Monday, October 29, 2012

Cruising along

So I got married last Sunday, October 21st, and for our honeymoon we decided to take a cruise! It started out well and dandy we woke up early Monday morning started our 5.5 hour drive to Jacksonville, Fl. that went by in almost a flash! Then we got to the port and our first problem after we bought our tickets and paid for them we got a call a few weeks later asking if we wanted to upgrade to this limited time offer of the "Owners suite", which is obviously reserved for the cruise line owner and also celebrities. Usually it was to be rented out for the cost of the VIP suite we got plus an extra  $1000 a night so that would have been and extra $5000 tacked onto our cost but we got it for a flat fee of $1700. When we were talking to the guy helping us with the upgrade I asked what we needed to print out, and in return I was told that all we needed were the luggage tags and that would identify us as the current owners of the penthouse suite. We would then be personally escorted up to our room and our luggage would arrive after us....WONG!! every turn we had to explain that we were told not to print out a receipt stating that we had the penthouse..but in the end it was all sorted out and we were indeed escorted up to the ship past all the other lines and strait to our room( just getting a VIP suite is worth it trust me). The room was absolutely lovely!

We over looked the pool area on deck and had our own balcony, and no kids running screaming up and down the halls around us because there were only the 2 rooms up there that mirrored each other. The doors for these rooms are set back away from normal walking areas so most people don't know they are there. Ok, so the beginning of day one is off to a great start really just one small blip that's all and it stayed that way, we wondered the ship for a while (got lost a lot) and watched the ship take off. That is something you want to watch, the Captain had to swing the ship and to a 180 degree turn to go back down the canal. If anyone tells you that because of the size of these ships you will not feel them moving or rocking then they are partially correct. For the most part you can't but I still did and this was an odd experience but was fine..just don't focus to hard out one of the windows in the dinning areas because that made me feel kinda "floaty headed".  Every day they have different events and activities you can do, I suggest looking up the ship you are going to be on and seeing what types of things they generally do event ways to get a good idea just keep in mind every couple of years they change things around so that those re-taking the same cruise don't experience the same thing over and over again. I recommend taking in the "Showtimes", which take place in their theater area on stage they did "Hay Mambo!" on our second day. Worth it just worth it's free so hey why not?
I do want to recommend 2 things to ya'll reading this
TIP: When selecting the dinning times options I say try getting the "Anytime" dinning this way you can do the formalish sit down dinning anywhere between the first dinning time and like 9 I think. This is all about having flexibility in deciding in what you want to do. Oh and when you do sit down at your table they will offer you 2 different types of bottled water unless you have an aversion to iced tap water I would say pass on the bottled ones...the one we got the first day was like $4.
TIP: If you like soda and drink a bit of it I recommend seeing if you can get something like an "Endless Bubbles" card...I believe most cruise lines have one..ours was like $37 for the 5 day trip we took and it paid for its self...the ship we were on was charging about $2 a glass so in like 4 glasses it has paid for the cost..I like soda and they had Sprite so I was happy! This wont cover room service though!
OK so day 2 was good we wondered the ship checked out some of their events ate lots of food (guys the food is paid into your room cost so eat up!) looked at the shops.

TIP: If you buy alcohol on board your ship they will probably keep it till the end of the trip and there are customs fees if you buy past a certain amount so I recommend looking into that before you buy on the ship or even at any ports..

We don't swim much and I don't like to sit in a hot tub so we didn't do any of those but you should know the obvious things like SUNBLOCK!
Don't forget to make friends..we did they were an older couple probably about our parents age but they were nice and gave us advise about some of the things they do on board event wise and stuff. They usually do the "Captain's Dinner" on this night also. That means your gonna have to dress up and look all pretty! Usually this is an opportunity for photos, they will probably have photographers all over the ship to take the pics for you, again I say do it! Do as many as you can stand to, there is no obligation to buy them the next day and you just might find one or two you like..but be warned the portraits were like $22 each when we did ours (we got 2 of them). I liked this night because it gave me a chance to wear a dress that hasn't been worn in a while!

Day 3 was a port day. Now they still do activities on the ship for those that do not want to go to the port and walk around. Our first port was Key West, Fl....I know I know not very exotic but we had never been and it was interesting to see it...they have a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum and a Peppers of Key West...(that's a hot sauce bar and this little mall area that's close to the port but its not great the only thing I recommend there is going to the second floor to the animal in counter and see if the guy will let you do the "ultimate encounter" which is a planetarium thing..its not "OMG This is AMAZING!!!" or anything  like that but it is interesting..though I do have to warn you the guy is religious so it has touches of that in there so if you get offended by stuff like that don't do it! And if you follow the shore off towards the right side there is this convenience store down there that has like beer for $2 a bottle and the guy will give you a cup if you want to drink it while you walk....YOU HAVE TO HAVE YOUR BEER IN A RED CUP IF YOU ARE DRINKING IT AS YOU WALK AROUND.....DO NOT IGNORE THIS!!!
I was a little disappointed in how little time we got to have at the port but they have other ships coming and going so it is what it is...and I think you can imagine how the rest of the day went for can also do "excursions if you want paid tours and things like swimming with dolphins and stuff like that if you want to but we didn't want to and just decided to walk around..though I think we should have rented like bikes or something because we could have gone farther out but hind sight is 20/20...

Ok now this is where my trip gets disappointing....After the Key West we were supposed to go to the Nassau, Bahamas...but guess what? Tropical Storm Sandy became Hurricane Sandy and we couldn't (for safety reasons) go to Nassau...I understand I really do and we kind of saw this coming but none the less it is the next 2 days were spent on a ship that was rocking so bad that sober people were walking like drunken sailors..and the pool had to be drained...At this point I started to feel sick and spent the last 2 days of our trip with a stomach that was rolling around and flipping about like crazy...we suddenly became the Oceans "Rubber Ducky". Not Fun....we were looking forward to the second show they had on day 4 but both showings had to be canceled due to the hazard a moving stage introduced...didn't wand the saying "break a leg" to become a bad luck accident.. Understandable but still I was looking forward to this showing because the last show they had was so much fun...and they said that it would be one of the last few times they did it because at the beginning of the year the ship would be docked for a while and they were going to update the ship and shows..

Another good thing about if you do get any of the VIP suites is that if you decide on assisted disembarkation ( if you need help getting your luggage off the ship on the last day) is that you are called in group 1 after they do unassisted disembarkation, and they do those by what floor you are on.
we were up and off the ship almost as fast as we were escorted on the ship. And then we were through customs and to our car and off we went back on our 5.5 hour drive back home!

 Don't forget that most cruises will let you bring a bottle of wine on board with you per person...ours allowed 750ml bottles...and they can be pre-opened before boarding the ship so if you have any in your house don't worry about buying new bottles..just make sure they go in your carry-on luggage...we got some from our parents and that mixed with our soda card made some *cough, cough* good mixed drinks....*cough, cough*
REMEMBER the cost of alcoholic drinks like beer and mojitos and stuff like that are killer...

And start packing and gathering things for this trip in advance I started at least 2 days before we left!!