Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cruise Do's and Don'ts

I read A LOT of blogs before going on my first cruise. Here's my list of do's and don'ts after my own seven day stay on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

(Photo credit: Joanna Paige Designs)

  • Book an interior room. These are cheaper and completely dark for sleeping, which helps when you want to rest.
  • Complete activity waivers online before sailing. This saves time when you want to participate in on-the-ship activities, like rock-climbing.
  • Research and book shore excursions ahead of time. While the cruise ship will not guarantee these excursions, these excursions are often very much the same as the ones the cruise ship offers, at much-reduced prices.
  • Ask previous cruisers for advice. They are full of it!
  • Pack your own face wash, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. The ship provides only provides bar soap and a soap dispenser of 2-in-1 shampoo in the shower.
  • Pack bug repellent spray and calamine lotion. I got some very itchy bug bites on an excursion despite having covered myself in bug spray.
  • Bring along pre-packaged snacks. These are the only snacks you can take on and off the boat (more in the don'ts section). Protein bars are great, but make sure they are not coated in chocolate, as it melts in the hot Caribbean sun. (I learned this lesson the hard way!)
  • Tote some of your favorite nuts along for extra protein. The ship provides a wide array of snacks, but few have protein. Nuts help control the sugar rush from all the heavily sweetened goodies.
  • Bring workout clothes. The ship has a full gym with treadmills and other cardio machines that look out over the ocean. The view alone makes you want to work out!
  • Bring mostly maxi dresses. These are the most comfortable and most practical attire for all of the activities on ship. (I might have had to stop wearing one of my dresses for fear of stench, I wore it so much.)
  • Pack multiple cardigans. The ship is like a giant air-conditioned hotel and rooms are often cold.
  • Bring jeans or long pants. The ice skating rink requires them.
  • Remember your crossword or Sudoku books. There is no free wireless or cell service on the ship, so these help fill time while waiting for shows or events to start.
  • Attend on-ship lectures about shore excursions and port shopping. These do contain the cruise line's sales pitch, but prove highly informative for first time cruisers.
  • Bring a backpack or tote bag for use on excursion days. You'll need it to tote around your water, snacks, towel, etc.
  • Bring along a modest cover up for excursion days. It's easiest to wear your swimsuit off the boat, but you want to feel fully dressed when you leave.
  • Invest in a floppy sun hat, even if it's just for this trip. If you work in an office like I do, your skin will want some shade pretty quickly.
  • Take a refillable water bottle with a wide-mouth opening. Health regulations prevent filling water bottles directly from the water coolers, but you can fill the bottle using water glasses. Taking water on excursions is a must, and taking water off the ship is a free way to hydrate yourself.
  • Go to as many shows on the ship as possible! The shows are very high quality and included with the cost of the cruise.
  • Eat in the main dining room for at least a few breakfasts and lunches. The food is amazing and the service stellar, plus, you have more time to meet cool people!
  • Make Facebook friends with the awesome people you meet on the cruise. You will want to stay in touch!
  • Let the cruise line book your room for you. Our room was over a lounge and next to a service elevator, so we had almost constant noise pollution day and night.
  • Bring too many books. There are plenty of activities to keep busy on the ship. I had to set aside time to work at getting through one of the four books I brought along.
  • Stuff your suitcase with games. Again, the ship has plenty of its own activities.
  • Bring too many casual clothes. The only days you really need casual clothes are port days.
  • Pack extra hangers. The cruise ship closet has plenty!
  • Take produce off the ship. It is illegal to do so! I had grandiose ideas of eating "safely washed" fruit on the beach, but those failed.
  • Book the 5:30 pm dinner. It's hard to get ready for dinner after port days, and the later shows are more crowded. You can eat all day at your choice of several eateries, so you probably won't be hungry at 5:30 pm anyway. The 8:00 pm time allows for earlier shows and more time to work up an appetite for the three course dinners.
  • Book My Time Dining. You'll miss out on the great friendships you will make with your table mates at a reserved dining time.
  • Forget to eat breakfast on the ship before you disembark. It is free and a good time to have one last rendezvous with your cruise friends! 

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