5 Tips For Your First Cruise
Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on cruises. In fact, I've only been on two! And if I'm being completely honest, they both went on the same route. But here are some things that I wish someone had told me before I went on a cruise as an adult(:
Do Your Research
Know your cruise inside and out. Know exactly what's included and what's not. There are obvious things like alcohol and photos, but pay attention to the little things that can really put you over your budget. Things like mandatory gratuity that's charged to your card at the end of your cruise, soda charges, or accidentally bringing your pool towel back to your room instead of returning it at the kiosk. (That'll set you back thirty five dollars PER TOWEL).
I totally thought I had this one under control, I had been on a cruise before and had little to no problems with sea sickness. Boy was I wrong... It might have been because I was recovering from the flu, but the ocean during the winter is no joke. It felt like the ship would sway all the way to the left, and then all the way to the right, I was half afraid it'd tip over! I could barely eat, and I had to sleep early most nights to keep my nausea at bay. Whether you're prone to motion sickness or not BE PREPARED. Not having a motion sickness band, or really strong dramamine on hand can really ruin your vacation.
Cruise During Off Season
Although the ocean was rocky, I think cruising in January was a great decision. We had amazing weather in both Catalina and Mexico, and it was only chilly on the nights we spent on the ship. I remember, from when I was younger, how crowded it can get during the summer. No available sun chairs, jacuzzi packed to the brim with adults and additional kids sitting on their shoulders or the edge of the pool. There was obviously still people on board, but far less then usual. No lines at the buffet, we got a hot tub to ourselves almost every night, and plenty of space to lounge around!
On Board Food
I can't really speak for other cruises, but with Carnival you should really lower your expectations on buffet food. It's all around pretty bland and mushy, so we hardly ate there at all! In the last couple of years though they've added some great mini restaurants (i.e. guy's burgers, and a taco stand). Those were great options to eat for breakfast and lunch, but for dinner we definitely took advantage of the dining restaurant on board. A nightly three course meal was included on our ship, so we'd end every day with steak or fish and dessert! The menu changed daily and actually had great options.
Take Advantage Of It
Make sure you do as much as you can on the cruise. Most of the activities are included, and even through they might be cheesy you've already paid for it and you'll probably never get the chance to do them again! Carnival cruises has nightly game shows, musicals, events, and art show cases! If you find yourself bored in your room, there is almost always something happening on the ship that you can be a part of!
Quick Tip: The BEST thing that we packed with us was a surge protector! There is literally on outlet in the room, and trying to charge phones, laptops, curling irons, and cameras would have been a complete nightmare without one!