Cruising is one of my very favorite vacations, just below Disney World! I have been fortunate enough to have sailed Disney, Norwegian, Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Cruising is a great value. It is basically an all inclusive experience. Your lodging, food, entertainment and transportation between ports is all included.
If you have always wanted to take a cruise, but weren’t sure what it is like or even if you can afford it, then read on.
First of all, there are so many cruise lines and within the cruise lines there countless itineraries. From a 3 Night cruise to the Bahamas to a 12 Day Transatlantic, you can always find something that works for you.
When booking a cruise, you have several Stateroom categories to choose from.
Your least expensive option is an inside cabin. For the budget minded or for those who plan to be in their cabin for sleeping only, this is a great option. You receive all of the same benefits of guests in higher categories.
Your next category is an Oceanview. These range from portholes to full size windows and offer more space than an inside.
Next is the most popular category, which is the Balcony Stateroom. These are roomier and offer a Balcony with 2 chairs and a small table. They are perfect for ordering breakfast from room service and enjoying the ocean air.
In addition to these 3 categories, there are also suites, junior or mini suites, and concierge level suites which include a wide variety of upgraded services.
Prior to your cruise, you will receive a packet of information that includes luggage tags, instructions for checking in online and confirmation of any activities you booked ahead of time.
Now on to the fun! Boarding day! Even for seasoned cruisers, boarding day can be a bit overwhelming
Once inside the terminal, you will need to follow all of the signs and employees’ directions to get through security and check-in. Expect security measures similar to an
airport to ensure everyone’s safety. After security, you will make your way to the check- in counter.
Be ready to present your confirmation printout, personal identification, and travel documents several times throughout security and check-in process. When checking in, you will be given a room key, which will also be your charge card for all of your onboard purchases. You will need to establish a payment method to set up your onboard account.
· You can get on the ship as early as 11:00 AM, however you cannot get in your room until 1:30. Once your stateroom card is activated, you will be ready to board. You will walk from the terminal, through the gangway, and onboard. As you step onboard, you will scan your stateroom card for the first time. You will scan your card upon entry and exit every time you get on and off the ship. This helps the cruise line keep track of attendance to eliminate leaving passengers behind. While your room is typically not available until the afternoon, you’ll be free at this time to explore the ship, eat lunch, or hang out poolside until it is time for the Muster Drill. A Muster Drill is a mandatory safety training. You will be assigned a station to report to.
If you would like to have lunch while waiting for your room to be ready, I would suggest one of the sit down restaurants on the day of embarkation. I do not suggest that you visit the buffet on the day of embarkation because it can be very crowded. You will have plenty of time to enjoy the buffet later.
· You can spend the time waiting for your cabin to be ready exploring the ship and signing up for entertainment, excursions or other specialty dining reservations.
• After the muster drill is over, all the formalities of embarkation day are over, and you can head up to the main deck for a sailing away party.
Now you are officially on vacation!
Your ship is going to be full of activities and most importantly, delicious dining! You will have numerous complimentary dining options – everything from formal dining rooms, the ship’s Buffett, pizza bars, ice cream station and more. You also have multiple opportunities to try speciality dining for an additional fee.
If you are traveling with kids, you absolutely need to take advantage of the Kid’s Clubs. These clubs are complimentary, with the exception of a few late night party events. Clubs are divided by age and offer so many fun activities for kids based on their age group. They also offer nurseries and there is a small fee for those.
Cruise ships today continue to outdo themselves and each other. They continue to get bigger with more and more activities. While onboard you can choose from activities such as ice skating, bumper cars, escape rooms, rock climbing, spa treatments, Broadway style entertainment and gambling, to name just a few.
Another great thing about cruises is the ports. Each port offers a variety of excursions that allow you a more in-depth experience in your port. And when taking a Bahamian or Caribbean Cruise, you will most likely have the opportunity to spend a day at a private island. The island’s include complimentary food and fun beach activities.
On the day you return home, you will disembark very early. You will want to get up fairly early to enjoy one last breakfast onboard. You will be directed off the ship and shown where to get your luggage. After that, you will make your way through customs and your wonderful vacation comes to an end.
Whether you are cruising with friends, a group, a romantic getaway or a family vacation, there are so many choices both onboard and off that everyone can enjoy. I always say a cruise is the PERFECT vacation for a Mom. Someone waits on you 24 hours a day, your room steward cleans your cabin and makes your bed, your kids are spoiled rotten in the kids room and your outfits were taken care of before you ever left home. What could be better?
Thank you Jen McGurn for this helpful information about cruising!