So funny story before we get this started. I had this post originally titled "Cruise virgin tips" but I decided that was really inappropriate for a description of a honeymoon. HAHA awkward. Please tell me someone else found that funny?
This was our first cruise for our whole group of six. It was an amazing experience, but we learned a lot! I spent a lot of time on Pinterest searching for blogs with cruise tips and it really paid off. So I'm gonna share a few I loved and some more that I learned along with some miscellaneous cruise pictures I didn't include in the other few wrap-ups.
Tip 1: Don't leave for your cruise right from your wedding reception.
-Holy. exhaustion. We left the reception at 11:30, changed, grabbed our bags and dropped the dog off at the in-laws then headed to Columbus to catch our flight. We got to our hotel at 2 and set a wake up call for 3:30. yes, 3:30 a.m. Terrible idea. Flight at 6, connecting in Atlanta at 10, in Miami and to the dock by 12. Then security on the ship, then lunch, then heading out. I was in the room passed out by probably 3:30 and missed us leaving Miami. By the time I woke up I was starving and there was no land in sight. Crazy.
-It gets super windy on the ship at night and a little chilly. I took a light chambray that went with all my maxis and it was perfect for the job!
Tip 3: Bring suits, shorts, tanks and dresses.
-Kid you not that's all I wore. A few pairs of Old Navy flip flops and that was it.
Tip 4: going with a group is lots of fun.
-We had a great time with our friends. We could do stuff on our own if we wanted and had plenty of alone time. On the other hand, we had a group to go to the beach and on excursions with and have dinner with or go see shows, etc.
Tip 5: dresses, dresses, dresses!
-I mentioned before but that's almost all I wore. I had 7-8 maxis and one little black dress for the formal night. I bought all my maxis on sale in the fall (genius!) and brought a pair of nice flats and a pair of wedges that went with them all to save space in the suitcase. It was the perfect wardrobe.
Tip 6: Take advantage of the info channels
-On top of a few cable channels, there are some Carnival info channels. Some play different music with just still pictures, others are helpful, as pictured above. This channel gives you your global position (we are the triangle with the circle around it near Havana) and tons of other info. The map picture zooms in and out to show you where you are, shows your path taken and gives you a bunch of info on the bottom like sunrise time, distance traveled, etc. There's also another channel they reserve for the last two days that tells you how to debark from the ship.
-I saw this on a blog before the cruise. Brilliant idea! We changed time zones and number of times and phones, even smart ones like our Samsungs and iPhones, were way off. There are wake up calls you can set, but we didn't get ours twice so we were so glad we brought our clock.
Bonus: the key to getting good chairs on deck and on the beaches (like in Mahogany Bay where it's a beach where everyone from the ship goes) is to get up early! We typically set our alarms for an hour before we got to our stop, got ready and had breakfast then waited to get off the boat.
Tip 8: a good beach bag is a necessity
-fun fact: you are in charge of your beach towel. You get bath towels in your room and beach towels. The beach towels are for on and off the ship but if you lose them it's expensive! I took an adorable monogrammed Crystal Faye bag (a shoulder bag so I could keep my eye on things) that fit: both our towels, our room key/ship IDs, some money, my camera, water bottles and more!
Tip 9: don't spend it all in one place.
-We saved a bunch, and ended up spending half of it in Grand Cayman on a dolphin/stingray excursion. This didn't leave a lot of wiggle room for us and we had to use the ATM on board (hello, fees!) twice. The excursion was fun but it would be ideal to spread it out.
Tip 10: set up on board accounts before
-On Carnival's website you can set up your account to be tied to your bank account. A little dangerous with seemingly endless funds available to spend? Yes. Totally worth it? Yes. When the last day came and everyone was rushing to pay bills and settle things, etc. we were good to go cuz it was gonna come right out of our account. No lines, no hassle.
Bonus: everything you do on-board gets charged to your room account via that ID/key card you get before you get on. Be leery of this cuz it adds up!
Tip 11: really look at the ports you're going to stop at.
-All we cared about was that it was February in Ohio (the worst in snow amounts and cold on record!!) and we were going to be out of the winter weather. I talked about this in our Belize wrap-up, but we should have paid attention to where we were stopping. Three of the four were safe, tourist-y places. Belize was not. It was third world and there was a gated area we were "strongly recommended" to stay within unless leaving on a tour bus. Definitely wished we would have planned an excursion for that stop so we didn't end up just going back to the ship.
I think that's enough for now, but I may add more if I think of them. If you're heading out on a cruise, feel free to shoot me an email and ask anything. We learned a lot and it's hard to sum it all up.