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Galveston Cruise Parking: Stateroom Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

Your stateroom is your home away from home during your cruise vacation. It is best to take advantage of every available amenity that your stateroom has to offer. Here are a few secrets that most people do not know about your cruise line stateroom.

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Stateroom Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

Metal Inside and Out: Most of your stateroom is made of metal, therefore magnets can be very helpful. Using magnets throughout your stateroom can be an efficient way to keep itineraries, daily newsletters, schedules, and to do lists organized.

Let The “Sunshine” In: Since most staterooms do not have any available natural light, they get very dark when the overhead lights are turned off. Using your television tuned to the cruise ship camera station can act as a great nightlight. It will also be a great weather gauge for the upcoming day’s events.

Where’s The Plug: In today’s connected world, your stateroom has limited outlets. Most cruise ships do not have USB outlets for charging your small electronics, so we suggest you bring a surge protector or two to expand the number of outlets available. (check to make sure that they are allowed on your particular cruise line)

Bedding and Storage: Most of us are very picky about our bedding, sheets, and pillows. If you fall into that category, check with your steward to see what bedding options are available. Non-allergenic pillows, memory foam mattress toppers, and extra blankets can be available upon request. Your stateroom is space efficient to say the least. Cruise ship designers make good use of space and offer as much storage space as possible. Be sure to explore your cabin thoroughly to discover all of those hidden spaces to store you belongings.

Secrets The Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know Series

Food Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

cruise parking galveston, galveston cruise parking, cruise terminal parking galveston, galveston cruise terminal parkingYou deserve to get the most out of your cruise vacation experience. Many times the cruise line does not spell out all of the services available. There are certain secrets that are not disclosed that can save you money, provide more options, and allow you to enjoy your cruise vacation even more.

The dining experience on a cruise ship is an amenity that many people do not take full advantage of. Many dining tips are not know until you take several cruises on the same cruise line. But we have put together a series of “Top Secret The Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know” list to keep you in the know!

Food Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

Main Dining Offers Unlimited Options: Did you know that you are not limited to one selection from each course of the main dining room menu? You can choose a few appetizers, two main courses, and multiple desserts for your meal. This is a great way to sample foods that you have never tried before, or refuel after a long day of excursion fun.

Room Service for Free or Discounted Rates: Royal Caribbean offer room service for a discounted rate of $7.95 and from a specific menu Carnival offers room service for free. This option is a well kept secret that most cruisers do not know. Relax on your day at sea and enjoy in cabin dining for a relaxing change of pace.

Breakfast Buffet is Not The Only Option: Depending on your cruise line, there may be other options for breakfast than the breakfast buffet. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean restaurant’s offer limited to full breakfast menus. Your cruise newsletter will announce which restaurants are open for breakfast offering you an alternative to the breakfast buffet.

Specialty Restaurants are Not Busy The First Day at Sea: Most people tend to eat in the main dining room or the buffet the first night on the cruise ship making the specialty restaurants relatively empty and easy to book your reservation. Many specialty restaurants offer special deals the first night at sea, so definitely look in to the special offers available.

Free Desserts: Many of the onboard coffee shops offer free pastries, confections of various types, and small desserts. Check with them to see which offer free options. Ice cream is available as well from soft serve machines and some cruise lines offer hard-serve stations at the buffet. Do some research to find the locations and times to soothe your sweet tooth.

Hassle Free Embarkation Day Dining: The chaos on embarkation day ensues as soon as you board the ship. Many people explore the ship, their stateroom, and of course the food options available. Many of your fellow cruisers will hit the buffet while waiting for their cabin to become available, so choose an option that will be less crowded and busy.

Drink Smart: Since there is not a “open container” law on board the cruise ship, you can take your drinks anywhere on board. For you beer drinkers, ordering a bucket of beer can save some money. If you are traveling with friends, this is a great way to share the expense of a refreshing, ice cold beer.

In addition, many times buying the entire bottle of wine is less expensive than buying a few glasses. If you don’t finish it, not to worry, your server can save your bottle to enjoy your next evening. Most cruise lines will allow you to bring a bottle of wine or champagne per adult. (most charge a cork fee) **Do some research before you bring your own wine. Many times the cork fee plus the purchase of the bottle of wine can be more expensive than buying the bottle of wine on board. Watch your cruise newsletter to find the drink of the day or special drink offers.

Secrets The Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know Series

 

Hurricane Season & How it Affects Your Cruise Vacation: Things You Must Know

Hurricane season starts June 1st and runs through November 30th. Although hurricanes are not likely to interrupt your cruise vacation plans, it is best to know what to do if tropical weather threatens your much needed vacation.

Here are frequently asked questions about cruise vacationing and being hurricane prepared.

Is there a way to avoid hurricanes when cruising in the Caribbean?

Sailing outside of hurricane season will greatly reduce the chance of your cruise vacation being effected by a tropical storm. If you are cruising within the six month Hurricane Season, here are a few rules of thumb:

  • Mid-August to Mid-September are prime time for tropical activity in the Easter U.S. Coast and Easter Caribbean
  • Mid-August to Early November storms are more likely in the Western Caribbean

What if a storm develops while at sea? Will our ship sail into a storm?

Compared to islands and coastal areas, a cruise ship is mobile. If you find yourself on board ship as a storm develops, rest assured that the cruise line is using the sophisticated weather technology on board to steer you around the storm and out of harms way. This may mean missing a port of call or changing the destination of ports of call.

In addition to being able to steer, your cruise ship is pretty fast. Most modern cruise sips can hit speeds of 20+ knots. Most storms move between 5 to 10 knots. That does not mean that there may be rough seas if you are caught running from a hurricane while at sea. This is why seasickness/motion sickness medication are a vital part of any cruise vacation prep list.

The cruise line may also cut your vacation short or extend your cruise depending on the position and severity of an approaching hurricane. Most cruise lines will provide compensation for shortened cruises and will provide meals at no additional charge if your cruise extended. Please note that all circumstances are different and cruise lines operated independently due to each situation.

During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the storm shut the port of Galveston down and cruise ships were unable to return to port. The typical one week cruise was extended to just under two weeks when the port reopened. Passengers were given the choice to disembark in New Orleans and find ground transportation on their own.

Are seas higher during hurricane season, even if there is not a storm in sight?

Typically seas are affected by wind or storm elements. The later in the summer the more calm the water is generally how the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico behaves. When a storm, any storm not just hurricanes move over water, the sea can be rough. The closer you are to the center of the storm activity, the more rough the seas will be.

Do cruise lines have to issue refunds when my cruise is affected by a hurricane or bad weather?

The general answer is no. Some travel company’s or cruise lines offer vacation insurance and only apply if purchased for an additional charge. However, many cruise lines will offer some kind of compensation when inclement weather affects a cruise vacation itinerary. This may be a variety of different methods: discounts on future sailings, onboard credit for current or future cruises, refunds, or special offers. Again, this is always determined on a case by case basis by the cruise line.

If there is a hurricane, can I cancel my cruise?

Cancelling is generally not an option without a penalty. The option to reschedule is often an option. Most cruise lines will do whatever possible to still accommodate the sailing date of the cruise.

On a recent 5 day cruise out of Galveston, fog delayed the cruise line from reentering the port of Galveston. The delay was 36 hours. Cruisers were given the option to still go on the cruise with a shortened length and receive an onboard credit or reschedule.

Does travel insurance cover hurricanes for cruise vacations?

Please note that each policy is different, and it is best to read the fine print. But any travel insurance plan that is worth anything will cover trip delays, cancellation or interruption due to hurricane and stormy weather. Look at the details of your insurance plan to see how airfare is covered. If traveling to Galveston via plane, you will want to make sure that you are covered if your plane is delayed and you miss disembarkation of your cruise.

Cruise travel insurance must be purchased in advance in most cases. If the storm develops and you are 2 days away from your sailing date, chances are you cannot purchase travel insurance.

If I booked an excursion privately and the cruise is affected by a storm, can I get a refund?

Again, this will depend. Each vendor will have different cancellation policies due to weather. It is best to read up on their policy prior to booking to see what would happen due to weather delays. Larger tour providers will most likely refund your excursion, but it is always best to confirm their policy before booking.

What if there is a delay in leaving our port due to a hurricane?

The port that you are leaving from can close due to weather conditions. Most likely there is a cruise ship of passengers waiting to disembark on that cruise ship. So tensions on both side of the situation can be elevated. If the port is closed, it is by good reason. The port will be reopened when it is deemed safe for travel. A closure of this type can create havoc. It is best to communicate with the cruise line for information and not rely on other passengers or port officials.

If my return from my cruise, how can I make travel arrangements/change flights/extend car rentals?

Be sure to have all travel companies involved toll free number with you during your cruise vacation. In the event of a delay getting back to your disembarkation point of origin, most cruise lines will make internet and phone services open or at a reduce rate in order for you to make travel arrangements.

If my car is damaged by a hurricane in port, who is responsible?

If you car has storm damage while you are at sea, it is not up to the cruise line or parking facility to make repairs. Most parking lots policies are provided at the time of reservation or when you check-in.

Are there special discounts for hurricane season?

The summer is a high demand time for cruise vacationers. Most cruise lines do not offer specific discounts for cruising during hurricane season. Later in the year there seems to be a drop in price but that reflects the drop in demand as school begins.

What is the best way to communicate with your Lighthouse Parking regarding news about weather, weather delays, and the conditions of Galveston?

Information regarding weather conditions are posted to the Lighthouse Parking Facebook Page. During Hurricane Harvey, Ike, and other tropical storms, we did our best to post as much information as possible as quickly as possible about weather conditions in Galveston. We posted pictures and videos of the parking lot to show the conditions of vehicles. This is your best communication method about cruise ship delays.

9 Reasons Getting Married on a Cruise is a Great Idea

So you are getting hitched and you are stressed about all of the pomp and circumstances revolving around the wedding day. We have a stress free solution! Consider taking the plunge on a cruise ship or at an exotic port of call. This wedding venue provides endless options that will make for a beautiful wedding album. Here are some reasons that a cruise wedding is a fantastic idea:

  1. It is Very Affordable

    Depending on the cruise line or the destination, your wedding can start at just $795. This is a super efficient and cost effective ceremony alternative that is practically worry free. No need to worry about guest hotel rooms, transportation or food!

  2. The Best Buy One Get One Free Option Available

    Getting married while on a cruise vacation  rolls your ceremony and honeymoon into one great little package. If you are on a tight budget, this is a great way to combine the best of both worlds into one affordable option.

  3. Remove the Headaches of Wedding Planning

    Planning a destination wedding can be quite stressful. You have to worry about hotels, transportation once guests arrive, and what about catering! Your cruise line can coordinate all of these issues, leaving you free to focus on enjoying your special day.

  4. Leave It All Up To The Professionals

    The cake, photographer, food, and location….a lot to coordinate. Leave it all up to the experts! Most cruise lines have dedicated wedding planners to make your perfect day that much more special. Additionally some cruise lines have gift registries, a free wedding website and a your very own wedding coordinator.

  5. Customizable Wedding Packages Are Available

    Create your very own custom wedding package to include all of your own individual personal touches. Include things like ice sculptures, beautiful flower arrangements, custom menus and much more.

  6. Get Married on Board

    Getting married on the ship can be very  romantic. You can bring your own officiant or on some cruise lines the captain can perform the ceremony. With technology and social media advancements, you can even broadcast your your ceremony for those who cannot be there in person.

  7. Destination Wedding?

    What a way to say “I do” that doing it on a tropical paradise. A destination wedding can provide some beautiful wedding photos that you will be sure to cherish for a lifetime.

  8. Your Guest List Can Be As Big or As Small As You Want

    No better way to create the perfect guest list than getting married on board a cruise ship. Whether it is just you and your soon to be wed, your immediate family, or a few hundred of your closest friends, getting married on board can  accommodate you.

  9. Your Guest Are in a Win-Win Situation

    Not only will your guest enjoy your special day, they get a vacation as well. What more can they ask for.

 

6 Signs You Just Returned From Taking A Cruise

People are either cruisers or they are not. Some people love the relaxing, carefree atmosphere of a cruise while others are terrified of being “locked up” on a boat with strangers for a week. For us, we love cruise vacations and making memories with family and friends. If you have just returned from a dreamy cruise vacation, here are six signs that you just got back!

1. You make Donald Trump Look Like He Needs a Tan

Food is not the only thing that is served in high quantity on a cruise ship. Mother Nature provide and endless amount of sun that you can enjoy and get your tan on. This is especially noticeable if you cruise during the winter or if you are from an area up North that does not see many sun bathing opportunities.

2. You Frequent the International Food Aisle At Your Grocery Store

Cruise vacations allow you to sample many different types of food in a very short time. Recreating that delicious meal when you return home is the goal of even the novice of chefs. You will find yourself shopping for tropical spices and seasonings upon your return.

3. You Become The Best Salesman For The Cruise Industry

You just had the time of your life on your cruise vacation and you want to share your experience with everyone you meet. To you, there is no better way to spend your vacation and you have already began to plan your next adventure. You eat, sleep, walk and talk the cruise life when you return and want everyone to enjoy cruising.

4. Your “little” House Doesn’t Seem So Little Anymore

A cruise ship is like a floating city; large massive and elaborate “boat.” Until you arrive in your stateroom and you realize that the closets in your house back on shore are not so little anymore. You begin to appreciate the size of your home and your ability to stretch out without touching a wall.

5. You Begin to Evaluate Your Ability or Inability To Cook

After feasting on multi-course gourmet meals for the last week, you have now realized that you are not as good of a cook as you once thought. You might even find yourself enrolling in cooking classes in an effort to recreate that unforgettable meal from your cruise vacation.

6. Your Social Media Becomes An Ad For Cruise Vacationing

Every time we have returned from a cruise vacation, we spend days sorting through the endless number of photos taken while on board. What better way to share your experience that social media. Your social media feed begins to look like an advertisement for your favorite cruise line.

 

 

5 Tips For Parking Your Car Long-Term

Light_5Lighthouse Parking is Galveston’s premier, cruise terminal parking facility. We pride ourselves on offering one of the safest facilities to park your vehicle for your cruise vacation. We want to offer you some great tips for making the return to your vehicle a pleasant return home.

1. Remove Trash From Your Vehicle

Our vehicles sometimes double as a catch-all dumpster for our day-to-day trash. Before you embark on your cruise vacation, make sure that you remove any trash from you vehicle to prevent coming back to the over looked drive-thru food that will become a smelly mess after sitting for a week in your car in the hot Texas sun.

2. Remove Your Valuable

This is common practice no matter where you are parking your vehicle. Lighthouse provides staffed security 24/7, but it never hurts to remove any temptation from your vehicle while you are away.

3. Fill Your Tank Before You Park

The last thing you want to do after a cruise vacation filled with relaxation and making memories with your loved ones is to stop for gas. In addition, having a full tank of gas reduces the potential of condensation build up inside your tank and keeps seals from drying out. The longer you are leaving your vehicle parked, the more important this becomes.

4. Minor Maintenance to Your Vehicle

Fill your tires, stationary tires can often flatten over time. Turn off all lights, including interior lights, dome lights, and headlights. Make sure your windows are fully closed.

5. Bring Windshield Cleaning Supplies

Chances are that your windshield will be dirty after sitting for a week, even in our covered cruise parking facility. We suggest bringing cleaning supplies for your windshield or make sure that your windshield wiper fluid is topped off.

Cruise vacations are fun and exciting and we want to make sure that your return from your vacation goes off without any issues. Just a few preparation steps and your return home will be just as great as your trip.

Best Cruise Tips for Fun, Safe & Enjoyable Travel

Cruise Tips For Safe & Enjoyable Travel

Traveling preparation stress and worry while away from your home can often times take away the pleasure and relaxation desired during your vacation. At Lighthouse, we want to make sure that we can make your travel experience is memorable and enjoyable. Here are helpful cruise travel tips for an anxiety and stress-free cruise travel experience.

  • Overflowing mail is like putting a neon sign in your front yard telling crooks that you are not at home. Requesting your mail to be held at your local post office is a great way to alert wrong doers that your home has been left unattended. You can also make this alert at www.usps.com for easy mail holding services.
  • Packing beach towels can take up a lot of space in your luggage, and they most likely will not be completely dry by the time you disembark. Don’t worry, your cruise provider has plenty of towels on board, so don’t worry about packing them.
  • If you are prone to motion sickness, consult with your physician prior to traveling for the best course of treatment. Over the counter motion sickness tablets are available, in addition you might choose an inside cabin mid ship to reduce the affects of the ships movements.
  • Make a point to get a supply of $1 bills to use for tipping parking attendants, luggage porters, and service attendants.
  • A collapsible clothes hamper that folds flat in your luggage will help keep your cabin tidy while on board.
  • Placing timers throughout your home set to different settings allow your home to looked lived in while you are away. Remember to set a radio or television on a timer as well to create the effect of someone home can deter possible intruders.
  • If you have any dietary restrictions it is best to notify your cruise line ahead of time to allow them to prepare for any special supplies. Nothing can ruin a travel getaway like an upset stomach.
  • Personal 2-way radios are a great way to stay in touch while on board the ship and enjoying excursions. They are especially handy if traveling with children.
  • Check with your homeowners insurance to see if they cover jewelry theft while traveling. While on board it is best to keep any important documents, jewelry or personal items in the room safe. Leaving unnecessary expensive jewelry at home might be a great way to put your mind at ease while traveling.
  • Traveling abroad can bring some important security issues. Men, keep your wallet in your front pocket which is a more difficult spot to be pick pocketed. Place a rubber band around your wallet as to keep it compact and all contents secured if  dropped. Ladies, while visiting destinations, leave jewelry on board and travel with a compact handbag  in order to keep it close and less of a target for a bad guy.
  • Make cards with your name, address, phone number, & email address to share with new friends that you meet on your cruise. Stiff, business card-style paper can be purchased at nearly any office supply store & having your cards handy sure beats hunting for pens & scribbling on scraps of paper to swap addresses.
  • If traveling to a location where intense sunlight is anticipated, packing sunscreen is a MUST. As you draw closer to the equator, the suns UV rays are more intense making it easier to burn. Prevent sleepless nights with  sun burnt skin by packing plenty of high SPF sunscreen.
  • Sunglasses can be a lifesaver while relaxing on deck by the pool or while enjoying destination ports. Lighthouse suggests packing a few pair in case one pair is damaged or misplaced.
  • Germicidal hand cleaner is a must have for adventure excursions where water might be at a premium or unavailable.
  • If you pick an outside cabin, check to make sure your view of the sea isn’t obstructed by a lifeboat.
  • Spa, massage, and salon’s on board are a great treat and special time of relaxation. Be sure to make your appointments ahead of time (if possible), or as soon as you board. Times will book up quickly, so to get the time you desire, book early!
  • Pack anything that can leak in zipper top plastic storage bags.

Best Cruise Travel Tips from Lighthouse Parking

We hope that we have helped you prepare for your upcoming cruise. Remove the stress and anxiety of cruise travel by properly preparing for cruise travel.

 

Car Covers: A Cautionary Tale

When deciding on a parking facility that offers parking protected by a permanent canopy versus a facility offering the option of renting a temporary fabric car cover, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Possible abrasion to the paint or clear coat

    o When using a cover other that one custom fitted to your specific make and model of vehicle, you run the risk of wind causing a poorly fitted cover to rub across the paint or clear coat on your vehicle, causing scratches and abrasions from trapped dirt and grit. See an example of a poorly fitted car cover blown loose by the wind.

  • Time spent installing and removing a car cover.

    o Do you really want to spend vacation time trying to attach an ill-fitting car cover to your car, or would you rather just park your vehicle and unload your luggage under the protection of a permanent canopy? The permanent car canopies at Lighthouse Parking provide fast, easy protection, especially during inclement weather. No one wants to hassle with a car cover in the pouring down rain.

    Ultimately, car canopies provide no-hassle protection not only to your vehicle but to you, your family and your luggage without the possible damage to your car’s finish from a poorly fitted car cover.

Port of Galveston Parking Hoops

Many people seem to choose parking with the Port of Galveston by default, not realizing that there are more convenient, customer service oriented options, such as Lighthouse Covered Cruise Parking, available to them.

Below is a summary of all the steps required when you choose to park with the Port as compared to the simple convenience of parking with Lighthouse Cruise Parking.

When you park at the Port of Galveston, first you must endure the traffic on Harborside Drive to reach the Port to drop off your luggage before you park, because the fee you pay to park at the Port does not include baggage handling.

So…

  1. Navigate traffic down Harborside to enter the Port of Galveston.
  2. Wait in line until a space opens up where you can…
    1.  Stop
    2. Find a Port Policeman and ask him which parking lot you need to park in. The Port has 3 different lots and where you park depends on which ship is sailing that day.
    3. Navigate more traffic to get to your parking lot.
    4. Get parked.
    5. Wait for a shuttle. Have a snack. Wait some more.
    6. Ride back to the Port.
    7. Now you can, FINALLY, begin your vacation.

OR

Park with the friendly, professional staff at Lighthouse Cruise Parking and…

  1. Drive to the Lighthouse entrance near Market St and 29th, luggage and all. Check in with our lot attendant who will direct you to a parking spot in our secured facility.
  2. Lighthouse Staff will load your luggage onto one of our shuttle buses.
  3. One of our friendly drivers will whisk you to the Port in climate controlled comfort. No need to endure aggravating traffic.
  4. Lighthouse Staff will unload your luggage at the Port.

Enjoy your Vacation!