**I am away on my 5 year wedding Anniversary cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. While I am gone I have asked some fabulous Ladies that are my Blogging friends to guest post for me about their past cruises. Enjoy and please show them some Love! ~Crystal**
Hey there! I'm Kari, and I'm guest posting for Crystal while she's soaking up the sun on her first cruise.
My blog, La Bella Vita, documents the simple pleasures that make up my life as a wife and a young professional. It's all about fun, friends and frivolity. And don't we all need some frivolity every now and again?!
Crystal's out there living it up, and all I can say is that I'm jealous, jealous, jealous!! All play and no work makes for a very happy girl. While Crystal's having a blast (and hopefully having a cocktail for me), I'm here to share my top five cruise tips. I've taken three cruises, and have learned a few things along the way that help to make your cruise extra-amazing.
#1 - Bring Beverages
I cannot stress this enough! Every guest is allowed to bring a "small quantity" of beverages on board, and cruise lines like Carnival limit you to 12 bottles/cans. Other cruise lines, like Disney, don't really limit you. You'll want your own water and soda in your room so you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for them through room service or the gift shop. You'll want to keep hydrated and happy during your downtime or on your excursions, so this is a must. Also, some cruise lines allow you to bring one bottle of wine per guest, so take advantage! Bringing your own vino is a big money saver and allows you to decide when and where to have your drinks (i.e. while lying in bed in your pajamas after a long day of snorkeling). If you do bring your own wine, don't forget to bring a corkscrew! If you forget it and your stateroom attendant has to open it, there's an extra charge.
#2 - Make Your Stateroom Your Home
For a few days anyway! You won't be in your stateroom a lot, but when you are, you want it to be comfy. It's going to be your homebase while you're on this amazing vacation to paradise. Unpack your suitcases right away (and stow them under the bed to free up space in the room), adjust the thermostat, request extra pillows and blankets, and make sure your stateroom attendant keeps your ice bucket full. If you're a bit of a germophobe like me, take a travel pack of Clorox wipes and wipe down the door handles, toilet seat, and cabinet pulls to avoid additional exposure to germs when you first get to the room. And a fun bonus after you've been out all day touring your port or at the beach: towel animals!
#3 - Participate
Take advantage of all the activities cruising offers you. Take adventurous excursions! Go to the casino and tear it up on the slot machines! Play bingo! Watch the comedians! Make friends at the bar! Join the conga line on the Lido Deck! All of it's part of the total cruise experience and you'll have so much fun doing it! The best cruise memories are made this way. Don't be afraid to jump right in!
#4 - Try New Foods
One of the great things about cruises is the variety of food that they offer onboard. The best food is offered in the main dining room. This is your chance to try crazy foods you never thought you'd try, like alligator fritters or garlicky escargot (yes, really!). You can also choose multiple appetizers or entrees if you have trouble choosing and want to try a little of each. You're not paying extra for it, so order 'til your li'l heart's content! And if you don't like your selection, your server will bring you something else, easy peasy. It's fabulous if you're into food (like me!). Many ships also offer 24/7 pizza stations or ice cream, so you're never far from a yummy snack.
#5 - Do What YOU Want
Don't listen to what everyone else tells you to do on your trip! Your cruise allows you to do whatever you want to do, on or off the boat. If you're feeling like doing something to get your blood pumping, sign up for a shore excursion to go hike at the Mayan ruins, snorkel or go zip-lining through the rainforest. If you do a shore excursion, sign up for one offered by the cruise line. If you go on one not sponsored by the cruise line, you run a big risk. If your guide is late getting you back to the boat, they won't hold the ship for you. If you're on the cruise line's excursion, they will (this happened to me, so I know this for a fact!). I'm sure you don't want to get left behind by your ship, even if it is in some beautiful, sun-drenched locale. If you're not excited about a particular port, don't get off the boat! Enjoy an extremely chill environment around the pool, in the casino or playing mini golf. There will be very few kids on board while you're at port, so it's a great time for a peaceful swim or nap in the sun. Have fun with whatever you choose to do!
I hope these tips help make your first (or 5th or 10th) cruise one to remember. Stop by my blog or say hello on Twitter (@LaBellaVitaBlog) and let me know your favorite cruise tips!