Planning Our Cruise

My family and I recently went on an seven day Eastern Caribbean Cruise. We began planning this cruise over a year before we actually sailed away. While it was fun to begin the planning and booking activities, it was a little overwhelming as well. There is so much to do and to think about, from port excursions to speciality dinner to shows. Being that we paid a lot for the cruise, we wanted to see, do and experience as much as we could. But there is only so much time in a day {or in this matter, days on the ship}.

Sailing Away

To make the best of our time and ensure we would be able to do everything we wanted, here are eleven great tips to ensure you and your family have the best experience on your cruise.

Tip #1: Download the {Royal Caribbean} App

Throughout our planning process, we did utilized the Royal Caribbean website via my laptop, however, often times, it was so much easier to use the Royal Caribbean App on my phone. Being that while on the cruise, the app was needed, it was so much easier to just download the app on everyone’s phone in our travel party. This way we knew our account was working and there shouldn’t be any issues while on board.

Tip #2: Sign up for Port Excursions

While cruising on these ship is like a floating city, part of the fun is getting off the ship in each port and experience the city / destination / culture of each port. There was always options both through Royal Caribbean * and outside vendors so you will most likely find something to do for everyone within your budget. I love how the excursions give you a piece of the adventure (you are comfortable with) and get to experience the culture of your port. Sometimes, you may never visit these ports again in your lifetime and this is a great way to see a part of that city.

* For my family, we always choose to book an excursion with Royal Caribbean in case we are ever late returning to the ship. When booking through a private vendor or on your own, there is risk involved. To learn more that this, refer to their website.

Tip #3: Sign up for the Shows

While planning your cruise in advance, sometimes the cruise will publish their shows prior to your boarding day. You will need to read the updates on their website, or with the app (see Tip #1 above), this is a great time to search often for the shows that will be available during your cruise. There are so many fun, exciting and current shows which are included in your cruise fare. Shows from ice skating to a water show and diving to singing and dancing. Again, there is a show sure to please everyone in your travel party. The key is to book early, and the App makes it easier especially when making for (free) reservations for your entire party.

Tip #4: Read the Cruise Compass

The three tips mentioned above can all be done prior to your embarkation day (and are even strongly recommended to do in advance since they seel out fast), however, once you have boarded the Cruise ship, your stateroom person will provide you daily with the Cruise Compass. This is chalk full of information about the shows, dinners, activities, ports of call; you name it; it is probably in the Cruise Compass. Note: You can also access the Cruise Compass from the App but I enjoy the larger print).

Tip #5: Get to Know Your Stateroom Person & Crew

While this is a great tip, it really shouldn’t be. Meeting and talking with your cabin person and other crew members is just the right ting to do. They are doing a great job ensuring your stateroom is always clean, your meals are prepared timely, you have clean towels at the pool, and the ship is just clean and friendly. They are always going the extra mile to ensure your vacation is perfect. They are always willing to answer and questions you may have, or just inquire about your time on the ship. Learn there name, say hello to them as you pass by.

Our wonderful bartender, Jason in the Solarium Bar.

Tip #6: Explore the Ship

Anymore, these cruise ship are massive. The Royal Caribbean Oasis Class ship are the biggest in the world, bring more adventure and excitement to us cruisers. These ships offer so much to see and do for every level of enthusiast and family member in your travel group. We cruised the Wonder of the Seas, which had Central Park, the Boardwalk, it’s own Zip Line, a {Dry} slide called the Abyss which will take you from the top deck to deck five in record time, and of course there is the Promenade Deck too. So, it you are an adventurer (which you probably are since you are cruising) and you want to get those steps in, then see and do all their is to do while aboard. Check out this post about cruising and still living & eating healthy here.

Tip #7: Participate in Cruise Activities

As mentioned above, cruise ships have so much to do for everyone in your travel group. Whether it be the evening shows, listening to live music, claiming a comfy chair to read your book, grab a drink and watch sports or sing the night away, there are activities scheduled through out the day and night. My family enjoyed playing trivia (even though we thought we knew a lot) and participating in the hide and seek cruising ducks to name just a few. {This is a whole thing outside of the cruising, but I assure you, you will get your steps in and discover the ship to find ducks).

We also enjoyed attending the comedy shows and listening to the family karaoke. While we didn’t not sing, it was fun listening to other show off their skills – or not. Not only is there so much to see and do, we loved taking pictures along the way.

Tip #8: Say Hello to Other Cruisers – It is a Small World

Anymore, these new class of Cruise Ships really are floating cities. It is neat that for about a week, your living accommodations (cabin) is a floating apartment with neighbors and neighborhoods. Thus, it is likely you will begin to see the same people / families / other cruisers during your time on the ship. Whether it is on the stairs, in your port of call, dining or sitting next to during a show, be friendly and say hello. Being nice always goes a long way. Remember, just like you, they too are on vacation and want to have an enjoyable experience. Besides, you might just have something in common with them; after all, it is a small world.

Tip #9: Be Flexible with Cruise Itineraries

As with anything in life, our best laid plans can and do change. Sometimes at the hand of others or Mother Nature; many of which are out of our control. Cruising is always reliant on Mother Nature. Our cruise was no different. Being in June, which is the beginning of Hurricane season, there are always possibilities Tropical Storms could be brewing. One of our ports of call was St. Maarten in the USVI. We were able to make our port in St. Thomas, but the Captain decided rather than cruising directly into the storm, instead, we would head the opposite direction and by pass St. Maarten. To say cruisers; including myself were a bit sad would be true, but safety first. Everyone needed to be flexible for the quick and unexpected change in port itineraries. Having the {Royal Caribbean} Ship App proved easy to plan excursion in our new port of call Labadee, Haiti. Sometimes, we just need to roll with it and enjoy your vacation despite cruise itinerary changes.

Tip #10: Take a Nap

Whew… I am exhausted with everything there is to see and do on these new Cruise Ships. My last, but certainly not least tip for making the best of your cruise is to take a nap! I love being able to get up early and do my thing, explore the ship, participate in activities, sit by the pool but then I get to take a nap midday and give my body a rest. This allows for my body to recover and be ready for the rest of the day and night. Whether you find a quite spot by the pool or a quaint corner or head to your stateroom, taking a nap is the best feeling.

Will you be cruising soon? What tips and tricks do you have that make the best cruise memorable and fun?

Travel On and Sharon the Moments

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