Cruises are a Treasure

My husband and I went on a cruise to Mexico for our Honeymoon, and it was wonderful! I had never been on a cruise before, and I definitely want to go on more.

Michael and I at our dining table the first night
My sister will be going on a cruise soon, and after I heard that I started thinking of all the things that I found helpful to know -some of which I learned the "hard" way. So, even though I'm no expert, I decided to share those tips with you all, maybe some will come in handy :-)

It's a long post, you may need a snack. Ready? Here we go!

Pay your gratuities ahead of time. This will save stress later, and you don't have to worry about forgetting to tip someone -I think this can just be done online.

Make sure your passports are right on hand when in line to board the ship, you'll be asked to show it about 50 times just to get on board

This is our ship!
Bring food for the first night on the cruise. Everyone will be hungry, so while they have tons of free buffets and things, they'll be totally crowded the first night. Or, order room service. (tips for things like room service may not be included in the gratuities you payed ahead of time, so you might want to tip them)

Use the safe that is provided in your room. The odds of something being stolen are slim, as you have the same attendant assigned to your room the whole week, but it's good to be safe. :-)

Us. We took pictures of all the animals our room attendant made
Before you go to bed each night put the "Do Not Disturb" sign in your door, that way when your attendant makes his/her morning rounds they won't wake you up. Then, when you leave your room for the day put the sign in that allows them to clean. It's nice to go back to a clean room! And, they'll make adorable animals out of your towels. 

Michael and I have a thin, small bag that fit our passports perfectly, Michael would wear it under his shirt so that we knew they were safe while we stopped in the ports. Having something like this, that is easily accessible, comes in very handy. You'll need to show your passports each time you re-board the ship

Michael and I exploring the ship
Bring your camera with you everywhere! Even when exploring the ship. Also, keep the wrist thing on so you won't lose or drop your camera (we saw that happen a few times on board)

Every day your room attendant will leave a schedule for the next day, make sure you look at it and plan what you want to do. Some shows only happen twice (during the two dinner times) and you don't want to miss something amazing. I caried our schedule for the day in my purse with us so we could refer to it.

This was some of the ice skaters
Go to the shows! They're amazing, and free. You won't regret going, but you might regret not going.

Bring a sweater. It's really hot in Mexico, but when you're in the ocean, it gets cold at night. (I didn't oops! and I had to buy one)

These are our servers for the week. They were awesome!
You'll be assigned a dinner time, around 6, or around 8. Michael and I had the 8 o'clock dinner, and it worked very well for us, so we weren't rushed to get to dinner after visiting the ports. Whatever dinner time you have, your servers will be the same each night, as will your dinner companions. It's fun to get to know the people you're dining with :-)

When ordering food, order as much as you want! It's all payed for ahead of time, (except for some specialty items on the menu, they'll have a price by them) Michael and I would sometimes order multiple desserts

This was our dining room
There are restaurants on board you can go to, just remember they cost extra (your hotel room is attached to your credit card, some people don't realize this) Note: all restaurants won't seat you if you're wearing a bathing suit or flip-flops -they have a casual dining if you don't want to change.

On our ship there was a free buffet that was open for certain hours around breakfast and lunch (casual dinner as well) if you miss one of the meals don't sweat! just head over to the free 24/7 cafe.

Another one of our towel animals :-)
Bring a watch! Michael and I didn't, and you need a watch. Dinner is served at a certain time, events are at certain times, and if you aren't back to the ship on time they'll leave the port without you. So, if you forget, shop around. Most of the watches and things in the stores on board, are very pricey. But, we were able to find a watch for just $5.

If you want to get a souvenir from the ship (we got a miniature boat) wait for sales.

On our ship they'd have jewelry lectures sometimes, (ports are big on selling jewelry and diamonds) I went to one because they gave out a free diamond pendant at the previous one, and I got a free pearl, which is still nice! So, if you want free stuff, you'll want to go to those (I think it will say in your daily schedule when you'll receive something free). Note: they give out vouchers for the free gift, you'll need to stop in a certain store at a port to claim it.

Michael and I on one of the formal nights
Our cruise had two formal nights, your itinerary should let you know so that you can dress accordingly. Now, formal means different things to different people. Just know you won't feel out of place, because people will range from evening gowns and tuxes, to mini skirts.

I think your itinerary will also let you know of any themed parties that will go on during the cruise. There are night clubs, and pool parties and things every night.

If you're trying to save room in your luggage, don't bring shampoo and conditioner! Our cruise ship had a dispenser of shampoo, conditioner, and I think they had body wash too.  

You don't need to do the excursions to have fun on the ports! There's so much to see, and so many places to go. If you don't have the money for the excursions, don't worry. You'll still have tons of fun! However, if you have extra money to do the excursions, then go for it! Michael and I didn't do any excursions, but we still had a great time, there was still so much to do and see in the ports.

One of the food sculptures that was at a pool party
Within the first couple of hours of being on board, they'll ask you to go to your dining room, and table, as the captain has the crew go over safety drills and things like that.

If you don't get your luggage right away, don't freak out! There are people who will put the luggage outside your room all during the first day.

Going to the point of the ship is very fun! Its a great view to see. However, if you're there too long you may get sick. Michael and I were there for 20 min, and we were sick for hours after. It was worth it though! If you do feel sea sick, there is a medical center you can visit to get help. Or just laying in bed worked for us. (We got room service that night, we didn't want to risk going to dinner)

Don't let the vendors seehow much money you have until after you've agreed on a price.

This is me by a very large cactus (the largest one I've ever seen)
When they name a price, barter low at first, they'll be more willing to meet you in the middle then. ie: 
me: how much is this?
them: $20
me: no, too much. (start to walk away)
them: Okay, $15
me: No, $5
them: $10
me: $8
them: okay deal!
Don't feel badly about doing this, Michael and I visited a WalMart there, and trust me, they're still making money when you barter!

Some stores in Mexico will give you a free gift just for visiting -coupons for those will be at your shopping guides desk

When in a port, stay in the shopping areas that are on your map (you can get a map from your shopping guides desk) don't wander away to the middle of Mexico. Also, most of the stores on the shopping giudes map will be more pricey, however you can find good thrift stores, and nice vendors as you look around.

Part of the Promenade on our ship. So pretty 
Barter the price of everything! Everything. Including taxis. At one or two of the ports you have to ride a taxi to the shopping districts, and the taxi drivers will charge high because they know most tourists won't question. You definitely should barter!

Bring water from the ship when on the ports! You will get thirsty. Michael and I brought a backpack with a built in water bottle, it worked perfect for us to store what we bought, and drink water. Remember, the water from the ship goes through a lot of filtration, even the water in your toilet is clean enough to drink! (that doesn't mean you should drink from the toilet though) Don't drink the water on the ports. If you run out of the water you brought, buy something else to drink, soda or something that couldn't be tampered with.

Michael playing by the water (We went swimming later that day)
If you want to go swimming in the ocean, be careful with what you do with your passports and possessions. Michael and I payed some people to watch our things (it was cheaper than the lockers we found, however you might be able to find cheaper lockers.)

Bring sunglasses, bathing-suits and suntan lotion! Michael forgot sunglasses, luckily we were able to get some real cheap at our first port

More food sculptures from a pool party
Remember there is always something to do on the ship! Ours had mini golf, rock climbing, pools, rollerskating/blading, classes... seriously tons of stuff! The great thing too, is that although there's always stuff, you don't have to do any of it. You can pick and choose, and create your perfect vacation.

If you sign up for excursions not with the cruise learn exactly where you're going (our dinner companions ended up on a nude beach) and barter the prices with them too. There isn't a set price for most things

We took a picture of all the people at the first pool party
Also, remember that the ship is filled with lots of different kinds of people, rich, poor, middle class, big families, old couples, business people, newlyweds... Most of the people you probably won't see again on the ship as it is so big. So, don't worry about fitting in. Everyone fits in on a cruise ship!

And, those are my tips! I hope they come in handy.
So, writing this post, and looking at my pictures, is making me want to go on a cruise again. I think I'll need to post more pictures sometime.


Amber said...

Awesome post and great tips! I can't wait to go (someday...) :)

Lanie Ree said...

Definitely post more pictures! And this is so well written. Thanks for the tips :)

Denise said...

Following from The Creative Girl's New Friend Friday.

Stop by and enter a giveaway for a Rachael Ray Bakeware set:

Ally said...

Thanks for making me jealous as heck. Funny, this is the third cruise blog post I've read today. Is someone trying to tell me to plan one? Hee hee.