in planning your vacation!

What’s so GREAT about cruising?

OK, so I go on and on about cruising.  What’s so great about it you say? 


It’s a full day of activity.   Or a full day of relaxing and reading your book. 


Its having someone else cook your every meal, and have it served by fabulous wait staff.   Its fine dining every night, or a great buffet.


It’s the opportunity to dress up!   Or to go on a vacation where you never have to dress up at all.

Its having someone else make your bed each morning, and turn down the covers with a chocolate every evening.


Its making new friends, or just getting re-acquainted with your own friends and family!


Cruising can be everything, and nothing.   The choices of cruiselines, ship sizes, styles, and levels of service are across the board.   There is truly a cruise for everyone!   Do you want a floating resort with a rock-climbing wall, or do you want ballroom dancing in an elegant environment?   Do you want pampering in a spa, or do you want to work on a sailing ship?   Whatever is your style, there is a cruise for YOU! 


Many folks who have never cruised give reasons why they won’t cruise.  


They think its an expensive vacation only for the elite.   Nope, there are so many ships holding so many people nowadays, that cruises are very cost effective.   In many instances they are cheaper than a land vacation.   Its because the food and entertainment are INCLUDED.    I like cruising as I think it’s the best vacation VALUE (and remember, I was an accountant before I was a travel agent!).


They think they’ll get seasick.   Well, I can’t make guarantees about the weather, but the ships out there today are so HUGE, you don’t feel much.    And, if its your first cruise, I wouldn’t book you in the Caribbean in hurricane season unless you REALLY wanted me to.   By the way, the ships now are all so fast they outrun most of the storms by simply going a different direction than planned.   And certain areas of the ship are better to be in (the center) to reduce the feeling of motion.   I would try to book you in one of these cabins if you were at all concerned. 


They think they won’t see anything but water.   NOPE.   The cool thing about cruising is that you see lots of different places, without having to pack and unpack!   You stop and explore somewhere interesting one day, the ship moves while you dine, get entertained, and sleep at night, and you wake up to a whole new place the next day.   And sea days are sometimes the best… giving you time to relax, watch a movie, read your book, play a game of trivia, or whatever you want!



Its simply the BEST or the ONLY way to experience some great places in the world!   The Panama Canal by cruise ship is just SO neat.   And I love sailing around island places, like Tahiti or Hawaii, and getting to see multiple islands instead of being stuck at one!

Suzy’s Tips for First-Time Cruisers

When you get on the ship:

Þ     Ask your room steward for a bathrobe to use while you are cruising.   If he/she is not there when you arrive, leave a note.

Þ     If you have traditional dining, check your onboard newsletter (which should be waiting in your room when you arrive) for the time you can meet with the maitre d about you dining seating.   Usually, the dining room is open with the table numbers shown so you can walk around to find your table and see if you like it.   If you don’t speak to the maitre d.   If you do, then move on to..

Þ     If you want to have a spa service on your cruise, look in your newsletter for the time of the spa tour.   There is usually one in the afternoon of the first day.   They usually give discounts for booking the treatments once you have completed the tour.   Even if you don’t want to do the tour, but you want spa treatments on a sea day of the cruise, go straight to the spa to make your appointment.   Spaces will fill up for the sea days.

Þ     Spa treatments are sometimes discounted on the port days (as most everyone gets off the ship and the spa staff has nothing to do).   You can inquire on embarkation day when discounts might be offered, or just wait to see if you notice an advertisement as the cruise progresses.

Þ     If you want a salon appointment on formal night, you MUST make an appointment as soon as you board.  The dress code for the cruise will be printed in the newsletter on your embarkation day (telling you which days are formal, if any).

Þ     If you have kids, you should go to any kids club orientation offered at the beginning of the cruise.   They will tell you how everything works and you can meet the staff.

Þ     On many cruise lines, you can buy an unlimited fountain drink card from any bar on your first day.   They will put a sticker on your cruise card that you carry with you every day.   On some lines this saves money, and other lines its better to just pay as you go.   Please evaluate the costs of the card vs. how much soda YOU drink before purchasing.   Also, usually only specific beverages are available in unlimited quantities.   Be sure a brand / flavor you like is offered before purchasing.

Þ     On some lines an alcoholic drink card is offered that is a prepaid price for a certain number of drinks.   You might inquire about this if you plan to have a few on your cruise.

Þ     The mandatory lifeboat drill will take place in the afternoon/evening of your embarkation, or on the first morning.   Please note the time so you can get back to your cabin for your life-vest and can proceed on the drill timely.  

Þ     If you gave your luggage to the baggage handlers at the pier, it will arrive at your cabin sometime later in the afternoon or that evening.   The baggage handlers have to sort and deliver thousands of pieces of luggage and it sometimes takes a while.   If you have early dining, you might consider carrying on something that you can spiff up into if you luggage doesn’t arrive before you need to dress for dinner.

Þ     If you want to dine in a specialty (pay extra) restaurant offered on your cruise one night, you should reserve that on the first day.   (I personally like to eat in the dining room and NOT pay extra for food, but for those who want to try this I heard it’s a hard reservation sometimes.)



Þ     There will be “sales” all the time on various things.   Avoid the “inch of gold” racks.   The stuff is usually not good quality and will look bad not long after you return home.

Þ     The duty-free alcohol is a good deal, just be sure you don’t buy more than what US Customs will let you off the ship with!  Ask before you buy!

Þ     Hold off buying the standard souvenirs in the gift shop until they have a “sale” in that store.   This usually happens near the end of the cruise, after they had all the first-timers buy a lot at full price.

Þ     Attend the “port of call” educational talks put on by the shore excursions staff to get tips on shopping in the ports you visit.



Shore Excursions:

Þ     Many times the cheapest and best day trips will be found by vendors right off the ship.   However, don’t go anywhere that is going to take you far away from the ship and might cause you to miss the ship at the end of the day.   The ship waits for people to return that did its own scheduled excursions, but not the folks who went places “on their own”.

Þ     Inquire at the shore excursions desk for any port days that you want some assistance in choosing an activity.   Sometimes last-minute offerings are added to the choices that weren’t shown in any brochure or online booking website before you cruised.




Seasickness:  You are on the sea, so gentle rolling is to be expected.   Most of the time your will hardly notice it because the ship is so big.  Also, “seasickness” isn’t just about getting sick to your stomach, as the movies make it out to be.   Most of the time, the only “seasickness” we experience is an extreme headache caused from equilibrium issues.   However,

Þ     Take a set of “Sea Bands” for every member of your party.  These are terry-cloth wrist bands with a hard plastic nub on one side.   The nub, when worn exactly as shown on the box, works like acupressure.   I usually put these on as the ship sails, and take them off if I am feeling fine.  I also wear them to sleep so I don’t wake up with a screaming headache.

Þ     Take Dramamine as a backup.   BUT remember it makes you sleepy.


Packing:          The last night of the cruise you will be required to pack up your suitcases and put them outside your cabin door.   They will take them away and the bags will be scanned by customs before the ship is cleared for disembarkation in the morning.   Be sure you have some kind of carryon bag that you keep all important medicines, valuables, tickets & passports, and anything you need on your final night in this bag.  If you usually transport your toiletries in your big suitcase, you should think of another plan while cruising.   And don’t forget to leave yourselves some clothes out of the suitcases to wear on the final day! ;) 


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