My Cruising Tips

My Cruising Tips

I have a lot of catching up to do in this space, as I haven't shown up since recapping our Southern Caribbean cruise we took last month while Lil' Miss was on spring break. The week after we returned someone at her school brought back the worst souvenir from their trip - a stomach virus that spread through the whole school. Thankfully, my neurotic cleaning and hand washing prevented H and I from catching it, but it was still hard watching our sweet girl feel so awful. And all the laundry. Woof! Thankfully, we have been healthy ever since *knocks on wood* and have been having lots of local fun at Universal Studios and their water park Volcano Bay, the beach with friends and checking out new to us brunch spots. Hoping to recap the fun next week. 

Today, I wanted to share some of my cruising tips for anyone who has never been on a cruise or are thinking about taking one soon. 

1. Always choose the itinerary over the cruise line or even the ship. For a while we were stuck on wanting to be on the biggest/newest ships, and we have found we have the best time on the cruises where we chose them based on the itinerary (the stops). Our most recent cruise stopped in Half Moon Cay Bahamas, Grand Turk, Aruba and Bonaire. We chose this itinerary because 3 out of the 4 stops were new to us, and we ended up on a Carnival ship when we prefer Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. It ended up being our favorite vacation so far! 

2. Spring for the balcony room! The one time we booked an inside room to save money on a 3 night birthday cruise for our friend to the Bahamas we regretted it. The room was SO small, we could barely walk around our stuff and the bed to get to the bathroom. Plus not having a view of the outside was hard. We love having a cup of coffee or breakfast out on the balcony as we pull into a new island (hint room service is usually free), or a night cap while listening to the waves. 

3. You can bring 1 bottle of wine per adult per stateroom. You also used to be able to bring a pack of water bottles, but too many people smuggled alcohol in with them that it's no longer a thing. Boo! But yay for a bottle of wine or bubbles in the room while getting ready for dinner or out on the balcony as a night cap. Just ask your room steward for a wine key and 2 glasses. 

4. Bring koozies and/or stainless steel bottles to keep water and bar drinks cold. I always forget to bring them, and finally remembered on this past trip. Game changer! 

5. Bring workout clothes and a pair of sneakers. Popping into the gym a few times during a 7+ night cruise is a good idea. You're over indulging in all the food and drinks while relaxing a lot more than usual so a quick sweat sesh keeps me on track. 

6. Bring the fancy clothes for Cruise Elegant dinners. We had 2 elegant evenings on our 8 night cruise so I brought the dress I wore to my cousin's wedding last fall and another new dress which will definitely be re-purposed for our next wedding. 

7. You can order multiple appetizers, entrees or desserts at dinner. Can't make up your mind? Why not order both?! Hence my comment about making it to the gym a few points above. 

8. Sign up for the loyalty programs. Even if you sail on a different cruise line every few vacations - the perks add up, and they love to take care of their past guests. Priority boarding, welcome drinks, free water bottles in the room, laundry service etc... are all added bonuses once you build up points/status. 

9. If you are flying to the cruise port - I highly suggest flying in a day early and spending the night in the departure port. Friends of ours missed their cruise after an unexpected flight delay on their layover several years ago. We usually cruise out of Florida and just drive to the port, but we have cruised out of New Jersey to go to Bermuda in 2016, out of San Juan for a Southern Caribbean cruise back in 2009 and out of Barcelona for a Mediterranean cruise in 2014 and always always always fly in a day early to make sure we are there and to enjoy the city where we leave from. 

What are some of your cruise must-haves or tips?