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First cruise - I need your HELP!

First cruise - I need your HELP!

Old 09-19-2013, 06:40 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: New York State's Capital District
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Default First cruise - I need your HELP!

Hi everyone,
After being married for 25 years and divorced for 12, I met my high school sweetheart at his dad's funeral about 4 years ago. On June 29th I married him. He has surprised me with a cruise that leaves the end of October and goes from Boston to Aruba, Barbados, Curacao and St. Kitts and finally goes to Tampa where will fly back to San Antonio, TX. I have never been on a cruise and he has only been on 1 other many years ago.

We are sailing on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. I've heard some things about wearing formal wear, always needing to wear a dress or pants suits for dinner. What else do I bring to wear? Oh, and we will be on board ship on Halloween.

We also want to get off the ship and look around but aren't sure of any of the trips the boat "sponsors". We would just like to go to the beach and maybe walk around the towns.

If you don't buy an alcoholic drink package what is the cost of an average drink? Have you ever had any of the services like massage on board? Spending money? Is there really much to do on board while we are sailing (first 3 days are at sea)?

If anyone has recently been on a cruise or been to these locations I could really use your help! Any suggestions, tips and hints would be appreciated! Thanks...Pat
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Old 09-19-2013, 07:25 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
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You can't go wrong wth a black dress for formal with sparkling accessories. If you can find a fabric witches hat that can be folded flat, it can also double as your Halloween costume. I've never been on a cruise as I get sea sick on the Great Lakes.
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Old 09-19-2013, 07:36 AM
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Location: Corpus Christi, Tx.
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Sorry can't help you. I prefer to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground. I hate flying and have only done it for very special/bitter sweet occasions. Have fun though.
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Old 09-19-2013, 07:51 AM
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Hi, it always depends on the cruise line you go with. Formal nights are dressy nights, with gents always wearing jacket and tie. Some cruise lines have a dress code, others do not. Your booking agent should be able to help you, I have found that in the back pages of the cruise brochure it will suggest what to wear on formal, casual, or semi formal nights. \tours bought on board are always quite expensive, and a lot you can do yourself, but always remember, that if you are on a ship tour, you will always get back to the ship before it sails. On DIY tours, if you are not back at sailing time, the ship has no obligation to wait for you.
Treatments at the spa are usually expensive, but there is always plenty to do on sea days, this is always my favourite part of the cruise.
Just enjoy yourself, and remember nobody is going to turn you away from any event because you are not dressed to their recommendations.
Have a great time.
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Old 09-19-2013, 08:02 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Knot Merrill, Southern Indiana
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Lucky girl!! Congrats on your recent marriage!

You really need to check with the cruise line about the specific cruise you are on. It should tell you if there is a formal night, a halloween costume night, and the port excursions they offer (either free or paid).

It's been a number of years since I've been on a cruise, but all of the above information was available at that time.

I have not heard of a purchasing a "drinks package" ... this must be something new to provide a lower fare for those that will not partake in alcohol beverages. Good idea as why should they foot the bill for the drinkers. As such, I have no idea how much drinks would cost if purchased as our package was all inclusive. Again though ... the cruise line should be able to provide this.

Have fun!
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Old 09-19-2013, 08:04 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
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I love cruising! You unpack once...and your time is your own. I take a black pants outfit and jazz it up with sparkles for dress night...there is always an alternative casual place to eat those nites. We usually take the ship- based excursions...they are regulated and have great opportunities. Ship board days are my fave..there is an activity of some sort all day long,a chance to read a good book( sew hexxies for your GMFG), nap,hang out. The best time to get spa stuff done is while ship is in port- less expensive. Have a great time!
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Old 09-19-2013, 08:13 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Vermont
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Instead of signing up for an expensive tour that the ship offers, it is often cheaper to hire a cab to take you to the same places. On your own, it is much easier to meet local people, if that is what you like to do.

The cruise I was on, drinks were fairly expensive. I did not indulge.
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Old 09-19-2013, 08:25 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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Oh, congratulations on your first cruise!! You will love it! We've cruised Royal Caribbean numerous times and really liked it. A nice dress for formal nights is fine. You'll see the whole gamut, tuxes, suits, dresses, pant suits. One one of the cruises we took, we decided we didn't want to do formal nights so we just went to the buffet those nights. Comfortable shoes are the most important thing - you'll be walking a lot on the ship, as well as on shore. Shorts/pants and t-shirts during the day.

The advantage of taking a tour sponsored by the cruise line, if you are late getting back for any reason, the ship will wait for you. If you go with an independent cruise company and your bus breaks down or something, the ship will leave without you. Look through all your options and decide what you are most interested in. If you are into snorkeling, etc. the packages are pretty much the same for each island. Or you could take an island tour, just to get the flavor of the places you are visiting. Most of the cruise ships dock close to the town, so you can go walk around on your own.

The cruise ships are all "cashless" now, meaning everything gets charged to your room and you get a surprisingly ginormous bill at the end of the cruise! Two years ago, when we traveled Royal Caribbean, was the first time we had to pay for soft drinks, that was surprising. You used to only have to pay for alcohol, but they want to get money from you whenever they can. If they offer a drinks package, sit down and figure out how many drinks you might drink in a day and compare it to the price of the package. Usually, if you buy the package ahead of time, you don't have to pay the 15% gratuity. They automatically add that to each drink when you get them separately on board. Sometimes the cruise line lets you bring your own bottled water on board. We've done that and it saves us a lot of money.

Massages - they are fabulous on some cruises, so-so on others. It just depends upon how good the masseuse is.

Keep some money aside to pay tips at the end of the cruise - wait staff, dining room manager, room stewards, it seems everyone has their hands out. That NORMALLY ensures you get treated well. We are taking a cruise in November on a line that doesn't allow tipping. Should be interesting to see how we are treated on that ship.

Things to do on board. Aside from the regular stuff like swimming, sunbathing, shopping on board, they usually have a lot of stuff to do. Bingo, cooking demonstrations, island information meetings. But my favorite? TRIVIA! They usually have two or three trivia games a day, sometimes they are themed. Play by yourselves, join groups - whatever your heart desires. We have met some of the nicest people that we played trivia with all week. Let me tell you, people take their trivia playing seriously! All for a Royal Caribbean key chain! you can do as much, or as little, as you want on board.

Will there be a costume party or something for Halloween? If you can fit something in your suitcase, great. Play on words are easy costumes: Write BOOK on your forehead (Facebook), use face paint to paint a black eye and color a large letter P on your shirt (black-eyed pea), wear a slip and put a nametag on that says Freud (Freudian slip), glue cotton all over yourself and carry a small spray bottle of water (cloudy with a chance of showers. Squirt people when they ask what you are), print a picture of a past or the present Queen, put it on a piece of cardboard to make it last longer, attach a string to it and drag it behind you (drag queen), wear scrubs and borrow a pepper mill on the ship and use a string to tie it around your neck (Dr. Pepper), put a cereal box around your neck with ribbon. Stick a fake knife through it (serial killer). Wear a hat with a leaf hanging on it in front of your face. Blow on it when people ask who you are (leaf blower). Attach random clothing articles all over you (static cling). Buy a pig nose at a costume shop - borrow a sheet on board and wear it like a toga (pig latin - speak igpay atinlay all night). Just a few thoughts.

Packing for the trip - I've found that I never wear everything that I take. Sometimes you'll put on something just to wear to dinner. You can certainly wear that again another evening. I pack and then take out 1/3 of what I've packed. Make a copy of your passports just in case they get lost. You usually have a safe in the room that you can keep them in, along with any other valuables. You can usually empty your suitcases and hang things up/put them in drawers and store the suitcases under the bed and out of the way.

Things to bring - an over-the-door shoe hanger has been our lifesaver. The rooms are so small and there is never any storage in the bathroom. I put all our medications, suntan lotions, combs, razors, etc. in the hanger over the bathroom drawer. Bring a power strip. There are never enough plugs for things in the rooms, especially if you want to keep Kindles, Nooks, iPads, iphones, etc. charged. A small sewing kit (just in case). Bonine in case you are afraid of getting seasick (better than Dramamine because it doesn't make you tired). Febreeze. If you are a big coffee drinker - bring your own giant bubba cup to fill up and carry around with you.

Just a suggestion - Loooonnnnnggggg hallways of doors. I always go to the dollar store before a trip, pick up some magnets and some decorations to decorate our cabin door. Or you can make a clever sign and put it on the door. It makes it easier to find your room.

That's all I can think of right now. Sorry it's so long-winded, but mention 'cruise' to me and I'm off! Have a safe and wonderful trip!
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Old 09-19-2013, 09:15 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
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Michelle ~ I'm not even planning on going on a cruise and I enjoyed ready your response!! Thanks! It'll come in handy if I ever do go!
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Old 09-19-2013, 03:07 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: NH
Posts: 645

The best advice someone passed on to us was to relax and have fun. Don't worry about what others are thinking of you because you will never see them again!!! Have a great time! We LOVE cruising....the fort on St. Kitts is neat with breath-taking views.
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