise ships, of course. Cruise ships have a captive audience. They have no incentive to have loose slots on a cruise ship. Just, again, think through with any expense, kind of, what it’s really going to cost you in addition. As I mentioned earlier, too: alcohol, gambling, and shore excursions, which I’ll get to a bit later. You’ve got a lot of other odds and ends kinds of expenses. You’ve got specialty restaurants on board; you’ve got treatments in the spa, massages, this sort of thing; you’ve got photography — every time you walk off the ship someone will kind of accost you with a camera and force you to stand next to a guy in a parrot suit and snap a picture and then at the end of the day you’ll go and you’ll see a long hallway where every single person on your ship has had to pose for that same very canned and very tacky picture — if you buy one of these pictures it’s $10, $12, $15 I mean, that’s outrageous. If you’re thrifty like me you can kind of snap a picture of the picture so that you can kind of preserve it without, without spending that $10. This was a on the island of Crete where I was greeted mysteriously by Julius Caesar. I’m not quite sure how that goes together There’s a lot of opportunities for shopping on-board the ship, and I don’t have to tell you that anything you buy on the ship is dramatically marked up Again, you’re a captive audience. I’m not saying don’t buy anything on the ship, but if there’s a sentimentality attached to that extra price then it’s fine, but if it’s just something you you like you might want to check on Amazon and may find you can get the same thing a lot cheaper not on the ship What surprises some people though is there’s a lot of secret hidden prices built into things that you buy off the ship as well, and this is a really important thing to know about. Again, in terms of how cruise lines make money, it’s not always in the ways that you think. And for example when you’re in port and you’re shopping you’ll notice that there are certain shops that are recommended or guaranteed by your cruise line and in fact before you even get off the ship they’ll hand you a little information sheet about that port Remember, I said earlier the cruise lines have no incentive to inform you and equip you for a good experience off the ship. This is sort of an example of where they like to give the illusion that they’re giving you information but if you actually look at it it’s mostly shopping tips and it’s not just shopping tips like, the cruise line went out and systematically checked every vendor in town and came up what they feel is the best one. It’s the place that paid them the most money to be recommended or guaranteed. Make no mistake about it, there’s no assessment that goes on here Obviously if it’s totally corrupt they wouldn’t go into this relationship but who pays the most, whoever pays the most is the one that’s recommended. Let’s say you go off the ship in Turkey and you buy a carpet and you come back or you go to Greece and you buy a gold necklace at one of the recommended restaurants and you come back and there’s this little coupon at the bottom of your program that says, “If you fill out this coupon and put it in the fishbowl, we’ll draw the winner and that person gets an iPad.” And you think, “Great, hey, free iPad.” Why do you think they want you to fill out the coupon and put it the fishbowl? It’s for the cruise line to control and know who on this ship on this particular day bought something at which shop so they can go back to the shop and say, “We’d like our cut of that please.” So any recommended shop has, it could be ten, twenty, thirty, percent kickback built-in that goes straight back to your cruise ship. I’m not saying don’t shop at these places. I’m not saying they’re corrupt or they’re bad places. But I’m saying if possible, try to find a shop that isn’t necessarily recommend it or guaranteed if you feel good about it. We’ve recommended some in our books for example. It can be a good way to sidestep that cost that gets passed on to you. This is a huge epidemic in some places. In the port of Kusadasi, which is where you go in Turkey if you’re going to the site of Ephesus, it’s just a complete racket Every person who sells carpets in the

town of Kusadasi is part of the system, and I’ve been told by people who would know that up to 60% of the cost that you pay for a carpet goes back to the cruise line. And there was a spunky carpet vendor in that town who tried to get out of this deal a few years ago and he was basically tormented by all of the other guys in town until he got back with the program. So there’s no one in the town, in the city limits that’s willing to go outside of this cruise system. I’m — again this maybe sounds like I’m anti-cruise line and that’s not the case at all — I just think it’s good to know where this is all coming from. There’s a town in Alaska I’ve been hearing about, this town in Alaska where the cruise lines went to them and said, “If you want to have us keep coming to your town, you’re gonna have to give us something like a certain percentage — 10%, 20% — of all of your receipts for every day that a cruise ship is in town for every business in town. They said no, and that town is no longer on most cruise itineraries. This is just, again, part of the economy of cruising. Again find these local — maybe not quite this lowbrow — but find some local alternatives that are not necessarily endorsed by your cruise line. Another way to keep your costs down, or just something to be aware of financially, is staying connected Internet, telephone. I don’t have a lot of time to get into all the details here Just how you even use a telephone in Europe is very complicated. If you want to learn about that, by the way, you can go to our website It has really good information for how you can either roam in Europe with your own phone or you can buy a SIM card to use at European rates. But in any event no matter what you do there’s a couple things to be aware of any time you’re paying for phone or Internet. On the ship you’re paying a huge premium Internet on the ship is usually, whether it’s at a terminal like this or whether it’s Wi-Fi, is usually something like fifty cents or $1 per minute and even if that doesn’t sound bad — and I think it sounds pretty bad — keep in mind that it’s a satellite connection so it’s extremely slow. I mean remember broadband dial-up? It’s very frustrating to pay a lot of money for Internet and then sit there and wait for emails to load for five or ten minutes. So what I would say is, try not to use the options on the ship. If you have a smartphone or a tablet look for Wi-Fi when you walk off the ship. One of our priorities in our cruising guide books is we list in every port the nearest opportunity for Wi-Fi or Internet access because we know that that’s a big expense if you try to do it on the ship In terms of phoning, if you’re using a cell phone to connect to European cell towers it actually can work really well on the ship. Don’t think that the second you step on the ship you’re paying the very expensive shipboard rates. And especially in Europe you’re usually not crossing oceans, you’re staying pretty close to the coastline. I found that whole days can go by where I’m able to access the European network on land even though I’m five or six miles offshore, and in that case, it’s whatever you’re paying on land, you’re paying on the ship. That’s great but as soon as you cross a certain number, I think it’s seven miles, something like that, as soon as you cross a certain number they turn on the shipboard network for the cell phone and then it goes dramatically up it’s $4 or $5, $6, $7/minute so just be aware when you’re using technology. Any time you’re on the cruise ship’s terms, you’re paying a lot more than when you’re taking advantage of local alternatives. One place that I would not try to save money — in fact if you’re going to splurge on anything it’s on these folks — it’s on the crew. And I wanted to kind of take a minute to tell you about these wonderful people who are working really hard to help you have a good vacation. This isn’t a guilt trip, well not quite, but it’s another one of those things that’s just really good to know about and to understand the economics of cruising. As you probably know a lot of the people, the vast majority of people, who work on the crew of a cruise ship are imported — I kind of say they’re “insourced.” They’re imported from the developing world, from very very impoverished countries. They’re given a great opportunity to make a lot of money on that ship, so it’s a good advantage to them in a lot of cases, but it’s not as advantageous as you might think. The typical cruise crew contract goes for eight or ten months. People work seven days a week during that time and the minimum is 10 or 12 hours a day — I think the legal maximum is 14 hours a day, but I’ve been told it’s not unusual to exceed that. So can you imagine working for 10 months in a row, 12 14 hours a day non-stop and then they get flown home to their families for a month and start a new contract maybe a month or two later Now for all of this hard, back-breaking work, cruise crew make an average of approximately $1/day in their base wages. Now, they make huge tips And once you factor in the tips, that is a very good income for the folks who are on your cruise ship. That’s why they’re doing it. When you get off your ship you’ll see a bunch of guys from your crew huddled around their laptops at the little crewmen’s Internet cafe. They’re Skyping back home to their families who they won’t see for another six months, but it’s worth it because they’re making money. But keep in mind the money they’re making isn’t coming from the cruise line, it’s coming from your tips, and the cruise system has a very kind of antiquated system where there’s an auto tip rather than just folding it into the cost of your cruise ticket and paying the crew a set wage. There’s an auto tip, so you’ll notice when you get on your

ship, for $10 or $12 a day is automatically tacked on to your shipboard bill. This can be a surprise if you don’t know about it. At the end of a week’s cruise, you go down to pay your bill and what’s the $70? Well that’s the tip. You have the option of increasing or lowering this tip, and you could be really stingy and lower the tip, but just keep in mind before you do that that these folks are really counting on that income and also it’s nice to give folks a bonus. This doesn’t mean because you’ve tipped them with the auto tip that they don’t get any more money. The auto tip system is so new, just the last five or six years, that the logistics and the etiquette are still being worked out, but most folks who work on cruise ships say, yeah, it is still really nice if there’s someone who you got to know who did really nice service for you, a bartender you saw several times, the folks who clean your room and made the cute little towel animals that they hung every night when they cleaned your room. By the way this is another great skill that the crew members have, and all of that stuff, if there’s somebody who you really connected with, it is nice to give them an additional cash tip, and they’ll also get their share of the auto tip. And keep in mind that for every person that you meet and get to know, there’s probably two or three or four of them below decks who are working hard for you as well. There’s a really — I don’t have quite time to get into it but there’s a really interesting system that’s just kind of evolved on cruise ships, it’s an ethic among the crew members that they split their tips And so it’s just — naturally they just, it’s just sort of assumed you’re going to split your tips. So the guy that you uh, the head waiter that you tip $30 or $40 at the end of your cruise, he’s probably going to end up taking care of the kitchen guys as well. So just be aware of that and be appreciative of how hard these folks work and how far away from home they are and I think it is a question about the ethics of the economics of cruising that’s worth asking about There’s a fine line between exploitation and opportunity and I think that the cruise lines toe that line. Most cruise members, crew members will tell you that they have a better life than they would without cruising, but it’s at the expense of spending time with their families These are wonderful people, you’ll really enjoy connecting to them, I promise you. Alright we’re ready to hit land, and I just wanted to give you a few pointers for what you do once you get off the ship. And you basically have two options: you can pay the cruise line to take you on an excursion, or you can take care of yourself and do it on your own Every time you get off the ship you have that choice. Of all the little pointers and tips I’ve given you so far, this may be the most important one. Inform yourself. Equip yourself with information to make the right choice. You can hop on one of these waiting cruise buses here on the left, or you can follow these folks on the right and have a great day on your own terms, doing what you want to do. And the only way you can do that is with the right information. A little bit about excursions — when you walk off the ship there’s always going to be a bunch of buses there waiting to take the people who signed up to their various excursions where they’re going to follow their cruise tour guide with their numbered paddles through the city of, through the streets of town. For every port there’s multiple options. So you’ll get a little menu at the beginning letting you choose which ones you want to do. There are advantages to shore excursions, I’m not here to say, “Never go on a shore excursion.” I want to make that very clear there are cases where a shore excursion is a good value and it’s a great use of your time. And some of the advantages of cruise shore excursions through your cruise line include great tour guides. A lot of our favorite tour guides that we recommend in our guide books are also tour guides who work freelance as guides for the cruise lines, and there’s an incentive for cruise lines to keep their customers happy so they’re going to try their best to have the best tour guides available. So you can have a great experience if you have a great tour guide. It’s a little bit potluck, a little bit hit or miss, but for the most part you get good tour guides. Now there’s sort of an idea that there must be a great economy to doing a shore excursion Anytime you go with a big group of people, it’s going to cut down on your costs. And things that might seem like advantages of traveling with the group don’t always quite pan out. Here’s an example: I was on a cruise that went to the island of Crete, and the time we were in port was really insane. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. and the ship left at 12:30 I think. For the entire island of Crete, right? Now, the main museum, the main archaeological site on the island of Crete is Knossos Palace, which is this fascinating complex of buildings from the Minoan civilization. The site doesn’t open until 9:00, two hours after my cruise ship got in. So I said, “Hey, I’ll pay for the shoreline excursion,” because they had a special offer where they would let you in early to the site if you were with a shore excursion. Great! So I paid up and I got on the bus and we showed up at Knossos Palace, got in two hours before it opened and proceeded to wait in line for about a half-hour with hundreds of other people from my cruise ship to see this room, I mean it’s a nice room but I don’t know that it was worth waiting a half-hour in line for. Anything that you can do yourself is going to be faster than something you have to do with 50 people. It takes two people a lot shorter time to go to the bathroom than 50 people to go to the bathroom. So the time you think you might be saving with a shore excursion isn’t necessarily going to translate to a savings. Even some of the experience aren’t quite what they’re cracked up to be. You might see when you’re going to Santorini an advertisement for a wine tasting. Sounds great. You’re imagining this rustic situation where you get to sample wines and talk to the vintner and then you show up and realize there are hundreds of people on your ship doing the same thing. This is an industrial-strength

wine tasting. And of course we talked a little bit about shopping and that’s even amped up when you’re on an excursion. You have what I like to call “hostage shopping” where they take you to a Venetian glass-blowing demonstration. I love Venetian glass-blowing demonstrations. I went to this one last year when I was updating our guidebook there. I really enjoyed watching it. What I don’t like is going to a glassblowing demonstration and then being held captive for an extra half-hour, 45 minutes because the guide won’t leave until people spend enough money to go And that’s what happens when you’re with a group on a shoreline. You can still have these experiences, you can still do the carpet shopping experience on your own, but it’s less pressure and you can do it at your own time on your own pace So here’s the alternative: you walk off that ship and instead of going left to the tour buses, you go right to the city center. If you’re going to do that, again, equip yourself with great information. We’ve got these two guide books that we’ve already told you about which tell you exactly how to make the most of your time in each port. Rick also has these wonderful audio tours of Europe for a lot of the places where cruise people go, and these are completely free on our website. Download them before you go With one of these audio tours you, for example, can walk through the streets of Florence and hear Rick’s voice in your ear describing the history of the Renaissance in this important city Download it before you go, have it on your smartphone and that could be a great way to spend your time once you’re in port By the way, the ship itself is cashless That’s part of how people can rack up a big bill with their on-board expenses You’re not actually pulling out your credit card or paying cash every time you buy a cocktail or a spa massage or whatever. It all goes on your room and at the end you pay it all once with a credit card. On land, once you get off the ship you’re going to be in a cash society, and I’ve talked to a lot of cruisers who say, “Well we’re only in that country for one day, I’m not going to bother getting cash.” That works better in some places than in others and local merchants often really prefer local cash and some places now are really requiring local cash. They won’t take anything but local cash. So just find an ATM. That’s another big feature of our cruising guide book, we’ve identified the ATM that’s closest to each cruise port. And keep it safe in a money belt. You probably know if you’re Rick Steves fan, the money belt is a cloth pouch that you wear under your clothes. It’s where you keep your passport, your credit cards, large denominations of money. There are a lot of pickpockets in a lot of popular cruise destinations: Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Venice, St. Petersburg. I just named not only the most popular cruise destinations but the most popular pickpocketing destinations. Keep your goods safe in your money belt, or in some cases, if it’s something you really won’t need in port — if you’ve got a lot of cash for some reason, leave it o=in the safe on the ship so you don’t have to worry about it. When you walk off the ship on your own — we’re going to be independent here — you walk through usually a gauntlet of shopping malls and stores. Then there’s a row of not just the cruise line tour buses, but hop-on, hop-off tour buses, and this can be a really great option if you’re on your own. It’s a lot cheaper than taking a shore excursion. It zips around town and stops at the most important sites, probably what you want to see anyway, and the nice thing is it meets you at the cruise port and it brings you right back to the cruise port. It’s not cheap, they’re usually maybe $30, $40 for the day. Public transportation would be quite a bit cheaper. But it’s also less expensive than the shore excursion, so think about that in a lot of cities. And then you also have these one-off entrepreneurs when you walk off the ship trying to sell their own tours, and they can be a mixed bag. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes not. Just do a little bit of due diligence before you go with one of these guys These port areas can be big and congested and confusing. For the most-part they’re pretty well-signed and if it’s a really big port area they’ll have a shuttle bus that’ll take you out to the entrance of the port. Sometimes the cruise line will offer for you to pay for a shuttle bus really into the town center, not just to the entrance to the port, and that can be a really worthwhile expense. If it’s $5 or $10, for example, from the distant cruise port of Stockholm to come into the city center, it’s only a little bit more than public transportation and a lot less stress. So if that’s offered as just basically a transportation-only sort of situation into town, consider it. By the way, as I mentioned I think a couple of times, be aware no one on your cruise ship is there to give you information about what to do in port. And I’ve experimented with this. I’ve asked people on the ship, nice, wonderful, kind, warm people questions that I know the answer to, just to see what they say, and I’ve never been given the right answer. “Is there a bus that goes into town?” “Nope, you have to take a taxi or do an excursion.” They’re not deceitful, they’re not being jerks, but again, the cruise line wants you to be at their disposal. They want you to have to depend on them to get into town. They don’t want you to be independent, and occasionally they’ll say, “Hey, we’re going to have a local tourist representative in the lobby to answer questions before the ship lands.” Well that sounds great except sometimes the local tourist representative is someone who owns a jewelry shop in town. I’ve seen this happen many times. But in most towns there is a legitimate tourist office representative who is at or near the port who meets arriving people and helps them figure out those complicated public transportation options. Your best line of defense: get a good guide book that tells you how to get in from each port into town and supplement that by

asking these folks who are official tourist representatives for more details when you get there. Once in town, you’ve got lots of different public transportation options. Of course you’ve got buses, you’ve got subways, you’ve got all that sort of thing. Taxis are a mixed bag when you’re cruising, and I would just say use caution. These are really great guys who work in Naples, they’re old friends of ours and we know that they’re really legit and you can hire guys like this for $300 or $400 for the whole day and they’ll pack every second you’re in port with wonderful experiences, take you right where you want to see, ideally arranged ahead of time That can be a great value. But for every person like this, there’s four or five cabbies who are just there to rip off naive tourists who have no idea how much it should cost to take various trips in town. And this is really a big issue. I arrived at a cruise ship in Istanbul. I walked out the door. There was a taxi at the curb. I said, “How much is it to get into Sultanahmet?” which is the old town of Istanbul. He said 50 Turkish lira. That’s about $25. I said, “Great, thanks.” I walked a half-block down the street. “How much is it to Sultanahmet?” He said, “oh it’s 40 Turkish lira.” I walked another half-block down the street –I’m one block from the cruise terminal door. “How much is the taxi ride to Sultanahmet?” “That’s 30, 25 or 30 Turkish lira.” The price had dropped in half because I walked one block down the street. In our guidebook we’ve listed what the official, true, honest going rate is for various trips in town. That’s the best information you can have. Knowing it’s not 50 euros into town, it’s twenty euros into town can save you that extra 30 euros and say, “No thanks” to this cabbie and go find somebody who’s willing to cut you a fair deal. I don’t want you to be paranoid but realize, if I were a taxi driver, you better believe I would pray on cruise passengers who I know have no idea how much it costs to get into town. They don’t even know where town is or how far it is, right? You kind of can’t blame them And then my last tip for being in town: local guides can be a great resource, local tour guides. Very often there’s a scheduled tour that you can join, somebody who will lead you through the ancient ruins that leaves every day at 11:00. Great, my ship gets in at 9:00. I’ll have a couple hours to poke around. If you know about this tour, you just show up on the main square, there’s your guide, you pay them ten euros and you get an hour tour of the sites Whereas if you do the exact same thing through your cruise line it could be $50, $60, $70 and all you had to do was walk 20 minutes to get into town and find the guide yourself You can also hire your own local guide As I mentioned we have a lot of favorite guides that we know well and work with very closely. We’ve got all of their contact information in our guidebook, so you can look them up and book them Ideally early enough that you book them before the cruise lines do but you can book your own local guide and that can be a really efficient use of your time in port. This is a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise that I was on. You’re relaxed, right? You’re on vacation. This is what time it is — not that it matters There is one time that it matters — any guesses? When your ship leaves. Yeah, you’ve got your last call time, you’re just about a half hour before your ship leaves. Here’s what I want to say about this: yes, be aware of this, be careful about it, but cruise lines use the sphere of missing the last call time as a way to sell excursions. If you buy an excursion you’re guaranteed to make it back on the ship. In other words if your excursion is coming back late, the ship will wait for you. If you’re on your own and you come back late, the ship very well might leave without you. And they will leave without you and you have to get to the next port on your own dime What I want to tell you is that’s extraordinarily rare. Rick and I have asked people who work on cruise ships how often does it happen that someone really gets left behind, and the answer is, “I can remember once or twice in an entire year of cruising when this has happened.” It does happen. You need to be careful. If you’re somebody who perennially runs late I like to say, come up with an artificial departure time that’s an hour or a half-hour before the actual departure time and then if you get back five minutes late, you’re actually 25 minutes early. You have to be very honest with yourself and do some soul-searching to decide if you need to use that approach, but I pride myself on being the last person back on the ship every single day, and I almost always am, and I’ve never even been nervous about missing the ship. Just be organized and you can take care of yourself and that’s really the point of this whole talk. And something I really want to drive home: if you want to have a great cruise, don’t be scared or intimidated or coerced by what cruise line representatives tell you Take charge of your own trip. Equip yourself with good information. Trust that you can take care of yourself and make your own best experiences, and I promise you that’s exactly what will happen. Folks, thank you very much for listening, and I hope you have a wonderful cruise. Thanks so much. Thank you