Monday, February 11, 2013

Lessons Learned on a Cruise Ship

Lorne and I just got home from a most wonderful cruise vacation - just the two of us.  Before I show you pictures and tell you about our adventures, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the things one learns on a cruise.  We have cruised many times (5 total now) but there is still much to be learned.  We were on Norwegian Cruise lines on the Star.

1.  Old People love to cruise too - I have no problems with this for the most part, but you have to be prepared when you cruise (at least the cruise lines we have cruised so far) to be surrounded by lots of people a lot older than you are.  This also means that much of the entertainment on board has been customized for them. 

2.  Old People are Super competitive at Trivia - One of our favorite things to do when we are board the ship is to play the team trivia games.  This consists of 20 questions and we play twice a day - once in the morning and once at night.  The older the people on a team, the more they like to fight with the trivia host about the answers.  They also like to give dirty looks at you when you are only playing with your husband and they have a team of 8.

3.  Never get a room under the kitchen - We made the mistake of not checking the deck maps well and ended up being under the galley.  It was so noisy.  Since they are always preparing food, it seemed the noise was never ending - even at 3 am when I had to get up to use the bathroom, I could hear people walking above me, moving carts (that sounded like freight trains) and dropping things as well.  Now I know better, and won't be making that mistake again.

4.  Get to know the Staff - We always have good luck when we get to know our cruise staff.  They always give us a bit extra and they give us a lot of attention.  It makes the trip more special when they know your name and they look out for you - it even cut our wait time when we wanted to eat and the lines were long.  Plus, when you stay on the same cruise line, sometimes you get to see your friends again and they remember you!

5.  Even if you think you are a cruise veteran, there are always people who have cruised more than you (MUCH more) - We thought that having cruised 5 times, we were vets and knew all there was to know.  WRONG.  We met a couple that looked about our age that had been on 18 cruises and an older couple that had been on 54 cruises.  That being said, cruising is the way to vacation - once you fall in love with the lifestyle, people always come back to it.  We do and we see those other couples as a challenge to aspire to.

6.  Spending more money than you intend to is easy - Cruising is fairly inexpensive in my opinion.  But there are many many opportunities to spend spend spend on the ship and since your credit card is attached to the room, you don't even realize what you are spending.  Lorne and I fancy ourselves very smart on this and barely ever spend on the ship.  But we watched others spend away.  I would have hated to see their bills at the end of the cruise.  Since we don't drink alcohol, we save money - we also don't get trapped into playing in the casino, playing bingo or the newest money spender, Deal or No Deal.  No shopping on the ship for us - no matter how many sale signs we pass and we have never bought art at sea.  We also have other tips we would be happy to share if you plan on cruising and want to make sure you don't get trapped into spending more cash.

7.  Never get the shared table (if you want to share, find your own friends) - We thought on an evening when we wanted to eat in a hurry and the line was long that if we opted to share a table, we would get seated faster and be done faster.  While we got seated faster, we didn't expect what happened.  We were sat at a 10 person table in the middle of the restaurant where the noise was the loudest.  We were seated with all people who didn't know each other and because our table was so big, it took 3 times as long to get our food.  It was not a good plan.  Plus, we weren't feeling super social and it was hard to hear the people who were on the other side of the huge table.  Not a plesant experience. 

8.  The Buffet changes through the day so check back frequently - The buffet can be a magical place but you could also miss out if you come at the wrong time.  And if you want eggs for breakfast, go to the omelet guy and he will also make you eggs over easy...Take small amounts, there is always a lot to try and there is no need to over-do it.  The buffet runs almost all day, so anytime you want food, it is easy to get.

9.  Save Money, skip the Specialty Restaurants - We tried one of the specialty restaurants (that cost extra) on our last cruise and we felt that even though the menu was slightly different, we didn't need to spend the extra money when we could eat the included food and have a different experience everyday.  If you must have sushi, go for it, but remember, you will see the cost on your bill at the end.

10.  Do Participate - The cruise ship entertainment staff spends time putting together an exhaustive list and schedule of activities to do on board.  There are shows, karaoke, trivia, pool games, music, parties, dancing, you name it.  Each night, they give you the schedule for the following day.  Read it, plan your day and enjoy it.  It is a great way to meet people like you and a great way to get your money's worth on the ship.