Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange => Travel => Topic started by: POF on January 19, 2013, 06:38:14 PM

Title: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: POF on January 19, 2013, 06:38:14 PM
We have a lot to celebrate this year :


Big year this year, I received an unexpected major promotion 2 weeks ago. See my boss is retiring in 2 1/2 years. I was hoping I would be ready for his position then. They promoted him 2 weeks ago and offered me his position and he offered to mentor me as I gro into it !  A really really generous increase - about 20% raise in pay.

I turn 50,

DH and I celebrate our 20th anniversary

DS turn 16.

So we booked a Royal Carribean cruise on the Freedom of the seas, 7 day Eastern Carribean.  We also splashed out for 2 balcony rooms so the kids have a room and DH and I have a room.

We've never cruised, we have a great travel agent - but would love to hear your tips, advice or anything.

I am a little concerned about motion sickness ... - so any ideas there would be helpful ( I am will work with my Dr. as well )

I am sooooo excited to go.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: tjika on January 20, 2013, 06:13:35 AM
check out http://boards.cruisecritic.com/index.php

I read that forum for my first cruise and found lots of good information and tips.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Venus193 on January 20, 2013, 06:35:08 AM
Congratulations on all the above!

Watch out for the fact that food is available 24/7; it's very possible to gain weight on a cruise and you don't want to do that.

Bring formal clothes for the Captain's Dinner (typically late in the trip). 
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 20, 2013, 09:27:15 AM
Yup, cruise critic is the place to go.  Check on the 'roll call' board for your ship and sailing date.  Through that we've met many nice people and made arrangements to meet for Pre-sailing dinners and on-board activities. 

We've sailed on RC but only on the Explorer class ships.  The line is high energy and, although we're not party people, we enjoyed the ships very much. The food is very good and plenty of healthy options are always available so, with a little care, you needn't worry about gaining a lot of weight. 

In the Eastern Caribbean you should have no problem with seasickness unless you're very susceptible to motion sickness in general.  In 37 cruises we've only been seasick twice.  Both times it was due to a combination of tropical storm and bad champagne.  It's probably a good idea to bring candied ginger in case you start feeling a little queasy.

A word of caution or two.  The Eastern Caribbean is a popular route and the Freedom of the Seas is big.  Once, in St. Thomas, there were seven ships in on the same day.  Charlotte Amalie was like Times Square on New Year's Eve.  It was almost impossible to move around town. 

Also, even if the voyage is very calm, you may find yourself lurching around when you get back on land.  The effect can last several days when you get home.  If you know to expect it, the feeling can almost be fun although strangers may look at you a bit oddly. 

Most of all, relax and enjoy your celebration.  You certainly have plenty to celebrate.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Cz. Burrito on January 20, 2013, 10:09:33 AM
I am going on that exact cruise (same boat, same itinerary) in three weeks.   :D

I think the biggest tip is to keep an open mind have fun.  :^)
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 20, 2013, 10:45:30 AM
Something just dawned on me.

First-time passengers tend to do too much.  Every night you will receive a schedule of activities planned for the following day. We have met passengers who have something scheduled for every hour.  If you succumb to this temptation, you will not come home relaxed. You will be literally be running from meeting to meeting.  Each activity may be fun but it can feel like being at work.

Plan one thing in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Leave plenty of time to enjoy your balconies, hang out with a cup of tea or just loll around the pool.  Yes, you will miss some things but your memories of the cruise will be happier.

We thoroughly agree about bringing on a roll-aboard bag with all the essentials for a weekend.  Before the rest of your luggage arrives, you can set up the bathroom, put on a better pair of pants for Dinner and start to feel at home.

         
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: PastryGoddess on January 20, 2013, 05:10:14 PM
As someone who gets motion sickness, I would recommend going to your doctor to see if they can prescribe you a couple of skin patches to take with you on the trip.  It helps with the headaches and I hear it also helps with nausea as well
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: wheeitsme on January 20, 2013, 06:00:03 PM
Don't risk the sea-sick.  If you can, either the patches or the over-the-counter.

If you have a kindle - take real books, too.  My screen broke on the 1st day of a 10 day cruise.

Ask about where to eat off the ship.  The best meal I had in the Carribean was a conch salad in a small place land-side.

Do some (only some) of the ship-board events that you wonder about.  We met lovely people and had a great time at some of the trivia contests and other events. 

Compliment the ship workers that deserve it.  If you can, put it in writing.  It makes a difference to them.

Don't be afraid to talk to friendly ship-mates.  You might never meet them again, but we really enjoy the conversations and the window into other's lives.

If you do get an onboard spa treatment - don't be pressured to buy anything.  It's okay to say "no".

Enjoy yourself!


...and if you have a day in St. Thomas:  http://www.rumbabacharters.com/ (http://www.rumbabacharters.com/)      Awesome.

Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Morticia on January 20, 2013, 06:10:26 PM
That is my favourite ship and itinerary. Pod to not trying to do it all. 
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Seraphia on January 20, 2013, 07:32:34 PM
Definitely don't try to do everything. Sometimes, it can be fun to stay on board in a port and do one of the trivia games with a smaller crowd, or paddle in the pool without having to hunt for a chair.

There is food *everywhere,* so make a note of the things you absolutely must try, whether it's a cupcake from the cupcake shop, or a fancy mixed drink, or a steak from the specialty restaurant. Make those things the priority.

I second the wine or pop package if you think you'll probably have some at most of your meals.

The slots in the casino are really tight - it's more fun to watch people play blackjack.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Rohanna on January 20, 2013, 08:33:08 PM
I've been on that ship , and I'm going back on it in Oct :)

It's a lovely boat, and the staff are usually very friendly and helpful
The food is awesome (and yes, everywhere) - if you don't like something, make sure to speak up and they'll fix it or bring you something else- cruises are not the time to eat things you aren't enjoying :)
Make sure to check the daily bulletin in your cabin- it gives you all the times of events- if there's something you really want to do that needs reservations/tickets- book it asap, because there are a LOT of people on the boats- this goes for shore excurions too
You can book shore excursions at the reservations desk, online before you go, or on your TV in the cabin
You can also track your bill on the TV- I strongly advise this so you don't let your bill "sneak up" on you- I've seen FAR too many 1st time cruisers getting "card happy" and cheerfully charging drinks with souvenier cups, knick-knacks, shore excursions, fancy coffees, specialty dining reservations, etc- without sitting down and adding it all up. Don't get carried away with it - check it every night and remember that charging to the room is as bad as handing over cash. You might think you "know" that, but first-cruise syndrome can suck you in. This goes double for kids- you should also be able to "lock down" the account to a certain limit, if I remember rightly.
Make sure your kids (and you) know that the offered drinks at poolside, etc, are NOT free- they'll often word that a little sneakily "would you like to try a mango tango smoothie"... then ask for your charge info.
This isn't meant to be a downer- there's TONS to do and eat that's included- I just like to warn people to watch out that they don't mess up a fun vacation with pricy extras they don't realize add up fast onboard :)
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: katycoo on January 20, 2013, 09:28:57 PM
If you have a kindle - take real books, too.  My screen broke on the 1st day of a 10 day cruise.

FYI: The ship I went on had a library.  I must preferred to use that than lug books around.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: KenveeB on January 20, 2013, 09:38:53 PM
If you have a kindle - take real books, too.  My screen broke on the 1st day of a 10 day cruise.

FYI: The ship I went on had a library.  I must preferred to use that than lug books around.

Yeah, but they don't necessarily have good books. The last two I've been on didn't have many I was interested in. But I must admit I bought my Kindle specifically after a cruise where I ran out of books too soon. :)
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: wheeitsme on January 20, 2013, 09:42:02 PM
If you have a kindle - take real books, too.  My screen broke on the 1st day of a 10 day cruise.

FYI: The ship I went on had a library.  I must preferred to use that than lug books around.

Yeah, but they don't necessarily have good books. The last two I've been on didn't have many I was interested in. But I must admit I bought my Kindle specifically after a cruise where I ran out of books too soon. :)

And that's what a kindle is good for!

I did get a few books out of the library, but they weren't the ones I wanted.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Dazi on January 20, 2013, 10:31:00 PM
Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.  You'll be walking a lot.   :D

Dramamine or some other motion sickness medication.

A tip I learned from my MIL...mostly pack underthings that are on there last leg, socks, underwear, bras and just toss them after you wear them.  Makes for more souvenir room and less laundry when you get home.

Don't overeat.  There is food everywhere.

Don't try to do everything or you'll need a vacation from your vacation.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: POF on January 21, 2013, 06:59:22 AM
Thanks everyone,

I will have some followup questions .... you all will be TIRED of me .. bt great advice ! POF
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 21, 2013, 07:05:00 AM
I agree about the books.  Although  the RC ships we've sailed on were lovely, the libraries were pitiful.  Possibly, this is because they never seem to have a staff member in attendance. 

If you like Romance novels in Dutch, you might do all right.  If not, you could have a problem. Bring your own books. 

We also agree with the advice about the billing.  We keep all our receipts in a baggy and call up our bill every few days. 

We also agree with the advice to bring underwear and socks that are good for only one more wearing or two. 

Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Morticia on January 21, 2013, 07:58:50 AM
You will have formal nights on board. You will wish to decide how to handle them. (not everyone observes formal night, and on the cruise board, you don't want to even post about this question because there are two armed camps on the subject). Reading up on RCL's what to pack FAQ will be useful.

Room service is free except between midnight and 5(?)am, but it is customary to tip room service in cash. It is a good idea to bring ones for this purpose (or you can get change for larger bills from the cashier in the casino, or at guest services).
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: wx4caster on January 21, 2013, 08:02:15 AM
Posting to see any and all updates.  We just booked our first cruise as well -  RC Navigator of the Seas (Eastern Mediterranean).
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 21, 2013, 08:31:54 AM
Two years ago we took the Navigator from Rome to Fort Lauderdale. 

You'll love it.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Cz. Burrito on January 21, 2013, 09:56:46 AM
Posting to see any and all updates.  We just booked our first cruise as well -  RC Navigator of the Seas (Eastern Mediterranean).

I loved the Mediterranean cruise I went on!
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on January 21, 2013, 11:16:06 AM
Formal nights on ships need not be a problem for women because there are so many interpretations of the term 'formal'.

I make do with a set from Travelsmith.  It's a pair of black, pull-on pants, a black shell and a black jacket.  All are in a fabric that you can ball up and throw in a corner of the suitcase without damage.    I usually don't wear the jacket but add a colorful jacket I already own and an inexpensive necklace to the other pieces.  The result is perfectly acceptable for a formal night and it's as comfortable as an old bathrobe.

Also, on ships you will almost always encounter the 10 dollar sale.  Evening bags, shawls and jewelry sets are staples.  It's an easy way to dress up an outfit for formal nights and doesn't break the budget.

For formal nights, men are expected to wear at least a jacket, tie and long pants.  Since the air conditioning on ships is often fierce in the public rooms, most men don't object too much.   

Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: KenveeB on January 21, 2013, 12:32:59 PM
I love the formal nights. It's one of the few chances I get to actually get dressed up these days. Plus, you can go pose for all the different photographers and see some really pretty pictures of yourself in front of different backdrops. I don't always buy them -- usually I buy one or two photos a cruise -- but they're nice to see!
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: katycoo on January 21, 2013, 05:17:12 PM
My comment on the library was with respect to taking books in addition to a kindle.  If my kindle failed, I'd make do with library choices.  I found the library on my ship had enough to amuse me.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: POF on January 21, 2013, 07:08:58 PM
Formal nights - I'l pack a basic black sleeveless dress with a dressy wrap.

DH - slacks and sports jacket or slacks and shirt and tie ( he doesn't want to go whole hog on the suit )

DS's - dress slacks and shrits and ties

I really doubt I will get them all in sports jackets - but they look really good in shirt and ties !
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Morticia on February 16, 2013, 11:57:21 AM
OP, I am not sure how old your kids are. If they are not adults, there are kids' clubs they will enjoy very much. Don't expect to see a lot of them.  If they are adults, one of the nicest areas on the ship is the adults only Solarium. It has cantilevered hot tubs, a pool, many loungers and a bar.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on February 16, 2013, 04:09:24 PM
I believe the OP mentioned that her DS just turned 16.  He's just the right age for the Teen Club.  We've met people on RC sailings who have teen children.  Both the parents and the young people thought the program was wonderful. 

The teens have a club area of their own that has a certain sophistication.  The only difference between that and an adult lounge is that no alcohol is served and entry is restricted to members of the club, members of the youth staff and adults authorized by parents of club members. Little kids are kept out unless an older sibling brings them in. 

  Teens can engage in sports, programs about the ecology of the sea,  language study related to ports the ship will visit and much, much more.  Several evenings, usually on formal nights, a Gothic themed room used as a Disco is devoted for a few hours to the Teen Club. The teens we met thought that was really cool. 
   
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: AmethystAnne on February 17, 2013, 08:42:03 AM
POF, have fun! There are so many things to do. You would be busy doing something 24 hours a day!

DH and I went on our first cruise in April 2012. I would go again in a heart beat.

I took those wristbands that ward off sea sickness, and Dramamine. I didn't have a problem.

I took several crochet and knitting projects. It was very pleasant to sit on deck and Work on them.I saw several other crafters doing their thing. I remember striking up a conversation with a lady working on a pretty green knitted lacey shawl.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on February 17, 2013, 09:32:50 AM
Another thing. 

Don't just check the daily program for activities.  Often, near the front desk, there will be a bulletin board where passengers can ask for others who would like to get together for activities like board games.

On our last cruise, a rather large group of needleworkers met in one of the lounges every morning to chat while they worked on their projects. 
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Morticia on February 17, 2013, 09:42:35 AM
On cruise critic, there are roll call threads where you can "meet" fellow passengers before you sail. If there is sufficient enrolment in your cruise, RCCL provides a Meet'n'Mingle for your group. 
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: POF on February 17, 2013, 09:55:03 AM
Thanks again everyone for all the advice !
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: AmethystAnne on February 17, 2013, 02:20:26 PM
 The next time I go on another cruise, I want to make the arrangements to do the "Chef's Table"( there is an additional fee for this on the Carnival cruise line) and do a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Morticia on February 17, 2013, 03:45:10 PM
When the dance club is closed, you can still carry beverages in there and have a nice comfy place to chat.  The wine bar provides nice dips and nibbles to go with your beverages. Sorrentos has a different vegetarian offering every day.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on February 17, 2013, 03:46:26 PM
I love the $10 martinis, and the R Bar on the Rhapsody was fantastic. It was also right near our cabin, so our usual hang out.

Crystallised ginger can help with sea sickness too.
Title: Re: Just booked a cruise ! first time ! any tips ?
Post by: Thipu1 on February 18, 2013, 08:07:10 AM
You don't have to depend solely on the daily schedule for activities.  By the front desk, there's usually a  bulletin board where passengers ask to meet with others for board games, book discussions and such.

On our last cruise, there was a rather large, unofficial group of ladies who met in one of the lounges to chat and work on their knitting.