Lessons Learned from our very first cruise.

Aug 25, 2023

We went on a cruise last year, and we learned some valuable lessons that I believe must be shared. You're welcome. 


1. Plan in time for Flight Delays.

About 4 hours before we were planning to leave for the airport, we received a notice that our connecting flight had been canceled. Period. No rescheduling, no delays, just canceled.  Which meant we could fly to New York, but then we'd be stuck there. My only option was to call customer service. And wait on hold for two hours. So I did. And the lady I eventually talked to was nice and helpful and tried very hard to find another flight for us, but because we had to be in Miami by 2:00 pm, we had a very narrow window to fit the flight in and the only viable flight was full. Sorry for the inconvenience. Wish we could help. 

Ultimately, we decided to drive up to the airport as planned and hope that someone there could help us. And if not, we could fly to New York and spend the weekend there. Surely there were worst places to spend a weekend. 

But, we found someone smart and capable at the check in counter, and that flight that had been full 4 hours before suddenly had two open seats and she put our names down. We had a flight all the way to Miami. 

Still, it spooked me. All the way up until we actually got on the boat, I was sure something would go wrong. That they would have given our tickets to someone else, or that we'd suddenly test positive for Covid, out of the blue, or that our passports would be invalid. 

We wanted to take a red eye flight so that we wouldn't have to pay for a hotel in Miami the night before our cruise, but we didn't account for the crap fest that is the airline industry right now. Stuff happens. Weather happens. Things go wrong. We should have allowed some extra time to account for it.

It was pouring rain in Miami. Thus the canceled Flight. That isn't a water feature on the wall behind us. That is rain pouring down the glass of the covered walkway leading onto the boat. 

Myth #1: You can buy anything you need on the cruise ship.


FALSE! Yes, there are stores on board the cruise ship. But unless you are in the market for watches or designer hand bags, you probably won't find what you need. For reals. There were two of THE SAME jewelry store, but not one convenience store. Perfume, yes. Expensive sandals, sure. Advil? No, ma'am. Tweezers? Not if your life depended on it.

#5: Bring your own snacks. (I almost wrote snakes there. That might be a good tip too, but you'll have a hard time getting them on board, until you get real creative with your hiding places.)

Say one night you get a sudden craving. M&M's! Any kind will do! Actually, any candy bar at all will work. But this is the same problem as the one above. You can't get snacks anywhere on board. Unless you want Rum Cakes, you are shuck out of luck. I suggest you plan accordingly. Seriously. I just wanted a candy bar. Why does the souvenir shop ONLY sell rum cakes?? Why?  

Myth #3 - The dining room is always open. 

I might be different on other ships, but on Royal Caribbean that was not the case. My dad always says that his main complaint on his cruise was that they fed him too much. So I was just expected food being pushed at me from every side, all day long. But no. There was a buffet upstairs that was open with extended hours around meal times. But the food was really only so so. Standard cheap buffet food. The food in the formal dining room was fantastic, but the servings were rather small like you would expect in a super fancy restaurant and it was open with much more limited hours, and if you didn't make a reservation you might have to wait for a table for a while. 

There were several other restuarants, but half of them were not included with your cruise meal plan, which means you had to pay to eat there, just like you would in any restaurant. It was also rather hard to tell which restaurants were free, and which weren't, so we ususally just stuck to the ones we were sure about. And they were all only open around meal times. You could order room service too, but most of that food also cost extra. Fortunately there was a Ben and Jerrys on board. Yes, their food was not included with the cruise meal package, but the cruise had also kindly given us $100 credit to be spent on whatever we wanted onboard the boat. Richard used a bunch of it on Lobster one night (again, not something that was included in the free meals), but we had to spend the rest on something. Good thing I like Icecream so much.

B) - Take Cash. Or, maybe, don't.

I meant to take cash, I really did. But what with the flight kerfuffle, we never stopped at the bank to get any. Which left us in Nassau Bahamas without any cash. It was the weekend, so there were no open banks, and I didn't even have a debit card to pull cash out of an ATM. Which meant no souvenirs, which was kind of sad, but also gave me an excellent excuse not to buy anything from any of the vendors that were pushing their wares at us. 

After hanging out on the beach for a while I would have liked to rent some four wheelers to explore the island, but it started pouring rain, which might have made four wheeling somewhat less exciting.

We just ran around on foot and explored the town and got soaked, and found a woman in a shop who gave us some Bahaman coins, just for fun.

And it was awesome! And we didn't spend an arm and a leg! So who's laughing now?

Well, there you have it. Every single lesson we learned while cruising, that I can think of at the moment. 

We tried escargot, which was, you know, snails.

And didn't really mind being in an interior room, because no windows meant it was DARK, and morning sort of lost meaning. It was very restful.

All in all, we had a great time! I may have seen more half-naked women than anyone ever needs to see, but it just makes me all the more excited for our next cruise. To Alaska! Someday!

This is the end.