Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cruising // Final Thoughts

If you’ve never taken a cruise before and aren’t sure whether or not you would enjoy it, I say you won’t know until you try. Any cruise is only as fun as you make it. If laying by the pool sipping pina coladas is your thing, great! No one said you have to leave the pool deck to go play bingo. If you’d rather not sit with a bunch of strangers at dinner, request a table just for your party and you’ll likely be accommodated. Would you like to spin the roulette wheel instead of seeing a broadway show? Go for it! Part of the problem with a ship this size is that even with 3 sea days, I still came away having missed things I wanted to do. It is hard to squeeze it all in but we had an amazing week and I would book it again in a heartbeat.
Sailaway in Ft. Lauderdale

I’ve been asked if there’s any way I could go back to a smaller ship and surprisingly, I definitely could. While I loved all of the opportunities and amenities of the Oasis, we had a ton of fun on the much smaller Grandeur cruise we took back in 2010. I don’t NEED a zipline, flow rider, ice rink, etc. to have a wonderful vacation. Cruises are about the experiences you have, the things you see and the people you meet. And no, I never once felt trapped at sea. I often hear that sentiment against cruising too.
I love Royal Caribbean but I’m also open to checking our other cruise lines to see how they compare. Different ships offer different itineraries and a chance to discover a new location I’ve never seen. I will say this. Before Oasis, I cruised for the ports. If I cruised Oasis again, I’d be cruising for the ship. If I sailed Oasis again (or her sister ship, Allure of the Seas) I suppose I would try the Western itinerary. It’s not as appealing but it IS cheaper and if I want to make the most of the ship itself, it wouldn’t matter anyway.
Cruising can be a very expensive or very economical vacation. We got an awesome deal for this ship but it’s the most we’ve ever paid for a cruise for a lower category of stateroom. If you don’t drink alcohol, never go to the spa and don’t shop much, your on board expenses can be kept to a very frugal amount. I do recommend splurging on at least one paid specialty dinner though. It was well worth it. RCCL also offers an all-inclusive drink package. We considered it for a hot minute but ultimately decided it wouldn’t be worth it, and we were right. Sure, there were times we wanted to order another drink but didn’t because our bill was adding up. However, we would have spent the whole cruise drinking way more than necessary to try to make sure we at least broke even on the more than $700 expenditure (for two people). We would have had a heck of a time drinking our quota on the port days too. Don’t worry, I took my calories in plenty of other ways. (Donuts, coconut ranger cookies, pizza slices, froyo)
Can I share a couple of cruising tips?
-Take the stairs. The lines for the elevator can be long and this is a good way to sneak in a little activity. It’s especially helpful to walk off dinner.

-Wash your hands. A lot. All those passengers carry beaucoup germs. You don't want to be sick on your cruise, do you?

-Dress up for formal night. People gripe about having to look nice for dinner. Don’t you want to look nice for special occasions for the person or people you’re cruising with? You don’t have to go ball gown and tux but you’ll sure feel pretty if you put on a swanky dress.
Check out that healthy glow!
-Try dishes and food you would never dream of ordering. The beauty of a cruise is the ability to order as much as you want. You don’t like it? Try something else.
-Have fun people watching behind your sunglasses. You won’t believe some of the things your fellow passengers will do, wear, say.

-When possible, plan your own port activities and book private excursions. You’ll save money and get a much more personalized experience.
-Take more cash for port days than you think you’ll need. You will be cabbing it a lot. Lots of beaches charge an entry fee. All beaches charge for chairs and an umbrella.
-Do your research! A wealth of information can be had about every single cruise out there on Cruise Critic. Any concerns you have can be assuaged by someone who has been there and great tips are available.
-Talk to the staff on board. Your room attendant, waiter, bartender all have interesting stories.
-Reapply sunscreen! This is the first cruise I didn’t burn (except my forehead) thanks to multiple reapplications daily. I also wore a hat which is something I never do. My mom would be so proud.

-Relax. It’s okay to sleep in, lie around and do nothing. You are on vacation!

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