Have you ever thought about taking a cruise vacation, but haven't quite gotten up the nerve to do it for one reason or another? I am by no means an expert, but I have been lucky enough to go on 7 cruises over the last 6 years. A lot of people have asked me questions about the cruises I have been on, and asked for advice on planning their cruises, and I wanted to share what I've learned on my many cruise trips so far with you.
What is Taking a Cruise Like?
Well, in all of the vacations I've ever been on, taking a cruise is by far one of the best vacations you can take if you truly want to get away, de-stress, relax, unwind, and just basically unplug from life for a little while. I would compare it to a floating resort, because you have all of the amenities you need within steps from your cabin door, but you still get to travel to different ports of call and get a taste of what other cultures have to offer.
Once you've booked your cruise and you've gotten to the last few weeks before your trip, you need to start seriously thinking about all of the things you need to pack. What type of clothing is necessary to bring on your cruise vacation? Well, in all of the cruises I've been on I usually pack the same way. Basically, I pack everything in my closet and then I'm covered by anything that might come up. Ok, that might not be the best way to pack, but hey, at least I have choices! For those of you that don't want to pack your entire wardrobe, here are my suggestions:
- If you are traveling in the Caribbean it is almost always very warm there year round. Plenty of shorts, t-shirts, and sandals will get you through the days. If you're not sure about the weather where you will be going, check ahead so that you can pack specifically what you need for those locations.
- On ship usually can be very cool with the air conditioning, so while you are on board you may want slightly warmer clothes and even a sweater. If you are out on deck during the day it will be warm, but very windy. At night if you are strolling out on deck it will be very windy and most likely a bit cool. The further south you go the warmer it will be in the evening, but you may still need a sweater.
- Most nights onboard the ship will be casual dress, unless specified ahead of time.
- Shirts and shoes are always required in the public areas.
- Pack a carry on bag with a change of cloths for the first few hours on the ship. (more about that in a future post)
Once you have checked in each person in your party will be given a card (looks a bit like a credit card) and told to sit in a waiting area where they allow small groups of vacationers to embark on the ship at a time. Once your section is called, you will wind your way toward the ship, stopping along the way for your first cruise picture. Once you have arrived onto the ship each person is required to scan their shp card to board the ship. This card is your lifeline for your entire cruise, and you are required to have it with you to enter your cabin, make purchases anywhere on the ship, play in the casino, and disembark the ship in ports. By the way, scanning your card when you embark and disembark is the cruise line's way of knowing that every person is accounted for. And if you're late getting back onto the ship from port, don't be surprised to know that everyone will know you are the one holding up the ship!
Going on a cruise takes all of the guesswork out of planning a vacation, which that alone makes for a bargain. Really, the only thing required of you is to book your cruise and show up....how easy is that?! For those of you that are thinking you won't enjoy it I would tell you to give it a try at least once. I sure didn't know what to expect before I went on my first cruise, but they have given me opportunities that I probably wouldn't have had otherwise and I definitely have been to more countries than I would have gone to without being on a cruise ship. They have also given me a taste of different cultures, and have given me the ability to see places that I would like to go back to for longer stays. Visit some cruise line websites and look at the ship details that they give you so that you can get a better understanding of what is on board. You will be able to see what cabins and public spaces look like, as well as what is on each deck. Go ahead and give it a try....you won't be disappointed!