I decided to write my first blog post about something I have a BIG passion for… traveling. I was lucky to grow up with a family who went on vacation every summer and usually took another one or two trips a year, I saw a lot as a child. Thanks Mom and Dad! BUT my real passion for traveling started in college when I studied abroad in Europe. I loved seeing all the different cultures, I was completely mesmerized. Here we are 5 years later and my passion hasn’t changed and luckily I married a guy who shares the same passion. We make a great team because he throws crazy ideas at me and I make them happen. He’s the spontaneous one with ideas and I’m the planner in the relationship.
Enough about that… Now let’s talk about our most recent trip. This post is going to be about cruise suggestions and tips… The next post will be about the islands we visited.
We are normally not huge cruise fans! Judd and I have been on 3 cruises together in less than 2 years (soon to be 4) although I’ve been on others without him. We often choose cruises as our vacation or as part of our vacations (1 week cruise followed by 1 week of running around Europe) because you get to see so much in a short amount of time. We are not the type of cruisers who LOVE cruising and don’t care about the ports. We choose cruises for the ports. The best part of cruising is you get to travel while you sleep and you don’t have to pack and unpack after visiting a new location! I love waking up in a new city/country. However, we REALLY REALLY REALLY hate dealing with all of the people. I mean this. We like keeping to ourselves and being left alone. We discussed this before and decided to change things up on our last cruise to see if it made a difference to our experience. I’m so glad we did because it made a HUGE difference!
Tips we learned:
1. Splurge for the balcony room, it’s worth it! We spent so much time on the balcony. It was amazing to open the curtains first thing in the morning and see the beautiful views at the new city/country. Pick a room on the left side of the ship! We just accidentally chose this, it almost always has the better views.
2. Get room service in the morning! I am not a morning person and I do not like breakfast. There is nothing worse than fighting to get a place in a buffet line for average/bland breakfast food. (Adults acting like they’ve never seen a buffet before are quite annoying). We would order room service the night before and tell them what time we wanted breakfast delivered. They would bring exactly what we wanted. We’d give them a tip and then we’d eat breakfast on our balcony in our PAJAMAS. It was perfect and so relaxing!
3. The excursions/what you do make your trip! I heard so many people say they didn’t like a port. I asked what they did and they said walked around the shops on the port or the closest beach. You cannot experience the island this way! Those are tourist traps. For each location I looked on TripAdvisor (my favorite website ever) and researched every possible thing there was to do on the island. I looked at reviews and then picked what I thought we would like the best and/or what would give us a good feel about the island.
4. Buy pop/water/snacks! You can bring 12 bottles or cans of pop onto most cruise ships. However, what they don’t tell you is this is every time you come on. We boarded the cruise at 2:00 and the ship didn’t leave until 8:00, so, we found a Walgreens a block away and made 2 trips back and forth to the room! We had enough water and pop to last us the entire week. Have the room steward clean out the fridge so you can put all of your items in it.
5. Random things to pack that can be life savers: magnets (to hold shower curtain in place as the boat moves), hand soap for your bathroom (we hate the bars of soap they provide), hand sanitizer (everyone is touching the same things at the buffet), alarm clock, and a watch (tell what the time is at ports).
6. If your cruise has this option, choose My Time Dining! Some of the cruise lines we’ve been on such as Costa doesn’t offer this. But this allows you to choose what time to go eat. This is perfect in case you had a really busy day and want to nap before dinner or if you are hungry really early. Just go to the dining room when you’re ready to eat.
7. This next tip sounds like common sense but it’s important to remember. The cruises are trying to make money in any possible way they can. There will be a lot of things on the itinerary such as free Detox clinic or massage lessons… don’t go, they are just trying to get you to buy a product or service.
8. Most cruise lines play movies on the main deck at night. GO! Something about watching movies outside under the stars in the middle of the ocean is amazing.
9. The ice cream and yogurt machines are open 24/7 and they are delicious! We always joke that we paid thousands of dollars to go on vacation for unlimited ice cream.
I also found this list that’s very handy: http://www.dcfagowees.com/usefulinfo/Cruise_tips.pdf Thanks to the D.C. Fagowee Ski and Social Club for this packet! I’m not even sure how I ended up finding this but it’s very helpful!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any suggestions on traveling! 🙂
Part II coming soon!