Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cruising 101

Luke and I are still newbies to the cruising world. Our first cruise was an 11-day Southern Carribean cruise we took earlier this year with Royal Carribean. It was a blast so we decided to go on another one as part of our honeymoon. I can't believe we will spend almost 3 weeks this year on boats. =)

Cruising can be a lot of fun, and what's fun is different for everybody. Some think the cruise ship as the destination and don't care much about the ports. They book their cruise vacation solely on the ship itself - the amenities, the restaurants, the pools, ice skating rink, spa, etc. I am the exact opposite. I don't care for the ship itself, I just want a clean place to stay and decent food to eat. The ports are the destination for me. I want to see new things and explore new places.

I put together a list of DOs and DON'Ts for myself when on a cruise vacation. This is just from my first cruise experience. Hopefully I will have more things to add after our honeymoon.

DO:

1) Forget formal nights. I wear dresses on vacations (but with sandals) so it's not a hassle for me if I do want to go to formal nights. However, I'd never want Luke to pack a suit! First, we like to travel light. Second, he doesn't even wear suits to work, why would he wear one on a vacation? So for us, we pick a casual meal in our shorts and t-shirts (and eat by the pool) over waiting for service in stuffy clothes.

2) Read the cruise newsletter. Not only you may miss out on cruise activities if you don't, you may also miss important stuff like tea time or ice cream social!

3) Skip the alcohol. Easy for us because we are both non-drinkers and stay away from soft drinks. Our habits saved us tons of extra cash to use for excursions.

4) Book the excursions with the locals. This may be different depending on the destination. However, for the Caribbean, there are always locals ready for your business as soon as you step off the ship. At almost 50% cheaper than the cruise shore excursions, why not? Yes, there may be some risks, but I've heard and experienced no issues. Again, this may be different depending on where you go. I know Hawaii won't be the case.

DON'T:

1) Tip....unless you think they deserve it! I remember the last 2 days of our RC cruise, the cruise channel on TV showed nothing but tipping guidelines repeatably. It was insane. $3 for your cabin attendant, $2 for your waiter, $1.5 for your head waiter, $1.5 for your assistant waiter.... Yeah right! Our cabin attendant left our shampoo dispenser empty for days and we hardly went to the dining room. So how much did we tip? Zero. In our opinion, they didn't earn it and we weren't about to tip just because the TV said so.

2) Buy the cruise portraits. I can take pictures of Luke and I with joby better than the cruise staff can. I can also use Adorma after I come back to print professional prints at 1/10000000000000 of the cost.

3) Eat at restaurants with cover charge. Why would I eat at the Portofino for $20 per person when I can eat at the Windjammer or the dining room for "free"? If I want to spend $20 on food, I'd rather eat local foods on the islands. So, no thanks!

4) Overeat. We pigged out during the first half of our cruise vacation. By the second half, we were on a fruit/yogurt diet. There is too much food and you are not going to be able to eat it all. So don't even bother trying. It will just make you feel bad.

There is an abundant of information on cruise ships, cruise vacations, and everything else you want to know about cruises. I like cruise critics the best. Enjoy and get out there! :)

1 comment:

  1. Alright, nice list Sugs, but I'd put the over eating item into the Do list. I mean, c'mon, the food is right there and it's essentially already paid for. A few days of stuffing yourself won't kill ya. Sure, it'll make the swimming trunks a little tighter and my love handles may turn into a friggin spare tire (wait, I already have a spare tire, it's just not fully inflated - yet), but once you're back home, you'll regret not eating all you could when you had the chance. So yeah, eat up!!!

    Regarding the tipping, it's all a scam. Instead of the tip envelopes they hand out, they might as well ask each guest to spread their legs and bend over. You already paid for the vacation and the cruise staff are already being compensated (nevermind the fact that they're working on a friggin boat that stops at nice warm sunny islands every damn day) so I'm not feeling sorry for them. But yeah, 3 waiters at dinner?? I don't think so. Give me the menu, then give me my food. Only one person is needed, not 3. I'm surprised they don't bring the chefs/cooks out and have us tip them as well.

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