My husband and I finally broke down and booked our first cruise. Despite years of Titanic terror followed by a bad case of Poseidon panic, I gave in and experienced the high seas. Only after safely returning to land am I able to share some tips that might help turn a first cruise into one worthy of a scrapbook memory.
1. Carry your own suitcase onboard. By the time the crew delivers 4000 pieces of luggage, you will have found the buffet and outgrown whatever you were wearing when you boarded.
2. Shave your legs at home. The showers are designed for an emancipated person – try to sit next to the hairiest man you can find while at the pool. Your leg hair will look like the down on a newborn’s head.
3. Don your life vest when they call for muster. Only a bride dressed in her wedding gown is exempt – do you really want the attendant to come over and point you out in front of 500 other guests?
4. Defeat your urge to blow the whistle on the vest. The odds are very good that a six year old with a runny nose blew on it during the last cruise.
5. Take the stairs – even if you are on the 5th floor and want to get to the buffet on the 11th. You might possibly lose more than you gain – in any case- you will think you lost some weight and will enjoy your cruise even more.
6. Wear your sunglasses. If not, you’ll find some towel animal wearing them when you return to your room at night and the swan might look better in them than you do.
7. Get to the shows early. An hour is not too soon especially when the ship is filled with parents with teenagers who want to play cards before the show and spread themselves out like they are on a beach. Claim your seat and then take turns running to the bathroom. Tell your husband to nudge you when the show is over – they usually run way past your bedtime.
8. Claim your lounge chair far from the pool area. It’s usually quieter and you won’t have to listen to someone trying to imitate Don Ho. Just be sure you don’t sit behind a tourist who gets excited about dolphins when you are docking. A large woman with a bad case if sunburn might end up in all your pictures.
9. Acquaint yourself with your servers - they will soon become your best friends. If you want tea with your meals – inform them at your first meal. By the second night, you will be presented with over 100 selections of tea bags, more honey than a bee can make in a year and a pitcher of hot water big enough to fill your shower. Don’t switch to coffee unless you plan on extending your vacation.
10. Stay on board when everyone else gets off for the shore excursions. You won’t have to fight for the triple layered chocolate cake at the dessert counter and the pool will be all yours. Grab a towel from the pool boy and pretend you are the Queen Mary on her own yacht. It will do wonders for your ego – only let your husband know in advance that the Queen expects the same treatment when she arrives home. He might need to take lessons.
11. When you meet the captain at the captain’s dinner, try to refrain from suggesting he get back to driving the ship – especially if he resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger. Definitely don’t ask the usual question “Has this ship has ever sunk before?”
12. Finally, be prepared to wait in a long line when you leave the ship. Have your documents ready but most importantly – don’t ask the customs man if he would stamp your passport with a sticker so you can show all your friends you were in the Bahamas. You might find yourself delayed a little longer than you planned.
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