This is a piece for those that have never cruised. It’s not a critique of the ship I was on or the ports we were in. It’s just some info for those of you that would like some in depth discussion on cruising.
We have cruised several times. Usually out of the Port of New York. But there you are limited as to have far south you can go in the Caribbean. We had been to Puerto Rico, St Thomas, and St John. We went to Bermuda a couple times. If you want to know more about those trips let me know. But this one is about the Southern Caribbean. Mainly, we had never been to Aruba, and wanted to find a cruise that took us there. For this we had to sail out of Florida. We choose the port in Ft Lauderdale, which meant a flight from NY to Ft Lauderdale. It is an increased cost due the airfare, but the trips out of Florida are a bit less expensive so this offset the cost a bit.
Cruise ships are a combination party boat, hotel, and restaurant. The cabins, even the smallest, are more than adequate. You get a bed, a seating area, bathroom, TV and a window (porthole). There is storage for your clothing so you don’t have to live out of a suitcase. There are also inside cabins with no window. And there is the other extreme where you get a room with a balcony.
The crew makes your bed and tidies your cabin every day. And on most ships, the person that cleans up your cabin and makes your bed, will make a cute little towel animal and leave it on your bed. Kids love this. And some ships offer lessons in how to fold a towel into any number of characters.
On the ship, you get three meals a day, all included. For breakfast, lunch and dinner you have two options, no make that three. You can eat in the Buffet area, where you basically grab a tray and get in line and chose whatever you want and however much you want.
This is a full menu. Starting with salads of all sorts. Meats, cheeses, fruit, entrees of the day, usually having a choice of several. Vegetables, potatoes, breads, you name it, and it’s there. Eat all you want, it’s part of the package. I must add here, that beverages are NOT included in the package.
You will have the choice of water, juices, tea, and coffee for free. But soda and alcoholic beverages cost extra. You can buy a package where by paying a fee, have unlimited soft drinks for the kids or yourself every day. I think usually this is a good deal. Oh yeah, FREE ICE CREAM 24 HOURS A DAY is the norm on many ships.
Now as I said you have three choices for meals. The buffet is one. You can also go to the dining room. Sit at a table with silverware, table cloth, waiters, servers, and be treated like a king. Unlimited eats. Read the menu, if you like 2 or 3 different items, ORDER THEM ALL. No one will look at you funny. Its encouraged. Eat, be happy, enjoy. Here is the strange part.
The meal you get in the buffet is the same meal you get here but its served to you. NO EXTRA CHARGE. I guess it all depends on what you feel like. Self-service, or waiter service. I did say there was a third option didn’t I? ROOM SERVICE. If you order off the room service menu, THAT is included free too. There is no excuse for you not to eat. Beware though, most people gain 2 pounds a day on board ship.
Out on the deck there are lounge chairs EVERYWHERE. Many people congregate around the pool most ships have at least 2, along with hot tubs. Get there early, the good seats with the best people watching views are taken early.
Don’t worry about losing your seat, it’s customary to leave your towel and this will save your seat for you if you do have to get up. But why get up, there are servers walking all around the boat ready to bring you your beverage of choice.
Oh yeah, NO CASH ALLOWED. When you get on board you are given an ID card. You must swipe this getting on and off the boat so they can keep track of you. But also, what it is used for is like a credit card.
This ID is linked to your credit card that you make available when you book the cruise. If you purchase a beverage at one of any number of bars, give them your card, they swipe it, and it goes on your bill. Just be careful and mindful of your spending. When the trip is over and you get the final bill, you may be surprised.
Now for the entertainment. There is always a theater. Many ships offer Broadway Quality shows. The music is usually incredible too. On deck there is usually a band, out by the pool. The band alternates with a DJ so the music never stops. People dancing and just plain enjoying themselves. At night there are usually several “clubs” to go to. Different themes for different tastes. You may like to dance. You may like to just listen to music. You can sit in any number of lounges. Just take your pick.
Stand by for Part 2 of this series where I will talk about Ports of Call.