I returned from my honeymoon a couple of days ago and went on my first cruise, it was amazing! If you have ever been on a cruise before then you will know there are loads of committed cruisers out there. When you meet people on the ship, one of the first questions will be ‘Is this your first cruise?’ which is shortly followed by ‘I’ve been on… (insert number here) cruises’. They wear the number of cruises like a badge of honor, you can see the pride on their face as they answer. One couple I met had been on over 20 cruises and told me ‘It gets in your blood’. One woman even claimed to have a friend that lived on a cruise ship! Now that’s a life.
Now I know what your thinking – that cruises are just for old people and trust me, there are old people on there but there is so much more to a cruise. I want to share my thoughts on my first experience as a ‘cruisling’.
– There are definitely ‘old people’ but not that many. I expected shaky old nanna’s with zimmer frames (there were a couple) but we found there were lots of young families, honeymooners and middle aged couples. There were even a few people in their early 20’s that all grouped together and enjoyed some holiday flirtation. My husband had to tell me to stop watching them as I looked creepy.
– Kids will love it. We saw the end of a kids talent night and were surprised at how many kids there were as it wasn’t school holidays. I did see one man constantly around the ship, loading up on cocktails during the day then wobbling around the nightclub at 2am. I was surprised at the end of the cruise to see him with his 3 children, the kids club must be amazing because he certainly had a great time.
– Not everything is free. I know this seems like an obvious one but you get a ‘cruise card’ at the commencement of the trip that is either linked to your credit card or you can put a cash balance on there which you can top up as you go along. It can be easy to forget that you are spending real money when you swipe your card for drinks, coffee, cakes, bingo, tours, photos or duty free shopping. Maybe get a printout each night so you know how your spending is going. I had a facial at the beauty spa and had a major blowout on beauty products. I really did need all the products she recommended. My skin was dehydrated!
– Be photo ready. At every opportunity they will try to take photos of you in the hope that you will see them on display and buy them at an exorbitant price. We would have had our photo taken about 40 times and one of those photos was amazing (I could tell they had photo shopped my skin!) so
we I fell for it and bought one. Great opportunity on cocktail night to get a family portrait – cue the cute kids with bow-ties.
– Facebook stalk in advance. Before you go on a cruise you may be encouraged to join an event page, a lot of cruisers join it and it is a good place to ask for tips and information that you need to know that the 20+ cruisers will be gagging to answer. There may even be information on there that you didn’t need to know but are glad you learned. Join the facebook group then read the comments so you know who to avoid! If you read a nuffy comment you should remember their face so you know to avoid conversations with them if you meet them on the trip. Nothing worse than being seated next to someone in the private dining room and having the most painful and slow 3 course meal of your life.
– Expect theme nights. We received an email before we left telling us to bring white clothes with us so we did but I also read on a facebook event to expect a formal cocktail night, possibly a pirate, island and country & western night so I packed prepared. Except for the pirate night. I don’t like pirates.
– Prepare to EAT! There was an all you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the buffet or you could eat a 3 course meal in the dining room. All this food was inclusive in the ticket price! If you do find yourself hungry between meal times you can buy additional food from various places on the ship.
– Plan or go with the flow – Each night you receive a booklet advising what the scheduled activities are for the next day. Movies are shown, there are live performances, we had a ‘mentalist’, comedians, a law of attraction specialist (right up my alley!), trivia nights, bingo and wooden horse racing. You can plan every minute of every day or you can go with the flow and look up the list when you want something to do. Just make sure you read the list the night before so you don’t miss out on something you’ll really enjoy.
-Casino payout. We went to the casino once, I put $20 onto a blackjack machine. Played for a while and chose the ‘cash out’ option. On the last night we went and got a copy of our total expenditure bill and I noticed the money hadn’t gone back on. Turns out you have to go back to the casino and get the cashier to give you cash. I wonder how many people got caught out with that one!
– Take seasick tablets just in case, even if you don’t have a history of sea or motion sickness. Despite only having one glass of wine on the first night I felt drunk because of the movement. People might tell you ‘you can’t feel a thing’ but if you haven’t cruised before there will be times where you notice the movement. It takes a couple of nights to get used to it but the nausea subsides. If you don’t then the medic on board can give you an injection. Just the thought of the movement on the boat has now made me feel a little dizzy – takes you a while to get used to being on flat ground afterwards!!
One final thought I am leaving you with is to think about the places you are going and see if there is anything you can take for those less fortunate than you are. Travelling is all about adventure, fun and relaxing but it also often reminds us how lucky we are to be living the lives we do. Our trip stopped at Pentecost Island and we were lucky enough to visit the school. I donated money but people arrived with cases full of clothes and school resources that I didn’t have the forethought to take. If you know of anyone heading to Vanuatu then this is a list I got from the school for supplies they need.
Our cruise was through P&O Cruises. We were on the Pacific Dawn which has 2000 passengers but I would wait until the Pacific Eden or Pacific Aria is launched because they look amazing. I wouldn’t go as far to say that cruising is now in my blood but I definitely see the value in it. It was a great holiday. I might actually look up new cruises now… maybe it is in my blood!