Before I went on my first cruise, I had only heard and seen about peoples cruising experiences. As a frequent traveler, I found it only completely necessary that I add cruising to my bucket list. I finally decided that it was time to take my first cruise. Before my first cruise I had many questions that popped up in my head, so many it began to make me nervous to go. Thankfully I had a lot of people around me that I could ask my numerous amount of questions to. I had questions ranging from what is there to eat on the cruise to what do I wear on the cruise. Below I will explain how I went about planning my first cruise, all the information I learned along the way and some helpful tips before you take your first cruise.
Ever since I began planning trips and booking trips, I have always used Expedia. On their site you can choose to search for cruises, but beware that you cannot book them using the app just yet. On this website they will show you cruise listings for anywhere, anytime and any cruise line you choose to go. I knew that hurricane season started on June 1st and ended November 30th. I knew I wanted to go during a time I did not have to worry about hurricanes, which would be December through May. I live in the United States, so I figured going to the Caribbean would be the best way to take my first cruise. As well as to go on my first trip outside of the United States. I picked December as the month I wanted to take our first cruise. I then had to begin looking into where in the Caribbean I wanted to go by cruise. I also had to choose where I wanted to leave from. In the United States, there are several different ports where cruises leave from. These ports include places such as Miami, Florida and Los Angeles, California. I chose Miami, Florida for its beauty, easiness to get to and variety of different places it cruises to. I then began researching all the different places that you could cruise to in the Caribbean by cruise. There are a variety of different places you can cruise to, also with a variety of different itineraries.
After deciding on going to Miami to leave from on my cruise, I then had many different things to decide on. I had to choose how long, which cruise line, where the cruise itinerary would take me and so much more. I decided to go on a cruise for 7 nights. They have cruises ranging from 1 to as many nights as you would like to go. Choosing 7 nights dwindled my search down some, but I still had to pick which cruise line I wanted to go on. There are many different cruise lines out there. I had heard many different wonderful things about several of the Different cruise lines. After researching, thinking and asking others I decided to book with Carnival Cruise Lines. My research pointed me in this direction for a first time cruiser and it was on the cheaper side from all the other cruise lines. After I decided on the cruise line, I went to researching all the different places Carnival could take me for as long as I wanted to cruise for.
After many days of researching, I decided to book a cruise aboard the Carnival Glory. This cruise would sail for 7 nights to 4 different places and have 2 days at sea. My itinerary for this cruise would take me to Half Moon Cay, The Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands and Grand Turk, Turk and Caicos. I decided to get an ocean view, which is just a window that you can see out of. They have inside, window, port hole, balcony and suite cabins to stay in. I put my deposit down which was $350 US dollars. I made payments on the rest of the cruise monthly (did I mention this is the best perk to cruising!).
After I booked my cruise, I then had to figure out which shore excursions to go on. Each island we were going to had different excursions to choose from. There were a lot of different excursions to choose from. Some of the excursions included adventure, others included relaxing on the beach to going on a tour of the island. After talking with my husband and researching the ideas, I decided on what excursions I was going to do in each of the different places we were going to. In Half Moon Cay, The Bahamas we were going to go snorkel, take an island tour and swim with the string rays. In San Juan, Puerto Rico we were going to take a rainforest tour and drive. In St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands we were going to take an hour boat ride over to Tortola, British Virgin Islands to go swimming with the dolphins. In Grand Turk, we were going to go horse back riding and swim with the horses. I was happy with how set the itinerary was and what we would be doing on the cruise and at the ports.
Before going on your cruise you must have your passport. If you leave one port to go to another, you will have to go through customs. When checking back onto the ship, they will ask for the card they give you when you check in. Do not lose the card, as it is a way to pay for many things on board as well as get on and off the ship. The check in process before a cruise is easy, but there are long lines as everyone is trying to get on the ship as well. When departing the ship, they will tell you when you can get off the ship. Before the cruise takes off, they will do a mandatory overview of what happens when there is a crisis. You must participate in this and go to your assigned muster station which is located on your card they give you at check in. In the rooms there are plenty of place to put your items from your suit case. The bathrooms are quite small, but they are doable. There are drink packages available for purchase, you can get an “adult” drink or soft drink package. You can also bring one 12 pack of soft drinks on board with you, but it must be closed and wrapped, same with “adult” drinks.
Before I went on my cruise I asked people many questions on cruising with Carnival, what I should be prepared for and etc. I will share some of the knowledge I learned from others before my first cruise. On Carnival they provide dinner in a dining room for all of their guests. This dinner is included in the cost for the cruise, but you can pay to eat elsewhere or get something from the buffet or other places that are included in the cost. Depending on the length of the cruise, there could be one or two different elegant night. This would be where you have to wear your fanciest clothes. The other nights are regular dining where you can wear nice clothes. Carnival provides three choices when it comes to breakfast.
You can go to the buffet on Lido deck, get breakfast delivered to your room or have a sit down breakfast in one of the dining rooms. For lunch, there are many different options on in the lido deck between buffet to sandwiches and hamburgers. My personal favorite was the sandwich shop, their sandwiches are delicious. Carnival has self serve ice cream available all day every day for your convenience, they have flavors of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and swirl. On board, Carnival provides entertainment such as comedy shows, musicals, and so much more. On board there is never a dull moment on the ship, there is always something to do. On board there are several bars on the ship, as well as places to get drinks while sitting out in the sun.
I believe that cruising is a wonderful way to travel. I met so many wonderful people on both of the cruises I have been on. Some I still stay in touch with, some have easily turned into my best friends and others I will forever remember. People from all over the world go on cruises, so it is neat meeting people. Going on a cruise has truly helped me to relax, unwind and escape reality even for just a few days. There is WiFi available for purchase while you are on the ship, but I have never personally bought it. Other travelers have mentioned that it does not work well. Plus what is the fun in trying to escape only to stay plugged in? Are you ready to take your first cruise or go on your next one? I am so pro cruise that I am taking 2 different cruises next year, one in March and one in December. In March I will be going to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. In December I will be going to St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Barbados and St Maarten. I am thrilled for each of the boomed experiences, so stay tuned to hear about them next year.
Stay tuned Monday to learn about Grand Turk, Turk and Caicos. Next week I will be sharing a couple articles on what to pack for a cruise and Cozumel, Mexico! See you soon!