First Time Cruise Tips

Helpful Tips – First Time On A Cruise

  1. Bring something to keep warm– Yes it’s technically 89+ degrees, but the dining hall was freezing and so was their theater, lobby and comedy club. It didn’t get too cold at night while watching the movies on the deck, but I’d also suggest a blanket since it does make the movie-watching under the stars experience a lot more comfortable.
  2. Debarkation is a pain, so pack your patience – There are 2 ways to exit the cruise ship: you can take your stuff yourself and be on your merry way or you can take the “relaxed” option, which involves you putting out your luggage the night before so the ship crew can take it for you. Regardless of the option you choose, you get a group number and you wait to be called. We took option 2 and wished we hadn’t. Their relaxed option is crap because we had to exit our rooms BEFORE our group number was even called since housekeeping had to clean them. There’s nothing relaxing about standing in the lobby with a hundred plus people. Then after exiting the ship, you’re in single file being told when you can and cannot go up/down the escalator as if you’re a simpleton who hasn’t mastered movement.Carnival Valor - Amber Cove
  3. Bring fancy-smancy clothes – If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking bring shorts, bathing suits, t shirts and more shorts. WRONG.  I wasn’t prepared for the formal dinners or the professional photo opportunities. Our cruise was 6 days. Most of the dinners were casual, but they also had 2 formal dinners. There was nothing formal in my suitcase. But truth be told, if someone would’ve told me about the formal dinner beforehand I STILL wouldn’t have packed formalwear. Doing way too much people..WAY TOO MUCH. It’s not mandatory to bring your prom dress or gown from the Military Ball –although there were quite a few who did. You can get away with wearing business casual. As long as you’re not wearing tank tops, shorts and tennis shoes, you’ll be allowed to enter the dining hall.
  4. Bring a lanyard – You have to take your sail and sign card everywhere, so to make sure you keep up with your card ($50 to replace) you should bring a lanyard. Your sail and sign card is the card they give you once you check in before entering the ship. It’s how you enter the ship, and you can load money onto it to pay for things throughout the length of the trip as well.
  5. The Cruise Ship safety process is annoying – Just like on a flight, you have to listen to the crew go over safety procedures just in case something were to go terribly wrong. However, unlike a flight, cruise ship safety takes 3 times as long, and there’s bound to be a group of obnoxious buttholes who want to be comedians and talk while the crew explains how to properly secure a lifejacket. (Those are the people you push off the emergency boat if anything does happen to go wrong. JK!)Grand Turk - Carnival Valor
  6. Your dedicated dining time isn’t set in stone – My sister and I opted in for the 6:00pm dinner time. We were sitting in the room at 6:15 wondering if we could still go to the dining hall. We didn’t know how strict they were about being on time, and of course, we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves if Lord forbid we got turned away. But now we know. The other dining time was 8:15. As long as you’re in and out before then, you can forgo punctuality. Just be mindful, you will not be able to enjoy a 3-course meal if you decide to hobble in around 7:58.
  7. Do NOT buy the excursions from the ship – Just like with everything else in the world, you can ALWAYS find a better deal with a little added effort. Now for safety reasons, if you’ve never been to a particular place before or if you fear being kidnapped and sold, then spend $100 to parasail for 7 minutes. (Yes, that is how much it actually costs and how long it actually lasts.) But if you have time to do a few Google searches, you’ll be sure to find better and cheaper excursions than what they offer on these cruise sites. My only suggestion is to be mindful of the time of your excursion because ships will pull-off without you.
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