It took my friends 5 years to convince me to go on a Cruise. Since 2008 (and as of 5/2017) I've done 15. Why did it take so long? What was I so hesitant? Probably for the same reasons as you! In this blog I'll talk about my fears, why I'm now a cruise addict and the dos and don'ts!
NO WAY! I saw I'm not getting trapped! Now we've all heard the horror stories of ships breaking down for days, people getting sick and so on. I've done 15 cruises with ZERO issues! I have a terrible fear of giant waves. I think the movie, "The Perfect Storm" and "The Poseidon Adventure" did me in. I even get anxious when I see surfers in Hawaii riding the tidal waves. So after much convincing and a group of fun friends I went on a Carnival Cruise. I LOVED IT! The music, the parties, the nonstop entertainment, the breeze, the movies on the lido deck at night, the shows, the food.... But wait where's the Rocking? I didn't feel it at all. I even went to the doctor and got a motion sickness patch "just in case". I didn't need it. Here's why you should consider taking a cruise and why you should put your fears to rest!
1. It's an inexpensive way to travel! On the average cruises are less than $100 per day and that includes your room, taxes, food, some beverages and most entertainment! You can get cheap last minute deals and many times if you book well in advance you'll get a great rate! I usually spend far less on a cruise than I do on any other vacation. You can literally go on the ship and not spend a dime or spend a lot! The only way you would spend a lot of money is if you went to the casino, specialty restaurants and shows that aren't included, the art auction, purchased spa services like a massage or got your hair done.... Also, if you dont have the drink package and you're a heavy drinker your bar tab may add up quick! We'll talk about that a little later.
2. Travel to places you never thought you would want to visit! Why would I ever want to go to Roatan or Barbados or Belize.... I've been to most of the islands in the Caribbean now. Waking up in a different part of the world is amazing and you get a taste of some islands you may even want to come back to! I can tell you St Maarten, St. Lucia, Curacao and Cozumel are some of my favorite islands in the Caribbean! The beaches, spectacular view, weather, food...
3. Be Treated Like Royalty! The staff on cruise ships are top notch! From your room steward to the servers at the bars and dining rooms will treat you like gold. Most will remember your name! Also, keep in mind the staff works seven days a week night and day for 6-8 months. On occasion someone may be tired and you may not get a smile but it's extremely rare. Just remember how hard the staff works and they hours they put in. I certainly wouldn't be able to do it.
4. Relax Or Join The Fun! When you travel to different resorts or on your own, entertaining yourself can be quite costly! Except for specialty shows and games of chance most of the entertainment on Cruises is included! The ships usually have an itinerary so you know what's happening throughout the day. You can never be bored on a cruise! There's always Bands, DJs, Trivia, Bingo, Shows, Parties, Comedians and so on! Most of the ships have a piano bar, comedy club, night club, spa, gym, miniature golf, basketball, running / walking track, several theaters (small and large), shops, there's usually a water park with slides and pools.... One of my favorite things to do on Carnival is to sit out on the lido deck and watch the movies on the Seaside Theater at night! During the day I'm out on the lido deck people watching, in the hot tub or pool or at the bar! There's nothing like a frozen beach, Caribbean music and some pretty people to look at! Don't get me wrong you'll most definitely see the cast of The Hills Have Eyes as well!
5. The FOOD! From room service to breakfast. lunch and dinner buffets to sit down dinners and snacks you can never go hungry on a cruise! You'll most likely gain about 5-10 pounds! Don't worry you can hit the spa after and work it off! You're on vacation though and that weight will come off a few days after you come home! That's also about the time the vacation blues set in and you start to search for another one. The worst part for me is usually when I wake up the next morning and realize there's no buffet. The food on most ships is great and you'll have a huge variety!
6. ACTIVITIES FOR THE KIDS - You'll be able to rest knowing that the staff on the ships has a full staff and activities to entertain your baby right up until your teens! There's a daycare, kids zones, game rooms, a teens club and so on! You can relax and let someone else handle the kids!
LET'S TALK BOUT YOUR FEARS....
1. BIG WAVES!!!! AHHHH! For the most part the ocean is very calm. Sometimes you hit a storm but we'll talk about that coming up. If you haven't cruised don't worry! The ships are so big it's like you're in a small city. It's not like being on a small boat or small ship where you will feel the rocking and go up and down. If you stare at the railing of a cruise ship you'll see and sometimes be amazed at how much the ship is slowly rocking . The amazing part is you won't know it! I never feel the rocking. Many ships let you go out on the lower decks which are closer to the waves. The ships also have some amazing stabilizers on them.
2. PEOPLE GET SICK! FOOD POISONING! I've been on 15 cruises and haven't gotten sick once. If you feel nauseous there are motion sickness patches you can wear and pills to help. The only time I ever feel any motion sickness and it's rare is at dinner on the back of the ship. It's never been bad but more of a short dizzy feeling. Again, it's very rare and goes away quick.
3. WHAT IF THERE'S A STORM OR A HURRICANE? "The ocean is a big place!" Now, I usually book my vacations in the winter months to escape from the cold. Hurricane Season is June through November. Now, I've taken cruises in June, September, October and November and have never once had an issues. One time there was a hurricane scheduled for the Caribbean during our cruises. Luckily it went around us but when I called to see if the cruise would be cancelled or what would happen I was told "the ocean is a big place" we'll either go around it or reroute and take you to different islands. The water was a little choppy one day due to the storm but it really wasn't bad!
4. "FOR GOD SAKE THERE ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN DOWN HERE". WHAT IF THE SHIP SINKS? Yes, I have had people ask me this! The day you arrive there will be what's called a muster drill. You'll be told exactly where to go if there is an emergency and you do have to get off of the ship! These are not the days of the Titanic. There are plenty of life boats which by the way are all covered and waterproof. So they could flip upside down and still not sink. In the unlikely event of an emergency there are plenty of ships! I always chuckle when they do the muster drill. They want everyone to walk to where you're supposed to go, calm and single file. That will not be me! Just saying....
5. KIDS - Most of the time the kids are entertained by the staff and kids only selected areas. Just like the kids only areas there are also Adult Only areas! So, if you're like me and don't want to be surrounded by a bunch of screaming children head on over to one of the adult only areas. Usually they have their own pool and or hot tub, sitting area, deck.....
CRUISE TIPS ON WHAT TO DO, NOT TO DO, WHAT TO PACK...
1. LIQUOR / DRINK PACKAGE. If you like to drink and don't want to worry about what you're going to spend then get the drink package. Carnival limits you to 15 alcoholic beverages a day. Now that may sound like a lot but to some of us "professional" drinkers it's not. For years I had to smuggle my own liquor onto the ship. It was exhausting! You have to roll it into your clothes, buy the plastic flasks and so on! Drinks on a ship can range from $5.75 - $12 on the average. Norwegians Liquor Package is unlimited. So they don't cut you off at 15 like Carnival. Not sure what Royal Caribbean offers.
Most times Norwegian also include the option for the drink package included for "free" when you book. Carnival charges by the day. I also did Costa which you had to add on. Costas was unlimited as well.
DONT GET DRUNK AND OBNOXIOUS! If security has to "deal with you" then you may get cut off even if you paid. They will flag your card which will prevent you from buying liquor. It could be for the night, a couple of days or the entire cruise. One friend had her privileges revoked for 3 days. It was bad, don't ask!
2. KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THE SHIP! Are there formal nights at dinner? Some cruises have special dress codes. Are there parties you want to dress for; glow party, 80s, disco, white party, toga, latin.... don't feel left out!
3. THE ESSENTIALS; the ship has shampoo and body wash. The ship also has a store on board if you forget your toothbrush, deodorant, cologne.... They also give you beach and bath towels. You can bring the beach towels on the island with you. Just don't forget to bring it back. They may charge you!
4. EUROPEAN CRUISE? Have a plug adapter! You can get them cheap at Walmart, Target....
WHAT TYPE OF ROOM SHOULD I GET?
1. Rooms; Inside, Ocean View, Balcony, Suite... Some ships offer havens, port holes, spa rooms... but the basic 4 are inside, ocean, balcony, suite. I can tell you this, if you're a first time cruiser go with an inside cabin. The second you upgrade you don't want to go back.
INSIDE ROOM - are the least expensive there are. There aren't any windows so you don't know if it's night or day out. Your room will typically come with two twins pushed together to make a queen size bed or separated. If you arrive and the bed(s) are not how you want don't worry your Cabin Stewart will separate or connect them. The room also has a bathroom and closets for your clothes as well as a small desk / phone. All of the other rooms include these as well.
Norwegian offers studio cabins for single travelers. I thought I was going to hate it but ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! The walls change color! There's a window with a blind in it that you can't access but gives you a little light from the hall. The shower and sink area are in the room with the bed and then your toilet is in what I consider a closet. I thought I was going to hate it but again loved, loved, loved it! I will definitely book another one! Plus, it's nice having your own space!
OCEAN VIEW - is a little larger with a large window and view of the ocean. Most of these rooms typically also come with a couch that can be used as a third bed.
BALCONY - You guessed it, you get a balcony. It has 2 chairs and a small table. There's a large window like in the ocean view room and also a door with leads to the Balcony. The Balconies are usually small.
SUITE - Suites are usually the same size as a balcony room or larger with a nicer, larger bathroom. Sometimes you even get a tub!
Honestly you're going to be spending very little time in your room. You'll sleep, shower and change and sometimes come back to take a quick snooze. MANY people nap on a lounge on the lido deck or in one of the amazing couches or hammocks you can find many times in the serenity decks.
So, if you just want to escape but need to do it cheap, get an inside cabin. Balconies are nice though in the morning when you're just waking up and want to see what it's like outside or at night when you're having that last drink and want to see the stars. I typically get a balcony if the price is right!
I'll get more into detail in another blog but if you have always wanted to cruise but are afraid, DON'T BE! You'll have the most amazing time! Amazing Food, Drinks, Entertainment, Views and LOTS OF GREAT MEMORIES! Book a Cruise with Shawn today!!!