The girls (Mom, Daughter and I) cruised 4-11 Jun 2016 to Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel, Mexico. This was our first cruise. Lessons learned:
1. Don’t start your cruise on your travel day. We discovered that even with insurance, if your flight is delayed or anything happens that makes you miss your ship, the best the insurance can do is fly you to the next port. This will shorten your cruise, and in our case by 2 days. I don’t know what other compensations are available, but the cruise ship waits for no one! So this time we flew a day early, spent the night in a hotel that provided travel to the port as well as pick you up when you return. You have a choice if going directly to the airport or do more excursions before boarding your plane.
2. Remember to pack sundries because they cost lots of money while on the cruise. Examples of things to bring are:
- Sea bands or motion sickness meds
- Over the counter meds for tummy issues, colds, pain, etc
- Your favorite snacks unless you know you can get them on the cruise. Examples includes nuts, chips or your favorite treat.
- Sunscreen, insect repellant
3. Change of clothes. Check your website. There is generally a couple of formal dinner nights dependent on the length of your cruise. Also, you probably need two changes of clothes dependent on your daily activities. Lay out your schedule and determine what you will wear when. It is also recommended to bring at least two bathing suits so one can dry while you wear the other. Make sure you have the shoes you need to include beach shoes.
4. How many suitcases do you need? On our first two cruises, we did what the cruise line recommended. We had one large suitcase with all of our clothes, and one smaller carry on size suitcase with toiletries, bathing suit, and a change of clothes just in case our luggage took a long time to get to our room. Well, going this route we ended up checking more luggage at the airport, and dragging our luggage to the stateroom on the cruise ship. If you can do without luggage for about 4 hours, I highly recommend only bringing one suitcase and one carry on (I used my back pack) for all three of us. Your carry on can also be used on the beach or excursion days to carry your essentials. I didn’t check the back pack at the airport, and it didn’t take long to get our luggage to the stateroom. So much easier! This approach allows you to save time and money!
5. Shore excursions. It’s always fun to take advantage of the many fun things to do when you dock; however, I find the excursions to be expensive and of poor quality.
6. Reservations. Anything that can be reserved in advance of your cruise should be done as early as possible, to include dinner, activities, shows, excursions, wifi, drink packages, etc. prior to your cruise. In fact, Royal Caribbean offered a 30% discount for wifi packages if purchased in advance. Quite a deal!
7. Drink Packages. This is an option offered by cruiselines. On this cruise, we purchased 12 bottles of water. I thought it was expensive but decided to get it anyway because it would be inconvenient to bring it on the ship. Your best and most cost effective approach is to bring your own water, soda or other drinks (check with your cruiseline for restrictions). The water we purchased was in our room when we arrived; however, each bottle of water was 1 liter (1.06 quarts). Way too much water for us to drink during our 8 day cruise! We decided not to get a soda or alcholol package because we purchased it in the past and we were not able to “drink” our money’s worth. One thing you must keep in mind – you will be penalized for buying drinks that are not a part of a drink package. Soda was $4 a can and mixed drinks were $11 each (18% gratuity included).
8. Fitness. I highly recommend you make time for fitness. I generally exercise in the morning prior to breakfast. I find that exercising helps to releive stress and relax me which helps to balance my day. Hopefully, the exercise will help to offset some of the extra food you may be eating. One fun way to exercise is to dance and there are plenty of opportunities to do so.
The Oasis of the Seas always does something to make you feel special. Following is a pic of the cake that was served with lunch. Homemade vanilla cake with buttercream icing!