Our last cruise was a milestone of sorts—it was #25. It’s made me think of how much I’ve learned since that first one back in 2005, such as:
Gumby guarantees a good time. The weather's bad. Ports are missed. Someone gets sick. Luggage comes late. Luggage goes missing. We’ve had it all. Bending with the wind can rescue a precious vacation.
Homework pays off. Like knowing you need to sign up for Royal Caribbean’s shows before you go if you want to make sure you see them. Finding out if there’s a laundry onboard. The cost for a massage. The ship’s pros and cons. Perusing the cruise line’s website, reading cruisecritic.com’s boards and checking out YouTube videos are some ways to go about it.
A passport to the Caribbean. While you may be able to get by without a passport on a Caribbean cruise, you won’t easily get by government authorities without one if you’re stranded on an island. And the passport can’t expire within six months of your return to your home port. (If you skip the passport, you’ll need a driver’s license and birth certificate.)
Walking off means sleeping easier. There’s a lot to be said for taking your own bags off the ship. While it may be more convenient to let the ship take your luggage, it comes with risk. Our suitcase almost ended up 700 miles from our home because someone grabbed it in the terminal by mistake.
Specialty dining is worth the money. We fought off paying for specialty dining for the longest time. When we finally took the plunge, we never looked back. Better food. Attentive service. More intimate setting. Yeah, you’re paying for food twice. But it’s worth it.
Whatever comes on, goes back off. Two weeks at home, and your extra pounds will be gone. So eat and enjoy!
Changing it up keeps it fresh. If you’re a frequent Caribbean cruiser, working in something different each trip can add some new excitement. During one cruise stop in St. Thomas, we took an excursion to the stupendous island of St. John. Another time, we got the Unlimited Dining Package on Allure of the Seas. Yet another, we got a mini suite on a Princess ship.
It’s all in the fine print. We’ve missed so many great events because I’ve forgotten to study the daily newsletter. Increasingly, you only need to look at your phone to find out what’s going on.
Sanitizing is key—even when they don’t tell you to. We’re fanatical about staying healthy onboard. We load up on wet wipes before leaving home and use them before meals—and during them. The ladles in the buffet, menus in the main dining room, the salt and pepper shakers—these all can harbor germs. We clean everything in the stateroom, too.
Tipping for pleasure. Those extra dollars we give the crew when we leave is so important to them and their families. It makes us feel good too—even when we’re miserable that our trip is over.