Cruise Tips from Real Cruisers

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Save perfume ads from magazines. Those smelly magazine inserts may be annoying at home, but they can really come in handy at sea. I've used the ads to freshen the air in my stateroom bathroom. I also like to stick them in the closet and dresser drawers. Kevin Lum, San Francisco, Calif.

Punch a hole in your key card. Bring a single-hole punch and lanyard on your next cruise. Once onboard, you can make a hole in your plastic key card and attach the lanyard, allowing you to carry the key around your neck. This is especially useful when your dress or slacks have no pockets. Just be sure to put the hole where it won't interfere with the card's magnetic strip. Sallie Clinard, Las Vegas, Nev.

Join the frequent-cruiser program. If you're a new cruiser to a major cruise line such as carnival or Princess, make sure you check out its frequent-cruiser program before going on the cruise. The benefits, which may increase as you take more cruises, are great and are usually free. We've received access to a priority line for nightly shows (instead of standing in line with everyone else), and on one cruise, we returned to our cabin to discover a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries. You might also get exclusive discount son future cruises. Steve Maglich, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Go to the spa when the ship is in port. I've been on many cruises with various lines (Carnival, Costa, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, American Hawaii, and most recently, Princess), and I've learned that the spas usually offer discounts on days that the ship is docked. Rhonda Grabov, Philadelphia, Pa.

Use a diaper bag as a day pack. On a recent cruise to Bermuda, I found that a diaper bag is great to carry ashore for the day. The waterproof interior made sure our passports, credit cards, tour books, extra clothes, and beach towels stayed dry while we were near the water. The insulated bottle carrier kept my water bottle cool. The separate pouch usually used for soiled baby clothes held our wet swimsuits. There were pouches and elastic bands for sunscreen, sunglasses, and our camera. Because it had a shoulder strap, it was a lot easier to carry than many beach bags. And the newer styles don't look like "diaper bags" either. Susan Rixman, Louisville, Ky.

Pack some candied ginger. Besides being a tasty treat, candied ginger is a preventative or remedy for motion sickness. (Some cruise ships even offer it with after-dinner mints.) We always carry a small supply with us in a resealable plastic bag, whether were on the road, in an airplane, or at sea. Weyman Lew, San Francisco, Calif.

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