This was both our first time on a cruise, and now that we have been, we wonder why we waited so long. This trip was sponsored by Beacon Financial, a company that Kyle partners with. We were with a group of about 50, and it was nice to be a part of a group, yet at the same time have a lot of time for just the two of us. We owe a big thank you to the awesome Beacon team for making this such a fun trip.
Right before leaving, my friend Amy of Living Locurto shared her helpful tips for a first time cruiser with me. (thanks Amy!) Lots of great tips and more in the comments.
Now that I have experienced it for myself, I thought I would add my two cents to a few of Amy’s tips and share a few of my own.
Here are my top 10 tips for a first time cruiser:
1. Explore the ship – plan your nights and learn where the restaurants are. It still amazes me how huge cruise ships are. It’s crazy! I think it’s a great idea to take a tour of the ship or go out exploring on your own, to learn where everything is. This will help you plan out your days better.
Notice things like the color of the stairs or other details so that you can remember where you are. Our ship had three different flights of stairs: front, middle and back, but they were also: blue, red and green which helped me know where I was on the ship, since there were no windows near the stairs.
2. Come prepared with any (or all, if you are me) sea sickness medication. Right before leaving, I bought everything available, because I have been “green” on a boat before, and it was awful. I was worried about sea sickness being an issue, but luckily it wasn’t.
The problem with the medications for sea sickness, is that they make you drowsy, which isn’t a great alternative. I ended up wearing the sea bands for the first two days and they didn’t do much for me. Seabands are kind of like a placebo. I think your body just gets used to the movement on it’s own, over time.
3. Be prepared to pay a cover charge, (if you’d like). On a cruise, all the food is inclusive, unless you’d like to eat at a nicer restaurant. We were on a Norwegian cruise ship, and there were a few restaurants with a cover charge of $25. Once in to these restaurants, you could order anything off the menu. On a special night, this is a fun option to mix up your dining from the same thing every night. One night we ate at a Teppanyaki restaurant, and it was a lot of fun…all about the food plus the entertainment.
4. Walk the top deck everyday. Cruise ships are equipped with all the latest and greatest workout machines and a great workout facility, but I will always pick exercise outside over any treadmill. It’s not everyday that you can walk a mile outside in the middle of the ocean. Pretty cool!
That was one of my favorite things we did on our days at sea.
5. Take the stairs! For the amount of food consumed the week at sea, taking the stairs was a good effort to combat the calories. We made a pact that we would not once ride the elevators.
Nerdy…I know, but it made it fun.
6. Bring your own camera – camera(s). There are lots of opportunity to have your photo taken by the cruise ship, but you know…they are over priced and awful! Super cheesy backdrops and don’t they know about “Options”?! You have to take a few (okay…maybe 10 ) pictures to get one good one.
When they take your photo, it’s just one, and it usually doesn’t come out that great. When you bring your own camera, you are in control.
Sadly, we were unable to be kings of the world (“I’m king of the world!”), since the front tip of the ship was only open to the crew. (whomp – whomp)
7. Bring your own soda. It was $50 for a soda card on our cruise, and for two people who love our diet pepsi as much as we do, we had to think long and hard if we would spend the extra money to have soda. We ended up not doing it, because we figured out that even if we had 3 cans a day and paid for them individually, we still wouldn’t have spent up to 50 bucks.
A week without soda turned out to be a good thing for us, we have really limited our intake since.
8. Plan your excursions! You have only one day, sometimes only hours at each port, and if you don’t have a specific plan, it’s kind of a risk. Our first stop was the swim with dolphins in cabo, but our second day in Mazatlan, we had no agenda. We ended up just staying on the ship that day, since we figured we just wanted to lay in the warm sun. It seemed a better option to be on the ship with drinks and food available at the ready, than a beach where we’d have to pay a bunch more for things like that.
It turned out to be a good thing, since Mazatlan was not a safe place to be that day.
9. Bring things to keep you busy on a windy or rainy day. Our days at sea traveling to and from L.A. were cold and windy. Since it’s a small fortune to run your phone while out at sea, you will most likely want to put your phone into airplane mode. Bring books, games and or electronic games. Anything you’d like to do besides the napkin folding hour that was offered on Deck 12.
We saw families and old couples gathered at tables playing board games, and it looked like fun on those windy days at sea.
10. Get a balcony, if possible. If you can, I would highly recommend getting a room with a balcony. Not only did it help combat any feelings of sea sickness, but it turned out to be my favorite spot to take photos.
That’s it. If you have anything you’d like to add, I’d love to hear it!