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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Making the Next Time Feel Like the First Time

There’s just nothing like the first time. That thrill, that excitement, that joy at discovering something new.

You may have felt it during your first cruise; I know I did. But I also know there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your second cruise as much as your first. Or your 5th as much as your 15th.

The secret? Doing something really different the next time around. Here are just a few ideas for rekindling that first-time feeling:

Try another line. While one line can feel much like another (after all, there’s a view of the sea and they feed you), there really are differences. You can ride a carousel on Royal Caribbean. Watch a movie under the stars and a blanket on Princess. Cook along with the chefs on Holland America.
Recapturing childhood joy on the Oasis
Jump ship. Going from small to big or the other way around can change things up if you’re married to one line. While Royal’s Navigator of the Seas at 139,500 tons is no row boat, Oasis of the Seas at 225,200 is a whole other class by itself.

Room for a change. Always get an inside room? Spring for a balcony. Pick off-season (e.g., not January-March) and a less popular itinerary (e.g., Western Caribbean), and you can get one at a great price. We’ve picked some trips on Princess just so we could afford a mini-suite.

Venture out. After many Caribbean cruises, we got out of our comfort zone (and our shorts) and took one to Alaska for an experience unlike any other. Or, look for Caribbean itineraries that go off the beaten path. We took one of Celebrity Constellation’s rare trips to St. Barts and got a sneak peek of the famous French chic, amazingly hilly, yacht-choked island. See the posting “Off Course and Worth It.
Tough to find parking for your car--or your yacht--in St. Barts
Don’t or do an excursion. Always sign up for one? Wander around town next time. Always roam the port? Parasail, tour the island or cook up a Caribbean lunch for a change.

Dine differently. After years of set seating, we finally tried my-time style. And never turned back. On an upcoming cruise, we’re doing a five-night specialty package for the first time. Stay tuned for how that goes.

Drink it up. Whether you’re a big drinker or not, will get your money’s worth or not, you should try a drink package at least once. It was a throw-in on our recent Princess trip, and it was a blast trying some new drink each day, getting cappuccinos when we felt like it and ending the night with liqueur—and all without a thought about cost. Or who was going to get us home.

Experience this. You might try some shipboard activity you’ve never done—from climbing the walls on Royal, doing the pricey but unique Captain’s Dinner or grabbing the mike at karaoke. It will probably be the one thing you remember most about your cruise.

Take a camera. I don’t mean a smartphone; I mean a real camera. One that lets you get in close from really far away. Shoot the jugglers in low light. Take in the lights around the pool at night. With a camera, you can be creative. And there’s so much to capture inside and outside the ship. It’s particularly great for those lazy days at sea. See “Unleashing Your Inner Artsy-Fartsy” for ideas and photos.
We needed a Panasonic GX7 to get this shot on the Caribbean Princess
An excuse for a cruise. Whether it’s over a national holiday or your personal celebration, it’s a great excuse to splurge while onboard. Buy a box of divine chocolates. Make a reservation at a specialty restaurant. Do a couples massage. Throw a party. Don a tiara. Make it special and make it memorable.
Norman Love chocolates and more on the Regal Princess for your personal celebration
Bring along friends or family. Perhaps nothing changes the cruise experience more than changing who you’re with. Maybe you’ll finally get that “I’ll-never-be-caught-dead-on-a-ship” person you know to actually take the plunge. And here’s a new experience to look forward to: telling him (or her) “I told you so.”