What a Beautiful Ship!

LeeBirdsI’ve asked some wonderful friends and guests of ours, Lee Whitman and Michael Daschuk, to share their tips for first time cruisers.  Over the next week, their series of posts will include information about arriving at port, check-in at the cruise terminal, boarding the ship, dealing with lost luggage, stateroom details, and dining details.  Yesterday, they shared everything that happens from arriving in port until you preparing to board the ship.  If you have any questions about your first cruise or comments like you’d add, please add them below.  We’d love to hear from you! 

So Much To See, First Things First

As you board the ship for your first cruise, you’ll likely be amazed at the size and the beauty of the ship, but you’ll soon realize you’ve boarded a floating resort.  There will be a lot of things competing for your attention, so here’s some tips of some excellent things to consider first, to ensure a smooth sailing, include:

  1. Do you like the table or time you were assigned for dining?  You will usually find that information on that ID/key card you recedived at check-in. You can usually go to the dining room to check out where your table is located.  On our first cruise, that location was a dark corner by a service station.  We lined up to speak to the maître d’, and he switched us to a better table.  Almost every cruise line will allow you to make these types of requests and will try their best to accommodate you when possible.
  2. Do you plan to go to the spa?  If you do, boarding is the best time to make an appointment, especially if youIMG_0466 hope to visit the spa or hair salon during a sea day or on a formal night. Time slots for these times fill up quickly, and you are free to change your mind later and cancel the appointment (most lines require 24 hours for you to avoid a cancellation penalty at the spa). Some lines even allow you to book your appointments ahead of time online now.  Deciding halfway through the sailing that you do in fact want a massage or another service might prove futile as all the appointments might be booked, and you’ll be placed on a waiting list hoping someone else cancels their appointment. If you decide to go to the spa, you should expect more expensive prices than at spas back home.  These are the top prices we have seen for spa services, even compared to upper level hotels like the Bellagio in Las Vegas. While it is a nice treat, you may need to be firm at the end of the appointment if you do not want to buy their products to take home. The sales pitch can be pretty strong and can make some people uncomfortable.
  3. Would you like to eat at one of the specialty restaurants or at a featured meal like a Chef’s Table during your cruise?  Again, reserving the first day will give you access to the best tables and the best variety of dining times.  Some guests worry that they might miss a show or event that they want to see, so they wait until the night before to book the specialty room. The maitre d’ will often have the entertainment schedule at their reservation stands, and they can help you ensure that you will not miss anything.  Again, some lines book these ahead of time online, so check your travel documents or the internet for details.
  4. Did you rent a tuxedo from the cruise line?  If you ordered this pre-cruise, you should find your Celebrity Century 078tuxedo in your stateroom closet when you arrive.  If it’s not, call your room attendant to ensure that it is coming, and you haven’t been missed.  If it is there, try it on as soon as you can. It will be much easier to get a replacement from the ship’s overstock now, than an hour before dinner on formal night.  On a sailing where we rented formal wear, we had to do this, and itwas very easily accomplished the first day.  Some might be surprised to know that some lines even rent ladies formal clothing, which usually means a full lengthed skirt and a silk blouse.
  5. Want great pictures of the public rooms without too much of the public lounging about? Boarding as early as possible on the first day will allow you to take souvenir pictures without too many of the great unwashed in the background.

These are just a few tips of things you want to keep in mind to take care of when you board the ship.  But, this is your vacation, so plan to relax and enjoy!  Come visit again on Thursday when they’ll share everything you wanted to know about your cruise stateroom.  And, if you’d like to ask a question or add your comments, please do so below!  Any further suggestions you’d like to add? 

Part 1:  Boarding Your First Cruise?

Part 2: What a Beautiful Ship –  First Things First

Part 3: Lost Luggage? Cozy Stateroom?

Part 4:  All About Cruise Dining!

Stay tuned on Thursday for part 3 of this 4 part series for first-time cruisers written by Lee and Mike, and if you’d like to read some reviews of their past cruises or listen to their podcasts, check out their website, www.cruisenotebook.com.  And, if you need help booking your cruise or resort vacation, please visit my website, Best Cruise Planners.

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