Going on a cruise has been one of those things on our wish list of things to do. My sister and her family are veteran cruisers. As newbies, here’s what we learned from our first cruise.
Would you like to Go on a Cruise….
The question…and the answer, of course, yes! So, a year before we went – we planned our cruise! My daughter and her husband actually spurred us on to travel with them – not all of the family could go and I was delighted when Dearest said, why not!
Our First Cruise
So Many Options
There are so many options in cruise lines, in destinations and in length of the cruise…and there’s more! We decided to go on a 7-Day Western Caribbean cruise. This gave us four destination points and two days at sea. It was so worth it and so very wonderful!
Once we booked ahead of time the cruise, we looked at the excursion options for each port of call. For three out of four, we went with the excursions that were supported by the cruise line. This is good in so many ways:
- You’re given priority when disembarking the ship
- Your excursion is covered by the cruise line
- They’re aware of the length of and of the return of their excursions
- They select excursions to maximize your fun and experience
What I Loved and What I’d Change
I LOVED the excursions we took! What great adventures we had! At one port we explored the local ruins and learned a lot about the people, their history and the beauty of the location. At another port of call we got very adventurous! This one had three activities: we zip-lined through the jungle, we rode buggies through a path filled with deep mud puddles (I think this was a favorite of Dearest – I’m not sure I’ll get all the mud off that outfit!); we then went tubing on a river that went through a long cave! This was relaxing and exciting at the same time! At the end of the excursion we also had a wonderful lunch made by the locals! At two of the other locations we did underwater excursions. One we walked underwater with diver’s type helmets on and the other we rode scooters that were fitted with diver’s helmets. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and seeing the beautiful coral, fish and having fun – under water!
One thing I would change would be to allow for more rest time between these excursions. If you’re not careful, you can truly go, go, go on these cruises! They fill the day with activities that you can participate in! These excursions lasted between 3 to 5 hours – including driving time from the ship to the location. We were exhausted! The last ‘sea day’ of the cruise we slept in! Sometimes the ship would come to the port early in the morning and you’d need to get going to make sure you got on your excursion and to make sure you returned before the ship left.
One of the fun things – sort of- was to watch along the ship’s railings at the pier to see the stragglers coming as the ship’s horn blew and the crew were preparing to leave port! Some folks cut it real close!
It really pays to plan ahead. That is to plan your excursions and to find out what activities while on the ship everyone would like to do. There’s so many options from comedy shows, to onboard games, to contests, and more…everyone has different tastes of what they’d like to do. I believe that we tried almost everything – that would be fun and ‘family friendly’. The cruise ships include so many options for everyone – for those with children, those without, those who are young, and those who are a bit older. There are fun, noisy and exciting activities and there are those that are more relaxing – such a Spa Experiences. Plan ahead what you’d like to do – especially the excursions and find out all you can as to what you can expect.
For instance – our very active excursion – we had to know ahead of time that we’d get very muddy and wet. So, we planned our outfits as such. We wore our swim suits underneath light shirts and shorts with water shoes. Also, we brought a change of clothing. We also checked to see whether food or water were to be provided….these little things make a big difference when you’re in a location far from the conveniences you’re used to at home!
There are Beautiful Locations with Wonderful People Worldwide
At each port of call I was struck by the beauty of the location. The plants, trees and flowers were so gorgeous! To see coconut trees full of coconuts, to see pineapple fields, to see tropical flowers in their natural state – huge and gorgeous! The people we met were wonderful and welcoming too! Some of the places you visit you’ll see extreme poverty and then relative wealth. But, in all of the places we discovered the people were proud of their homes and heritages – and loved sharing with others.
The Cruise Experience
One of the first impressions we experienced was the sheer volume of people traveling with us! This ship was HUGE! With about 12 levels where there were several cabins plus the over 1,000 in staff working on the ship – it was truly a floating city. BUT, we never felt over crowded – except when we first arrived and got in line. There will be lines going off and on. BUT, they are so well organized that they make your experience as smooth as possible.
The whole staff on the ship welcomed us and made us feel at home. When we dined we were at the same table each night and became acquainted with the wait staff. They were so wonderful! We had fun each night in that at a point in the dining the staff would break and would do a coordinated dance – sometimes we joined in!
These folks work hard – the whole time! They all were so kind to us – I was so impressed by their work ethics…This added tremendously to our experience!
The Extra Fun
When we had opportunity – we tried things we’d never done before…we also tried foods we’d never eaten before. There was so much food! Most of the food was part of the cruise, there were restaurants – if you wished. There were ice cream, dessert bars, pizza stations, burger stations, buffet type stations and the dining restaurants – which we enjoyed a lot.
Leaving The World Behind
You can, if you wish, purchase WiFi while on the ship – but, for us it was a wonderful opportunity to ‘unplug’. This I highly recommend, if you can! We were able to thoroughly enjoy one another and to enjoy trying most every thing and resting – when we could! We also had our own ‘down time’ where we played card games – just to simply enjoy one another’s company!
I’ll share more soon as far as more tips, experiences and what to know when you return home! If you’ve ever considered a cruise, give it a try – it is so well worth it! Have you ever cruised before? If so, what did you like best? If you’ve never been on a cruise before – what questions do you have about cruises?