My husband and I went on our first cruise on January of this year. On a whim, we decided to look for a cruise on the days that we had originally planned to go to Walt Disney World. Lo and behold, we found one on the exact dates—a four-night cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas from Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach to the Bahamas. Priceline.com showed that there was a balcony room and a “junior suite” for only a few dollars difference so I booked the “junior suite.”
There were so many things I didn’t know about “cruising” so this is my list for all you “first time cruisers” (the list is not in any particular order):
- Look on your paperwork and see when you can board—ours was 10:30 am, but I didn’t realize that—I could have been lounging by the pool before the ship got too crowded.
- Try to book a suite (even a “junior suite”)—you get priority boarding. We were pleasantly surprised when we got through security and checked in because people who book a suite (even a junior suite) go through a different line! The other line was extremely long and the people standing there looked really miserable. Plus, the suites are roomier and feel more like a hotel room.
- Pay for gratuities ahead of time—it’s less of a hassle to do that.
- Book a cruise longer than 4 nights—we felt like we had to do as much as we could since we were there for only a few nights and we didn’t really get to relax.
- Bring a white outfit and something formal or semi-formal to wear. I guess that on short trips they have one “formal night” but on longer cruises, there is at least two “formal nights”—people dress up; there was one guy who wore his formal military attire complete with gloves and a chest full of medals. There is also a “white night.”
- Make reservations for dinner, even if it’s at the “complimentary place.” We really didn’t have to wait long for a table, but we didn’t get the table we wanted because it was already reserved.
- Have breakfast on your deck. We realized afterwards that room service didn’t cost extra but we didn’t know that at the time so we missed out on watching the ocean while we ate.
- If you are watching your food intake then don’t eat at the buffet place. We didn’t know that we could go to the complementary restaurant/full-service place to eat breakfast and lunch—we thought it was only for dinner. Needless to say, we gained 5 pounds. The complementary place has good portions, but you won’t overeat.
- If you drink a lot of water during the day, then order the “water/beverage package.” The bottles of water came in handy when we were exploring Coco Kay and Nassau.
- Take the stairs. If you are physically able to climb stairs then do it. We wasted a lot of time waiting on elevators the first couple of days; plus, it’s a great way to burn some calories.
- Unless you have a lot of money, don’t get any spa treatments. Even with the $300 “on-board credit” that we got on our booking, we still had to pay a lot of money at the end of our cruise (they charge a lot of gratuity); plus they try to sell you stuff you really don’t need.
- Have some “down time”— don’t try to do everything. We felt like we had to cram as many activities as we could since we didn’t have a lot of time on the ship. Instead of running yourself ragged, plan for another cruise and do the things you didn’t get to do on the next ship.
My husband actually caught a very bad cold on our first cruise so we couldn’t go dancing or watch the comedy shows like I wanted, so we booked another, longer cruise, for my birthday. “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:15, NLT).
Here are some pictures from our first cruise: