Ahoy, Maties! I took my first cruise in the summer of 2015 and initially I was a bit hesitant to book it. Several of my friends and family members were frequent cruisers but I never liked the idea of being stuck on a ship for days at a time and then only having a limited amount of land time when the ship docks. I just felt like you could not get a sense of the country and its culture from the port or from the excursions. But due to an extremely stressful four months at work, I desperately needed a vacation so a-cruising I went!
When booking the cruise I was confused about the prices. I saw advertisements for 2-5 day cruises starting at $249 and 6-day cruises starting at $479. I started calculating the number of days we would be at sea and multiplied that by the advertised price to see how much I would end up spending. My friend who was booking the cruise with me laughed and said, “No, silly, those are the prices for the entire trip”. What?!?!?! Ok, now I know one of the reasons why so many people like to cruise… it is actually pretty affordable! Needless to say, I took out my credit card and booked my first Caribbean cruise adventure. My initiation at sea would take me to two of the countries on my bucket list, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.
The Cruise Ship
Driving up to the cruise liner was a bit intimidating. It was a massive beast that looked like it could house the population of a small town. A wave of fear ran through my body as we approached and the ship seemed to start getting bigger and bigger. Growing up in Manhattan you would not think that I would be nervous about the size of this floating city, but nervous I was.
When I first entered the ship, which for the rest of this blog will be referred to as Goliath, I had to get acclimated to the amount of people on board. Again, being from Manhattan you would think that this would be easy for me since I grew up on public transportation and was used to being smooshed like sardines on the NYC subway and bus systems. On the way to our rooms we heard music playing through one of the doors so we detoured to check it out. We were on one of the pool decks and the cruise liner was setting the tone for the vacation with a DJ – can you say PARRRTTTAAAYYYYYY!!!!! They were also serving lunch by the pool so we grabbed a table, some food and drinks, and people watched as we ate.
After we were finished stuffing our faces we went to our rooms to change into our swimsuits to hit the pool. The rooms were small but I didn’t care because all I needed it for was a place to rest my head, change clothes, and to use the bathroom. On each bed sat cute animal towel figures to greet us as we entered and they immediately put a smile on my face. 🙂
When trying to find my way back to the pool I felt like a mouse in a labyrinth. It took me a while to get used to Goliath and recall where my room was in relation to the part of the ship I was in (I figured it out on the last day). We had the luxury of being poolside as the ship set sail so we saw the Miami skyline fade away as we headed out to sea for the magnificent Caribbean.
Food and Dining
Another benefit to cruising is having access to a variety of food at different places throughout the ship. If you are dieting or watching what you eat, you will definitely need willpower on a cruise ship! There were pizza shops, ice cream machines, sushi bars and so much more. Staff would also walk the decks to see if you wanted anything to drink and you didn’t have to lift a finger except for to sign for it! A word of caution though, not all of the food is included in your initial payment so pay attention and do your research ahead of time.
We ate dinner in the main dining hall at the same time every night (this was determined during booking). The chef served marvelous dishes each evening that included foods like lobster, steak, Indian food and fried chicken. What was the best part about dinner you might ask? YOU CAN TRY ALL OF THE DISHES!! Again, this may not be a benefit if you are watching what you eat. But, if you are a foodie, this is the place for you. Personally, I looked forward to seeing what was on the menu each night. 🙂
All cruisers have the option of paying extra for off-ship adventures or to stay on the beach/port area while Goliath is docked for the day. I opted for the excursions so that I could see some of the country. You can purchase excursions ahead of time or on the ship. The outings can range from country tours, horseback riding, stingrays, swimming with dolphins, and so much more. As a matter of fact, there are so many to choose from I had trouble picking just one! The downside is that due to the limited time allotted at each port you only get to choose one excursion for each destination stop.
Pros – Friendly and helpful staff, yummy food, variety of activities, trip cost, and it gives you a snippet of different countries in a short vacation time.
Cons – You don’t really get a feel for the country, the people, or the culture in just a day. Sea legs are not a myth! I felt like I was still on the ship days after I returned and it seemed like the room was bobbing up and down. Your destinations are weather dependent. If there is a storm, you might not dock or they might take you to a different country.
Despite all of my fears, falling twice, and breaking one of my toes (stay tuned for that blog), I am going cruising again to get a taste of more countries. Up next, my cruise itinerary includes Mexico, Grand Cayman, Belize, and Honduras.
Blow me down and shiver me timbers!
- Motion Sickness – Bring something for motion sickness even if you do not think you need it (wrist bands, oral medication… just pick something).
- Carry-On Bags – Bring items that you might want right away on board with you. Your luggage may not be delivered to your room for a while. Swimwear, sunscreen and a change of clothes are good examples.
- Hand Sanitizer – If you are a germaphobe, I would have this with you at all times.
- Port Departures – Return to the ship much earlier than when you are told to return. You don’t want to be left behind crying as you watch Goliath set sail without you.
- Packing Beverages – Read the instructions regarding what types of beverages you can take with you and whether you have to pack it in your suitcase or can take it as a carry-on.
- Prices – Pay attention to what is included in your vacation package. Often times, excursions, certain foods and beverages, and spa treatments are extra.
- Tipping – I opted to pay for tips in advance so that I would not have to worry about it while on vacation.
WeMontage – This company proclaims to be “the world’s only website that lets you turn your photos into a large collage on removable wallpaper”! You just upload your pictures, make your collage and they will print and send it you. Put it up, take it down, move it around. I think this is a great way to capture and display your vacation photos or special moments in time. Martha Stewart even called it “A décor idea every home owner should know”. Check them out, it’s a good thing. Click here (WeMontage) to start your very own collage on removable wallpaper.