It’s a little hard to believe that after almost 25 years of marriage, and an equal number of excuses why I thought the timing was all wrong, we finally went on a cruise. I am not quite sure what came over me this winter, since I tended to be the one leading the charge to make the cruise happen. I am blaming it on the ridiculously cold winter and the havoc the cold played on my brain cells of reason. I have always been very firm in my position that a cruise was something that made no sense at all. Haven’t all the cruise mishaps been well documented? From wide spread food poisoning, to the ship dead in the water with the one working toilet, and even better, the cruise ship that tipped over. The whole tipping thing was a bit worrisome since I am not a big fan of water in general, unless it is either frozen or in a bottle. To further reinforce the whole tipping concept, the first activity of our 4 day cruise was to assemble on deck, something which took way too long, in my opinion, and then listen to someone with a heavy foreign accent totally confuse everyone about how to get into the life boats should a tip happen. The foreign accent would be a recurring theme which, when coupled with a poor PA system, pretty much made all announcements unintelligible. Hopefully, nothing they told us was of any importance.
While hardly an expert after all of 4 days on the water, I have put together a top 10 do and don’t list for those looking to take this vacation step.
- Don’t book a 4 day cruise in March. March tends to correspond to Spring Break and way too many 20 year olds standing in a hot tub with beverage in hand. The hot tubs were essentially unusable as they were filled beyond a reasonable capacity morning til night.
- Do eat in the dining room as opposed to heading to the buffet. I consider myself quite the buffet lover, however, there really is something to be said for sitting down and having someone bring you literally as many courses as you want. On our particular cruise, there was only one formal evening which interrupted our stops in the dining room. Otherwise, casual dress pants and golf shirt work just fine unless of course you pack 2 pairs of casual dress shoes and no pants of any kind. In which case, you shuffle in as the dining room opens and hope no one notices.
- Don’t fly down on the same day the cruise sails. While it can be done, it does lead to a fair amount of weather watching and getting up way too early on the day of the cruise to catch the early flight.
- Do consider one of the excursions while in port. While I am sure most are way overpriced, they do provide a stress free way to enjoy the time on land. Our excursion was nothing exceptional, but did provide a very relaxing time on dry ground.
- Don’t order up 7 desserts at one meal. It is very tempting to do this, but is a poor choice if a good night’s sleep and a friendly scale are in your plans. This also is a little embarrassing as one plate after another comes your way. Your waiter is not waiting for you to finish the first before rolling out the seventh.
- Do get a balcony if pricing allows. While we did not spend a great deal of time on the balcony, it was a nice place to retreat and enjoy a room service breakfast on our day in port.
- Don’t buy a watch. Not sure what else to say.
- Do take advantage of the entertainment. Most of the shows were far better than I would have expected and were well worth the time.
- Don’t over pack. I am fairly certain we only used half of what we brought. No one really cares if you wear the same thing 2 days in a row
- Do find time to take a few walks. Just make sure to hold onto your hat because a stiff breeze is pretty much a certainty on deck. The apparent winds tended to be over 40 mph most days.
Overall, the whole cruise experience was a positive one and I could be talked into a return trip. It was a very relaxing time with no real communication from the outside world – no internet, no texts, no e-mail, etc. Also, while probably not the best idea, it is possible to head out without a passport. So all you reluctant men out there, relax and give that cruise a try.