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If you had to list your top 5 points/tips that you wish you had known before you went on your first cruise what would they be? Examples, like binder clip for the shower curtain or that the first drink is NOT free, etc.

 

My friend is going on a cruise for her honeymoon and neither have been on one before and she just doens't have time to read these boards, wedding planning and all, so I thought I might compile a list for her. I tried composing one myself but found that I just kept forgetting things. Thanks for everyone's help!

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A couple of things: the food is not gourmet. It's good and plentiful but we had heard everybody raving about the food on a cruise ship and how wonderful it was and how you gain so much weight so we had very high expectations. The food is like banquet food-good but not great. (I don't have to cook it or clean up after it so it's that much better to me!)

 

Don't bring so many clothes-nobody cares if you wear the same thing twice.

 

Board the ship as soon as you are able on the first day. It counts as a cruise day and you are paying for it so enjoy it!

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1. Read your cruise contract, especially the parts about cancellation and port/itinerary changes.

2. If you buy insurance, read that contract so you understand what it does and does not cover.

3. Take less clothes and more money. Corrollary: Buy fewer clothes in advance so you have more money to take.

4. Don't go to the Port and Shopping Guide talks.

5. You don't HAVE to do something in each port. You can always enjoy the ship amenities without a crowd.

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Hello

 

These are just my opinion and I'm sure others will disagree:

 

Stay out of the casino unless you have lots of money.

 

Alcohol is expensive so watch it.

 

Most ships have shops and these shops will have some very nice sales.

 

Make sure that you have enough money on your credit card to cover the gratuities automatically. DO NOT EVEN consider not paying the gratuities.

 

A cruise is an adventure unlike any other vacation, so keep cool and cheerful. A smile is truly the international language so do this often on your cruise. Be kind, patient, and gracious with the cruise staff.

 

Do not let problems fester...see the Head waiter for the dining room or the Purser's office if you need assistance. Ususally the first night of a cruise the converastion at dinner can be quiet but as you get to know each other generally this really improves.

 

Do some research on the ports as there are many ports you can see on your own...not spend any money or very little.

 

Read the board when leaving the ship that states when you need to be back on board the ship.

 

Do not overpack. Ships have self service laundries and sometimes there will be a special price on laundry and dry cleaning. Take an extra swimming suit.

 

Participate in formal night...taking a jacket and tie (him) and black pants/top (her) is not going to ruin your packing.

 

Get some exercise every day and this includes a long walk around the ship. Use stairs when going places.

 

And...enjoy the romance...stars, moonbeams, sunrises and sunsets.

Edited by Fredr

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Read the daily paper to know what's going on board the ship the next day.

 

Plan to catch at least one sunset and one sunrise.

 

Meet at least one new person each day.

 

As others have said, take half the stuff, twice (or more) the money.

 

Above all else, decide to have a good time before you even go.

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Half the clothes.

Read the activity paper each day.

Try a little of every activity but

DON't stress because you can't do it all.

Take a power strip.

 

Relax and enjoy it. That's why you chose a cruise.........:D

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You don't have to go to the port "meetings" or sales pitch. You can watch all that on your tv in the cabin. They videotape everything. Same with debarkation. You can watch all that info on the tv.

 

Breakfast room service is wonderful. Don't forget to try it. Have a couple of bucks ready for a tip.

 

Cell phone clocks - some times work, but mostly not.

 

Start thinking about a ritual you want to do each time on a cruise. (As there will be more than this one hopefully) If you don't do one on your first cruise, you can't say you have always done the same thing every cruise.

 

Boarding/checking in is just like at the airport and hotel. Nothing complicated.

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5 things I wish I would have known:

 

1. Put suitcases under bed (more room in closet)

2. take 2 bathing suits (they don't dry overnight:eek:)

3. Don't stress about wardrobe (no one cares what you wear)

4. less shoes (one day, one night pair that matches everything)

5. You don't have to buy every photo (really how many do you need of you in that formal?)

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#1 Don't buy the photo's they are very pricey and tend to wrinkle on the way home.

# 2 Take wine to drink in your cabin , you can bring 2 bottles of wine on board at every stop . Average mixed drink costs $ 7.50 . Beer $ 6.00.

# 3 Rent the formal ware from the ship saves a lot of weight and worry.

# 4 Use public transit at the ports , so much cheaper.

# 5 Stick to 1 cruise line , perks add up fast for frequentcruisers.Freedrinks , free laundry , free internet , free spa,s .

# 6 If you can do it, don't take a lap top Internet cafe's available at most ports,there are computers on board ( Air time is 56 - 65 cents a minute and very slowwwwwwwwwww average e mail can cost $ 4- 5) not worth it !

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1. Don't be self-conscious about your appearance in a bathing suit, shorts etc. There will be all body types aboard in all types of attire.

2. Don't spend a lot of money on new clothes. Bring only things that you love and feel good in.

3. Plan your outfits with versatility, multi-use, and easy care in mind. And when it comes to shoes (especially for daytime), comfort trumps style.

4. You don't need to pack beach towels - they are provided.

5. Save all your change during the months/weeks prior to the trip

- trade it in for $1 bills just before you leave to use for extra tips and incidental spendng. I had over $150 last cruise from doing this.

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1. Some excursions or limited-space activities do sell out, so if there's something you really have your heart set on doing, buy/book it early.

 

2. Pack a swimsuit and clothes for the first night's dinner in your carry on -- that way you can hit the pool right away if you want and don't have to worry about when your luggage arrives in your room.

 

3. You can order as much food as you want in the main dining room in whatever combination you want. If you want to order three appetizers and no main course, you can do that! Want an extra lobster tail, you can get it.

 

4. Check to see which other ships are starting/ending cruises in the same port the same day when figuring out if you're going to fly in early or out late -- for some ports this really doesn't matter, but I don't recommend anyone try to fly out of San Juan airport the same day another 10,000+ cruise passengers are debarking if you can help it.

 

5. You can find great ideas of things to do in each port by reading the port of call boards here, and booking your own tour or activity can offer some fun alternatives that the cruise line doesn't.

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Just a couple of thoughts:

 

The photos can be pricey, but never had a problem with them wrinkling. Princess had a package of buying six, getting two free. As well as buying a nice frame for only $5 more.

 

Versatileness works well with clothes. Best purchase ever made were two pair of convertible pants - unzip the legs, and they become shorts for walking around in ports, zip them back on and they're khakis for dinnertime. And depending on how much walking (and how hot it is), I've gotten away with wearing a duo-dry T-shirt while in port, then throwing on a button-down collared shirt on top for dinnertime as well.

 

I've also gotten away with one pair of shoes - black, no-slips that work well in port as well as on formal nights. Just wash any dirt off of them.

 

What works well for me is one carry-on per person. I've packed for ten days using one suitcase that fits in an overhead airline compartment.

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Go alone....we have so much more fun that way & meet more of others on the ship.

 

Don't rebook excursions....rain!!!!!!!!!

 

pack, then take out half...you won't wear it.

 

take a power strip and air freshener. (yes, it is a small bathroom)

 

bring wine, water & soda on board

 

pre buy drink coupons & prepay grats

 

inside rooms are A-OK. Unless you love a balcony...we don't need one. we are NEVER in the room.

 

tip generously.

 

let people out of the elevator before you try to get on.

 

wear rubber soled shoes on deck....lots of slip & falls.

 

eat whatever you want....it comes right off after the cruise. They use lots of salt.

 

The cruise shampoos work fine...the wind will mess your hair anyways.

 

the pool water is cold and the hot tubs lukewarm, at best.

 

take a multi outlet cord

 

try a porthole.....they are neat.

 

make love often...keeps the hubby cheerful.

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I've seen a couple people mention to bring wine and sodas on board but check your cruise line. Ours did NOT allow those to be brought on board and held them for you until you left the ship to go home.

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Chat with the crew. Not just your room steward and the waiters, but also any sailors you see working on the ship, engineers, security staff, entertainment officers, cooks/chefs, .....

 

Most of them are very happy to talk with passengers, and you'll hear some great stories about life on board, life at home, interesting facts about the ship, hints and tips about upcoming ports, and you might just make a new friend or two!

 

VP

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Chat with the crew. Not just your room steward and the waiters, but also any sailors you see working on the ship, engineers, security staff, entertainment officers, cooks/chefs, .....

 

Most of them are very happy to talk with passengers, and you'll hear some great stories about life on board, life at home, interesting facts about the ship, hints and tips about upcoming ports, and you might just make a new friend or two!

 

VP

 

I'll agree with this. By asking our waiter, I found out the "pecking order" of the wait staff (vests were assistant waiters; those that wore jackets were "full" waiters; and those in the red jackets were wine stewards.) It was one of those things you always wondered when you saw them.

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Arrive in your port city a day ahead of time; it's the cheapest insurance you can buy, and it will save massive stress.

 

Pack lightly, but do dress appropriately for dinner.

 

Wear comfortable shoes, especially in port.

 

Research your ports ahead of time, and reserve private excursions. Never take a ship's excursion -- the financial savings are nice, but the real perk is the smaller groups.

 

Don't be afraid to try new things.

 

You don't have to take adavantage of everything to have fun. Don't feel that you must do an excursion in every port, must buy all the stuff they put out in the promenade, must eat at specialty restaurants, must have a suit . . . you can have a great cruise at a more moderate price.

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What wonderful information for us new cruisers! I'll be spending hours/days reading this forum before we leave. Thanks.

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.

 

take a power strip and air freshener. (yes, it is a small bathroom)

 

 

 

He, hee! But I'm glad you reminded me to add an air freshner to my list. Not necessarily for the same reason,:) but I hate the smell of hotel type rooms and any familiar scent makes me feel more comfortable.

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OK. Almost everybody recommends taking a power strip - this is because....??

very limited power points/outlets available, so if you need to charge a camera, and have an alarm clock, and a cpap/sound generator ... and so forth.

 

Most cruise ships do not take into account how "electrified" people have become lately.

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1. As a VERY rough guide to how much extra you'll spend--pretend like you're taking a 3rd passenger. In other words, if your 7 day cruise costs $700 per person, budget roughly $700 for tips, excursions, drinks, parking at the port, souvenirs, etc. Obviously very inexact (and probably on the low side for many if you drink more than one drink a day gamble, use the spa, or fly to the ports). I think some people with a $2000 vacation budget might blow their budget significantly when they book a cruise at $1000 per person thinking everything is included.

 

2. Don't hesitate to switch tables at dinner if you don't like your dining companions. It's your vacation.

 

3. Research the ports ahead of time. Some places are excellent to do on your own (Key West, San Juan). Other are not (Belize, Jamaica). Others have superb private tours (Costa Maya, Grand Cayman). The ports of call boards on cruise critic are an excellent place to start. Frommers and Fodors also have excellent guidebooks to the ports of call.

 

4. Don't hesitate to cruise an older ship, especially if it's your first time cruising. Our upcoming cruise will be the first time we take a ship that was built in the new millenium! They're almost all beautiful in their own ways. The only time we were ever actually disappointed with the ship itself was the Norwegian Majesty.

 

5. Skip the formal photos. They're way overpriced. And beware that some are not standard sizes. On our honeymoon in 2004, we bought a photo (the only one we've ever gotten), and didn't realize it was 6 x 8. We only found an appropriate size frame a few months ago!

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1.

 

5. Skip the formal photos. They're way overpriced. And beware that some are not standard sizes. On our honeymoon in 2004, we bought a photo (the only one we've ever gotten), and didn't realize it was 6 x 8. We only found an appropriate size frame a few months ago!

 

 

I disagree. I've had family formal portraits taken at Department stores and OlMi and always spent $200 plus some, whether I liked them all or not. At about $22 a pop, and never buying the ones you don't like, I think they are a bargain. I usually decide I have enough and won't buy, but get them taken everywhere. Then I usually find one that I like enough to buy--it's just over the price of a bingo card! Have them taken everywhere. Only buy the one(s) you want. Remember when you are 80 you will wish you had a picture of the younger, better looking you at THIS age.

 

Carnival sells frames that match, but any craft store sells matte. I've never had a problem with that.

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OK. Almost everybody recommends taking a power strip - this is because....??

 

 

We like a night light and they don't fit usually. The outlet behind the nightstand is taken with the lamp and hard to get to. The one on the vanity is often hard to access due to location and the odd size plugs that come with many chargers.

 

I don't use my cell phone or BBerry on the trip very much, but I turn them on to check for text messages once a day so they need to be charged. I charge everything up on the last night for the return trip.

 

The curling iron doesn't work in the bathroom, so someone can plug in a curling iron at the vanity and not worry about unplugging phones or laptops. Some people bring little fans for white noise if they have problems sleeping. Not me--but I've never taken a power strip and not used it.

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Think about "what if":

What if my luggage never arrives and I am left with only my carryon? Take 1 bathing suit, one formal outfit+shoes, a couple of daytime outfits (suitable to wear to dinner, too) and one pair of your shoes. Also your makeup that is not liquid. Then, if your luggage is lost or late, you will have enough to get by.

 

Another thing:

Consider taking half the clothes and taking the new Purex 3-in-1 strips. They are detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheet in one sheet and will pack so flat it's like they aren't there (a few in a zip lock bag). Then you are ready to take your quarters and run a quick load in the washers/dryers on board ($3 for each washer/dryer).

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I am a mom traveling with my two daughters and my daughter's friend (25, 16, 13). Is it safe to book excursions that are not linked to the ship? Also, while on an excursion such as snorkeling, are your personal items (money, passport, etc) safe?

 

Do most people hit the pool on the first day while the passengers are coming aboard? We board in Tampa...wondering if the weather will be that warm at the end of Dec?

 

Are there are full length mirrors in the rooms?

 

Do you usually come back onto the ship for lunch when the ship is in port or do you just get something while off the boat? In Grand CAyman, there is a tender to the port...wouldn't that be a pain to come back for lunch?

 

Anything to avoid in either Key West, Grand Cayman or on the ship (Grandeur of the Seas?)

 

Thanks for any and all comments.

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I am not flying. We are driving to the port. Is there even a slight chance that when I check in my luggage at the ship, it will never arrive in my room? Just wondering if I need to pack several things in my carryon.

 

also, do you think it is best to get the luggage tags in advance?

 

My cruise documents state that we board at 2....is that earliest I can arrive? When I booked my cruise, the person from RC said we could board at noon.

 

Also, I booked during a time when they had a special and I am supposed to get $50 on board credit. That is not stated anywhere on my cruise documents. Should I inquire about that now to ensure I get that credit?

 

Thanks!

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I am a mom traveling with my two daughters and my daughter's friend (25, 16, 13). Is it safe to book excursions that are not linked to the ship? Also, while on an excursion such as snorkeling, are your personal items (money, passport, etc) safe?

 

In many cases you are safe on independent excursions. I would consult the boards for the individual ports where CC members comment on such tours and make recommendations. Remember the ship will wait for delayed excursions booked through the cruise line, you are on your own on an independent excursion. I do not take a passport on shore with me, however that point has been hotly debated. Safety is pretty much up to you, leave wallets on board take id, cash, your cruise card and maybe 1 credit card. Inexpensive waterproof containers can be purchased that fill the bill nicely.

 

Do most people hit the pool on the first day while the passengers are coming aboard? We board in Tampa...wondering if the weather will be that warm at the end of Dec?

 

Good chance that it will be warm enough, allthough Tampa can have cool days in the winter. Varied answers possible here, many folks have lunch, get settled into their cabins and explore the ship. Some make a beeline for the pools (since the pools are adjacent to the buffet on most ships they combine that with lunch).

 

Are there are full length mirrors in the rooms?

 

All the ships I have been on have.

 

Do you usually come back onto the ship for lunch when the ship is in port or do you just get something while off the boat? In Grand CAyman, there is a tender to the port...wouldn't that be a pain to come back for lunch?

 

It depends on the port and what excursion we have planned. It would consume a bit of time to lunch on the ship on a tendered port. In a port like St. Thomas, USVI we generally do somthing in the morning (usually shop), lunch on the ship and then go to a beach,

 

Anything to avoid in either Key West, Grand Cayman or on the ship (Grandeur of the Seas?)

 

Never sailed on the Grandeur, however the time in Key West is usually short. We walked over to Mallory Square (about a block from dock) and caught the tour trolley that goes around the island. You can jump on and off at any stop. The drivers give a good narrative as you go along. After making a round trip and wandering around a bit, it was sailaway time.

Grand Cayman is a great port. I highly recommend a swimming with the sting rays excursion. Seven Mile Beach is a fine beach. You can also visit Hell while you are there. It is a silly thing but fun to tell everyone you were there.

 

Thanks for any and all comments.

 

Have a great cruise!!!:cool:

Edited by Doug R.

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We did our first cruise in September:

 

1. Half - Take half of what you think you will wear (wearing the same outfit to dinner twice is NOT a crime and no one will even notice!)

 

2. Relax - I was so nervous about all the last minute stuff and the what if's that I was way to stressed leading up to it!

 

3. Ask - If you want something ask for it...everyone really wants to make this a great trip for you.

 

4. Know - Get to know your room steward...you never know when you might need a little something extra!

 

5. Bring - Drinks or wine on board...it can save you a TON of money.

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No kidding! We are going on our 1st cruise on NCL Dec. 14th and all this info is sooo helpful. I am nervous about booking an excursion with a private group rather than with the cruiseline due to hearing horror stories of the cruiseline not waiting for you if you are late whereas they will wait if you book thru them. My real problem is finding a park sleep cruise deal in Miami the night before we leave! If anyone has any info please please let me know. :eek:

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Just returned from my first cruise two weeks ago (Ruby Princess)

 

1. Its true - bring fewer clothes. We did a load of laundry on the ship.

 

2. Tip well. We are just regular income people. So are the people serving you - treat them as you would like to be treated.

 

3. Bring more sunscreen than you think you will need and a higher SPF. If you are from a northern climate you'll be surprised how fast you burn in the Caribbean sun. Spray on is worth the extra money because you have to re-apply it often.

 

4. Be extra polite to the natives in port. Remember you represent your country and all tourists to them. In many cases they are very poor and see you as very wealthy. Try to make at least one locals day in ever port.

 

5. Remember vacations are for catching up on life. Have a blast and don't sweat the small stuff.:)

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Read the daily paper to know what's going on board the ship the next day.

 

Plan to catch at least one sunset and one sunrise.

 

Meet at least one new person each day.

 

As others have said, take half the stuff, twice (or more) the money.

 

Above all else, decide to have a good time before you even go.

 

 

Gordonchick- I just cut and pasted this onto my packing list. It's great advice, thank you!:)

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Nekhabet,

 

Did you have a nice time on your cruise?

 

What surprised you the most?

 

Did you spend more or less than your budget?

 

How was formal night?

 

Do you want to go on another cruise?

 

The reason for these questions is that I try to answer questions based on our (DW and I) 30 cruises. And it is always very helpful to hear from someone who has gone on their first cruise.

 

Thanks

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Don't Miss:

Formal Night

The boat when it's leaving a port

The ice show

Having a frozen drink in hand during sail-away

 

Don't...just don't

Buy every photo they take

break in line at the buffet

Knock people down trying to be first to get off at the ports

miss the waiters with the drinks around the pool.

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Oh man, I just love this thread.. It brings back many a memory of our first cruise.. All the stress about the unknown..

There is plenty of great advice here..

A few to add...

Remember you are on a cruise ship, some of the usual rules do not apply..

At dinner, DO NOT BE LATE!! It is considered rude to keep your table-mates waiting.. If you are going to be late or are not going to eat in the dinning room at night, just let your table-mates know..

You are handed a menu, like others have said already, if you want 2 of something, just ask.. If nothing on the menu floats your boat, ask for a steak.. It will be done.. They are there to make YOU happy..

The half the clothes, twice the $$ suggestion.. Yup I agree.. However we did do pretty good at the casino and payed off our sail and sign bill on Saturday so that was a big help.. (Can't guarantee you will do good at the casino though) We came off the ship over $500.00 up and only had a $53.00 S&S bill.. (For the charges after the pay off)

Smile at all the staff.. Even the guys and gals in the semi-dirty coveralls that work deep in the ship.. It does make their day..

Room service is great.. A couple of bucks each delivery works wonders..

On the ritual thing. An Irish Coffee every night on the balcony before bed.. A time to relax and reflect..

Make new friends.. We did and are cruising with them in October..

Keep an open mind while relaxing around the pool.. You will see things that you never thought you would see...:eek:

Above all, relax, don't stress, and do enjoy your vacation..

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Nekhabet,

 

Did you have a nice time on your cruise? We had an amazing time. It was like living in fantasy land for 10 days.

 

What surprised you the most? Well as awful as this may sound - I was very surprised at the number of guests that treated the staff as something like slaves. As a percentage it was probably a very small group. I witnessed this (for the first time) during the embarkation process. ( I thought it was very fast and efficient. I arrived at the terminal at 10:45 and was taking pics from my balcony at 12:15)

By the second incident (just of the gangway) I decided that I would not be one of those cruisers who expect to be treated like visiting royalty every second of the voyage. I believe witnessing a few tantrums actually enhanced my experience. I really enjoyed my interactions with the crew and staff - because I decided that Iwould!

 

Did you spend more or less than your budget? As this was a special occasion we planned to be able to spend a lot. We didn't deny ourselves anything we truly wanted. Having had one experience now I know that I could cruise with less spending money. We are simple people and enjoy the beautiful water and ocean air more than any entertainment.

 

How was formal night? We chose not to involve ourselves in formal night long before we embarked. Getting dressed up isn't a vacation to us. We planned to stay away from events on formal nights so that we wouldn't ruin the experience for others. For instance we ate dinner by the pool and did not go anywhere near the MDR.

I would do it differently next time. I can see now that formal nights add a little something extra to the overall experience.

 

Do you want to go on another cruise? Oh my god yes! In fact I spent a great deal of time when we got home looking at future cruises online. It was part of my therapy for the post cruise depression:rolleyes:

Thanks for taking an interest in our cruise experience - its been a pleasure to answer your questions.

 

The reason for these questions is that I try to answer questions based on our (DW and I) 30 cruises. And it is always very helpful to hear from someone who has gone on their first cruise.

 

Thanks

 

Hi Fredr:

 

I have posted my responses inline. Thanks for asking:)

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Nekhabet,

 

Thank you for your response. I wish for you to have many more cruises, and the happiest of holidays.

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