Why I never cruised before
After chatting with a few people, I realized I wasn’t alone when I said, “I’ve never cruised before because it doesn’t seem like something I’d enjoy”. I also believed those within my age demographics didn’t go on cruise, so it wouldn’t be as fun. All the reasons why I never tired a cruise until this year.
Why we chose to cruise now
Now the reason why we decided to go on a cruise was because we decided to tag along with my cousin and her husband. We always have a great time together so why not?!
Thoughts from a first-time cruiser
I’ll start off by saying I really enjoyed cruising!
For this cruise we sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Escape ship for their 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary, embarking and disembarking from Miami port, which included:
- Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
- Costa Maya, Mexico
- Harvest Caye, Belize
- Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras
My cousin and her husband have cruised before, so we relied heavily on them on what to expect. The first thing they warned us about was the check-in process and how it can be a lengthy process. With this in mind, we choose one of the earlier check-in options. Upon arriving at our cruise terminal, we had to drop off our luggage’s with one of the porters.
TIP #1: To save time, print off your luggage tags and attach to your luggage ahead of time. These are provided to you with your cruise documents, once you check-in online.
TIP #2: Tip your porter, remember they are responsible for your personal belongings.
TIP #3: Typically, your luggage arrives in your stateroom until much later, so it’s best to pack a backpack/carry-on with any necessities you’ll need such as a bathing suit, extra clothing, mediations, anything you’ll need for the day.
Now it’s time to go through security, it’s the same process as airport security. Luckily there wasn’t any line when we arrived, so we scathed through that quickly.
The next step is check-in where you’ll receive your cruise card (this card is your room key and the only way to make on-board purchases). This was the longest line, but it moved quickly, we were in and out in about 20-25 minutes.
TIP#4 – If you like to drink, or think you’ll drink at least six drinks in day, get the beverage package – it’s worth it!
Then after that we boarded the ship! I remember my cousin telling me that was the fastest check-in process she’d experience so far – kudos to NCL.
The first day on the ship was the most crowded experience I had all week on the ship. Everyone congregated at the buffet – by the time we boarded the ship, it was lunchtime – I remember thinking to myself that this is my nightmare and hoped the rest of the week wouldn’t be this crowded. My cousin assured me this was only happening because staterooms weren’t ready yet (this is normal) and there wasn’t much to do on the ship yet except gamble at the casino or eat at the buffet. I was relieved to hear this, and it was true the rest of the week didn’t feel crowded at all.
There was a ton of activities on the ship, for all ages and I recommend to try out all the amenities your ship has to offer. on the NCL Escape, we took advantage of a ton of amenities including:
- A salt water pool
- 4 hot tubs
- 4 water slides
- A ropes course
- Mini putt
- Movie nights
- Nightly dance parties
- Game shows hosted by the cruise director
- Karaoke nights
- Comedy shows
- Broadway musicals
- Art auctions
- …and much more!
Safe to say we were never bored on the ship – so much to do!
Although we had the tendency to stick to only one area of the ship, which was the near the pool and hots tubs. But it was usually full, so we’d have to wait around until someone left. On the last day, there was another area on the ship where there were more hot tubs and loungers, it wasn’t over crowded either.
TIP #5 – Explore the entire ship on the first day and scope out all the areas
TIP #6 – When you do find a spot, tip your bar server or whenever is bringing your drinks generously. They’ll always come back and ask if you need another drink right before you even finish the one in your hand!
Would I Recommend Trying A Cruise?
Absolutely! If you’re looking to relax on your next vacation then definitely try out a cruise. I also enjoyed porting at different places each day – you always had something to look forward to. On the days at Sea, you could either relax by the pool or participate in many of the activities available on the ship.
I got a lot of questions on the below, so here are my thoughts:
As for the living quarters, we purchased the Inside Stateroom because it was the cheapest option. We were aware that there wasn’t any windows inside the room but, to be honest, we did not mind because we were hardly in the room – it was really only to sleep and shower. It was only hard when we had to wake up in the mornings because had zero idea what time of day it was.
I got a lot of questions about the food on the ship and it wasn’t bad! I really enjoyed the buffet (for some reason the pizza on the ship was like crack! We probably ate 3 slices everyday at lunchtime) and main dining room restaurant. At the main dining room restaurant, this was included in the cruise cost, every day the menu changed so it felt as if you were eating at a different restaurant each night.
There were 5 restaurants included that were included in the price of the cruise:
- International buffet
- The Manhattan Room
- O’Sheehan’s (24hr pub with pub food)
As for Sea Sickness, my boyfriend and I paid a visit to the Doctor prior to our trip and our Doctor prescribed us with preventative motion sickness pills, which did help! Personally, I did get any sea sickness but you do feel the boat sway and some days were more rocky than the others. For some reason, I always felt it at dinner time and in the shower.
Overall, I had a great first time cruise experience and would do it again – I’m already thinking about my next cruise!