Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cruise Planning: Helpful Hints

My husband and I love to travel. Several years ago we took our first cruise and fell in love with cruising. In November, we will be taking our 6th cruise. So...I guess you could say we are getting to be "veteran" cruisers.

When we went on our first cruise, we weren't sure what we were getting into but we were excited for a new adventure. We took a 7 day Caribbean cruise. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida the night before the cruise departed. That's my first tip...arrive the night before so that you are not rushed to board or even miss the ship due to travel complications.

We were excited to sail away into the turquoise blue waters and sunshine! But, first we had to board the ship. As soon as we got to the cruise port, we were beyond overwhelmed. There were people everywhere, luggage was stacked in piles, lines were long...although confused, we navigated our way through the crowds and lines and finally got to step foot on the ship. Whew, the hard part was over...well, not so much.

We discovered that a cruise ship is like a moving city, and it has it's own culture. People were moving about, going here and there...and we just stood there wondering what to do. Everyone said cruises were relaxing, but this didn't feel relaxing at all. Slowly, we figured out how things worked. We spent the first day getting to know where things were, how to find activities, where our stateroom was, and most importantly - where to eat! We finally got to our stateroom and our luggage wasn't there, I panicked! When the suitcases came, I could breathe a sigh of relief. I spent some time unpacking and setting up our "home away from home". We finally started to relax and get into vacation mode.

After taking 5 cruises, we have figured how to make the most of the cruising experience. I will be doing a series of cruise planning posts over the next several months so that I can share the things that I have learned. I am a planner, so I do a lot of planning prior to the cruise. Planning ahead makes vacation much more relaxing. I am excited to share elements of my cruise planning folder with you!

I put together a dos and don'ts list for cruising. You can download it HERE. Hope it is helpful!

If you are leaving on a cruise in the near future, let me leave you with one piece of advice...take time to get acclimated to the ship. Don't worry about anything. The cruise staff has everything worked out for you. But, don't be shy. Ask lots of questions and there are no silly questions! Remember, cruise ships are massive and there is such much going on, so don't be surprised if you feel the same way that we did on your first cruise.

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