I recently returned from my first 7 day cruise on the Carnival Valor. I have been back for 2 weeks now and am finding it hard to readjust to life on land. I had such a great time! The ocean, sun , sand…all of it is hard to forget.
When I think back on my thoughts and expectations before actually leaving for the cruise, I feel ridiculous. For some reason the sinking of the Titanic, falling overboard and being left behind on a deserted island were the only things that I could focus on. I was quite surprised to have experienced quite the opposite.
Because I know that I cannot be the only nutty person that actually harbors these types of thoughts, I have decided to choose my cruise as the topic of today’s blog. Hopefully these tips will help a fellow first-time cruiser overcome their fears as well.
To start, pick a travel time frame. Now, we all know that travelling in June, July and August can be hectic. The weather is essentially perfect, the kids are out of school and everyone has the same idea. Try a quieter time frame – maybe September, October, November? Although these months are oftentimes labeled “hurricane season”, you are more than likely NOT going to experience a hurricane. Pick your travel destination and enjoy the lower priced cruise fares!
Make sure to purchase a drink package. Cruise costs can add up quickly and nothing will add up quicker than drinks. With all the swimming, sweating and partying that goes on on the ship, you will need to stay hydrated. By purchasing the ‘Bottomless Bubbles’ package (or something equivalent) you are able to pay one flat charge for unlimited drinks. Now, the bubbles program will cover your soda charges, but many large cruise lines will offer an equivalent alcohol package. You never realize how much you spent until AFTER you get back, so be wise and splurge on the front end of your trip.
My third point brings me to cruise excursions. So, the cruise line will try to sell you on some magnificent shore excursion for days that you are able to leave the ship. DO NOT BUY THEM! Shore excursions are so fun, but would you not rather plan them on your own for a fair price? What I found was that the shore excursions that the cruise line schedules for you are the same as the ones you can schedule for yourself. When you get off of the ship you will find an army of locals attacking you for your business. You will oftentimes see the ship excursion group out on the same excursion you are on. Handle this yourself, but be cautious and make sure your plan involves legitimate sources.
To all of the parents out there: Do not be afraid to trust the children’s programs. I am what is known as a “helicopter parent”. I cannot seem to not worry about my child. I always want her near me and with me and sometimes following Elsa’s “Let it Go” is not something I am capable of doing. I decided to take my daughter to Camp Carnival for one day to let her see what was going on. I saw all of the other parents doing it too so my curiosity was peaked. My daughter was there for 2 hours and did not want to leave. She had made friends, drawn her own T-shirt, watched movies and played in the kiddie pool. She loved it! Parents, take a leap of faith and go for it!
Always remember, the bottom line is FUN! Enjoy the time you are out on the ocean. Think about your life, your choices. Take part in the activities that are planned for adults. Cruises are fun and you should really take the time that you are on one to truly enjoy it. It could be a while before you are able to experience it again.