Today I’m sharing the top ten things I took away from our first cruise. I’m a firm believer in planning. Researching. Knowing what I’m getting myself into. Being aware of what options are waiting for me when I get there. But, on the other hand, I also know that in all that planning you’ve got to be realistic & know that no amount of planning will paint an exact picture of what will actually happen. I never go into the planning process with that end in mind. It’s about being prepared. In order to have the best experience possible. Yes, there’s a balance folks! Now that we have experienced our first cruise some of things that made me nervous or caused me fear were not a big issue like I thought they’d be.
First things first. What line to choose? Of course, much of my research was finding the right line. In this, I believe it was totally worth the time as always 🙂 We chose Royal Caribbean because it sounded like a really good fit for us & I’m so glad we did! It was the greatest experience. So much so that we’ve said we’re ready to plan the next one! I would even go on the same ship…Freedom of the Seas. (No one has paid me to say this either).
So again, repeating myself here…Planning for your first cruise is pretty important since there are so many unknowns. Even if you’re a just-wing-it kind of person…there are things you can’t take the chance with. Like having a passport. We’d heard that it was optional, but it’s NOT. That should be first on your list! This is one of the many things we are glad we knew beforehand.
- Passport. Unfortunately, we didn’t get ours stamped at the ports we went to, but we did need it! Don’t leave the ship at any port without it!
- Stay unplugged! This was my favorite thing about the cruise…not being a slave to our phones!
- Book excursions. I believe you should do this at every port if you plan on spending anytime at each of them. Or do more research so you will know where to go & how long it will take. I also recommend booking excursions through the cruise line because that ensures that you won’t be left behind at any ports if your excursion runs late. It was a little disorienting for us when we got off the ship at the ports not knowing where to go. We did book the Wave Runner Excursion on Coco Cay…I highly recommend this one…so much fun!
- Eat in the Main Dining Room. Although we didn’t eat in there every night, I do recommend taking advantage of being spoiled. It is an event. Approximately 2 hours, but so worth it. Also, along with this we chose My Time Dining which gives you more flexibility to reserve your dinners each night according to the activities you are doing.
- Be prepared for motion sickness. I’m very susceptible to this & it was my biggest fear going in. I did feel pretty queasy the first evening, but drank a lot of ginger ale & ate a few green apples along the way. It didn’t ruin any part of our week. But, to those people who tell you that you won’t feel the ship at all…they have lied to you! I’m here to tell you the truth…you will feel it. It’s very subtle. And it’s definitely not worth canceling any plans over!
- Don’t pack unneeded items. I read a lot of advise on what you should take with you. DON’T take a power cord…you don’t need it. And DON’T take an over the door organizer…again, you don’t need it. There’s so much storage in your room to stay well organized & tidy. DO pack a highlighter though. We enjoyed getting back to our room every night & finding it clean again (for the second time each day) with a new towel animal & the newest cruise compass for the next day’s activities. We went through & highlighted what we’d like to see or do. Then you can call down in the morning & make your reservations for that evening’s dinner.
- Check your balance. I was impressed that we had access to check our account as often as we wanted to on our stateroom TV. Since it’s required for just about everything, it’s easy to just hand a crew member your sea pass card without thinking…is it going to cost you? We had no issues concerning this because we were mindful of what had a charge & what didn’t.
- Balcony. We sprung for one & are so glad we did! I can’t imagine ever cruising again without one. We chose one that had a bump out & we could see more of the front of the ship.
- Drink package. We did buy the Royal Replenish package. It saved us money. We drink a lot of bottled water, coke & the ginger ale that made a big difference for me with motion queasies. I was also able to enjoy plenty of Starbucks throughout the day. We each had at least one drink & a bottled water at all times.
- See the shows. Especially the ice show. They’re included & very much worth the time.
Most importantly, leave room to be spontaneous. My husband will love that I included this. Yes, I do like a good plan. But, I also love adventures & spontenaity. There are plenty of opportunities on a cruise to be spontaneous. Karaoke, dance classes, trivia & scavenger hunts just to name a few. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down & have fun…it’s your vacation!
Bonus Tip: Journal…everyday!!! Many of our family & friends wanted to hear all about our cruise so the journal helped with this, but mostly it will serve as a great souvenir & aid in any scrapbooking that you might do. I just bought a little notebook from the dollar tree (you can see it pictured above with the passports) it was the perfect size.