…even though we have always said we’d never take a cruise, it’s just not our traveling style….
Never say never….
So when the sister trip dates started overlapping into our joint anniversary dates and a favorite author was putting on a cruise ship seminar…. you do things you never had intentions of ever doing. Some of us anyway…
Then our good friend hopped on board because you can never have too many laughs on a vacation. Besides, he’s been following the travel dates, of this author, looking for just the right seminar to hit, for quite some time. And this was it.
I thought I’d share a few things I wish I had known, before we sailed, instead of learning after the fact. I hope it might help another newbie to make easier/better choices.
10. It’s important to choose the right ship for your lifestyle. Are pools important? Are you looking for the party crowd? What about gambling? Glitz and glamour? Each ship has its own personality. The median age range differs from cruise line to cruise ship varies, too. Things to think about…
For us it was decided. We chose a speaker we were all very excited to hear from and the ship came with him. Holland America ms Nieuw Amsterdam. About 2000 people. Not too big, not too small. And great food. They all say that, don’t they?? This one really was. We all agreed on that.
More on the seminar, as my thoughts come more clearly into focus…
9. There is no need to stay in a port town any more than necessary. The ship loads late the first day and kicks you off at the crack of dawn upon arrival back in port. The cruise line will also deliver your luggage directly to the airport, for a fee.
8. And while you are killing time in Fort Lauderdale know that alligator alley tours are vastly over rated. The air boat ride was less than 20 minutes. The only alligator we saw was the one the van driver pointed out along side the road…. Peter and Gary had gone on a tour, many years ago, and wanted me to see the alligators, too. Well theirs was a private tour, the guide knew all the gators by name, had to kick them off the boat, back in to the water, and they had a really great experience… Now if you can find one of those type tours go for it. Otherwise, just keep you eyes peeled and everyone will still have their 3 hours and 50 bucks. Though you might struggle to find anywhere to spend it. The cruise ship hotels, in Ft. Lauderdale, are near nothing, except the highway… Okay, maybe not all of them, but from the offerings on travelocity.com and hotels.com most of them are just beds to sleep in. Nothing more. Just so you know…
7. Book cruise ship dinner reservations, in the alternative restaurants, for every meal, ahead of time. Especially if you are celebrating a special occasions and on formal nights. For us, formal nights fell on our second to last night on the ship and the first full day at sea, which happened to be our 25th anniversary. Peter did great on scheduling our meals and our days. It was a lot to keep up with, but being my front man is one of his strong points.
They treated us right with a special surprise anniversary dessert!
There are professional photographers everywhere you look. Always an opportunity to spend more money on board the ship.
As for dining, you may choose to eat at your assigned table, in the general dining room, on some nights, but you will have a choice if you plan ahead and reserve. Not so if you wait until you are on board. And we did love our Manhattan dining room waiters, Dodie and Edie, they were one step ahead of us, most of the time. Eating gluten-free aboard this ship was never an issue. When you say gluten-free they react as you said celiac.
6. No one is going to set your daily activity schedule but you. Do it the night before or you may miss out on some fun things you forgot you had wanted to do. We would have gotten in even more fitness as well as wellness seminars if we had been with it from day 1. It was enough just to keep up with our speaker and dining schedules, we didn’t understand all the options before we took off. Same thing goes for the show schedules. Magic thinking a comedian for the evening, when we needed it, worked for us, might not for you…. Laughing is good for what ails you! I wish I could remember his name….
5. Shore excursions must be booked in advance or you may not be doing what you had hoped to do. Just keep in mind these day trips, taken from a cruise ship, are not the same as booking a trip from a hotel concierge. Use Google to research the excursion you are interested in, to see if it is even worth it before you plunk down too much money for what feels like a cattle herding experience. Then take it with a grain of salt. Seriously.
Snorkeling in one of the top 5 snorkeling spots in the world was not exactly what we thought it would be. I guess stats can be written by anyone? I had never power snorkeled before. It was a lot less tiring than swimming, kicking and the waves carrying you further and further from the boat. It really isn’t much of a cardio workout when you snorkel with a motor in your hands. Just remind me to bring my own goggles and flippers next time…
4. Staying aboard the ship when everyone else leaves gives you your pick of lounge chairs. Two if you like. Go for it.
Yes, we had a little sprinkling rain, the day we stopped at Half Moon Cay. But we also had a good sister date, under the umbrellas, ready to run for our choice of chairs, as soon as the sun popped out!
Thank goodness the word Margarita is understood in all languages. *Especially* on National Margarita Day which we celebrated in style!
3. If you can’t afford an outside cabin, with a balcony, I would suggest you wait until you can, or take out a second mortgage, it was so worth the upgrade. Having the ability to open the balcony door made all the difference in not feeling like we were trapped on a boat. It also helped with controlling the room temperature. Brrr our rooms were cold. Even us thinned blooded Michiganders thought so. We had 3 adjoining rooms, with the balcony dividers opened, ready for a party in the making.
It also gave us a sneak peek of our next stop, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1. For me, I’m just sharing *my* knowledge. Our next trip will be a road trip.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got except for a few more pictures. Enjoy!